There are many reasons you may need an immigration lawyer if you plan on migrating to Canada. From legal advice and guidance on immigration matters to representing you in the immigration court if your immigration status is challenged. However, choosing the right immigration lawyer in Canada is a crucial decision that requires you to be meticulous.
With the internet, we now have access to many immigration lawyers. Some of whom are fraudulent or have negative reputations. These are not the people you want to hire for your case. To help you to be able to separate the genuine competent immigration lawyers from the fraudulent ones, this article provides several factors you need to look out for. But first, let’s discuss some of the ways an immigration lawyer can be of help to you.
Why Do You Need an Immigration Lawyer in Canada?
Immigration lawyers in Canada offer a wide range of services to individuals and businesses seeking to navigate the Canadian immigration system. Some of the services offered by Canadian immigration lawyers include:
- Assistance with Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), family sponsorship, work permits, study permits, Canadian citizenship, business immigration, and inadmissibility
- Identifying the reasons why a foreign national may not be permitted entry to Canada and advising on eligibility. And where applicable, options to overcome these challenges (e.g. criminal inadmissibility issues)
- Advising on strategies to assist clients’ employees in maintaining legal status in Canada (for business owners)
- Helping clients understand the legal steps that they must first follow
- Advising clients on the process of obtaining permanent residence, work permits, study permits, and reuniting family once eligibility has been assessed
- Providing legal representation with respect to all Canadian immigration matters
- Processing all types of Canadian work permits including inter-company transfers, trade agreement work permits, Global Talent Stream work permits, and LMIA work permits
- Assisting people immigrate to Canada as skilled workers through the Express Entry program, and through spousal sponsorship
- Helping people work temporarily in Canada through NAFTA and other programs
- Providing legal services for employment-based and family-based immigration to Canada
What to Look Out For When Choosing the Right Immigration Lawyer in Canada
Hiring an immigration lawyer is a personal decision. But their expertise can significantly enhance your chances of success, help you avoid costly mistakes, and navigate the Canadian immigration system with confidence. Before hiring an attorney, be sure to check their credentials, experience, and reputation to ensure they suit your specific needs. Here are some core things to look out for;
Qualifications and Credentials
When choosing the right immigration lawyer in Canada, verify that the lawyer is a member in good standing with the relevant provincial or territorial law society or bar association in Canada. They should also be licensed to practice immigration law.
Look for a lawyer who exclusively practices immigration law. Immigration law is a complex and ever-changing field, and it is essential to have a lawyer who is up-to-date on the latest regulations. Also, it will be better if the lawyer has experience in handling cases similar to yours. Immigration law can be highly specialized, so expertise is crucial.
Assess the lawyer’s experience in handling immigration cases, including their success rate and years in practice. Experienced lawyers often have a deeper understanding of the immigration system.
Research the lawyer’s reputation by reading online reviews and seeking recommendations from past clients or colleagues. A positive reputation can indicate reliability and professionalism. You can also get some of this information from the lawyer’s website.
Effective communication is vital. The lawyer should be responsive, clear in their explanations, and able to explain complex legal matters in a way you can understand. You should also consider the lawyer’s availability and responsiveness to your emails and phone calls. Ensure the lawyer has the time and capacity to handle your case effectively, especially if your immigration matter has tight deadlines.
Fees and Billing
Understand the lawyer’s fee structure, including any upfront costs, hourly rates, or flat fees for specific services. When choosing the right immigration lawyer in Canada, be wary of lawyers who ask for large upfront payments before any work is done. Also, look for a lawyer who is transparent about their fees, the services they provide, and the potential outcomes of your case. Ensure that you receive a written fee agreement.
Verify that the lawyer adheres to the legal and ethical standards of their profession. You can check with the appropriate law society or bar association for any disciplinary history.
Choose a lawyer who gives you realistic advice and avoids creating unreasonable expectations. Avoid lawyers who guarantee success. Also, go for a lawyer you feel comfortable working with. A good client-lawyer relationship is essential for a successful immigration process.
Don’t hesitate to ask for references from past clients who have been in similar situations. Talking to references can provide valuable insights. Ask about the lawyer’s track record in handling cases similar to yours. A successful track record can be a good indicator of their capabilities.
Immigration Lawyer Vs. Immigration Consultant
Immigration Lawyer and Immigration Consultant are both professionals who can assist individuals and businesses with immigration-related matters in Canada. However, they differ in terms of their qualifications, roles, and the scope of services they can provide.
While both immigration lawyers and immigration consultants can assist with immigration matters, the choice between them depends on the complexity of your case. Your budget and the specific legal services you require can also influence your choice.
Immigration lawyers provide comprehensive legal services. While immigration consultants specialize in immigration consulting within the regulatory framework established by the ICCRC. Hence, when choosing the right immigration lawyer in Canada, do not confuse both of them.
Education and Qualifications
Immigration lawyers in Canada are licensed to practice law. They have completed a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from an accredited Canadian law school. Also, they have passed the bar admission course and exams in the province or territory where they practice. These professionals are members in good standing of the provincial or territorial law society, which regulates the legal profession.
On the other hand, immigration consultants are individuals who have been licensed and regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). Their job is to provide immigration consulting services.
They must complete a specific educational program related to immigration consulting. They must also pass an ICCRC exam, and meet other requirements to obtain their consultant’s license. The education and training for immigration consultants focus specifically on immigration matters, but they do not have a law degree.
Scope of Practice
Because immigration lawyers are licensed lawyers, they can provide comprehensive legal services beyond immigration matters. They can provide legal services like representing clients in court, preparing legal documents, and offering legal advice on immigration matters.
They can also represent clients in immigration court proceedings, judicial reviews, and other legal matters related to immigration law.
However, immigration consultants only have the authority to provide immigration consulting services. They can help with the completion of immigration application forms, document preparation, and representation in immigration matters within the scope of immigration consulting.
They can also represent clients before administrative bodies such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). However, they do not have the same legal authority as lawyers to represent clients in court.
Immigration lawyers possess legal expertise that extends beyond immigration law, allowing them to address broader legal issues, including civil and criminal matters. They can provide more extensive legal advice and representation, which may be relevant in complex immigration cases involving legal disputes.
Conversely, immigration consultants specialize exclusively in immigration law and procedures. Their expertise is limited to immigration-related matters.
Legal Services Fees
Legal fees for immigration lawyers are typically higher than the fees charged by immigration consultants due to their broader scope of services and qualifications. Hence, if your case is a straightforward immigration application or service, getting an immigration consultant is more cost-effective.
Wrapping It Up
Choosing the right immigration lawyer in Canada is a crucial step in your immigration journey. Take your time to research, meet with potential lawyers for consultations, and ask questions to ensure that you select a lawyer who suits your specific needs and circumstances well. Remember that an immigration lawyer is different from an immigration consultant. Ensure that you do not mix this up and hire the wrong person.