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What’s the Difference Between an Immigration Lawyer and Consultant?

Immigration Lawyer

There is so much to take in for people who want to immigrate to Canada. If nothing else, the whole process is a complicated one, which is why you may want to seek the assistance of professionals before you make any decisions.

Two classes of these professionals that you may encounter are an immigration consultant and an immigration lawyer. Depending on your situation, you could end up dealing with one or both classes, but it’s essential to know when you need which.

What’s the difference between an immigration consultant and lawyer? That’s the question the information below will answer.

What’s an Immigration Consultant?

As you can imagine, immigration consultants are not legal professionals. There is a regulation and certification process, but it doesn’t involve law school. With the combination of the professional licensing, skill, and training needed, your consultant will act within the confines of a code of ethics.

The job of the consultant is to protect your interests as you seek Immigration services by providing advice and direction for a fee. Should the need arise to represent you in federal court, this would be beyond the scope of an immigration consultant.

What’s an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigration lawyers, as you can imagine, have a wealth of legal experience and education, especially when compared to their consultant counterparts. This is because they must do a mandatory period of law school, complete with a three-year degree and a bar exam just to become legally registered.

They will also often do an internship with an established law firm, which adds to the experience they bring to the table. Additionally, they can represent you in federal court.

There are one-off instances in which there is a judicial review component to your application. In such cases, you would need an attorney in your corner.

Immigration Consultant Vs. Lawyer: When Would You Use Either?

You would want to hire an immigration consultant if you are either looking to get into Canada or are already there but wish to extend your stay. In these kinds of situations, there is an application process that will cover either permanent residence, permits for study or work, citizenship, or different visa types.

The idea here is that you’re getting assistance with the application process. Depending on the consultant you choose, you may also get guidance with settling in. For example, you may be briefed on cultural differences that could make a difference in your experience.

Most Canadian immigration applications annually are prepared by consultants, which is a testament to the level of expertise that they bring to the table.

One of the best parts is that the rates you must deal with tend to be lower than those of a lawyer.

While a lawyer could theoretically assist you with the initial application process, that would be an unnecessarily expensive undertaking. Instead, in situations where you were refused unjustly or in error, a judicial review would need to be filed, which is effectively your challenging of the decision in a federal court.

Typically, only a lawyer can assist you at this stage. An exception to the rule is a case in which you applied on your own without a consultant, which increases the likelihood of not meeting the high application standards. It’s very simple to then bring a consultant into the mix, have the application prepared properly, and file again.

Note that a reputable consultant can evaluate the situation and let you know if you would need a judicial review and, therefore, a lawyer in cases where applying again would not be the way to go.

Regulatory Differences

Regulation for immigration consultants falls under the banner of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC). The Canadian government authorizes the college to establish the principles that would allow for the protection of immigration service consumers through a code of ethics.

Immigration lawyers, on the other hand, fall under provincial law society regulation, which is independent. Attorney registration will be under the province and bar.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, immigration consultants and lawyers serve different purposes. Put simply, the consultant will typically be your first engagement. Though you can prepare your application yourself, the nuances of the process make it very easy to miss things and not align with regulations.

By leaning on the services of a consultant, you get the kind of expertise that helps you to avoid obvious and less recognizable pitfalls. While there are no guarantees, authorized Canadian immigration consultants are your best bet for maximizing your chances of success.

Should your application be unjustly or erroneously declined, your consultant can do a review and help you to understand whether you should simply apply again with assistance or seek the services of an immigration lawyer for a judicial review. Thankfully, immigration consultants tend to be on the more cost-effective side of the fence.

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