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How to Recognize Unauthorized Practitioners

Top 20 Tips

a) Titles and Diplomas

Tip #1
Unauthorized practitioners may use titles that have different meanings but that can be seen as interchangeable. The professional designation “notario” has nothing to do with a notaire du Quebec, a lawyer or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). Individuals that call themselves “notarios” are not authorized to give immigration advice.

In Canada, authorized immigration practitioners who can legally offer you Canadian immigration advice are either RCICs, lawyers registered in one of Canada’s 13 Law Societies, or notaires registered with the Chambre des notaires du Québec. Refer to check if the practitioner you chose is authorized:

Tip #2
A person who holds a diploma from an immigration practitioner’s program is not an authorized practitioner yet. 
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) must be registered with ICCRC. To check the Council’s membership registry, go to: and search by first or last name, company name, geographic location or Consultant Identification number (RCIC #). Click the “Contact” link for more information.

b) Signatures and Forms

Tip #3
Beware if you are not asked to sign a retainer agreement.
An immigration practitioner must provide you with a retainer agreement/services contract before any services begin. You and the practitioner must both sign and date the retainer agreement/services contract. Make sure that you have a copy for your files.

Tip #4
Be mindful if you are asked to sign a retainer agreement with a company, an agent or someone else instead of the authorized practitioner.

The two people signing the retainer agreement must be you and the authorized practitioner. This means that the practitioner’s full legal name must be indicated on the retainer agreement along with their license number (e.g., A Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) would include their Consultant Identification number beginning with the letter ‘R’ followed by six numbers – R123456). The practitioner signing your retainer agreement should be the person conducting the immigration services for you.

Tip #5
Beware if you are not asked to sign a Use of a Representative Form or if the practitioner signs it declaring they are a friend or family member when they are not.
The Use of a Representative Form (IMM5476) is a government-issued form that confirms that the chosen practitioner is authorized to represent your immigration case. 

Tip #6
Never sign blank forms or forms containing false information.
You should check and verify all information is complete and accurate on any form before you sign it. Even if someone else completes your forms, you are ultimately responsible for the information on them.

Tip #7
Be wary if your practitioner does not give you a copy of forms you both have signed.

c) Services and Payment

Tip #8
Be cautious if you are asked for a CASH payment.
Cash payments are not usually trackable. Other methods of payment are trackable (cheque, credit card, bank transfer) and can be proven by viewing a bank statement.

Tip #9
Make sure you receive invoices and receipts for all payments.
The fees you are charged are outlined in your signed Retainer Agreement. You should be issued an invoice outlining those fees before you pay, then issued a receipt showing your payment.

Tip #10
Beware if you are charged fees for various services, while the immigration service is included for free.
It is possible that immigration services are free, but only when the Retainer Agreement states that the total services fee is $0.00. Otherwise, the services fee you are charged should be the same as outlined in your signed Retainer Agreement.

 If you are charged for services other than immigration (for example: job placement), then the job placement should be an entirely separate agreement or contract. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) are only licensed to provide immigration services. If an RCIC is offering you a job placement service under a separate agreement or contract, then you should check to make sure that they are a qualified and certified recruiter who is licensed to offer these services (and charge you) in the province/territory where the job is being offered in Canada.

Tip #11
Be careful if a travel agent, an educational agent or a recruiter offers you immigration services.
It is important that you confirm their status as a RISIA or an RCIC before using them for immigration services.

d) Beware of Guarantees

Tip #12
Beware if you are given guarantees on processing time regarding an immigration application.

There is no absolute processing timeline for any type of immigration application. You may be advised of a timeline range (for example: 8-12 weeks), but no visa office or visa officer will ever give you a guarantee. This is because complications and delays may come up at any time during the visa processing, including background checks, medical exams, re-issuance of application forms, etc.

Tip #13
Be alert if you are guaranteed a job and immigration at the same time. Example: ‘For $10,000 we will find you a job and get your immigration papers.’

Job offers must be approved by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The Canadian employer who offers you a job must submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ESDC. The purpose of an LMIA is to explain why you (a non-Canadian citizen or permanent resident) are the best person for the job based on your work experience, skills and education. This means that the LMIA contains information about you and the job. Once approved by ESDC, the LMIA is then submitted by the practitioner along with your immigration application. Be sure to ask questions about the LMIA, the Canadian employer and the job offer.

Even with a job offer no one can guarantee a successful immigration application.

Tip #14
No one can guarantee an approval.
The result of your immigration application cannot be guaranteed. The decision for any immigration application is up to the visa officer. You will not know the outcome of your application until you receive a written decision from the visa officer.

e) Connections

Tip #15
Beware if you are told that your practitioner knows someone in the Immigration Department that can help with your immigration application.
Your practitioner may know someone in the Immigration Department however, the visa officer processing your application must make his/her own independent decision based on the merit of your case (the strength of the reason for your application with supporting evidence and documents). No one can influence the outcome of any application.

f) Worth Checking

Tip #16
Always check to make sure your immigration consultant is in good standing on ICCRC’s website.

Before starting your application process with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), you should check that the RCIC has an ‘active’ status on ICCRC’s membership list. This means that they are a member in good standing who can offer you immigration advice in exchange for a fee. 

If your RCIC has a status of Revoked or Suspended, then he/she is not currently authorized to represent your immigration case.

Tip #17
Be alert if you see the ICCRC corporate logo on an immigration website instead of the Member Insignia and there is no link to ICCRC’s website to verify if the immigration consultant is registered with ICCRC.
The ICCRC Corporate Logo can only be used by ICCRC staff. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) cannot use the ICCRC Corporate Logo. RCICs have a special Member Insignia.

Tip #18
Make sure your Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant has Error and Omissions insurance.
All Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) in good standing require Error and Omissions (E&O) insurance.  E&O insurance is a mandatory requirement under the ICCRC membership fees.

Tip #19
Beware if your RCIC demonstrates an apparent lack of knowledge when you ask specific questions about immigration or ICCRC’s Code of Professional Ethics.

It is important to understand that the immigration knowledge of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) depends on the area of immigration in which they practise. For example, if the RCIC only works with temporary visas (visitors, students, super visas, etc.), then knowledge for detention reviews may be minimal. So, not all RCICs are able to answer every question about all immigration programs. It is the RCIC’s responsibility to advise if they are qualified to represent you for the immigration service you need.
All RCICs enter their profession with a standard level of knowledge in immigration, as well as the ICCRC Code of Professional Ethics. RCICs must follow the Code of Professional Ethics that states an RCIC must be honest with you and work within his/her abilities to handle your immigration case. The Code of Professional Ethics exists to protect the public.

g) Ethics

Tip #20
Beware if your practitioner encourages you to lie on your immigration application.
If you lie on your immigration application, you are committing misrepresentation. The penalty for misrepresentation is a ban from submitting any type of application to Canada for a period of 5 years.  This will be part of your immigration record and may affect your ability to apply for any application to Canada.  If your practitioner tells you to lie, then he/she is not acting truthfully, and is putting you at risk.

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