Immigration Lawyers — What Are They Good for?
When I checked my inbox this morning I discovered an essential email from a business of immigration professionals that we are part of.
Actually, this email is really imperative to my capacity to practice immigration law that I forwarded it to all of my staff, saved it in our firm’s electronic address book, and printed it for inclusion in the binder that sits on my small desk right by my telephone.
Yet, the reality is that this email makes me feel like I am a silent partner in a slight deception being perpetrated around the public by CIC. Let me explain.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada clearly takes great public pride within the level of information and resources it provides towards the public through its website and call centre. CIC boasts that “All the forms and knowledge that you need to make application for a visa are for sale to free on this web site.”
Therefore, it’s no wonder that within the website’s FAQ, the reply to the question: “Do I need an immigration representative that helped me to apply?” is really a “no.”
The public is told that “The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, if they utilize a representative or otherwise.”
Will your case be processed faster in the event you hire a representative? CIC advises that “If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention through the immigration officer.”
Is really true? Is the information you’ll need really on the market? Do you want legal counsel? Wouldn’t it make a difference if you have one? Put one other way: are people who are using lawyers and consultants to deal with their immigration applications just throwing out their money?
I hate answering these questions since doing other’s immigration jobs are the way i make my living. People could be justified in becoming sceptical about my strategies to these questions.
However “all the information you need” is not actually out there and, yes, most of the time an attorney or consultant’s involvement can spell the real difference between success, delay, or abject failure.
The information at cic.gc.ca is general in nature and cannot possibly contemplate the infinite factual scenarios that applicants might present when applying. Furthermore, the agents on the call centre cannot and don’t provide callers with legal counsel. It is simply not inside their mandate to take action. Instead, they offer “general information on the CIC lines of business… provide case specific information, and accept orders for CIC publications and application kits.”
Put simply, they can not inform you that which you ‘should’ do while confronting obstacles or strategic decisions to produce.
Also, in the event you encounter an issue that needs to be escalated, which isn’t uncommon, you’ll find precious little info on the CIC website concerning where to direct your problem or question.
Not so with immigration professionals.
The e-mail I received today is definitely an update of CIC’s protocol how immigration professionals should direct their queries. The correspondence provides the email address contact information for each Canadian visa post overseas as well as the names and emails of the immigration program managers at each and every of the offices. It tells us how, and to whom, to direct case-specific enquiries for the Case Management Branch in Ottawa so when and the way to follow up when we do not get a timely reply. It gives you instructions on how to direct communications relating to service quality complaints, situations involving possible misconduct or malfeasance of immigration officers, procedures, operational and selection policy, and processing times and levels.
To my knowledge, these details are not distributed to the public. CIC’s failure to publicise this info doesn’t reflect preferential strategy for those people who are represented. Instead, it’s just an acknowledgement that immigration professionals do, and have always, played a vital role for making an overburdened and under-resourced program function at all (otherwise function better).
Sharing this information with the public would result in an avalanche of correspondence being directed at senior officials who’re spread so thinly that they could never have any other work done.
It is true that, with the exception of exceptional and deserving cases, employing a lawyer or consultant can’t get an application moved in the back from the line for the head of the line. Also, an official won’t approve a job candidate who isn’t qualified simply because he or she is represented. However, it is also true that a reputable and experienced representative won’t block the machine by submitting a credit card applicatoin which simply won’t fly.
Furthermore, pros who focus on this area know the process and understand how to avoid errors that cause delays. They know how to search through mounds of convoluted facts and effectively and convincingly document and present the salient ones to be able to establish the foundation for that approval with the application efficiently and quickly.
CIC doesn’t prefer to acknowledge the positive role lawyers and consultants play for making its bureaucracy benefit people. It’s loath to determine us as partners in delivering the immigration plan it really is given annually by Canada’s immigration minister for the day.