Canada proposes creating a College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. The aim is governing and regulating consultants engaged in immigration and citizenship with a goal to ensure professional conduct.
The Act in this regard was tabled for an initial reading in Parliament on April 8th after a Canadian newspaper published an investigative report. It had exposed the extensive abuses by numerous global recruiters and consultants operating in Canada and also in overseas areas.
Immigration consultants provide legal services regarding matters of immigration and refugees. Presently they are regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). It is a self-governing, and not-for-profit body designated by the Canadian Government. Responding to this investigation, the Canadian Minister of Immigration stated that the new legislation was forthcoming for a crackdown on the prevalent abuses. He also believed that it was the correct time for taking action to protect susceptible newcomers. The investigation was based on the practices followed by 45 recruiters/immigration consultants internationally. They were accused of exploiting 2,000 overseas workers and students.
The finding was that many people paid a large sum for the promise of taking up work or permanent residence in the country. After arriving in Canada, they found out that it was a lie.
The federal government came up with a proposal to protect newcomers and aspirants intending to obtain the services of immigration consultants in the 2019 Budget tabled on March 19.
The government allotted $51.9 million for five years, starting in 2019-20, for improving overseeing of immigration consultants and strengthening measures regarding compliance and enforcement. These measures aim to support public awareness to help vulnerable newcomers and applicants for protecting themselves against deceitful consultants. Moreover, it will ensure that all applicants get access to top quality advice on immigration and citizenship. There was a need for the service providers to operate ethically and in a professional manner.
Protecting the public
The purpose here is regulating the consultants in the public interest and also effectively protecting the public. Furthermore, the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act will:
• Create a licensing regime for consultants and require compliance of the licensees with a professional code of conduct outlined by the Immigration Minister;
• Authorize the Complaints Committee of the College to conduct an investigation into the conduct and activities of the licensee;
• Authorize the Discipline Committee of the College to take action in case the licensee commits professional misconduct or behaves in an incompetent manner;
• Also, Prohibit persons who do not hold a license from using titles and make a representation to be licensees.
Moreover, there will be amendments to the Citizenship Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The aim is to increase the maximum fines for any contravention of the sections in the acts.
Additionally, there will be amendments to the IRPA and the Citizenship Act for providing authority in establishing administrative penalties and legal consequences to violators of rules that govern the provisions of representation or advisors in immigration matters.
A previous report had recommended that the self-regulation must end. It also spoke of creating a body empowered to govern and regulate immigration consultants who are answerable to the Canadian Government.