Browse the Stacks
Grab a mug of coffee, pull up a chair, and relax as you browse The Stacks, essential resources and articles of interest to the Canadian Immigration practitioner.
The list of service providers listed here is not meant to be exhaustive, and most in this list come highly regarded by attendees to their events over the years.
Annual conferences in Immigration Law – the two main events each year
- CAPIC’s National Citizenship and Immigration Conference : Top RCICs and supportive Immigration Lawyers subject matter experts, by us, for us. The ideal centre to earn all your CPD points in one event, and meet your fellow practitioners from all across Canada and the world. Rotates across Canada’s major cities, check the CAPIC website for current year’s conference details.
- LSO Law Society of Ontario : Annual Immigration Law Summit, always in Toronto at Osgoode Hall, 2 days usually in fall. Check the LSO CPD website.
- Canadian Bar Association Immigration Law Conference : RCICs are currently barred from attending this event, after a decade of equal access. Hopefully they will become more collegial in future after realizing how petty and short sighted this is. That said: make sure any JR or other court work you need to refer to lawyers go to colleagues from the Bar who are genuinely friendly and supportive of our profession. Ask CAPIC colleagues who they recommend, and who they avoid.
Schools offering accredited Immigration programs
- Those wanting to join the immigration sector as an RCIC will first have to complete a graduate diploma program delivered by one of two universities –
- Queen’s University in Ontario or
- Université de Montréal in Quebec.
Continuing Professional Development CPD
As an RCIC, you must complete 16 hours of CPD each year by participating in College-approved activities
The CICC website has the complete list of approved CPD providers,
Here is a sampling of previously approved providers, subject to your confirming with the CICC list:
- Ashton College
- Academy of Learning College
- Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants
- Continuing Education Units Canada
- Immigration Education Alliance
- York University – School of Continuing Studies
- Seneca College
- CDI College
- Herzing College
- Humber College
- ILAC International College
- TriOs College
Here are the authorized CPD providers for lawyers in Ontario approved by the LSO
- Law Society of Ontario
- Ontario Bar Association
- Advocates’ Society
- Federation of Ontario Law Associations
- County and District Law Presidents’ Association
- Canadian Bar Association
- Law Clerks’ Association of Ontario
- Ontario Trial Lawyers Association
- Canadian Defence Lawyers
- Osgoode Professional Development
- Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia
- Law Society of British Columbia
- Alberta Legal Education Society
- Manitoba Bar Association
- Law Society of Saskatchewan
- Law Society of Manitoba
- Law Society of Alberta
- Canadian Corporate Counsel Association
- Law Practice Program
- Ryerson University – Law Practice Program
CICC - College of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Consultants
The CICC College of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Consultants is a national regulatory body that serves and protects the public by overseeing licensed immigration and citizenship consulting and international student advising professionals.
Standard with all regulatory bodies, CICC fulfills its mandate by:
· Establishing entry-to-practice requirements of applicants seeking admission into the regulated professions;
· Licensing professionals;
· Overseeing their professional development and conduct;
· Receiving, investigation and adjudicating complaints; and
· Administering a disciplinary process to sanction professionals who fail to meet the regulator’s standards.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as well as the Citizenship Act require that anyone who provides immigration or citizenship advice for a fee or other consideration, must be a member in good standing of CICC, a Canadian law society, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
Licensed immigration consultants are known as Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) and international student advisors are Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs).
CAPIC: The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, the Profession’s Association
CAPIC – The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC-ACCPI) is the professional organisation created for regulated Canadian immigration consultants and founded on the 4 pillars of education, information, lobbying and recognition.
With an immigration industry history dating back to 1986, there are undoubtedly many important milestones that have been achieved and that are worthwhile to recall. These milestones have had a tremendous influence on various immigration industry changes, and they have influenced the inclusion of a professional occupation by the title of ‘Immigration Consultant’!
The vision for the implementation of CAPIC-ACCPI, has always been to create a body which will provide the strongest possible representation for immigration consultants and which will play the same role as the Bar Association does for lawyers.
As THE VOICE of immigration consultants in the Canada Immigration Domain, CAPIC is committed to promoting and protecting the practice of immigration consultants.
IRCC Program Delivery Updates
Browse the library
The Library is filled with articles written by peers for peers to help in practice management.
Identity theft’s role in immigration fraud: a call to action
Identity theft’s role in immigration fraud: a call to action from both sides of the RCIC – Client Fence.
To catch a thief shouldn’t be this hard. Every day we get contacted by innocent people who have sold the farm and wired huge sums of money to a perfect stranger, all the while thinking they are dealing with us. This has become endemic.
The tips below are written for you to educate first yourselves, then your clients, and for all of us to collectively ask for targeted action from CICC, the College. Below is a three-prong strategy to begin this important discussion.
Educating Clients: Immigration Fraud and Identity Theft: Teach clients how to spot the fakes and stay safe!
Immigration fraud and identity theft are serious issues that can result in significant financial loss and other complications. To protect your clients from these scams, it’s important to teach them how to spot the fakes and stay safe.
To confirm the legitimacy of a genuine RCIC, check their registration with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) https://college-ic.ca/protecting-the-public/find-an-immigration-consultant
and verify their identity through their own website.
Top 10 Tricks used by identity thieves – Get your clients to spot a thief a mile away
- Be cautious of companies offering jobs with high salaries that seem too good to be true. They may be recruiting for low wage or ordinary jobs and promising fast visa approvals within weeks for you and your family to come to Canada.
- Be wary of social media ads that offer jobs and quick visa approvals at high wages. These ads may lead you into a chat, and then the scammers will move you off to WhatsApp or email to close the deal and take your money.
- Be suspicious of agents who ask you no qualifying questions, no language tests or education requirements, and promise that everyone gets approved.
- Do not trust agents who send you photos of their passport data page and CICC license to establish trust, as it is illegal, and no legitimate RCIC consultant would ever do so.
- Watch out for scammers who reverse the name of the consultant or their company name, show last name first, first name last, and use emails with the reversed name @gmail.com.
- Be cautious if the phone numbers given by the agent are different from those listed on the RCIC’s website or CICC verification page.
- Be wary of fake job offer letters and work permits. To get a work permit, you need to have a job offer from a Canadian employer, and the employer needs to apply to Service Canada to get an LMIA. If you’re unsure about the validity of a job offer, you can contact both the employer and Service Canada directly to confirm it.
- Be cautious of low-priced immigration services, as they may be illegal agents not authorized to represent you to CIC, and the quality of their service may be low.
- Research the company thoroughly before engaging their services. Check their registration with the CICC, ask for references from previous clients, and verify their business details. You can also check their online reviews and social media presence to see what others are saying about their services.
- Verify the identity of a genuine RCIC by checking their profile on the CICC website. They should have a unique identification number, and you can cross-check it with the CICC’s database to ensure their authenticity. You can also verify their identity through their own company or consultant’s website, which should have the same email and phone number as listed on the CICC website.
Remember, always be vigilant, cautious, and do your research before engaging with an immigration service. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself from identity theft and other online scams by verifying the legitimacy of the company and the agent representing you. If you’re unsure, contact the regulatory body CICC at https://college-ic.ca/protecting-the-public/find-an-immigration-consultant for assistance.
To RCIC Colleagues: Minimize Identity Theft: your clients think you have stolen their money
As an RCIC, you have worked hard to build your professional reputation and earn the trust of your clients. Unfortunately, immigration scammers may try to steal your identity and use it to scam unsuspecting clients. This can be devastating not only for your clients, who may lose their life savings, but also for your professional reputation.
Immigration scammers are like modern-day pirates, clever, fast-moving, and difficult to catch. If you become a victim of identity theft, you may feel helpless and frustrated. Innocent victims may wrongly accuse you of cheating them, and unfortunately, regulatory bodies like CICC, CAPIC, CBSA, RCMP, and even IRCC will likely not rush to help you protect your reputation or recover the money that has been stolen. The crooks are almost impossible to catch, and you may feel like you are fighting a losing battle.
Top 13 things you as an RCIC can do to protect yourself:
- While there is one exception, money sent to an actual bank anywhere can be difficult to trace, and the account holder is often very elusive to catch.
- Set up Google searches to find your name, company name, and RCIC number anywhere on the web, daily. This can help you monitor any suspicious activity related to your identity and take appropriate action.
- Become a complete professional. Stop using web-based email services like Gmail or Hotmail, which are considered a hallmark of amateurs. Instead, create a professional website with a domain-based email and prominently display your contact information.
- Set up a professional website that includes contact information and domain-based email. Having a website can make it easier for potential clients to find you and learn about your services.
- Add fraud warnings on your website to alert potential clients about the dangers of immigration scams. These warnings can help protect both your clients and your professional reputation.
- While it’s important to promote your business, it’s advisable not to conduct business transactions on social media or messaging apps. Scammers often use WhatsApp to communicate with victims.
- Become a mini expert on search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your online visibility and avoid scammers who promise to get you on the first page of Google. Be wary of such claims and know that achieving high visibility takes time and effort.
- Be aware that thief agents often use untraceable satellite phones and web-based email services, and do not provide meaningful contact information on their website.
- If you suspect that you are dealing with a fraud artist, consider entrapping them by having an email address to make inquiries from, get them to solicit fees, get the specific name and bank account information, and then turn them into Facebook, Kijiji, domain registrars, and authorities last.
- Count on the thieves opening a brand-new fake profile within an hour of you having them shut down. You are in it for the long haul, so be prepared for a long fight.
- Don’t count on anyone yet, like CICC, CAPIC, CBSA, or RCMP, to rush to help you. Unfortunately, regulatory bodies are not always equipped to handle identity theft or online scams.
- Finally, don’t take it personally. Identity theft and online scams are unfortunately common occurrences in today’s digital age. It’s not a reflection on your professionalism or reputation as an RCIC. Remember to stay calm, keep your wits about you, and maintain your sense of humor. By taking steps to protect your identity and educating your clients about the risks of immigration scams, you can continue to provide valuable services to those seeking to immigrate to Canada.
To CICC: College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants: Your help is needed
The CICC can and should do more to protect consumers and your reputation.
Top Five Requests to CICC – our regulator
- We recommend and ask that CICC greatly expand the “Find a Consultant” page to include all valid contact information for RCIC’s.
- Include full contact details for every RCIC: website, phone number, email, business address, and photo.
- Contrary to current thought, thieves are using just the name and R license number, and then posting ads with essential details of the real RCIC changed, as noted above. They are hiding in the shadows of what the client does not know, taking advantage of their simplicity. Doing these things turns up the light full force.
- The page should include a huge caution that clients should be wary of anyone with even one small detail off, as these may be scammers.
- CICC, in conjunction with IRCC, should promote two campaigns: First, the Anatomy of a Scam: Ten Tricks thieves use, and Second: a basic fact sheet debunking common scams: fast visas, no language or education requirements – all the hallmarks of the “sounds too good to be true”. Get the message out on both the IRCC and the CIC websites to begin with, run social media campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, the very scene of the scammer’s crimes, and move to billboards. Get everyone talking about this!
With deep gratitude for your consideration, and participation.
david LeBlanc RCIC – IRB
Managing Director, Senior Counsel
Ferreira-Wells Immigration Services, Toronto
The Game of Progress in Canada’s International Student Policy
The Game of Progress in Canada’s International Student Policy
By Earl Blaney RCIC
As we approach the ten-year mark of the formation of Canada’s International Study Program (ISP) framework (2012)1 it becomes crucial to objectively evaluate Canada’s accomplishments and
challenges in this field. There is no question that the program has enjoyed significant success, but at
what cost? Canada prides itself on its reputation of fairness, but what is happening to our international students is anything but, and the consequences could be devastating for Canada’s international reputation.
Does Canada’s International Study Program cause more harm than good? The question will likely resound as inappropriate in some circles, but that highlights the large imbalance of the perspectives and positioning of the parties involved. It is a concern that an objective analysis may not be forthcoming.
There are plenty of reasons to believe conducting an unbiased, open-minded evaluation is ill-suited to the interests of controlling parties that benefit greatly from the status quo. Of further concern is the increasingly insurmountable evidence that the interests of the consumer, a vulnerable demographic due protection under Canadian law,2 are being trampled by the big business model that international education in Canada has become.
As international students’ ground level struggles with Canada’s ISP begin to gain significant attention, light is shed on serious problems pervasive in all phases of the international student immigration lifecycle.3 Serious concerns related to program integrity, ethics and sustainability combine to call for an urgent re-examination of Canada’s ISP policy. Progress must be made to improve the security of investment students are making, to ensure more well-rounded benefits and to protect Canada’s international reputation.
Across Canada models of student support are so outdated, that they fail to reflect even a nuance of the shift that has turned Canada’s international education program from an academic exercise to an immigration program more than half a decade ago.4
Government of Canada executives would likely rebuke the proposition, highlighting the value of revenue, skill sets and cultural contributions, while championing other broad stroke aspects of progressive internationalization.
Ed-tech, the sector profiting the most from Canada’s resounding growth in edu-export, would likely retort with any one of the countless marketing mottos, paid for by their investment groups out of Southern California. Those who claim to be virtuously dedicated to “educate the world” and to ensure “international education is a right not a privilege” 5 (so long as it’s profitable enough).6
Banks lobby for profits, forecasting doom, if calls for rapid expansion are unheeded.7 Canada’s financial institutions stand a lot to gain from increased levels of international student arrivals, and have managed to coordinate the inclusion of their services as mandatory components of the overseas study permit application process.8
Amongst the celebrations and self-congratulations, there has been a tendency to disregard an often-dangerous set of circumstances that meets hundreds of thousands of international students coming to Canada each year. These issues become harder to ignore, as they gain significant national media attention.9
The vast majority of international students are pursuing education in Canada primarily for the prospects of permanent immigration;10 a better life in Canada. For these stakeholders, the question represents the crux of an investor’s perspective, and it often remains an open question throughout their stay. A persistent stress, echoing in their minds, as they attempt to navigate the uphill challenges ahead.
The Playing Field
While it could be easily argued or excused that any product being sold is subject to the caveat of “buyer beware”, this risk is curtailed by fair messaging principles. But in the case of international students, marketing and consumer messaging is exempt from levels of protection afforded to Canadian consumers. In the edu-export sector, recruitment is predominantly conducted by a massive web of unaccountable, unregulated education agents, either loosely associated (or entirely disconnected) with the commission paying Canadian education institutions that provide lifeblood.
In short, many international students have no idea what they are getting themselves into before they arrive to compete, and once committed, there is very often no choice but to proceed. My experience has been that, when regulations are in place, they are ignored, manipulated, or excused as irrelevant, especially when a conflict has the potential to impact the numbers game.
Within the decade of Canada’s mainstream focus on international education export, only one province in the country has thought to enact legislation to protect consumers. In 2016 Manitoba, a province receiving less than 3% of Canada’s international student intake,11 was concerned enough about recruitment agent ethics to enact The International Education Act, C.C.S.M. c. 175 (“Act”)12 with accompanying regulations.13 One of the two expressed purposes of the Act was to “provide consistent standards for recruiters in recruiting prospective international students.”14 Among firmly established requirements were: that all recruitment agents used by education institutions in Manitoba be listed on institution websites, that recruiters enter directly into a contract with education institutions, that recruiters be subject to training and compliance requirements, and that recruiters be monitored by education institutions on an ongoing basis for compliance with all components of the Act and its regulations.15
By December 2019 the Registration and Accountability Office in Manitoba (Ministry of Education, Division of Education and Training), responsible for overseeing the Act, had received at least one lengthy complaint16 specific to ed-tech companies whose business model centred on outsourcing their respective recruitment contracts with thousands of sub agents. The sub agent entities, typically unknown to respective education institutions in Manitoba, appeared to be operating with carte blanche immunity from the consumer protection mechanisms imposed by the Act. The responsible authority refused to investigate the complaint, on the basis that the Act and regulations, did not (explicitly) prohibit a recruiter from subcontracting recruitment services.17 Arguably, this decision in itself rendered large parts of the legislation ineffective.
Global Affairs Canada also has rules, to protect students from undue solicitation at Edu Export events to maintain an arm’s length objective independence.18 Lest the government of Canada be seen as unduly supporting the interest of certain immigration agencies and education agents over others.19 There are explicit prohibitions built into this policy, designed to maintain the integrity of Edu Canada events, to prevent the inclusion of any “organization, as part of its portfolio, that also acts as an education agent/consultant assisting international students finding study options”20 from a sponsorship role in said events. Despite this, acute violations of this policy have been overlooked for “Internet Technology Companies (ITC)” whose business model appears explicitly tailored as an exact match to the prohibitive ineligibility criteria. Might this be interpreted as a quid pro quo to facilitate the highest edu-export numbers possible?
Coinciding in time with the roll out of Canada’s ISP were changes to Canada’s Immigration Act and regulations that made it a criminal offence to engage in immigration representation, for consideration, unless authorized by section 91 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.21 Shortly hereafter, in 2013, Caroline Melis, Director General of Operational Management and Coordination (CIC), issued a directive to Canadian educational institutions across Canada warning them that compliance in the
area of student recruitment was a firm requirement. The Melis Directive read, in part, “The goal is to protect clients, including international students, and to ensure that those providing advice are
all subject to the same requirements and achieve the level of expertise necessary to assist in often complex immigration matters. Education agents, recruiters and employees at education institutions who are paid to provide services to their clients are prohibited from providing advice to students.”22
At about the same time (2012) Canada participated in discussion with other countries regarding the development of a Code of ethics for international student recruitment agents known as the London Statement. However, Canada declined to become a signatory party to what otherwise appears to be a very agreeable set of principles likely for the reasons set out above.23 The term education agent is, in my view and in my experience, essentially synonymous with unauthorized immigration practitioner (UAP).24 In fact, the nature of DLI’s recruitment compensation system promotes non-compliance (if an education agent’s clients do not pass immigration, there is no commission pay out from the schools).25 However, despite the fact that senior IRCC officials have insisted overseas missions processing applications
have a strict policy in place to not process applications submitted by UPA’s,26 the department’s own
review process has uncovered that this is often not the case.27 If the Department is positioning itself as a tech revolution that will make Canada’s immigration system “the envy of the world”,28 the review processes must become more rigorous where the technology supports these key protective measures
There are regions around the globe that have taken action to regulate membership and enhance professional standards.
Hong Kong is a market that provides such an example. In 2018 the Hong Kong Consumer Council
published a detailed investigative report entitled Are Students Protected? An In-depth Look Into Overseas Education Advisory Services.29 That report uncovered significant potential
harm to consumers through a secret shopper investigations and student consultations. The report’s recommendations revolved around improving consumer protection through establishing a code of conduct for Hong Kong International Education Consultants’ Association (HKICEA) and bolstering the impact of that self-regulating entity and the government of Hong Kong through increased
Although, Canada’s Trade Commissioner’s office in Hong Kong has detailed how important a tool the HKICEA is to protecting consumers in that market, and referenced the above report, membership in that organization is not a requirement for association with the Canadian embassy in Hong Kong to facilitate edu-export to Canada.
The Numbers Game:
In 2012, Canada’s Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy Committee laid out the
groundwork for a massive expansion of international student investment in edu-export.31 The primary recommendation, was to double the number of international investors consuming Canada’s international edu-export product.32 The goal was embraced wholeheartedly by newly created international departments at post-secondary institutions across Canada and positioned front and centre in the government of Canada’s first ever International Education Strategy (2014).33 Likely because of
the direct benefits that this goal presented to education institutions across Canada, the goal was met in less than three years flat (2017).34
Immediate benefits were apparent in record surpluses posted by post-secondary institutions across Canada35 and numbers grew—to the point where calls for incoming targets dropped altogether in the second version of Canada’s International Education Strategy published in 2019.36 By that time, Canada had nearly doubled its target of doubling edu-export totals. Government policy planners had anticipated receiving a manageable 450,000 international students by 2022; according to data from Global Affairs Canada they received 826,000 by 2019.37
By the same year, “internationalization” was accounting for all growth in post-secondary enrollment which allowed respective provincial ministries to continue funding cuts to colleges and universities Canada wide.38 It seems provincial governments have reason to embrace the numbers game as well.
To facilitate new recruitment growth, the government of Canada and DLI’s across Canada have aligned with large private ed-tech companies that accelerate recruitment through vast networks of sub-agents.39 These sub agent recruiters are almost always unknown entities to the education institutions they recruit for but are empowered and semi-legitimized by online-connection platforms which facilitate these kinds of recruitment measures. Some of these recruitment platforms have been so successful
they have been valuated in the billions, while earning millions, and make bold claims about their control of crucial edu-export markets.40
These platforms go so far as to lure prospective clients with the prospects of increased odds of immigration success, something that would be considered professional misconduct if claimed by an authorized immigration practitioner.41 Recently, these aggregator
platforms have initiated another practice of concern, using their fast growing wealth to finance international student loans to assist their client in gaining immigration approval. This practice may be at odds with the government of Canada’s program integrity objectives in ensuring those who apply for student status in Canada have the financial means to support themselves. Certainly, a conflict is apparent with aggregator platforms business agendas, which is to collect commission incentives from
Canadian DLI’s for each successful arrival.42
Even something as disruptive as a global pandemic did not severely impact Canada’s net yields in edu-export numbers. Global Affairs Canada’s Director General of Investment, Innovation & Education recently announced a limited shrinkage equating to less than 12%,43 a temporary setback, which the history of industry initiative suggests is easily recoverable, if necessary to recover in the first place.
With edu-export target numbers secure and with expected benefits to Canadian stakeholders accomplished, the next logical and, in my opinion, crucial step is to balance those interests with the interests and expectations of the consumers, a key factor in any measure of sustainability.
From the international student lens, this period of insatiable expansion is far less attractive. Limitless recruitment initiatives often mean more limited choices in program and institution selection, higher fees,44 less resources available for student support,45 fewer housing options at greater expense,46 more post-grad labour market com- petition and most importantly—fewer seats available for
students to transition to permanent resident pathways.
None of the above substantially impacts Canada’s recruitment impetus but all significantly impact consumer experience.
The Squid Game:
What do these students seek? How are their best interests aligned with program delivery? Is the program designed to attract future permanent residents? While entry to Canada and the study program is the marker of success for the facilitators, many look for permanent residence options. At most 30% of them will be successful by system design.47
How does that equate with messaging on the intake? Granted entry to temporary status cannot be a guarantee of permanent residence but is 30% justifiable? Putting aside larger questions of the impact of students leaving their countries of origin, many crucial domestic questions are abound as to the ultimate goals of the program and how those goals align with the best interests of those most impacted: the students.
In the next part of this article I will be covering the various elusive challenges that international students are forced to undertake. Stay tuned!
1 International Education (2012). “International Education: A Key Driver of
Canada’s Future Prosperity”. Government of Canada. Available:
2 Caroline Melis, Director General Operational Management and Coordination
(24 May 2013). “Directive to Canadian Post-Secondary institutions”.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
3 For example: Dakshana Bascaramurty, Neha Bhatt and Uday Rana (6
November 2011). “In India and Canada’s international student recruiting
machine, opportunity turns into grief and exploitation”. The Globe and Mail;
Nicholas-Hune Brown (18 August 2021). “The Shadowy Business of
International Education”. The Walrus Magazine; Grant LaFleche, Isabel
Teotonio, and Nicholas Keung (25 September 2019). “’I’ve given up
everything.’ Explosive growth in international students comes at a steep
cost”. The Standard; Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. (December
2021). Value-for-Money Audit: Public Colleges Oversight.
4 In 2016 Ministerial Instructions from Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and
Citizenship Canada extending the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)
points to students earning a Canadian post secondary credential was a
primary factor leading to the explosion of international students in Canada
from 410,000 in 2016 (see: CBIE (August 2018). International Students in
Canada.) to 721,000 in 2018 (see: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Canada. “Greetings from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and
Citizenship, Building on Success: Canada’s International Education Strategy
(2019-2024)”. Government of Canada.
5 For example: ApplyBoard. Join ApplyBoard for the Educate the World
Conference; ApplyBoard. “Education is a right, not a privilege!”. Youtube.
6 See example of fee schedule for ApplyBoard, which lays out higher sets of
charges for groups representing different demographics (including higher
fees for applicants from particular countries of origin): <https://drive.google
7 Royal Bank of Canada (May 2017). Attracting International Talent. Available:
8 For example, Guaranteed Income Certificates (GICs) issued by major
Canadian banks are now firmly established as main eligibility factors for
Studen Direct Stream study permit applications. Immigration, Refugees and
Citizenship Canada. “Student Direct Stream (SDS)”. Government of Canada. Available:
9 Significant media attention has begun to shine light over dangerous
circumstances that face international students both via the recruiting
process as well as after arrival in Canada. See for example: Nicholas-Hune
Brown (18 August 2021). “The Shadowy Business of International Education”.
The Walrus Magazine; and Isabel Teotonio, Nicholas Keung, and Grant
LaFleche (25 September 2019). “‘I’ve given up everything.’ Explosive growth
in international students comes at a steep cost”. Toronto Star.
10 For example: Statistics published by the CBIE shows that 60% to 68% of
international students recruited to study in Canada intend to transition to
Permanent Residence (PR). CBIE. Retaining International Students in
Canada Post-Graduation: Understanding the Motivations and Drivers of the
Decision to Stay. (Page 2) Available: <https://cbie.ca/wp-content/
11 International Education. “Economic impact of international education in
Canada — 2017 update”. Government of Canada. Available: <https://www.
12 Economic Development and Training. “The International Education Act
C.C.S.M c. 175”. Government of Alberta. Available: <https://www.edu.gov.
13 See regulation 218, “International Education Regulation”, and regulation 1,
“Code of Practice and Conduct Regulation” in The International Education
Act, C.C.S.M. c.175.
14 See section 17(2) of The International Education Act, C.C.S.M c. 175.
15 See in particular sections 17-21 of The International Education Act, C.C.S.M c.
16 Ms. Agnes Wittmann, Director of International Students (20 December
2019). Re: Seeking Remedy in Regard to Alleged Non-Compliance under the
Manitoba International Education Act. Available: <https://drive.google.
17 Ibid. See page 14 (which is a copy of page 2 of the response from Manitoba’s
Advanced Education and Skills Division, which refused to investigate the
18 International Education Newsletter (March 2018). March 2018 Newsletter:
Prepared by the International Education Division (BBY); and ApplyBoard.
Apply to Study Abroad at Your Dream School. Available: <https://drive.
19 Aside from concerns about how favouring one such company over another
might be perceived with suspicion, from a program integrity point of view, it
might also cause conflict with Canada’s Competition Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-
20 International Education Newsletter (March 2018). March 2018 Newsletter:
Prepared by the International Education Division (BBY).
21 Bill C-35, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,
received Royal Assent on March 23, 2011, and came into force on June 30,
22 Caroline Melis, Director General Operational Management and Coordination
(24 May 2013). Directive to Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions. See
page 1, paragraph 3. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/
23 Statement of Principles for the Ethical Recruitment of International Students
by Education Agents and Consultants (To be known as the London Statement)
(March. 2012). Accessed via Access to Information Request. File No. A-2019-
02396/RS. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nVfsVMeG9
24 Any significant review of service offerings from “education agencies” will
lead you to see a relationship between education agents and unlicensed
immigration service advice. Take for example these education agents,
previously featured on ICEF’s website: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/
25 Earl Blaney (1 July 2017). “No One Listens to the B Side: The Unheard Story of
Canadian Post-Secondary Insitutions’ refusal to Comply with IRPA S 91”.
Linkedin. Available: <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/one-listens-b-side
26 Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM). 42nd Parliament,
1st Session (May 6, 2019). House of Commons Canada. Available:
27 Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (March 2014). “Evaluation
of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council”. Government
of Canada. Available: <https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugeescitizenship/
28 “My vision for our immigration system going forward is that it is completely
virtual and touchless and that each and every one of these steps is integrated
so that we become the envy of the world,” Mendicino says in an online
interview with TVO. “Transcript: Marco Mendicino: Canada Canadian
Immigration Cope Amid Covid?” (8 January 2021). TVO. Available:
29 Honk Kong Consumer Council (11 March 2018). Are Students Protected? An
In-depth Look into Overseas Education Advisory Services. Available:
31 Global Affairs Canada (August 2012). “International Education: A Key Driver
of Canada’s Future Prosperity. Advisory Panel on Canada’s International
Education”. Government of Canada, Available: <https://www.international
33 Global Affairs Canada. “Canada’s International Education Strategy”.
Government of Canada. Available: <https://www.international.gc.ca/
34 The advisory committee has called for doubling the number of international
students in Canada from 239,000 in 2011 to 450,000 by 2022. Numbers
grew to over 494,000 by 2017. See CBIE (August 2018). International
Students in Canada.
35 Alex Usher (16 September 2020). “The State of Postsecondary Education in
Canada, 2020”. Higher Education Strategy Associates. Figure 1, Available:
36 International Education. “Building on Success: International Education
Strategy (2019-2024)”. Government of Canada. Available: <https://www.
37 Emmanuel Kamariankis, Director General of investment, Innovation &
Education (Global Affairs Canada) (7 November 2021). Post, LinkedIn.
38 Statistics Canada (25 November 2020). “International Students Accounted
for all of the Growth in Postsecondary Enrolments in 2018/2019”. The Daily.
39 Retrieved through Access to Information Request number A 2019-0157/
CRR, released on 9 June 2021. The contents of this release can be accessed
publicly, here: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fs9ZtGJvnvxoyyODcUt0A
40 Sternlicht, Alexandra (15 June 2021). “Study Abroad EdTech ApplyBoard
Triples Valuation to $3.2 Billion with $300 Million Fundraise”. Forbes.
41 Meti Basiri (21 July 2021). “ApplyInsights: ApplyBoard Students More Likely
to Receive Canadian Student Visa Approval”. ApplyBoard. Available:
Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (2019). RCIC Code of Professional
Ethics, section 2.2.9 “Professional Misconduct”, which states that
“professional misconduct” means conduct in the Member’s practice that is
inconsistent with this Code, including:
(v) offering, promising, stating or implying that the Member will
influence any government agency or official to make a positive
decision in any immigration matter;
(vi) offering, promising, stating or implying that using or continuing
to use the services of the Member will result in a favourable
exercise of discretion by IRCC.
42 Sophie Hogan (10 January 2022). “Leverage Edu Launches financial
services”. The Pie News. Available: <https://thepienews.com/news/
43 Emmanuel Kamariankis, Director General of investment, Innovation &
Education (Global Affairs Canada) (7 November 2021). Post, LinkedIn.
44 Carlo Handy Chales and Veronica Overlid (3 July 2020). “Tuition Hikes
Exacerbating Existing Challenges for International Students”. Policy
Options. Available: <https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/july-2020/
Statistics Canada (21 September 2020). “Tuition fees for degree
programs increase in 2020/2021”. The Daily. Available: <https://www150.
45 For example: See increase of demand for immigration related support
services at Fanshawe College (2019-2020) while number of staff licensed to
provide that support has not increased. Jen Hiles and Dayan Boyce (10 March
2021). “Informal Request for Information”. Interpersonal Communication.
46 The influx of international students has produced a well document hike in
rental prices, especially in major urban cetnres. See: Jennifer La Grassa (23
September 2021). “Post-Secondary school students in Canada face ’perfect
storm’ that’s hit their housing budgets”. CBC News. Available:
1.6185655>; Douglas Todd (15 February 2018). “Douglas Todd: Vancouver’s
rental and housing markets pressed by ’temporary’ residents”. Vancouver
Sun. Available: <https://vancouversun.com/opinion/
47 Youjin Choi, Eden Crossman, and Feng Hou (23 June 2021). “International
Students as a Source of Labour Supply: Transition to Permanent Residency”.
Statistics Canada. Available: <https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/36-
The Game of Progress in Canada’s International Student Policy, Part 2
The Game of Progress in Canada’s International Student Policy, Part 2
Earl Blaney (RCIC)
Amongst the elusive challenges international students are forced to undertake, all avoidable, if not for the continued focus on increased enrollment, are the following:
Challenge: Avoiding Investment in Dead End Education Programs
It is hard to find a Canadian government policy document that does not mention Canada’s interest in retaining international students as Permanent Residents (PR) to fill skilled labour market shortages.1 However, despite labour market shortages, large numbers of international students are caught post-graduation in unskilled, low wage jobs.2 So, if there is a skills shortage at high skilled positions, and a high volume of international students coming to Canada to study with access to skills training and a work permit, why is this occurring?
To answer this question, one does not need to look further than who is directing the traffic. The explicit job of education agents is to guide students towards education pro- grams that will result in immigration application success and yield commission payments for the student’s arrival in Canada. Overseas education agents, most of whom have never been to Canada in the first place, do not have an adept understanding of Canadian labour market needs. If an education agent abroad can send a student to a rural college in British Columbia, because that is where the agent’s bread is buttered, they will, regardless of whether or not the students’ post graduation skill set is best suited for that region, regardless of whether Canada needs those skill sets. This raises a larger question: Why Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) are permitted to market education programs with no skilled edu-employment outcome to international students in the first place when (in most cases) they are entirely dependant on skilled employment outcomes for student to PR transition success?
The rebuttal from DLI’s would be that not every international student wants to become a permanent resident of Canada. True, but only in a very limited number of cases, and should it not simply be made clear from the outset? How many international students would come to Canada to study “Protection and Security Investigation” if they understood that the edu-employment outcome of that pro- gram NOC 6541 (skill level C, unskilled)? Or a Travel Services program at a community college resulting in an edu-employment outcome of NOC 6521 (Skill level C, unskilled) if they knew in advance these programs were not conducive to skilled level employment? These considerations are not only limited to unskilled outcomes, but in many cases programs are marketed to suggest post graduation labour market entry at the highest skill levels, something unattainable for most foreign students. Health Care Administration Leadership and Business Management programs are good examples of programs that most international students, without significant senior level Canadian work experience would be ill suited to transition into skilled employment positions of matching caliber.
This helps explain why it is easy to find international graduates from all education backgrounds serving you coffee through a drive thru windows on your way to work each morning (NOC 6711, skill level D, unskilled) or accepting your money at gas bars across the country (NOC 6621, skill level D, unskilled); they are hoping for promotion to supervisory level experience in those roles (NOC 6311 and NOC 6211, both skill level B, skilled, respectively) which is the only hope they have left.
Challenge: Avoid Bureaucratic Pitfalls
The government of Canada could be doing a much better job. Records show that nearly a decade after its own policy highlighted the priority of using international graduates to fill skilled labour market gaps, Global Affairs Canada has just recently started examining possible options to coordinate labour market demand with edu-export promotion.3
Another significant example of discordance is Economic and Social Development Canada’s recent announcement of a planned rehaul of Canada’s National Occupation Classification system.4 The changes, converting existing occupation classifications from skill levels to Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) classifications, are expected to have drastic (yet still unknown) impacts on what occupation experience claims will be considered for economic class eligibility, when IRCC adopts the new system, which is expected to occur sometime in 2022. Meanwhile, international student recruits are already financially committing in advance, to education programs in Canada, blind to how this will impact their investment.
Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is responsible for evaluating applications for prospective international students who wish to enter Canada to pursue studies. One of the main points of screening5 and causes of study permit refusals6 has always been a negative determination made under Regulation 216 (1) often caused by a R 220.1 determination that the applicant’s primary purpose of entry is not related to being a “bonafide student”.7 For example, why would a nurse who has already completed their nursing degree want to come to Canada to pursue further studies in this area? Application refused.8 Refusing prospective international students, with an al- ready established skill set who often seek to enter Canada for studies necessary to meet burdensome occupational regulatory requirements, cannot possibly be the best way to facilitate skills acquisition goals.
One of the early concerns of Canada’s International stu- dent policy was to ensure that programming was established to meet the highest possible edu-export quality. Of concern was the quality of many of Canada’s private career colleges. It was for this reason that respective provincial Ministries were charged with the creation of a DLI list, and the reason that IRCC has not extended post graduation work permit eligibility to most private career college programs.9 But loopholes have easily been created by public colleges forging partnerships with private career colleges. The former typically granting the credential in the public college’s name, while the education was ad- ministered by the later. This conveniently converted respective programs from ineligible to eligible for post graduate work permits (PGPW) and subsequently improved the marketing potential to the coveted international student market. A temporary moratorium of this practice took place, duetoareportoutliningunacceptable risks to students.10 It can only be assumed that the benefit for public colleges is additional revenue, from a further influx of international students, without the need to hire additional resources, although the details these kinds of agreements are kept secret.11
Challenge: Find Jobs Without Guidance
Respective DLI’s are aware of international students’ interest in posteducation work force integration success. A review of any DLI’s international student landing page or marketing material will reference grad employment statistics.12 The problem is that although these high-level Key Performance Indicator (KPI) statistics make for excellent marketing material, they have essentially no value for even the most astute international students who would re-search them, as they are not indicators of success rates for specific education programs at the institution, let alone skill level of the job attained by graduates, nor indicators of whether the employment relates to education program completed.
When specific education program graduate data is available (as required by binding policy directives, in Ontario for example),13 often the reporting data is so low (less than 20% of graduates reporting)14 that DLI’s do not want to release this data over concerns of creating a negative impression to potential international recruits.15 Typically colleges in Ontario outsource graduate employment data collection to third party companies,16 often based in overseas call centres who’s contact details for the graduate often reflect the information gathered at the time of recruitment process — which means they end up calling the overseas education agent, who has long lost contact with the student, to collect data. As an example, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the party responsible for ensuring DLI data collection, is on record expressing the low levels of viability and reliability of data collected, due to poor response rates.
This, in part, explains the poor collection of results that could be used as a tool to provide guidance. However, it is also worth noting that typically the results that are available are about five years out of date.17 Ironically, the same policy directive charges post-secondary institutions with “Taking appropriate corrective action, as necessary, where expected outcomes or quality of performance are not achieved”.18 Of greater concern, perhaps, are the parts of Canada that do not require program specific data to be collected at all.19
Challenge: Overcoming Language Barriers You Didn’t Know You Had
Dropping the requirement to provide the results of a designated language test from a growing list of country specific Study Permit checklists20 is inconsistent with a firm requirement to include a satisfactory language test score with Study Direct stream applications.21 DLI recruitment departments have caught on, and are in turn extending waivers to admissions criteria, exempting prospective students from language test scores, despite lack of data to justify such exemptions.22 Trade com- missioners are in the background cheering these developments,23 which make recruitment easier and helps increase outbound targets numbers — their badges of honour. Edu-tech platforms, also eager to benefit from market growth, encourage their vast networks of sub- agents to embrace these kinds of expansive exemptions, and refrain from submitting once required test scores that may indicate non-competent language abilities.24 If students are assured that their language competency is not an issue, which it often is,25 promotes false sense of security in the investment they are about to make. But it does help facilitate the investment.
It is worth noting that, although there is a significant amount of pressure on faculty to pass foreign students despite poor performance due to language issues,26 IRCC does not waive English language testing requirements for Permanent Residence applicants (regardless of country of origin), nor do employers in Canada assume English competency(based on country of origin). And here Where the investment risks collapse for the student, although the investment received by DLI is secure.
Challenge: Avoiding Pestilence
The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through the edu-export industry and as discussed above, did result in the first shrinkage of edu-export in a decade. How much shrinkage would depend on which data set you referred to.27 Logically, part of the reason for this reduction was due to the financial impact on funds available for prospective students and hesitation of foreign nationals to travel. However, Ottawa was sure to leave the option for inter- national students to enter Canada open, despite risks to both students themselves and the Canadian public, pla- cing contributors to this important $21 billion dollar industry on travel exemption lists from the onset of the pandemic.28 In April of 2021, due to the rise of the Delta variant in India and Pakistan, a temporary pause was put into place for direct flights coming from those countries.29 The ban was lifted five months later to the cheers from DLIs on September 27, 2021.30
Of course, some international students entered Canada with undetected infection or were infected after arrival31 and predictably some died.32 There have also been reports of visa or permit clearance being issued without insurance coverage which has left some families of international students in staggering debt.33 And although allowing entry to Canada was good for the business side of things, there are plenty of reports that point to disproportionate psychological trauma resulting from the isolation inter- national students faced during this period.34
Canadian DLIs were required to come up with individual COVID-19 readiness plans before they took in international students during the pandemic.35 What is clear is that no federal public health authority reviewed these plans. In Ontario, the province accepting the largest volume of international students during the pandemic, the provincial health authority began a review of each institution’s plan, but due to a large number not meeting expected stan- dards,36 the process was abandoned. Time constraints impacting January 2021 international student arrivals was the concern. The solution? Allow DLI’s to simply self declare that their plan was competent paving the way for the arrival of international students on campus.37
Challenge: Avoiding False Starts
Due to the rise of online teaching platforms, IRCC began conducting an internal review of the department’s approach to distance learning, in the context of study permits and post-graduate work authorization in 2017.38 Despite some stakeholder pressure to support online education initiatives with increased policy benefits, such as eligibility for PGWP for online studies, IRCC decided against it. In particular, the decision was justified as follows:
An objective of the Post Graduation Work Permit (the Program) is to support former international students to transition to permanent residency. To achieve this, a certain level of in-class learning during the program of study is REQUIRED to access the Program so as to support the student in establishing social networks, communicate in an official language and improve their overall social capitol.39
It was clear from the policy review that international students preferred in-class studies for the same reason. IRCC also outlined concerns about the impact of online studies on the quality of education programming as well as pro- gram integrity concerns related to identification verification.40
Then came COVID-19 and those concerns evaporated by necessity.
There is no doubt that the post graduate work permit program has merit as a cost recovery benefit and work experience program,41 but the real value of the program, from an international student perspective, is the window of opportunity it provides to acquire Canadian skilled work experience typically necessary for a student to PR transition to occur.
During COVID-19, with processing backlogs impacting IRCC’s ability to process and issue study permits and DLI’s across Canada defaulting to online delivery, IRCC was forced to make concessions to Canadian stakeholders who otherwise were about to discover what the real value of Canadian education was without immigration prospects attached.42 IRCC could not allow that to happen. Despite their own research showed it would significantly negatively impact students’ chances of achieving their own investment goals, PGWP eligibility was extended to overseas online studies, even for students who would never set foot in Canada during their study period.43
As early as 2021 there will be entire groups of international students arriving in Canada who have not studied in Canada at all. These online graduates will arrive in Canada to attempt to capitalize on their investment, which in most cases will require them to gain a skilled employment offer on entry and hold skilled employment for the remaining twelve-month period.44 To do so would be a monumental feat, considering a total lack of introduction to the complexities of living in Canada, zero understanding of the Canadian workforce culture and the complete lack of Canadian employment references. Imagine showing up in Mumbai with an urgent need to land a career in that city instantaneously. These students cannot expect much help from the learning institutions who received their front-end investment, as what limited career services they typically offer are only available to their current student bodies.
Prompted by IRCC’s study permit processing backlog,45 the department’s progressive views related to online education advanced step further. In June 2020, tosave September revenue streams for Canadian stakeholders, IRCC announced in a series of tweets the roll out of a two- stage study permit system designed to facilitate edu-export sales despite significant complications in delivery of the goods.46 Stage 1 (approval in principle) was meant to stoke consumer confidence by providing a type of green light for students to continue their plan of investment, which would not have been possible without some assurance of eventual study permit approval. Historically, on average, about one third of all Canadian study permits are refused.47 Trade Commissioners at Canadian missions abroad organized online sessions to ensure recruits that visa officers would evaluate all discretionary aspects of their applications upfront, during stage 1, leaving only non- discretionary medical and criminal checks, for stage 2 (final approval) processing.48Despite this messaging, which had the impact desired, there were reports of large numbers of students who had invested in education programs based on receiving stage 1 approvals, who were subsequently denied stage 2 approvals for reasons meant to be covered exclusively at stage 1.49 There is at least one law firm in Canada that appears to be evaluating the prospects of a class action suit to recover student losses.50 Meanwhile, these sales still count as net gains for edu-export, despite the impact on the Edu-Canada brand.
Challenge: Accomplish What Many Native Canadians May Not
At most an international graduate has exactly two years from the end of their program completion to attain a skilled employment offer and retain full time skilled level employment for a one-year period before the expiry of their PGWP. Students whose families could only afford one year of international education will have to accomplish the same immediately after graduating from their education program.51 In this way the pressure on international graduates, who are often less advantaged than their Canadian counterparts, is immense.
Graduating from education programs that do not have a clear-cut skilled employment outcome is one problem, but lack of established network, limited cultural integration, problematic language skills, limited recognition of foreign education credentials and work experience all take significant tolls on the prospects of skilled employment for international graduates.
Finding entry level employment and working their way up the ladder is not an option due to tight time constraints. To meet the eligibility requirements of Canadian Experience Class, the main immigration stream available to facilitate student to PR transitions, one year of skilled employment is required during the PGWP phase.52 If international graduates are to integrate into the Canadian skilled labour force, are we giving them a reasonable chance to do so?
Aside from the fact that IRCC recognizes that the current PGWP program is not working well in this regard,53 there are other issues the department may be entirely unaware of. When workers are desperate and vulnerable there is an increased likelihood of exploitation. This is a principle IRCC recognizes as impactful to other streams (for example) the Temporary Foreign Worker program,54 but has not adopted specific protections for international graduates, despite reports of abuses.55
When employers are aware that skilled work is an immigration requirement, agreeing to frame an available job, at least on paper, as a skilled employment experience, becomes a powerful tool for negotiation. These kinds of favours can be held over an international employee’s head throughout their tenure, with the final paperwork meeting IRCC specification, typically only being handed over at the back end of the process.
The End Game
Canada’s International Study Program certainly has the capacity to do more harm than good, but only if consumers of edu-export are better protected. The Government of Canada should take time to reflect on its success in attracting large numbers of international students to Canada. Rather than supporting unlimited expansion, the Government of Canada must focus on concrete improvements in other areas, to enhance the prospects of long-term sustainability based on consumer satisfaction. Here are some proposed changes, that are not numbers gain related, which have the potential to positively impact Canada’s International Study Program:
1) Regulate education agents and online recruitment platforms that facilitate recruitment for Canada’s Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs). This move would help Canada keep pace with developments in competitor countries like Australia and New Zealand who have recognized the need for regulation and have established a platform by which consumer protection concerns can be evaluated and actioned upon when appropriate.56
2) Once regulation occurs, trade commissioners and professional regulatory groups like the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) should work at bridging connections between overseas education agents with licensed, authorized immigration service providers who would act as accountable parties for the involved immigration support. This would ensure that prospective immigrants are receiving the levels of service and protection required by Canadian law.
3) The federal government, in their annual immigration targets report, should layout a plan outlining clear, minimum targets for international student to Permanent Residence transitions. This would provide consumers with a better indication of their likelihood of success before investing and hold the government accountable to ensure better degrees of client satisfaction.
4) IRCC in alignment with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) should consider dividing international student intake into two groups:
- A) International Education Experience Pathway: Would be designed for applicants who are primarily interested in returning home after their Canadian study and work permit These students could select from an unlimited number of programs, regardless of whether their biodata and education program are well connected to significant skilled, in demand labour market con- tributions.
- B) Student to Permanent Residence Transition Pathway: Would be designed to select perspective students whose biodata as well as education program interest likely align with prospects of future economic class
5) IRCC should review the Post Graduate Work Permit program and consider expanding the allotment of work permit validity timeframes for graduates who are well positioned to make long term contributions to Canada’s Economy, ensuring that graduates have fair chance of success in establishing a skilled employment career path in Canada.
6) Make language testing a mandatory Study Permit application requirement, regardless of country of origin. This will help offset problems international students (and faculty) encounter in classrooms and during the PGWP phase.
7) IRCC’s method of “bonafide student” screening is antiquated and must be revised. Applicants coming to Canada to gain skillsets valuable for labour market integration should not be forced to present otherwise. Rather a screening system must be put in place to evaluate whether “dual intent” type applications are viable or not from the outset. This type of evaluation can likely be managed by existing data analytics technology, the type already commonly used by private immigration firms to assess client’s study to PR transition potential. This evaluation could be built into the Study Permit application process.
8) Post secondary accountability offices across the country should require that designated learning institutions under their watch, identify and insure that appropriate levels of international student support services keep pace with increases in international student enrollment. If they do not have the power to do so, this must be enacted by legislation.57
9) The Canadian government should provide funding for and help establish an independent, representative, international student organization (like the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) in Australia)58 and give students themselves a seat at the table. This would help ensure that concerns at ground level related to International Student Policy were heard and that the perspective of international students was a consideration in future policy developments.
10) The Federal government should provide respective provincial governments sufficient time to put legislation in place to protect international students attending education institutions across Canada. The legislation would be of similar nature to Manitoba’s International Education Act, but administered by an entity that ensures objective enforcement.
Canada’s international reputation, one of the main driving factors in ISP’s success, has been tarnished through recent media reports which highlight concerns for both consumers and program integrity. To repair that damage, and prevent more from occurring, improvements to our system need to take place. In making these adjustments, the Canadian government needs to do a better job at incorporating consumer perspective and care into the system. Allowing stakeholders who are primarily focused on growth and increased profits to control the narrative is certainly not the best way to accomplish that.
This is part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 appeared in the January 2022 issue of ImmQuest.
1 For example: Building on Success: International Education Strategy (2019- 2024) “As most international students are young, have Canadian educational qualifications and in-demand labour skills, and are proficient in one of our official languages, they are often ideal candidates for permanent residency.” The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, P.C., M.P. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. For example: International Educa- tion: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity “International students choosing to remain in Canada after their studies constitute a desirable source of qualified immigrants who are capable of integrating well into Canadian economy and society.
2 The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program: Proposed Options for Program Redesign (June 2015). Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Available:
3 See internal emails from International education Division at GAC related to this topic. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ywE8D4w9yr7IVJ8 T7Ahg_BSBnraemTVW/view?usp=sharing>.
4 National Occupation Classification (2021). Government of Canada. Avail- able: <https://noc.esdc.gc.ca/Structure/Noc2021?wbdisable=true>.
5 Study Permits: Other Considerations. (January 16, 2019). Government of Canada. Available: <https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees- citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins- manuals/temporary-residents/study-permits/other-considerations.html>.
6 Complete Reasons for Refusals. ATIA. Available: <https://drive.google. com/file/d/1RGlcSvdl40PWpqxmQL74hwbLv1xLoFtM/view?usp
7 Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (SOR/2002-227). Gov- ernment of Canada. Available: <https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/ regulations/sor-2002-227/page-34.html#h-689238>.
8 Refusal Grounds Example. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/ 1X85U4GCwfVCz2zl3tajdGi6jgWOHm2OS/view?usp=sharing>.
9 Private Career College Access to Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. See IRCC ATIA release which explains policy that discludes (generally) Private Career College graduates from PGWP eligibility. Available: <https:// drive.google.com/file/d/1i_e51vJlyZLAmsULHuMvH4Z-ZwSBgA-9/view>.
10 Deals Between Public-Private Colleges Pose Unacceptable Risks to Students, Ontario Report Says (April 22, 2018). The Globe and Mail. Available:
11 For example FOIA requests for details of these agreements are typically withheld in full if requested. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/ 1qAK7Pv5mvPZdHPHTokjJgZZYDstTI3Jx/view?usp=sharing>.
12 Graduate Employment Stat Examples. Available:
13 Governance and Accountability Framework (September 2010) Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Policy Framework. See page 6. Available:
14 For example, see the following:
Niagara college program specific grad employment statistics. Available:
Conestoga College program specific grad employment statistics. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z1-Cb-a2gEVtyaUyIn6L7LMC xgDWv1ad/view>.
15 See email exchanges with Fanshawe College and Conestoga College respectively. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q9eWt277AsTey a5sRhKfmNkjUXlLNoOS/view?usp=sharing>.
16 See email from Fanshawe college confirming the use and name of 3rd party company for KPI data collection. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file
17 Graduate Employment Report. Algonquin College. Available: <https:// drive.google.com/file/d/1CqmALv0ihFt9-8LhxdK9IIIWTIGIpzlR/view
18 Governance and Accountability Framework (September 2010) Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Policy Framework. See page 5. Available:
19 See email exchange with the government of Nova Scotia. Available:
<https://drive.google.com/file/d/17L-6jvL7-bTb0EsnOeLsru_q7bKph_Uz/ view?usp=sharing>; and see email exchange with Cape Bretton University (for example). Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o3Ly58w94yT EBPKlalejq7c1BZ_Cnd0B/view?usp=sharing>.
20 Study Permit, Manila Visa Office Instructions. Immigration Canada. Available: <https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/IMM5836E. pdf>.
21 Student Direct Stream (SDS). Government of Canada. Available: <https:// www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/ publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary- residents/study-permits/direct-stream.html>.
22 See for example internal communications Fanshawe College retrieved by way of FIPPA request. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/ 1nBJPX9p3QHbGCddnFVfLRfZFIxTLpSwv/view?usp=sharing>.
23 See trade Commissioner email to DLI representative retrieved by way of ATIA. Available:
24 See email sent in this regard to sub agent network. Available: <https:// drive.google.com/file/d/1X67F9ZuQQL-dOKyVwZaAU7R8ZkztHvGW/ view?usp=sharing>.
25 English Language Testing Issue. Fanshaw College. Available: <https:// drive.google.com/file/d/1ugWIXMdaGgIi6u1P2CXKaN2eFjm-clkF/view? usp=sharing>.
26 Douglas Todd: B.C college faculty feel pressuer to ’pass’ foreign students (August 17, 2017). Vancouver Sun. Available: <https://vancouversun.com/ opinion/columnists/douglas-todd-b-c-college-faculty-feel-pressure-to- pass-foreign-students>.
27 Global Affairs Canada, and CBIE (which uses IRCC data sets) both present different number totals of international students in Canada. CBIE Data Set: TTL 530, 540. Available: <https://cbie.ca/infographic/> GAC Data Set: TTL 730,370. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rYLVabcSeNnd732 D-9k_y0OWSyJSUVKU/view?usp=sharing> (likely part of the difference is explained by study permit exemptions).
28 Canada Provides Update on Exemptions to Travel Restrictions to Protect Canadians and Support the Economy (March 27, 2020). Government of Canada. Available:
29 D’Andrea, Aaron. Canada Extends Ban on Flights from India to August 21 due to Delta Variant Fears (July 19, 2021). Global News. Available:
30 Jiang, Peter. ‘It’s Obviously Good News’: UBC students praise end of India flight ban, one month later (October 27, 2021). The Ubyssey. Available:
31 Rabson, Mia. Hundreds of Travellers to Canada Test Positive for COVID-19 Variants (April 28, 2021). CBC. Available: <https://www.cbc.ca/news/ politics/covid-variants-quarantine-travellers-1.6006046>.
32 Ng, Edward. COVID-19 deaths among immmigrants: Evidence from the early months of the pandemic (June 9, 2021). Statistics Canada. Available:
33 Support Dino and his Family. Gofundme. Available: <https://www.gofund me.com/f/help-dino-and-his-family?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet& utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer>.
34 Firang, David. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on international students in Canada. (2020). International Social Work. 63(6).
35 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Designated learning institutions reopening to international students. Governmennt of Canada. Available: <https:// www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/ coronavirus-covid19/students/approved-dli.html>.
36 See multiple examples of feedback related to problems with DLI Readiness plans identified by public health authorities in Ontario (retrieved by FIPPA November 2021). Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/103RPCeU0 3dflxG0M-K2vWSrFJgj3eBAY/view>.
37 See Memorandum to DLI’s, December 23, 2021 from Tamara Gilbert,
Assistant Deputy Minister, Advanced Education and Learner Support Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Available: <https://drive.google.com
38 See ATIA release (IRCC) Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/ 1h8p0wtVN8Pw9WIiycNJ2PoehuQ2FKoAx/view>.
39 Ibid. Page 7.
40 Ibid. Page 8.
41 Evaluation of the Interational Student Program (April 2015). Government of Canada. Available: <https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees- citizenship/corporate/reports-statistics/evaluations/international-student
42 See in particular page 3 and page 5 of the summary of stakeholder concerns retrieved by ATIA request. Available:
43 Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP): COVID-19 program delivery. Government of Canada. Available:
44 Many of these students will have invested in a one-year online program abroad and remain PGWP eligible, due to concessions made during COVID- 19 by IRCC. Completing an academic program of one year duration entitles graduates toa one year post grad work permit. Most international graduates will require a one-year Canadian skilled work claim to have any chance of successful student to PR transition. The PGWP would be issued at the airport on arrival and would have exactly a one-year validity period.
45 Appeal to IRCC, Give Us Our Study Permits — We have waited for More than 22 weeks. Change.org. Available: <https://www.change.org/p/appeal-to- minister-for-immigration-refugees-and-citizenship-canada-ircc-give-us- our-study-permits-we-have-waited-for-160-days?utm_source=share_ petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=725a4c80-ad54-11ea
46 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Minister Menicino announ- ces changes to facilitate online learning for international students (July 14, 2020). Government of Canada.
47 Study Permit Approval Rates by Country 2020. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Available:
48 See in particular page 3 of the linked ATIA related (Global Affairs Canada) “Approval in Principle” chart. Available:
49 Nott, Will. Canada: Visa delays risking mental health of int’l students (February 1, 2021). The Pie News. Available:
50 Seeking: Canadian Study Permit Applicants Refused through IRCC’s Two- Stage Process After a First Stage Approval/Commencement of Studies Overseas (August 9, 2021). Heron Law Offices. Available: <https:// heronlaw.ca/seeking-canadian-study-permit-applicants-refused-through
51 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Post-graduation work permit eligibility requirements. Government of Canada. Available:
52 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Eligibility to apply for the
Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry. Government of Canada. Available: <https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/ services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/eligibility/canadian-experience
53 The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program: Proposed Options for Program Redesign (June 2015). Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Available:
54 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Temporary foreign workers: Your rights are protected. Government of Canada. Available: <https:// www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign- workers/protected-rights.html>.
55 Hune-Brown, Nicholas. The Shadowy Business of International Education (August 18, 2021). The Walrus. Available: <https://thewalrus.ca/the- shadowy-business-of-international-education/>.
56 Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice (2021). New Zealand Qualification Authority. Available: <https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/providers- partners/tertiary-and-international-learners-code/>.
57 See email from Director of Post Secondary Accountability office in Ontario. Available: <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1A3TKSFGRTzklhKUq81- g0UO6vNh41MUL/view?usp=sharing>.
58 Submissions to the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021- 2030 Consultation (May 12, 2021). Council of International Students Australia. Available:
What Does it Mean to be a Regulated Immigration Consultant?
By Roxanne McInnis Jessome, RCIC
The definition of a regulated profession is that the profession has a governing or regulatory body that is sanctioned by the law to govern or regulate a profession. In the context of Canadian immigration consultants, the profession is regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (“ICCRC”). The ICCRC was created in 2011 and appointed by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, by operation of Bill C-35 and the creation and enactment of S. 91(5) of IRPA, as the designated regulatory body of Canadian immigration consultants. The ICCRC took over regulation of Canadian immigration consultants from the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (“CSIC”), who were the first regulatory body of Canadian immigration consultants, created in 2004. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (“RCIC”) is the professional designation given to Canadian immigration consultants who are authorized or licensed to practice by the ICCRC.
The ICCRC is a not-for-profit corporation established under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (“CNCA”). Corporations operating under the CNCA are non-share capital corporations, meaning they are composed of members rather than shareholders. As a non-share capital corporation, the ICCRC is financed solely by capital raised from annual membership fees, entry to practice examination fees and fines to members. The ICCRC receives no regular funding from the federal government.
It is important to note that RCICs are federally regulated as a profession unlike most other regulated professions which are provincially regulated. There are only three federally regulated groups of professionals in Canada including immigration consultants. The other two are insolvency (bankruptcy) trustees and aviation occupations such as pilots and air traffic controllers. There is another important distinction between RCICs and other federally regulated professions in that RCICs are the only fully self-regulated profession amongst these three federally regulated groups of professionals.
Professional Self-Regulation Certain professions are regulated to serve the public interest by providing consumer protection where transactions take place between professionals and consumers.
Self-regulation is when an occupational group has an agreement with government to formally regulate the activities of its members. As a condition of delegation of regulatory powers, the regulatory body is required to apply these powers in a manner that is guided by the public interest.
Professional self-regulation is a regulatory model which enables government to have some control over the practice of a profession and the services provided by its members but without having to maintain the special in-depth expertise required to regulate a profession that would be required under direct regulation.
Self-regulation is an exceptional privilege. The reason why professions are given this privilege is that governments trust professionals to be able to put aside their self-interest in favour of promoting the public interest. The trust that governments put in the ability of professional regulatory bodies to put the public interest first is not absolute, however. There are several mechanisms that governments have introduced to keep professional regulatory bodies honest—ministerial accountability, increasing the number of government appointed members on councils and boards, and introducing agencies that have oversight over some aspects of the operations of the professional regulatory bodies.
In the context of immigration consultants, although the ICCRC has a statutory requirement to report on its activities directly to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, there are no government-appointed members of the ICCRC Board of Directors. However, under S. 91(5) of IRPA, the Minister has the power to revoke the designation of the ICCRC as the regulatory body of immigration consultants in Canada. This Ministerial power is not to be taken lightly and was created due to many reports of poor governance, unfair practices and abuse of power by the previous regulator, CSIC. The creation of the ICCRC is the “second chance” given to Canadian immigration consultants to correctly and fairly self-regulate this profession by creating and enforcing the highest standards for entry to and continued practice of Canadian immigration consultants, thus ensuring protection of consumers utilizing the services provided by RCICs.
Why Are Immigration Consultants Regulated? Due to the complex nature of the legal work performed by immigration consultants in Canada, the Federal Government determined that immigration consultants must be regulated for the following reasons:
- The public does not have the capacity to evaluate the competence of their representative (before it may be too late to do so)
- There is an imbalance in the power of the representative and that of those who receive services
- When the consequences of the actions of incompetent or unethical representatives are serious
It is not whether the profession ‘deserves’ to be a recognized as a profession that concerns government; rather, it is whether the public needs protection that will motivate a government to regulate a profession.
Types of Regulation
There are three levels of regulation: registration, certification, and licensure.
Registration is the least involved form of regulation. Here the requirement is for professionals to be listed on a sanctioned register.
Certification is essentially the stamp of approval given to an individual for meeting pre-determined requirements. Certification is often associated with monopoly use of a specific title or professional designation (“protection of title”). This model protects the public by providing information about the qualifications of designation holders so that the public can make an informed decision about who they want to receive services from.
Licensure is one of the most restrictive forms of professional regulation. Specifically, licensure provides an occupational group with monopoly control over who can practice a profession. Only those individuals who have met specific requirements to enter a profession are issued a “license” to practice the profession or to perform certain “controlled acts.” Entry requirements are generally quite detailed and often include attaining specified educational requirements and completion of some form of licensing examination.
RCICs are included in the last group of regulated professions, requiring licensure to practice as Canadian immigration consultants. The ICCRC determined the requirements for entry to practice, “licencing”, and continued practice of RCICs.
Responsibilities of the ICCRC as the Regulator of Immigration Consultants Although professional regulation has some benefits for the profession, its essential reason for existing is to protect the public, not to enhance the status of the profession. The primary purpose behind all regulatory body activity is to protect the public from incompetent or unethical practitioners and to ensure the effective provision and access to professional services, not to forward the interests of the profession and its members.
Professional regulatory bodies are required in law to protect and promote the public interest by regulating the practice of the profession. The fundamental mission of professional regulatory bodies is to minimize and mitigate the risks to the public that may arise from the practice of the profession.
- define criteria for registration with and certification by the professional regulatory body,
- provide guidance to members in the form of codes of ethics, rules of professional conduct and standards of practice,
- maintain a public register which contains information about individuals registered with the professional, and
- investigate complaints about members and discipline members as required.
The By-Law of the ICCRC provides the “rules” under which the above tasks are accomplished. As allowed by the By-Law, the ICCRC creates, amends and enforces the Code of Professional Ethics and several Regulations that govern all aspects of this profession including entry to practice (becoming licensed), continuation of practice (maintaining a license), and education, language and experience standards of RCICs. This also includes complaints and disciplinary processes and procedures against RCICs for breaches of the By-Law, Code of Professional Ethics and Regulations. In other words, the ICCRC’s duty is to “police” the profession of immigration consulting in Canada to ensure the consumer is always protected from unlawful and/or unethical conduct by an RCIC and that RCICs continually meet high standards of professional practice.
It is very important to understand that the ICCRC has no statutory (legal) authority to investigate, impose sanctions upon, or seek judicial enforcement against non-RCICs. ICCRC cannot pursue “ghost consultants” who are not authorized to practice! ICCRC’s job is to ensure the public is protected from unethical or unlawful practice of RCICs who are members of the ICCRC. Only the CBSA and RCMP have the legal authority to investigate and prosecute individuals who are not Authorized Representatives as defined by S. 91(2) of IRPA.
Differences Between a Professional Association vs. Professional Regulator We have learned that the government gives legal authority to a professional regulator to act as “the enforcer” and/or “police” of a profession to ensure protection of consumers using the services of its members. This is very different from the purpose of a professional association whose role is to serve the interests of its members. Professional associations serve member interests in many ways including:
- providing networking opportunities
- publishing information of interest to members
- conducting research
- staging conferences, seminars and workshops
- negotiating preferential rates for members for various products and services
- lobbying government to influence policy in furtherance of the interests of their members
There are some overlaps of activities of associations and regulators but these overlaps are quite instructive. For instance, both professional regulators and professional associations will offer professional development activities, but, they will do so for very different reasons. Professional associations will offer professional development activities to help members advance their careers; professional regulators will offer professional development activities because they remedy a specific knowledge or skills gap which poses some risk to the public. The activity may be similar, but the reasons for engaging in the activity are very different.
Regulated professional are required by law to be members of their regulatory body while membership of a professional association is voluntary unless the regulator is also the association. There are some professions where the regulator and the professional association are one and the same but that is not the case for RCICs. The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (“CAPIC”) is the professional association of RCICs. If you think of ICCRC as the member’s “police”, then think of CAPIC as the member’s “union”.ICCRC’s purpose is to serve the best interests of the consumer while CAPIC’s purpose is to serve the best interests of RCICs. For more information about CAPIC, please view their website at www.capic.ca.
Roxanne McInnis Jessome has been a practicing immigration consultant since 2009 and is a member in good standing with the ICCRC. She owns and operates Join Canada, an immigration consulting practice and employs 2 RCICs in her firm. She is an instructor and Course Lead of the Certificate in Immigration Laws, Policies and Procedures program at the University of British Columbia. Roxanne is a regular guest speaker for CAPIC and IMEDA CPD seminars covering various topics of immigration law. She hails from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and has lived in the Greater Vancouver area for over 20 years. You can reach Roxanne by telephone at 604-465-8200 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Difference One Voice can make in our profession: Your Voice!
By David LeBlanc, RCIC
Dear colleagues, our Regulator is under review from both outside and from within. Front and centre are two upset members with their stories of what is broken. They stood side by side at AGM recently, and voiced their opinions for all to hear.
One appears to have no clients, no active practice, nothing to lose if they succeed in damaging an entire profession of hard working colleagues who have fought for decades for credibility and regulation.
Their strategy is to misinform the masses, especially the newest members. Offer candy: reduce the fees to a level that no quality of services could ever be provided.
They have been joined by a small group of followers who have fallen for their tales of woe, seduced by the offer of free – cheap goods.
Some of us have looked outside of ourselves, wondering when the cavalry will arrive to save us, as if our rescuers could ever be anyone other than you and I, instead of changing the status quo, and fixing what needs to be fixed.
There are many remarkable leaders already in place at ICCRC and CAPIC. And they need your help. We need to strengthen the profession and insulate ourselves from the dark stories these two have woven.
With a special thanks to three remarkable women, Roxanna Jessome, Fran Wipf, and Camilla Jones, whose ideas are incorporated below on how all three levels of stakeholders can do just that:
- ICCRC – make more information available faster to all members, communicate their good news regularly.
- CAPIC– communicate industry good news to every RCIC and not just CAPIC members!
- You and I– be informed, keep current on key issues right now, raise your voice, let go of old stories that no longer serve unity, join your Professional Association CAPIC, get involved with and support your regulator ICCRC, ask questions, know the truth, care, vote!
The Dalai Lama was asked, what is the single greatest evil facing humankind? His response: “Apathy.” If you just sit there, say nothing, do nothing, we will be at a standstill as an industry.
Every time you have a colleague parrot stories that are not theirs, sit down and educate them. They know not what they do!
We cannot respond to any unkindness with the same level of response. We have to be better than that. Tell the truth, patiently. Bring your colleague back into the light, onto the high road beside you.
Those bearing false witness will be left with nothing more harmful in their hands than day-old newspaper made limp from the high tide of truth.
History of the Regulation of Immigration Consultants in Canada
By Lynn Gaudet, RCIC and Camilla Jones RCIC
In other fields of law, non-lawyers who provide legal services are called paralegals. In the field of immigration law, non-lawyers who provide legal services are called immigration consultants.
Immigration consultants must be distinguished from law clerks who also provide legal services, but who are employed and supervised by lawyers.
This paper is a history of the Regulation of Immigration Consultants in Canada.
PART I – How it all started
Federal Jurisdiction: Law Society of British Columbia V. Mangat
The Supreme Court of Canada in the case of the Law Society of British Columbia v. Mangat,  3 S.C.R. 113 determined that the Federal Government and not the provincial government had the jurisdiction to regulate immigration consultants. The Mangat case arose when the Law Society of British Columbia claimed that only lawyers could legally provide paid immigration services.
Mr. Mangat, at that time an immigration consultant, was charged with the provincial offence of conducting an unauthorized legal practice, because he was not a lawyer yet he provided immigration services to clients for a fee.
The services provided by Mr. Mangat included appearing on behalf of clients at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), drafting immigration applications for clients and advise clients about immigration law. There was no evidence that the services he provided were below the standard that would have been provided by a lawyer.
The Supreme Court decided that because immigration was a federal matter according to the Constitution Act 1867, it was the responsibility of the federal government, not British Columbia, to decide who may practice immigration law. The court found that the provincial statute governing the practice of law in British Columbia did not apply to the practice of immigration law.
The Immigration Act which was in force at the time, (Immigration Act 1978) permitted representation by a barrister, solicitor or other counsel. This was broad enough to allow non lawyers to act on behalf of clients on immigration matters. There were no restrictions on how immigration law was practiced by non-lawyers. Anyone could open up a business and call themselves “immigration consultant”. This total lack of regulation led to many instances of incompetence and fraud.
The Mangat case clarified that it was the federal government that had the power to restrict the practice of immigration law. The federal government chose not to prohibit practice by non-lawyers, as the BC government had attempted to do; instead, it set up a regulatory regime to ensure the ability and integrity of immigration consultants and the quality of their service.
Standing Committee on Immigration and Citizenship
In 2002, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada created an advisory committee to identify problems within the immigration consulting industry. The committee’s task was to propose recommendations on how to regulate the industry.
Regulation in the industry was needed as there were no set standards for the level of education, the quality of services, or the professional accountability necessary to offer services as an immigration consultant.
The lack of standards resulted in a deficiency in protecting consumers within the immigrant communities. Immigrant applicants did not understand the differences between a lawyer, an immigration consultant and a non-governmental organization and were unfamiliar with Canada’s immigration laws.
The Committee found that some consultants were unscrupulous and held themselves out as experts on the subject of immigration despite the fact that they had little or no training or experience. Many victims were afraid to complain. There was no formal complaint process established to deal with those consultants who abused the trust of their clients and therefore tarnished the industry as a whole.
The Report of the Advisory Committee on Regulating Immigration Consultants and the Committee’s recommendations resulted in the creation of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) – an independent regulatory body for immigration consultants who charge a fee for their services.
Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants
The Government of Canada amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Regulations on April 13, 2004 so that those who, for a fee, advise and represent potential immigrants before Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) needed to be members in good standing with either the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, a provincial or territorial bar, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
Representatives can play a constructive role in assisting persons in matters before the Minister, an officer or the IRB. Representatives include those who charge fees for their services (such as lawyers, consultants and Québec notaries) and individuals who provide services at no cost (such as family members, friends, non-governmental and religious organizations, etc.).
The purpose of these provisions in the regulations is to prescribe which immigration representatives may or may not, for a fee, represent, advise or consult with a person who is the subject of an immigration or refugee proceeding or application before the Minister, an officer, or the IRB. These regulations did not apply to citizenship applications. The Citizenship Act does not contain the same regulatory making authorization as IRPA.
The provisions in the Regulations:
— define the meaning of “authorized representative”;
— specify that a person who is not an authorized representative may not, for a fee, advise, represent or consult with a person before the Minister, an officer, or the IRB;
— specify that students-at-law are not deemed to be representing, advising or consulting a person who is the subject of an IRPA application or proceeding, for a fee, if they are working under the supervision of lawyers or notaries who are the authorized representatives of that person;
— require immigration and refugee applicants to provide CIC or the CBSA with their representative’s contact information;
— for authorized representatives, immigration and refugee applicants must identify the organization (Chambre des notaires, CSIC or Law society) and provide their representative’s identification or membership number;
— permit a person who is not an authorized representative to provide advice, represent or consult for a fee for up to four years after the Regulations come into force, if the application or proceeding on which they are providing representation was submitted or in progress before the new regulations came into force; and
— allow CIC, the CBSA and the IRB to conduct business with representatives who provide their services for a fee if they are members in good standing of one of the organizations described in the definition of authorized representative.
Since provincial and territorial law societies and the Chambre des notaires du Québec already regulate their profession with membership standards, codes of conduct and effective complaint mechanisms, lawyers and Québec notaries need not be members of CSIC.
The History of Our Profession
IMEDA and CAPIC hosted a joint session for members to learn about the Industry’s struggle for self regulation.
Immigration Consulting: a profession at an exciting crossroad
By David LeBlanc, Ferreira-Wells Immigration, Toronto
Written to the Graduating Class of Herzing College, published as Editorial by ICCRC and CAPIC
Dear fellow RCIC colleagues and friends,
Our profession of Immigration consulting is at a curious crossroads: we are the only profession that can have both founding members and newly licensed graduating practitioners all in the same ballroom, looking back at our past and forward to our future all at the same time.
What a remarkable moment we are at! Senior colleagues have the opportunity to share, mentor, and give back to the profession they fought so hard to see survive and successfully established under our new worthy regulator. New members have the challenge to show that they are worthy of the investment of time from their mentors: to not be lazy, to care about the remarkable hardships that the profession underwent recently in emerging from the shadows of a broken regulator, and to work hard at coming up to speed as fast as possible in this complex and fast changing work: to be truly worthy to serve their clients as they so rightly deserve.
New Consultants often ask, “How can I make a decent living?” in the Jerry McGuire vein of ‘show me the money’, and are a bit surprised when I respond that not only is it possible to make a really good living, but to be happy, enriched by this exciting profession. I have a small gift at the end of this mostly aimed at newer members of our profession, but there may even be something useful for those who have been around a little while longer.
I was watching the interaction of hundreds of immigration lawyers at the recent Canadian Bar Association immigration law conference in Ottawa, and frankly, I was jealous. I was envious of their camaraderie, the passion that they brought to the profession, the generosity of their collegial sharing, They are all actively involved in lobbying for change, improvements in everything immigration – from the CIC rep portal, to human justice and charter challenge issues that reflect what Canada is supposed to stand for. And in one shining example, the Award of Excellence that was given to Lorne Waldman, who has always had his eye on the bigger picture, the wider horizon of immigration matters and human rights.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight.”
~ Martin Luther King
I now compare the CBA to CAPIC. Will CAPIC ever become on par with the CBA? Absolutely, in due time. The CBA has the benefit of having been around since its first meeting in 1896, and incorporated in 1926. CAPIC has the human capitol, intelligence and passion. It is rightly proud of the admirable accomplishment of the recent impressive growth with the addition of many new members. But big numbers, big associations, don’t inspire: having big dreams, goals, a vision that engages all its members, that inspires. Under a renewed leadership, there is the opportunity for looking beyond personal agendas and regional silo mentality. It is time to look up, way up … to a much larger vision of our future. We already are as collegial as our CBA colleagues. There are great men and women in the organization whose energy, wisdom, and caring can be harnessed, given a worthy vision. The vision we need to create together must be bigger, and inspirational.
“That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”
~ The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus
And part of that process is how each one of us looks at the work we do, to do it magnificently, and then to reach out to lift up the whole profession, to join in and give back! ‘ As above, so below.’
Starting the focus on you as the individual practitioner, below are some ideas that have emerged over the past many years out of our practice, respectfully offered in case they may be of use to you in yours.
David’s 25 Secrets to Immigration Consulting Success
By David LeBlanc (originally written for Herzing College Graduating Class)
What if something I said today could make you rich and famous in this great profession? Or keep you from going to jail? Or from seeing your name in the paper? Can you really ever have peace of mind in such a fast changing turbulent but rewarding profession? The National Post and serious magazines and books have banners that read Top 10 Keys to Success, Exclusive: Untold Secrets Revealed. Today I will share with you my Top 25 Secrets to Life as an Immigration Consultants. I hope you will take away something of real value from today.
Thirteen years ago I was sitting where many of you are today, embarking on a new career in immigration. I did not know then what I would need to know to be successful, let alone how to keep out of trouble.
Life can be tough, but success doesn’t have to be. There are a few simple ideas that I would like to share with you for your own benefit. Here is my top 25 list:
- What is the most precious gift you can give someone else, and yourself, in this wired, plugged in era? The gift of your presence. Unplug. Put away the iToys. Really. Be. Present. Especially in school learning immigration law, and at CPD seminars. Texting while learning can kill your career faster than texting while driving.
- Start by finding a mentor. You do not know yet, what you do not know. Become worthy of mentoring, and deserving of your client’s trust. Find a mentor to oversee you on new categories of work until you become confident, skillful. Intern with a well established RCIC firm. Join CAPIC with their Solutions Forum, and the IC ListServ. Stay current on all the changes, especially now! Get to know every detail of your new profession. Do NOT become a lazy consultant by asking questions for help when you haven’t done your own basic research with IRPA, Act, Regs, CIC online guides (in that order!) If you do not know what you are doing – STOP working on that case and get co-counsel immediately.
- Get to know the ICCRC Code of Ethics inside out. They are there for a reason. – Sidebar: ask senior colleagues about the old regulator,CSIC, and the end of a dark era in our history. Realize what a gift you have in the new regulator ICCRC, one of the youngest self-regulated professions in the legal field.
- Become an ambassador of the newest self regulated profession in Canada.
- Do your best, and fight the good fight for every client. You will not win them all. Know what to challenge, appeal options, who to turn to. Do not take refusals personally, or carry your client’s hardships around with you.
- Your reputation is your most precious asset. It is a very small world out there. Only book good qualifying business, or cases with strong merit. Practice with the highest of integrity always. Assume every thing you write in texts or emails will be seen by the Globe and Mail, regulator, your mother!
- Never counsel to misrepresent or knowingly submit false documents.
- For every change in CIC regs, a piece of business changes or dies. Look for the new opportunities in every change.
- Submit perfect forms. Be creative and resourceful in your submissions. Tell a big story, leave nothing to the CIC officer’s imagination.
- Immigration Officers are real flesh and blood humans. When there is a Humanitarian story to tell, go for the heartstrings, make the story compelling with a soundtrack.
- Know the answer to ‘what is the difference between a lawyer and an immigration consultant?’ not all lawyers are imm experts. We are limited only in not being able to file Federal Court appeals.
- Giving your time away: know how to move the brief 2 minute assessment chat into a paid detailed consultation. Can you say, “fries with that?” Don’t give away the store or cater to info-thieves who will never hire you. Know the tell-tale signs you are being fleeced of your valuable insider info by someone who has no intention of retaining your services: beware those whose detailed questions show they are CIC website PhD’s, looking for that one answer to file themselves.
- Getting the good word out. In this wired world, Websites are a survival basic necessity. Become a SEO – Search Engine Optimization – expert fast! Print ads and stone tablets have something in common for a reason; keep up with your future. Beware the ‘Emperor’s clothes’ of SEO service sellers, the industry is full of fraud artists!
- Prosperity must-haves: after the website, a Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal for credit, debit cards deposit direct to your bank. Online eCommerce payment page on your website is worth its weight in gold!
- Money: methods of payment – credit, debit, bank drafts, money orders, pictures of the queen … and NO cheques unless they are Fortune 500’s. Terms of sale. How to divide out the payments so you don’t lose your shirt by day. Substantial deposits, interim payments well before submissions, full payment prior to submit. No contingency fees, which are now against ICCRC rules. Setting fees: who is charging what? More importantly, how much is this piece of work worth to your client? You are looking for the sweet spot between staying competitive and earning a good living at the beginning, and build on that over years. Your rate will go up with your skills and confidence. Do your research, do not try to compete with the bargain basement shops or you will go out of business. Hourly billing: beware. Not every hour has the same value to the client’s future. If you bill by the hour, you run the very high risk of staying poor. Your first three hours with any client are the most precious. Don’t sell yourself short. Clients can walk away with your gold when they figure out how to finish the file on their own.
- Deadlines: Track them, live by them, meet them on time or early, or they will kill you. Use Outlooks, smart phones or iPads as you prefer, but not as the only existing copy of your calendar and deadlines. Back up your iToys weekly! Keep paper calendars with month-at-a-glance pages, use wall boards, track every deadline (ie IRB / IAD disclosures due 10/20 days prior to hearings, Appeals filing deadlines, etc.).
- Client’s most important skill for survival at any Port of Entry (POE) crossing: rapport. Grooming, calm confidence closely follows.
- Angry client: just listen, and honour their emotions first right away. Fix the problem second.
- Bearing CIC bad news to the client: when a visa is refused. Try in person or by phone as often as possible, so you can express regret, review options, manage emotions.
- The client who does not qualify, if handled with warmth and professional empathy, will refer you other clients who do qualify, and will return when their circumstances change or they qualify in future.
- As soon as every prospective client leaves your office, send them a thank you email. They already have your business card, which they may misplace, but most will save email and refer others to you.
- Why should I hire you? Knowing how clients choose counsel: expertise + likeability rule over price.
- Buy and read: The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It will give you something big to dream for.
- Work hard, and at the end of the day, close the shop, and go home to play with your loved ones. Unplug.
- Giving back: the best practice tradition of doing pro-bono work to those deserving, in need. Share your wisdom with a new up and coming peer. Volunteer with CAPIC, ICCRC. Get involved in your profession.
Ps: 2 extra items added:
- Buy your first set of office furnishings at business bankruptcy auctions. They are published in the paper and a lot of fun, awesome deals to be had. Look for large co auctions, not small industrial office with huge factory warehouses.
- Agents: Don’t. Run for the hills. Don’t be fooled. Finding an honest one is rarer than finding a happily married friend. Most will rob you blind, cheat your clients, and ruin your reputation with the public and make you liable to account to ICCRC.
Thirteen years ago, I did not know what I needed to know today.
I am grateful for the kindness of strangers in setting me on the right path, especially for the generosity of senior colleagues who have reached out with a helping hand over the years. I am especially grateful for those brave pioneers like Phil Mooney, Katarina Onuschak, Bruce Perreault, Jeff Hemlin and many others who were trailblazers in fighting the good fight to see our right to practice protected, and to bring us back into the light under a responsible and ethical regulatory body.
As a new member, you should know and care deeply about what those founding members went through. Your freedom to practice today is due to their personal efforts.
I thank you for your presence with me today.
My warmest wishes to you all for success and prosperity in your careers ahead.
David LeBlanc, RCIC – ICCRC
Managing Director, Senior Counsel
Ferreira-Wells Immigration Services, Toronto
David is a High Honors Graduate of Seneca College’s Immigration Practitioner Program, and a Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants. He has been in practice since 2002, having joined an already well established firm founded by Bruce Ferreira-Wells, a former CIC immigration and citizenship officer. In April 2004, they were among the first hundred registrants listed with the former regulatory body Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants – CSIC, and is now a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council – ICCRC.
He is a specialist in Family and Economic Class applications, refugee and H&C clients, attends Appeals and Admissibility hearings at all immigration tribunals, prepares all of our final submissions, and responds to all challenges from Canada Immigration. A former banker and National Credit – Customer Service Manager with Fortune 500 corporations, David is the firm’s Managing Director and senior counsel, and oversees our staff and daily business operations. He has taught classes at Seneca in the Professional Practice Management module, and is a founding member of the Immigration Consultant’s Listserv, a professional forum established in 2004 dedicated to the advancement of Immigration Consultant’s Continuing Professional Development.
David is well known among his peers for standing up publicly to a corrupt and abusive executive of the former regulator, and was part of a larger group that brought Ministerial attention to the matter, resulting in a brand new regulator being appointed. He brings the same focus and energy to bear in his dealings with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in championing our clients’ causes.
David is an avid portrait, travel and urban scene photographer, and has been a volunteer telephone crisis counselor with Distress Centres, family counselor with Survivor Support Program (helping families who have survived a suicide), and Big Brothers, where he taught his ‘little brother’ Brent how to ride BMX bikes. A world traveler, he was the past president of The Hemingway, an equity co-op for ten years, and oversaw its conversion to condominium. He is also a trained chef.
David was born in Montreal on Bastille Day, the National holiday of France, and one day he hopes to find himself in Paris on his birthday so he can see the fireworks and pretend they are for him.
Commencement speech, Herzing College Immigration Program
By David LeBlanc, RCIC (for Graduating class Toronto Nov 10 2016)
Dr. Herzing, staff, and graduates of Herzing College, thank you for inviting me here today.
It is indeed an honor to have this opportunity to talk to you on this special day. For many of you just fresh out of school, your big life adventure begins. For others, returning to school as mature students, it is a chance to reinvent yourself, choose a new direction in life.
The last time I was addressing Herzing students, I asked students to turn off their electronic devices, as I was about to share something that would make them a million dollars, and keep them out of jail .. be fully present.
What is common to everyone here, no matter which program you are in, is how to stand out in the crowd, whether it be in your job search, to making the right impression once you start your new job, to becoming recognized as a value added employee, to being a community leader in your profession and beloved at home.
Does anyone remember Rhonda Byrne and her little book, The Secret? She took old world wisdom, and repackaged it, and whispered her new little secret all for the price of her new book.
There really are no new secrets to success in your future. What I will share with you is as old as time, some from Dale Carnegie and others over the years. They are old fashioned and mostly lost arts in this modern day of smartphones and social media.
Let’s start with your job hunt:
- Never send out bulk or blind email job inquiries. Every one must be addressed to a specific recipient. Don’t be lazy and take shortcuts. Find the name of a specific person to write to.
- Set up informational interviews. Read Tom Jackson’s book: Guerilla Tactics in the New Job Market.
- Be impeccable in your presentation. Typos, spelling – you only have one shot at making the right first impressions.
- Show up on time for interviews always. Be prepared. Be early. Research your employer in advance of your meeting. Let them know you know who they are. Mr. Hood researched us before we arrived and knew who we were. Thanks to Google and his personal interest and initiative.
- Always send a thank you email after an interview. Take away their business card. If you do, that simple courtesy will bring you to the top of the pile in their eyes.
Making the right impression at your new job
- Show up. Woody Allan said 90% of life was just showing up. That is just the beginning.
- Work hard. Remember men with modest beginnings like Honest Ed Mirvish. He arrived as a humble immigrant with a dime in his pocket, worked hard, and built an empire. Pretend you have that same dime in your pocket, and that burning energy in your heart.
- Go the extra mile. Always do your best.
- Leave technology in its place – cellphones and internet usage at work is seen by all
- Never go over your bosses’ head. If you do, you will have some hard lessons to learn.
- Don’t stay in a toxic work place. Do your best to help your boss and be a positive person helping him fix his problems. If you can’t help the organization change, leave. Life is far too short.
- Manage the intangibles – soft skills, interpersonal relationships and ‘emotional intelligence’ are more important now than ever, even job skills, for advancement
How many of you know Kathy, graduating today and here with you tonight? She is interning with us now, and she is just brilliant. She asked to leave at noon today, so she could have her hair done. I decided to slip out early too, so I could have myhair done! ( for those of you not present, my hair is 1/8” long, and can be styled with a wash cloth ;p )
Standing out in the crowd:
- Be impeccable in your word – promises made and kept. Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements talks about this, avoiding gossip, complaining, and always keeping your word as a sacred bond!
- Be impeccable in your reputation – it really is a very small world out there when it comes to your reputation and having trust – especially for those in our line of work. I know all of the good lawyers and consultants, their reputation precedes them. And I know the bad ones too. “It’s a small world after all” is not just a Disney ride theme song. In this wired world, you have no secrets.
- Be fully present. For yourself. For your clients and colleagues, partners, children …
I watched a dog in the park last week whose master was texting. The dog looked back at him, ignored. I saw a man sitting across from his fiancée in a fine cafe. He was texting someone else, ignoring his beautiful partner. She looked down, sadly. She and the dog had exactly the same look in their eyes. Smarten up. Be present. Don’t allow new technology to rob you of the present moment. The most important person in the world is the one in front of you.
- The most precious gift in this time of distractions is your time and undivided attention
The ultimate and most important relationship of all .. is with yourself. Keeping the simple virtues above will go a long way towards you falling asleep easily at night, and being at peace with yourself at the end of the day.
Give back. All of life’s riches come from when we begin to give back to and share our abundance with others. What goes around really does come full circle.
Be brilliant. Be outstanding. Never hide your gifts.
George Bernard Shaw said, in his famous Splendid Torch quote, “ This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
My personal wish for you is that you all have a brilliant career, and more importantly, a brilliant life ahead. Thank you for listening.
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