Government changes will strengthen the regulation of immigration and citizenship consultants

Backgrounder

To help protect newcomers and applicants, Budget 2019 proposes $51.9 million over 5 years, and $10.1 million per year ongoing to improve oversight of immigration and citizenship consultants, to strengthen compliance and enforcement measures, and to support public awareness activities that will help protect vulnerable newcomers, applicants and ethical and professional consultants against fraudulent consultants. Together, these measures will help applicants gain access to quality immigration and citizenship advice, and ensure that those who are providing the services operate in a professional and ethical manner.

As part of the 2019 Budget Implementation Act, the Government of Canada has tabled legislation to improve oversight of consultants and enhance compliance and enforcement measures, including:

Improved regulation of the immigration and citizenship consultant industry:

This legislation would create a new statutory framework to regulate immigration and citizenship consultants under a newly-created College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (the College). The College will be governed by a board consisting of Public Interest Directors (independent appointees who are not members of the profession) and Directors drawn from membership of the profession.

The purpose of the College is to regulate immigration and citizenship consultants in the public interest and protect the public by: establishing and administering qualification standards, standards of practice and continuing education requirements; ensuring compliance with the professional code of conduct; and undertaking public awareness campaigns.

The College will have new tools to ensure compliance, including the ability to enter the premises of a consultant for investigations when it suspects wrongdoing and the ability to request court injunctions against unauthorized consultants. The new law will also strengthen the regulator’s ability to discipline members of the profession, as well as require the establishment of a victims’ compensation fund to support clients harmed by wrongful conduct by a consultant.

Changing the way that the regulator of consultants is governed will give the regulator more authority to discipline authorized consultants who are negligent or who conduct themselves unprofessionally or who are committing fraud.

Strengthened enforcement and new tools for compliance:

Of the $51.9 million announced in Budget 2019, the Canada Border Services Agency will receive $10 million to increase its resources for the criminal investigation of complex cases, including those involving unauthorized representatives, misrepresentation and organized immigration fraud.

The new legislation will double the current maximum criminal fines for offences in both the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Citizenship Act.

The law will also provide regulation-making authority for the establishment of a system of administrative penalties and consequences – including monetary penalties and bans – administered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and aimed at ensuring compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Citizenship Act.

Together, these measures will result in greater public protection and help to support the integrity of Canada’s immigration and citizenship system and the professions of good-standing consultants.

Enhanced public awareness activities about the importance of using an authorized consultant:

Budget 2019 proposes resources for IRCC for public education activities and targeted outreach, including throughout different cultural communities within Canada. Dedicated outreach positions will also be established internationally to ensure that information is spread outside of Canada about the legal requirement to use an authorized representative and the consequences of using an unauthorized representative.

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