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Canadian Immigration Help & Counsel

Do I need a Representative?

Q. I am an avid reader of your column in 24 Hours newspaper and actually you answered many of the questions that I had in mind. Thank you. Something bothers me though, when you go on the CIC website, there is a note saying that you do not need a representative to file your application. You may call the CIC hot line and you will get answers to your questions, if you need any clarifications with your application. I read also the series of articles “Lost in Migration” in the Toronto Star issues of last summer and I am really confused. Why would anybody need a representative, be it a lawyer or a certified consultant?

A. As a lawyer in private practice I am always concerned about how my answer will be viewed. This question is asked often and it is very important. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) have expended a lot of time and money on developing their website and Call in Centre. But I can say this without any hesitation that these sources should be seen as a starting point. I attend many meetings and am part of various committees with CIC Staff. I recently attended a CIC committee meeting and we were given statistics on various issues including the length of training time (approximately three to four weeks) for call centre officers. In my view, this is not sufficient to learn the intricacies of immigration. To be able to fully advise, it takes years of training and experience to see the bigger picture and really guide your client through the process.
Recently, we had a client who called the CIC call centre and was given some instructions on how to proceed regarding a work permit. When we checked the details of the case, it proved that the advice was not correct, as some facts were not taken into consideration. If she proceeded without checking with me the results would have been disastrous. There is an old saying that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Without a doubt most of the immigration process is in and of itself complicated but when you factor in a person’s particular facts the most simple of cases can become a long and complicated journey. There is a reason that the immigration industry keeps thousands of people in private practice employed. They perform a vital service. So in short, I do not recommend going it alone.

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