Immigrating to Canada can be a long process. In some instances, it could take years.
However, there are people who can help you speed up the process; one of them is a Canadian immigration lawyer.
In this article, we answer some of the most common questions asked by individuals who plan to apply for immigration to Canada and are thinking about getting the services of a lawyer.
Should I really hire an immigration lawyer or can I apply for Canada immigration by myself?
Actually, there really is no law that requires someone applying for immigration to Canada to hire an immigration lawyer. It’s possible for you to apply by yourself if you are familiar with the application process and you know all the requirements needed.
That said, there are still some advantages to hiring a legal counsel, as detailed below:
1. A lawyer can prepare your submissions (application forms, requirements, etc.) in the most effective form for a faster and hassle-free processing.
● Sufficient knowledge of the system. There are various ways you can immigrate to Canada, and each available option has a certain set of rules and requirements. These are undergoing continuous changes, and it’s important that you remain updated of the changes to ensure that you won’t have problems in your application. An immigration lawyer who has a comprehensive understanding of the system will ensure that you are updated.
● Complete coverage of all possible issues. Because of the various options in Canada immigration and the many different requirements, it’s easy to get confused and to interchange a few things. So, it’s important that you cover all issues pertaining to the immigration path that you choose to take. This requires deep familiarity with the matter, and a lawyer can guarantee you that.
● Rights protection. This issue isn’t really about protecting your right; it’s knowing your right. The intricacies of the immigration process often cause uncovered bases, especially those that aren’t transparent and not common knowledge; only a lawyer can cover those.
One thing you must know about the processing of an immigration application is that everything is subjective to a certain degree. When you submit the same application to two immigration officials, there’s a chance (albeit slim) that you’ll get different results. For example, in gauging your previous experiences, a certain number of units are credited for your employment experience based on assessment. The points may differ from one official to the other, and it is up to your lawyer to ensure that you’ll get the most out of what you have. He’ll do the negotiating so that you get the most advantage out of your application.
3. When you get an unfavorable decision from an immigration official doing the evaluation, your legal counsel can challenge it.
Given that there is a certain percentage of subjectivity in the evaluation of immigration applications, lawyers can challenge the decision of visa officials and point out issues which may be inconsistent or irregular. They have a higher chance of swaying the initial decision towards the opposite and towards your favor.
An immigration lawyer may not be a requirement when applying for immigration to Canada, but the benefits that having one can provide you are well worth considering when you’re weighing your options. Overall, there’s been a general observation that applications handled or represented by legal counsel have higher chances of being approved.
I know someone who is a licensed immigration consultant, and he claims to have some connection with a few immigration officials. Does that mean my application will have a higher chance of being approved if I ask for his help? Or should I hire an immigration lawyer instead? How are the two different?
Let’s address your questions one at a time.
Will an immigration consultant claiming to have connections help in speeding up the processing of your application for Canada immigration? The answer is no. Immigration officials are required to be impartial when evaluating applications. The process is carried out with discretion, and it is mandatory for officials not to be influenced by anybody or by any factor.
In fact, if an official is found out to have made a decision without being impartial, with his decision influenced by anybody, that official can be given sanction. So if the immigration consultant is promising speedy evaluation and guaranteed approval because of ‘claimed’ ties with immigration officials, stay away from that person because he is either lying to you or he is conducting his business illegally.
As to your question regarding the difference between an immigration consultant and an immigration lawyer…
Well, a consultant’s role is limited to providing advice regarding immigration matters. He cannot represent you before agencies and courts; only a lawyer can do that.
Lawyers can do the following in your behalf: draft all necessary documents pertinent to your application, offer legal advice as needed, interpret legal laws concerning immigration and apply them as necessary, and represent you legally.
Lawyers undergo a more rigorous education and formal training before they become who they are, whereas consultants don’t undergo as rigorous a process. The conduct and business dealings of lawyers are regulated by governing bodies. In short, it will be more advantageous for you to get the services of a lawyer instead of a consultant when it comes to matters concerning your application for immigration.
How can I find an effective and a reliable immigration lawyer who can help me in preparing my application for immigration to Canada?
The fact is that lawyers with immigration background are fewer compared to lawyers specializing in other fields. Additionally, not all law firms in Canada provide immigration services. Therefore, it’s up to you to do your own research when trying to find an immigration lawyer – most of them are practicing independently.
You don’t have to worry, though, since there are some places where you can look in your search for a good lawyer.
● Canadian Bar Association (http://www.cba.org/cba/). This is a national organization composed of lawyers from the various Canadian provinces. Here you’ll find lawyers under different categories, including immigration. In this field, you can find lawyers serving as officers, branch section chairs, executive members, and honorary executive members. You can check out some of the members and consider their expertise based on their background and their contribution to this organization.
● Provincial Professional Order of Lawyers. This is an organization that is unique to the individual provinces. You can find a lawyer belonging to an organization in the province where you plan to immigrate, although you still have to do an individual evaluation to gauge the lawyer’s credibility.
● Publications. You can check out law publications – they either feature lawyers and their accomplishments or they feature lawyers writing articles for such publications. Just look for reliable publications with good writers instead of those that mainly feature advertisers.
● Advertisements. This is another source, although not very reliable. When looking at ads featuring lawyer services, look past through the hype and look into qualifications and solid background.
● Websites. Many lawyers today have already gone online, creating their own site to feature the services that they offer and their qualifications. But, like advertisements, you need a keen eye when searching online. The Internet is already accessible to anyone and any lawyer can create a site. Evaluate your options carefully to ensure you get the right one.
● Referrals. This doesn’t fail. If you know people who have successfully immigrated to Canada, you can ask for the lawyer who helped them with the preparation of their documents and you can get the services of such lawyer.
All of those options should help make your search for the right lawyer easy and make preparing your immigration documents faster.
What are the factors that I should look into when searching for the services of a good Canadian immigration lawyer?
There are many things you need to look into when evaluating lawyers. Among the most important are as follow:
1. Expertise or Background. Not all lawyers have background in immigration. Some of them may be very good, but maybe in a different field. When searching for a lawyer, go only for one who is specializing in immigration.
2. Experience. You want someone who has been practicing for a long time, someone who has already handled a wide range of immigration cases. After all, you don’t want to take your chances on an amateur.
3. References/Previous Clients. It’s important that you get to talk with a lawyer’s previous clients so that you can get insights as to how the lawyer works and how effective he is. Nothing beats a good testimonial from a legitimate client.
4. Related Experiences. Lawyers who are active members of communities that aim to disseminate information to the public are good candidates – you can be sure they are always updated of the changes in immigration laws and policies. Likewise, those who actively publish educational and informative materials in prestigious law publications are good options because they have credibility.
5. Contract. The first thing you need to ask from a lawyer is a clear contract stating the responsibility of both parties involved. This is required by the Professional Order of Lawyers in provinces. Aside from the contract, you also want to ask the lawyer for a comprehensive outline of the application process – this will tell you how you should go about the steps in preparing and filing your application.
6. Money-Back Guarantee. Not all lawyers offer this, but it would be better if you can find someone who does. Lawyers who offer this kind of perk are almost always sure that the application of their clients will be approved, so your chances of being successful are almost guaranteed.
Should I look for an immigration lawyer that is practicing in the province where I plan to immigrate, or can I get the services or any lawyer regardless of his location?
There really is no requirement that you get an immigration lawyer from any particular province to help you with your immigration preparations. After all, immigration is a federal matter, although provinces have certain jurisdictions. The location of the lawyer that you choose should have no effect on the rights that will be given to you as an applicant.
There is just one restriction, however. That is, when you’re applying for immigration to Quebec, in which case you should only engage the services of a lawyer who is a member of the Quebec Law Society or an immigration consultant with license issued by the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities.