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The Stacks

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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 three main events each year
Schools offering accredited Immigration programs – a selection
Continuing Professional Development
ICCRC – Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) 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, ICCRC’s 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 ICCRC, 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.

CIC – IRCC Program Delivery Updates

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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.

Regulatory bodies:

  • 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 toroxanne@joincanada.com.
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, [2001] 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Become an ambassador of the newest self regulated profession in Canada.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. Never counsel to misrepresent or knowingly submit false documents.  
  8. For every change in CIC regs, a piece of business changes or dies. Look for the new opportunities in every change.
  9. Submit perfect forms. Be creative and resourceful in your submissions. Tell a big story, leave nothing to the CIC officer’s imagination.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Getting the good word out. In this wired world, Websites are a survival basic necessity. Become a SEOSearch 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!
  14. 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!
  15. 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.  
  16. 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.).
  17. Client’s most important skill for survival at any Port of Entry (POE) crossing: rapport. Grooming, calm confidence closely follows.
  18. Angry client: just listen, and honour their emotions first right away. Fix the problem second.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Why should I hire you? Knowing how clients choose counsel: expertise  +  likeability rule over price.  
  23. Buy and read: The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It will give you something big to dream for.
  24. Work hard, and at the end of the day, close the shop, and go home to play with your loved ones. Unplug.
  25. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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