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New consultant regulator to open in Canada

Canada has announced a College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants to “root out” immigration fraud and protect people seeking to come to the country, which is set to open on November 23.

The Canadian government has already invested $50 million to fight fraud and new educational tools to help applicants identify fraudulent activity, it said. Photo: pexels

The regulator will have new and strengthened tools to investigate misconduct and discipline licensees

The college will become the official regulator of authorised immigration and citizenship consultants across Canada and ensure they follow the statutory framework put in place by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act in December 2020.

“Those who wish to come to Canada deserve honest, professional and ethical advice—and we have a responsibility to ensure they’re getting it,” said Marco E. L. Mendicino, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

“Our new College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants is a major milestone in these efforts. The creation of the new College delivers on our promise to better protect newcomers and bolsters Canada’s immigration system so it can continue to be the envy of the world.”

The Canadian Bureau for International Education welcomed the announcement of the College’s opening.

“As the education provider for the Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor designation, CBIE looks forward to collaborating with the College in fulfilling its mandate and supporting the new framework that strengthens the regulation of immigration advisors and protects the integrity of Canada’s immigration system,” the organisation said.

“As a nation that prides itself on its welcoming reputation, our responsibility is to ensure that individuals wishing to visit, study or stay in this country, including international students and their families, receive quality, accurate, trusted immigration guidance,” it added.

“This is also a welcomed announcement for the Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants and RISIAs who serve this population with integrity, compassion, and respect and view the new College’s creation as a necessary mechanism to further professionalise the sector.”

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council said there had been “significant work” to get to latest announcement. From November 23, it will be known as College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants.

IRCC said that the new College will be a “fundamentally different” organisation to the ICCRC, with “expanded authorities necessary for the regulation of immigration consultants and additional levers for government oversight, including the authority to establish a code of professional conduct for licensees and to make regulations concerning governance of the College”.

“The size of the consultancy community has grown very large”

“The size of the consultancy community has grown very large, and as Canada’s immigration numbers and international student numbers continue to rise, it seems a logical and welcome next step to create a regulatory body that oversees quality and maintains integrity,” said Randall Martin, executive director British Columbia Council for International Education.

“The ICCRC Council was formed in 2011, when export education was already a big thing in Canada and at a time when immigration consulting was largely unregulated and students (and other classes of immigrants, temporary foreign workers and others seeking visas) were getting advice that ran the gamut from sound to problematic, from good to bad to wrong and inappropriate,” he added.

“This has largely been rectified and codified, and it is now a substantial undertaking to study and qualify to become a registered immigration and citizenship consultant.”

ICCRC added that it is working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on the development of regulations to support the new College and will have more detail on the specifics regarding licensing, compliance, professional conduct and professional development in the months ahead.

Among the new and strengthened tools the regulator will have to investigate misconduct and discipline licensees include the ability to:

  • enter the premises of a consultant for the purpose of gathering information to support an investigation when it suspects wrongdoing
  • summon and compel witnesses to appear and testify before the Discipline Committee
  • suspend a consultant as a provisional measure prior to a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence – in situations where protection of the public is at risk
  • suspend and/or revoke licenses to practice as part of disciplinary decisions.

For unlicensed immigration consultants, the regulator will be able to send cease and desist letters, as well as  request court injunctions, IRCC added.

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