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You can prepare and file your own Canadian immigration application, right?

There are many people who want to migrate to Canada and the internet seems to be full of people wanting to help other people migrate to Canada – for a fee.

Unfortunately, many of those offering immigration services have no proper training or experience.

In many countries it is enough to call yourself an “expert”, put up a sign and start sharing “advice” without any training, without any experience, without any supervision, and without any knowledge.

Recently, I was looking at a website from India, promoting services for immigration to Canada.

There was no indication whatsoever that anyone working there had any official training or other credentials in Canadian immigration matters. I suggest that is not a place to get assistance.

Any hopeful applicant should first make sure that the person offering immigration services is licensed to provide this service.

Canadian immigration counsel must be licensed by a provincial law society or by the immigration consultants’ regulatory council. In order to protect applicants from dishonest and incompetent counsel no one else is allowed to give immigration advice for a fee.

There are people who apply for immigration to Canada without any help.

As experienced counsel, I see many of these cases – once they have been refused.

Sadly, many of the refused applications could have been successful if the applicant or their unlicensed counsel had known what she or he was doing.

Could I tell you in advance which ones the applicants themselves might mess up? No.

I have seen too many ways people can make mistakes, and I also do know of some cases where people were successful when they did it on their own. But at what risk?

Anyone who has a real chance to be approved has to be very careful to get it right. The opportunity may never come again.

If you want assistance with a Canadian immigration matter – whether you are an employer, a worker, a student, a visitor, or in Canada illegally – I strongly recommend that you use Canadian licensed immigration counsel so as to minimize the risk of unnecessary errors and missed opportunities.

You will find there are many of us to choose from.

You do not need to use someone who is not qualified.

You don’t have to use someone who is qualified either, but you do it on your own at your own risk.

Recent headlines in Canadian newspapers draw attention to how easy it is to mess up an application for Canadian immigration status, even when the applicant appears to be sophisticated, and how costly those mistakes can be.

These headlines illustrate what many of us see regularly. Smart people make innocent mistakes that are fatal to the success of their application.

At best this can create considerable delay, and at worst it can lead even to disqualification from ever trying again.

That this can happen to people, many of whom actually qualify for permanent residence makes the situation even more difficult to see. The hopes of whole families are often ruined by these mistakes.

Consider international students who enrolled at a private college in Ontario, believing that by studying at that school they would qualify for work permits and ultimately for permanent residence.

Many of them made a very simple but fatal mistake. They enrolled in “distant learning programs” rather than obtaining the appropriate study permit and attending classes in Canada in person. The distant learning programs did not require nor even enable them to attend classes in Canada in person.

There is a reason why Canada requires students in this situation to attend classes in person: Canada values international students who have Canadian education.

If the international student program is properly followed it can lead to Canadian employment, permanent resident status in Canada, and eventually Canadian citizenship.

This immigration stream is designed to expose those who intend to apply for permanent residence to Canadian experiences, at a Canadian school, in Canadian workplaces, and in Canadian society. That will make it easier for newcomers to find jobs and fit into Canadian society. These candidates become valuable to Canada.

Once you understand that concept it is painfully obvious that distance learning, where the student is outside of Canada, does not satisfy that simple objective.

I suspect that every one of the students who enrolled in these distance learning programs believed they were getting themselves into the express entry immigration stream.

They, and their families, have misspent their money, their time, and dashed their hopes and dreams.

I have no idea how many of them, if any, will be able to try again and do it properly the second time.

The basic point is this, do it right the first time.

Do your research, consider hiring experienced professional assistance so that you do not risk making your own mistakes, get a second opinion if your counsel recommends something that does not make sense to you, assess your educational background and your finances to be sure you can actually finish the program, and then apply yourself to doing a good thorough job with the application.

I shudder to think about how much money and dreams have been wasted by these innocent but mistaken families.

– Gregory James

• Gregory James of Gregory James Immigration Law Firm is an immigration lawyer with over 27 years of experience, and a former senior manager at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. He can be contacted at cc@GregoryJamesLaw.com or 416-538-1301.

Posted: Nov 1, 2015

February 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

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