‘Should I hire a Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer, or do it myself?’
You don’t have to hire a representative for your Canadian immigration application, but it might be a good idea.
If you’re like most applicants for Canadian immigration, you either don’t feel the need to hire a Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer to help you obtain status in Canada, or you can’t afford to. However, every year tens of thousands of applicants hire a regulated Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer to help them along.
So, who hires a consultant or lawyer, and why? Let’s find out.
First off, let’s be clear: there is no requirement for you to hire a consultant or lawyer to represent you in your Canadian immigration application. It is possible to apply for permanent residence, or obtain a work or study permit, or visit Canada temporarily, without the assistance of an expert. But, if you go with a DIY (do it yourself) strategy, that means you need to become the expert in a complex system of programs, deadlines, forms, and more.
If DIY sounds like too much, here are some common situations where people hire a Canadian immigration consultant.
😌 You enjoy convenience or don’t like forms
With the help of a representative, you’ll have more time to focus your attention on important things like your work, your studies, or your family, as the case may be. This is enough of a reason for some people to work with a consultant or lawyer.
You’ll likely be filling out the many immigration forms for your immigration program for the first time. An experienced consultant or lawyer, however, should be well acquainted with every single question on every last form. And if you’re not sure exactly which documents you need to gather or how, a good consultant or lawyer will be able to point you in the right direction. If you want someone to help you do the thinking, it’s convenient to have a Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer on your side to help you along. This is what they do for a living.
Moreover, it’s not all about forms. What about all that expert knowledge as well? The few inches between the ears of an experienced, knowledgeable consultant or lawyer could make all the difference in getting you settled in Canada.
🙅♀️ You have been refused previously
If you have ever been refused entry to Canada before, you should have received a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) outlining why. Often, applications are rejected because of incomplete or erroneous documentation, or it was found that you weren’t actually eligible to apply in the first place, or because an IRCC officer wasn’t satisfied that you would or could fulfil the conditions of the program, such as showing requisite proof of funds or intent to leave Canada after a temporary stay.
No matter the case, you presumably don’t want to make the same mistake again, or a completely new mistake altogether. This is where a Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer can help enormously.
🤬 You have committed or been convicted of a crime
You don’t need to have robbed a bank or committed murder to be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada — some minor crimes can also put you on IRCC’s blacklist. So, for example, if you have a conviction for dangerous driving or petty theft, that could be a problem.
There are ways to overcome a criminal conviction and be approved for entry to Canada, but it requires expert knowledge. A Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer may have that knowledge, not to mention the experience of helping other applicants in similar positions.
🚑 You have a potential medical inadmissibility concern
Canada’s immigration policies deny entry to those whose health condition may be a danger to public health or safety, or which may prove to have excessive demand on health or social services. As of 2019, the cost threshold for excessive demand on health or social services is CAD $102,585 over five years, or $20,517 per year. In 2018, the government greatly increased the threshold for excessive demand, so many conditions won’t cause you major problems. The bad news, however, is that some applicants will still be deemed medically inadmissible to Canada.
If you have a health concern, note that it’s not necessarily your condition in itself that will prove the sticking point, but rather the cost of treatment of that condition over time, or any potential danger it may pose to others. Canadian immigration consultants and lawyers are not medical practitioners, but they often have experience in assessing inadmissibility based on information provided by your doctor, via the applicant (i.e. you).
😖 You’re applying through a more complex immigration program
Did you know that the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Express Entry Skilled Worker category requires you to be in the Express Entry pool, then satisfy BC-specific criteria, whereupon you enter a BC-specific pool from which you may be invited, then you apply to the province and, if approved, accept your nomination in the Express Entry pool, from which you may then be invited to apply for permanent residence.
Confused? Don’t worry, that’s normal (and if you think the BC PNP is bewildering, you should see the Manitoba program! As for Canada’s business immigration programs…) Plus, these programs can change criteria at any moment. Who is going to track those potential changes on your behalf?
Some Canadian immigration programs are more complex than others, and that’s a fact. If you’re confused today, or want to avoid confusion in the future, it might be a good idea to retain the services of someone who lives and breathes PNP occupation lists or how to prove net worth thresholds. That someone should be a regulated Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer.