Here are five important questions you should ask before you hire an immigration lawyer.
There are only two types of representatives authorized by IRCC: immigration consultants and immigration lawyers. Immigration consultants have to be registered with ICCRC, and lawyers have to be in good standing with their provincial bar association. Learn more about the differences between consultants and lawyers here.
Here you will find a list of the 5 most relevant questions you should ask your immigration lawyer and an example of the information you can obtain based on the answers given by attorney Renaud Dery, who is the founder and managing partner of the Canadian immigration Law Firm.
It’s crucial to ask about your immigration lawyer’s credentials. This helps ensure they’re qualified and experienced in immigration law. Knowing their education, certifications, and experience gives you confidence in their advice and increases your chances of a successful immigration process.
Lawyers must have graduated from law school, and be in good standing with their provincial bar association. Ask your immigration lawyer where they got their degree, and do some research on the school to make sure it’s credible. You can check for yourself whether the lawyer you’re speaking to is in good standing on the province’s bar association website.
Attorney Renaud Dery: “I have a Civil and Common Law degree from the University of Ottawa, and a Master’s degree in law from King’s College in London, England. My firm is located in Montréal, Québec, so I’m registered with the Barreau du Québec”
Asking your immigration lawyer how long they’ve been practicing is vital. Their experience offers insight into their familiarity with complex immigration matters, increasing your confidence in their ability to navigate your case effectively and ensure a smoother process.
While all lawyers have an in-depth education about Canadian law, years of experience can make a huge difference to an immigration lawyer’s ability to represent your case. Ask your lawyer how long they have been practicing Canadian immigration law.
RD: “I have been practicing immigration law in Québec for almost 20 years.”
Every single immigration applicant is unique, so it’s difficult to compare cases. However, if you have a particular cause for concern in your case, for example a criminal record, it is completely fair to ask your immigration lawyer if they have experience working with cases like yours.
It’s essential to ask your immigration lawyer if they’ve handled a case similar to yours. This inquiry provides assurance that they possess relevant expertise and know-how in addressing challenges specific to your situation. Having successfully managed similar cases demonstrates their ability to devise effective strategies and increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome for your immigration journey.
However, you have to remember that even if a previous client was in exactly the same circumstances as you, there is no guarantee that your application will have the same result as theirs.
RD: “Over the past 20 years, I’ve encountered a wide variety of cases. However, keep in mind that, at the end of the day, the final decision on any application comes down to the visa officer reviewing your case.”
Your immigration lawyer should provide you with a contract that explains, in detail, how much you are expected to pay and what services you will receive in return. The contract should also provide a detailed breakdown of when you are expected to make payments. However, not all of the fees associated with your application might be included in your contract. For example, depending on your file, you may need to pay government processing fees, or courier fees.
While government processing fees in particular are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the Canadian government, your lawyer should be able to provide you with a rough estimate of the total cost of your application.
RD: “Canadim offers flat-rate contracts with milestone-based billing periods. That means that clients will not be charged for their communication with us. The billing periods are clearly explained in our service agreements, so you know exactly what you can expect from Canadim before each payment. The more upfront about your profile you are with us, the better we will be able to estimate the total cost of your application, since you might require some services that are outside the scope of our standard service agreement.”
Even if you choose to hire a representative, you will still need to be actively involved in preparing the application. You should be very clear on what you can expect from your representative, and what is expected of you. Your immigration lawyer should be able to provide you with a general description of the process your application will go through.
At the end of the day, this is your immigration application. No one else can take a language test for you, if applicable, or have access to your complete work history. Clients need to be actively involved in the preparation of their application.
However, Canadim guides you through the process, and ensures that your application is complete, accurate, and reflects your profile in the best possible light for the visa officer who will eventually review it.
I think it’s important to note that there are people, even lawyers, who will take advantage of prospective immigrants. My team and I have done our best to arm candidates against immigration fraud, but it is up to the individual to be vigilant when they hire an expert to help with their immigration application.
If anyone, whether they are a lawyer, a consultant, or a friend, tells you that they will take care of the complete application and you do not need to be involved, or guarantees that your application will be a success, they are likely trying to scam you.
If the person is unwilling or unable to tell you about their fees, their credentials, or the process your file will go through, you should be suspicious.
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