April 25, 2024

Choosing an Immigration Lawyer in Canada

Posted by Legal Team - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Often, we are referred clients by other representatives, be them lawyers, consultants or other organizations, given we specialize in complex immigration cases like immigration appeals, Federal Court applications, medical inadmissibility, criminal inadmissibility or histories of previous immigration violations or non-compliance. Choosing an authorized representative can be a difficult decision. And where do you look for a good, experienced immigration lawyer in Canada or in the province of your destination?  People use tools like Google, ChatGPT, Perplexity AI etc. to help narrow the search. Some other key steps involve:

  1. First of all, check with a provincial law society whether the lawyer is in good standing, is specialized in immigration matters and/or is certified as a specialist in immigration.
  2. Then, a client should go to the lawyer’s website, check the reviews and testimonials from previous clients. Nowadays, you may join an online forum and/or ask for recommendations from friends, family, or other professionals who went through any immigration process.
  3. An interested person should book a consultation with the intended lawyer, via zoom or in person. During the consultation one can assess the immigration lawyer’s knowledge, communication skills and if they are comfortable with their choice. Trust is essential!
  4. A frequent complaint is that a previous representative was not readily accessible. The lawyer’s accessibility, his responsive timeline is very important as you may need to clarify some issues that may arise during the processing of the application or a legal challenge. The Retainer Agreement should set out the mode of communication and response times.
  5. Will I see the final submission for my review and signature before it is sent to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)? How often will I receive updates? These are legitimate questions that one might want to clarify before hiring an immigration lawyer.
  6. Of course, the legal fees are a factor that impact your decision. Ask from the very beginning about the fee structure, by hour or by block fee? Make sure from the onset that there are no hidden costs or fees and this is reduced in writing in a Retainer Agreement.
  7. Immigration law is diverse and complex; lawyers may have sub-specialties. For example, not all lawyers go to the Federal Court or to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearings. Many lawyers work only on processing immigration applications, others only on challenging negative decisions before various government departments / organizations. So choosing the right representative depends on your specific need.
  8. Also, check if your representative is a member of professional associations such as the Canadian Bar Association, Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association or the Canadian Association of Immigration Consultants. Membership in such organizations can indicate a heightened commitment to immigration advocacy and general ongoing professional development. Additionally, check if your lawyer has published immigration books, appears in the media or before Parliamentary Committees and Senate Committees on immigration.
  9. Check if the perspective lawyer has handled cases like yours in the past.
  10. Last, determine who will be working on your file, such as who will be assisting the lawyer.

Choosing the right representative is critical; therefore, do your due diligence and research thoroughly whom you hire in the end.