Canadian Government introduces act to create a new regulatory body to keep a check on Immigrant consultants

The government of Canada is proposing to create a new, self-regulatory College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. As per the recent investigative report by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper that exposed widespread abuses by several international recruiters and immigration consultants both in Canada and overseas. Canada’s federal government had proposed measures to help “protect” newcomers and applicants wishing to obtain the services of legitimate immigration consultants in its 2019 Budget, which was tabled March 19.

The Globe and Mail looked into the practices of 45 international recruiters and immigration consultants who are facing accusations of exploiting more than 2,000 foreign workers and students.

Immigration consultants are not lawyers but they are allowed to provide legal services in immigration and refugee matters. They are currently regulated by the self-governing, not-for-profit Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (CICC), which was designated by the Government of Canada in 2011.

In response to the Globe’s investigation, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, replied “There is no question more needs to be done to protect vulnerable newcomers,” Hussen told the newspaper. “I strongly believe it is the right time to take action.”

The purpose of the proposed College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants “is to regulate immigration and citizenship consultants in the public interest and protect the public.”

Among other things, the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act:

  • creates a licensing regime for immigration and citizenship consultants and requires licensees to comply with a code of professional conduct established by the Minister of Immigration;
  • authorizes the College’s Complaints Committee to conduct investigations into a licensee’s conduct and activities;
  • authorizes the College’s Discipline Committee to take or require action if it determines that a licensee has committed professional misconduct or was incompetent;
  • prohibits persons who aren’t licensed from using certain titles and representing themselves as licensees.

Related amendments will also be made to Canada’s Citizenship Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to double the existing maximum fines for contraventions of the relevant sections in those acts.

Both the IRPA and Citizenship Act would also be amended to provide authorities with the power to establish administrative penalties and consequences for persons who violate rules governing the provision of representation or advice in immigration and citizenship matters.

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