An Immigration Consultant is a person who has become an expert on immigration subject. Their regulatory body is the ICCRC. It is a must to become a member and to be certified in order to provide this kind of service.
So, about the main topic: Do you need a Certified Immigration Consultant to come to Canada? This is a very tricky question, and there is not an absolute answer. I will explain my experience since I have run several processes with and without a Certified Immigration Consultant. After you read this, you can make a decision by yourself.
Immigration Processes I've Run
I have done the following processes:
- Successful Tourist Visa, which it ends in Work Permit without consultant: this was quite easy, after reading all the process (which it is clear but complex), I was able to get my Visa and Work permit. I will explain later what I did (in another article).
- Unsuccessful Work & Study permit for my family on first try without consultant: I sent everything, but I didn't understand I was needing to send the original of my work permit. At that moment I didn't know why.
- Successful Work & Study permit for my family on the second try with a consultant: the consultant got a detailed report of why the first try was refused. She showed me the report and she sent the documentation with missing paper.
- Successful Work & Study permit renewal for myself and my family without consultant: I read all process explained on the Internet. The government of Canada has a WEB portal where you can submit your application.
- Doing right now Successful Work & Study permits for myself and my family in Québec with a consultant: because Québec's laws are kind of different to others, I decide to hire a consultant.
- Successful Work Permit for myself with a new employer in Ontario without a consultant: After my previous experience doing things in Ontario, I decided to do it by myself.
- Successful Work & Study permit renewal for my family without consultant: again, this is quite easy. The key is submitting the application before the current work permit expires.
- Withdrawn Work & Study permit renewal for my family without a consultant: although this was supposed to be the third, the Permanent Resident process came before.
- Successful Permanent Resident for myself and my family without a consultant: quite complex, but the Government of Canada documents all on the website.
So, do your own conclusions:
- 7 of 9 processes were successful
- 7 of 9 processes done without a consultant
Please note that my situation was easy. No felonies, never been illegally in another country. If you have something that could be an issue, I think it is better getting a consultant help.
Things You Should Know About Hiring a Consultant
Here are my impressions of them:
- They will always make you go to your office for everything, even when it is clear that some kind of discussions or information exchange can be done by email or telephone.
- Don't expect free work. Some of them may be very polite and answer you an email, but they won't move a single finger without payment.
- Their quotes are only for their job. If you get a quote of 5000 dollars, don't expect that includes government or translation fees.
- Their main argument is "this is now but we don't know later". I think this is half-true, they have private forums, ICCRC newsletter and many other resources where they are always updated with incoming laws and immigration matters not to mention that some of them are former CIC employees with contacts. Anyway, please do some reading about political and laws before doing the first contact with them.
- They will try to close a deal and you will need to sign a contract, which is good.
- They won't work in parallel: even there is a clear path where they can continue working while you sort out something, they will stop until you give the missing thing they request from you. If you are in a hurry, start the process with them with enough time and get the basic documentation before the first contact.
Get this done before you first contact any of them:
- Basic original documentation: passport, birth certificates, marriage certificates, study certificates (they call it diplomas), study transcript (the list of grades of your studies), pay stubs and tax declarations.
- Translated documentation: you will need to translate almost everything to the English or French. You can not get the translation by yourself or any translator. It must be done by a certified translator (accepted for the Government of Canada, Google them, it is easy to find one). You can save some money if you get some original papers already in English or French, for example, University transcripts.
- Get savings: you will need them to pay the consultant, and depending on the process you will need to show you have funds to arrive. I can not tell you how much to save, you will need to google it to have a number. You will need to show you have the funds for at least six months; if you are planning to get a loan from a relative or a bank, you will need to save the money at last for six months, print the bank statements they ask for and return the money.
- English exam (or French if you prefer): depending on your process, you will need to show your language skills. Google a little to figure out this, if you need this, I suggest you do first the exam if your process requires it.
- Studies validation: again, this is depending on your process. But if it requires, I suggest you first get this done.