Immigration Lawyer OR Consultant – Which is Best for Visa Applicants?
Data obtained from Canada Immigration indicates that the chances of success are much higher when applicants use the services of an immigration lawyer for their visitor, student or work visa applications. The data, obtained under an access to information request, shows that individuals using an immigration consultant (rather than an immigration lawyer) have only a slightly higher success rate than individuals who used neither lawyer nor consultant but did the process on their own.
For your convenience see our list of some of the top licensed CANADA IMMIGRATION LAWYERS.
Success Rates by Methods
|Share of Applicants||% of Applicants||
Others (Notaries etc)
10% – 13%
Reasons for Lawyers Higher Success Rates
Marina Sedai, chair of the immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, gave the following as some of the factors contributing to the higher success rates of immigration lawyers:
- Lawyers’ rigorous education
- Legal analysis skills
- High ethical standards enforced by an effective regulator
She also noted that “Lawyers’ culture of the law being a calling rather than a business means that although lawyers will often take the tough cases, they will also protect clients by advising them against hopeless cases.”
Perhaps the breath and depth of their respective professional requirements account more for the relative successes. Immigration consultants are required to complete one-year mandatory courses and pass language requirements. In contrast, immigration lawyers typically have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree before undergoing a very competitive process for admission to law school. Law school degrees take three rigorous years to complete . Then they must pass the bar admissions examinations and also go through a process of internship (articling) in a law firm, or government or corporate law department.
The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants has pointed out that other relevant factors may account for why Consultants rejection rates are higher than notaries and other unpaid representatives. For instance unpaid representatives would typically take on simpler applications which are more likely to succeed.
A good immigration attorney can make all the difference to your case. Many are hard working, honest professionals who genuinely want to help you — they could, after all, potentially be making a lot more money in some other area of law.
However, a bad immigration lawyer can overcharge you, fail to provide the promised services, and/or damage your case in a way you might never recover from. Whether you are seeking to file a petition for a visa or green card, trying to avoid deportation, or applying for some other immigration benefit, make sure you get the right sort of lawyer on your side.
Here are some tips to avoid shady types of immigration lawyers.
Finding a Good Immigration Lawyer
If you decide to use an immigration lawyer for your application, you want to make sure of their capability and ethics. A good immigration lawyer can make all the difference to your application. Here are some “dos” and “don’ts”.
Avoid Lawyers Who Approach You at Canada Immigration Offices
Some immigration lawyers are seen to hunt for new clients in in the hallways or peripheries of immigration offices. This is not considered ethical behavior by the legal bar. Besides, they often turn out to be “high-volume, low value” lawyers: any good immigration lawyer is probably going to be too busy practicing immigration law and working for their clients to spend their time rounding up new clients this way.
Make Sure You’re Dealing With a Real Lawyer
If you want a lawyer be sure to get a lawyer. As described above there are other immigration representatives that are legally permitted to handle your application but their rate of success differ significantly from immigration lawyers. Moreover, some non-lawyer representatives may intentionally present as “lawyers” or perhaps create that impression.
It is particularly important because foreigners generally may not readily recognize the distinctions among immigration service providers.
Canadian non-lawyer immigration consultants are regulated by the he Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (fortunately) but as indicated in the data above 3% of applicants use other representatives while 86% try to “do it yourself” and in doing so may end up consulting with individuals who do no more than help fill out the forms in wrong and dangerous ways without knowing what they’re doing.
Talk to More Than One Lawyer and Research the Lawyer
The easiest way to start is to do simple search on the internet for Canadian immigration lawyers. You may narrow your search to the geographical area in Canada that you target to locate to.
Talking to several attorneys will give you some basis for comparison before choosing the one who will be representing you. Even when the lawyer is busy, good immigration lawyers have staff that are competent in providing general information that is helpful in your choice of lawyer.
Watch Out For Unethical Lawyers and Unrealistic Promises
Run from any immigration lawyer who suggests that you do something suspicious, e.g. lie on an application, give the lawyer money to bribe an immigration authority, or procure fake documents. You may be told that doing certain suspicious things is the fastest and most guaranteed way to obtain your visa. You must resist. If caught (and you most certainly will be caught) it may permanently damage your eligibility for any Canadian immigration program forever.
Remember that your application will be determined by Canadian immigration authorities, not by the lawyer. If your lawyer claims that he or she has a 100% success rate or guarantees you success in any way of form, you should find another lawyer.
Find out if your representative is authorized
- Citizenship or immigration consultants must be a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
- Lawyers or notaries must be a member of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
- Paralegals (Ontario only) must be members of the Law Society of Upper Canada
If they are not members in good standing, you should not use their services.
Most law societies let you check online to see if a person is a member in good standing.
Law societies in each province and territory
- Law Society of British Columbia
- Law Society of Alberta
- Law Society of Saskatchewan
- Law Society of Manitoba
- Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario)
- Barreau du Québec
- Law Society of New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
- Law Society of Prince Edward Island
- Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Law Society of Yukon
- Law Society of the Northwest Territories
- Law Society of Nunavut (The Nunavut law society does not have an online search function. To find out whether a person is a member of this group, contact them directly.)
How to report immigration fraud
You can report immigration fraud by calling the Border Watch Tip Line at 1-888-502-9060. All information is treated as confidential.
To read more, including information on who can legally represent you if you choose to hire an immigration representative, please visit the CIC website at www.cic.gc.ca.
© Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2012
Cat No. Ci4-12/2012