Operational Bulletin 401 - April 10, 2012

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Coming into Force of Information Sharing Regulations (“Authorized Representatives”[*Note])

Summary

An amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) came into force on April 10, 2012 authorizing Citizenship and Immigration (CIC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to disclose information relating to the professional or ethical conduct of representatives, authorized under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), to their respective governing bodies; when the officer has determined that the conduct of the person is likely to constitute a breach of their professional or ethical obligations.

Issue

The purpose of this Operational Bulletin (OB) is to provide guidance to CIC and CBSA officers on how and when to report information to the governing bodies of immigration representatives on the professional or ethical conduct of their members to support strengthened oversight of immigration representatives.

Background

Bill C-35, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, came into force on June 30, 2011, making it an offence for anyone other than an authorized representative to advise or represent a person, for a fee or other consideration, in connection with an application or proceeding under the IRPA. A Ministerial regulation was also brought into force on the same day, designating the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) as the new regulator of immigration consultants.

This statutory change also enabled the Government to make regulations relating to the disclosure of information concerning the professional or ethical conduct of representatives to their respective governing bodies, and to create an oversight mechanism of the governing body designated by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to regulate immigration consultants to ensure that the body is serving the public interest.

New regulatory provisions have been put in place to allow CIC, the CBSA and the IRB to disclose information relating to the professional or ethical conduct of authorized representatives to the appropriate governing body for assessment and appropriate action when the officer has determined that the conduct of the person is likely to constitute a breach of the professional or ethical obligations.

IMM 5476 (Use of a Representative) has been updated to provide notice to both the representative and the applicant that information may be disclosed to the governing body and that they can contact the Privacy Commissioner if they believe that their personal information has been unlawfully disclosed.

Regulatory provisions have also been put in place to require the designated governing body of immigration consultants to provide the Minister with information that could be used to assist in evaluating whether the designated body is governing its members in the public interest.

The Regulations require the governing body to provide an annual package of documents for use in assessing its effectiveness and viability no later than 90 calendar days following the body’s fiscal year end. As well, the Minister may require information from the governing body within 10 business days after receipt of a ministerial notice where it appears that the ability of the designated body to govern its members in a manner that is in the public interest has been compromised.

Instructions

The regulations permit CIC, the CBSA and the IRB to disclose information to a governing body in cases where conduct by a representative is likely to constitute a breach of that person’s professional or ethical obligations. Examples of relevant acts or omissions could include:

  • False promises made to the applicant,
  • Providing false information to clients about Canada’s immigration processes,
  • Failing to provide services agreed to between the representative and client,
  • Counselling to obtain or submit false evidence, and
  • Acts or omissions which would appear to be contrary to the code of ethics of the governing body.

For more information about professional and ethical misconduct see: IP9 section 10.3 and 10.4

If a client complains to an officer about general misconducts of a representative, the officer should encourage the client to visit CIC’s Web page on this topic and to contact the respective regulatory body directly. This information can be found at www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/representative/complaints.asp. However, if an officer receives information about the professional or ethical conduct of a representative, for which they determined that the conduct of the person is likely to constitute a breach of their professional or ethical obligations, they should forward the information to National Head Quarters (NHQ). NHQ will transmit the information by means of encryption to the appropriate governing body.

Further updates to IP9 will follow.

Contact

For further information on any of the procedures outlined in this OB, please contact the Operational Management and Coordination Branch.

*Note: While no longer referenced in IRPA and its Regulations, for ease of reading, the term “authorized representatives” is used throughout this document when referring to members in good standing of a Canadian provincial/territorial law society – including paralegals, the Chambre des notaires du Québec, or of a body designated by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council).

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