Last month you read my post where I wondered if we really needed to hire an Immigration Consultant. Today I have a Guest Post, the first one in this very young blog. Yves Martineau is a Certified Immigration Consultant and Managing Partner at Martineau & Mindicanu. I invited him to write “the other side of the things” and let us know why you should hire an immigration consultant.
A few weeks ago I had a pleasant encounter with Guillermo as we both virtually knew each other and we both share a passion for immigration. He invited me to participate in his blog answering the question “why should anyone hire an immigration consultant?”. Because a lot of information is available on the web, there is a feeling that paying for services that can be found online is a waste. Yet very few words are shared about the value of a good consultant in somebody’s life project to Canada.
I share the idea that most of the information is available online and that there are people who can do their process alone directly with the government. However hiring a consultant can bring substantial benefits to many mainly because every person is unique, with his or her own profile, experience, education and project. It is difficult, if not impossible sometimes, to find information that corresponds to all aspects of your particular situation.
Immigration law is complex, very complex, and even though a lot of information is available online, a qualified and experienced consultant may provide you with services that will make a great and positive difference in your application.
So here are 12 reasons why to hire an immigration consultant.
1. To choose the right immigration program. There are more than 60 immigration programs that lead to permanent residence; there are dozens of categories under which you may apply for a temporary work permit with processes that change drastically based on your profession, employer, province of destination, etc.; and there are many conditions and exceptions on the family reunification programs, business programs and other refugee programs. On the Internet, in the various blogs and forums – all or most of which provide extremely valuable information about immigration and connect people in the most beneficial way – discussions and postings focus on the popular Federal and Quebec Skilled Worker programs, with a few articles on the sponsorship and refugee programs. Yet for many immigrants, other programs are more adequate and faster. Even the most popular immigration programs have confusing subtleties and complexity.
2. The security that your file will be complete and well presented. All can read a list of documents on the Internet but there are many details that are not explained online. For example, what if I don’t have my grades from high school, what happens when the company I worked with four years ago does not exist anymore, what if I work in my family’s business but I have no receipt of salary? These are examples among hundreds of situations where you need good advice to complete your application. It is safe to say that without our counsel, most of our clients would not have obtained their visa – any kind of visa, not just the permanent resident’s.
3. An easier communication with the government. If you ever tried to call your local Canadian Embassy to resolve a problem, you will understand what I mean. A consultant can open communication channels, not because he (masculine implying feminine) has special privileges with the agents and employees of the government but because he can call alternate offices more easily and he can speak in your name in English and/or French in a concise way to represent your best interest.
4. Integration services. A good consultant will not limit himself to helping you with the desired visa (even though that is in itself a valuable service). Many will provide you with tools that will help you find your job and your home, recognize your credentials, open your bank account, register your kids at school, understand how public transit works in your city, how to find a good health insurance, where the health centres are located, etc.
5. Education and imputability. A certified consultant must fulfil many obligations to obtain and maintain his professional title. He has to study – a lot and constantly – he must pay high membership fees, maintain a legal library, attend courses and pass exams, all of which represent a high investment. A certified consultant must respect a rigorous Professional Code of Conduct https://www.csic-scci.ca/content/professional_conduct and if he were to breach it, he is likely to lose his licence and with that, all the money and time invested. Some consultants such as those at Martineau & Mindicanu make themselves even more imputable by offering a refund policy in case of refusal of your application. Therefore, if the consultant acts unethically or makes a mistake, the consequences can be quite high. That gives the client the assurance that his consultant has the obligation to be extremely professional and responsible.
6. Personalized attention. During the course of the consultant-candidate relationship, many questions arise, situations happen, plans are changed… Having a certified consultant that works in your best interest assures you a continuous attention from someone who knows you well and who you know well so that can you can together adapt quickly to any change.
7. Preparation in native Canadian English or French. This applies mainly but not exclusively to the Quebec immigration candidates. Having a preparation in French will likely lead you to a successful interview. An adequate preparation helps you feel more relax at your interview and maximize the points you obtain for adaptability. Please note that a good preparation is not about learning pre-written questions off by heart. An interview has a science, a purpose, an essence, there is some art to a good preparation and to learn how to get the best out of it.
8. Resources in case of refusal. Should you be refused, a good consultant will know how to ask for a revision that will transform a no into a yes, shall this no be based on an interpretation of the law from the government that does not favour you.
9. A pertinent consel. A good consultant knows what steps are better for you and what not to do. A typical example for that: A married couple wants to emigrate but for some reason, they prefer to undergo different processes. “I will emigrate first, my love”, says he (or she) “and I will sponsor you once I arrive to Canada.” Right there, a good consultant will explain that under regulation 117(9)(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, you cannot do that, otherwise there will be no way for you to sponsor your soul mate later. A consultation costs from 50USD to 300USD per hour (Martineau & Mindicanu charges USD 100) and a complete process for most skilled worker programs costs from USD 2,500 to USD 5,000. Not losing the love of your life: priceless. In order to try to save money, some people lose time and efforts and put their whole immigration process at stake.
10. Your rights are protected. Even though the Canadian legal system is considered one of the bests in the world, there still exists situations where a candidate’s rights are not respected. Dozens of situations have happened, for example when an agent intimidates a candidate during an interview or an interrogation at the boarder – which is a breach of natural justice – or that your points were wrongly assessed and the office responsible for the mistake refuses to review it, etc. Fortunately, these situations are not too common but they may still happen.
11. To save time. Not everyone has hours available to investigate on the Internet what documents to fill out, how to do it, where to send them, etc. A good consultant will guide you in a prompt and efficient manner. Also remember that it is in the best interest of the consultant to proceed your file quickly. First it enhances his reputation as a professional and the quicker he finishes your file, the quicker he will get paid and have time to keep developing his business.
12. To protect your information. Many questions can be resolved online, thanks to the federal and provincial governments’ websites and the amazing networks of forums and blogs where candidates and immigrants share information on an infinite variety of subjects. However, when a candidate has a sensitive situation (such as a criminal history, an intimate family situation or a refugee situation that may put his family’s – or his own – life at risk), he will not want to expose his case on the Web. The confidential and personalized services of a certified consultant will be of great help to that candidate.
Now before hiring a consultant, choose wisely. First of all make sure that your future consultant is authorized to represent you by the government (please see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/representative/rep-who.asp). Even though they are cheaper, do not go with unauthorized representatives (also called ghost consultants), who charge fees for immigration advice without having the right to represent you before the Canadian government. It is illegal and you will be totally helpless should things go wrong. Moreover, new amendments to the Quebec Immigration Act are now in effect: candidates will be obliged to declare whether they have received the help of a consultant or done their process on their own. If they received the help of a ghost consultant and failed to declare it they will make a false declaration and misrepresentation leads to being inadmissible to enter Canada.
Thank you for reading me, I send my best wishes of success, love and happiness to all!
Yves Martineau, CCIC
Martineau & Mindicanu