Canada to strengthen the regulation of immigration and citizenship consultants

The Canadian Government is set to strengthen the regulation of immigration and citizenship consultants in a bid to further help protect newcomers and applicants.

The recently announced 2019 Budget proposes CDN$51.9 million over five years to improve oversight of immigration and citizenship consultants. This will be spent on strengthening compliance and enforcement measures, and supporting public awareness activities that will help protect vulnerable newcomers, applicants and ethical and professional consultants against fraudulent consultants. Together, these measures will help applicants gain access to quality immigration and citizenship advice, and ensure that those who are providing the services operate in a professional and ethical manner.

This legislation would create a new statutory framework to regulate immigration and citizenship consultants under a newly-created College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. The College will be governed by a board consisting of Public Interest Directors (independent appointees who are not members of the profession) and Directors drawn from membership of the profession.

The purpose of the College is to regulate immigration and citizenship consultants in the public interest and to protect the public by: establishing and administering qualification standards, standards of practice and continuing education requirements; ensuring compliance with the professional code of conduct; and undertaking public awareness campaigns.

The College will have new tools to ensure compliance, including the ability to enter the premises of a consultant for investigations when it suspects wrongdoing and the ability to request court injunctions against unauthorised consultants. The new law will also strengthen the regulator’s ability to discipline members of the profession, as well as require the establishment of a victims’ compensation fund to support clients harmed by wrongful conduct by a consultant.

Changing the way that the regulator of consultants is governed will give the regulator more authority to discipline authorised consultants who are negligent or who conduct themselves unprofessionally or who are committing fraud.

The Budget also proposes resources for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for public education activities and targeted outreach, including throughout different cultural communities within Canada. Dedicated outreach positions will also be established internationally to ensure that information is spread outside of Canada about the legal requirement to use an authorised representative and the consequences of using an unauthorised representative.

Article published 28th May 2019