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Who May Represent You
A representative may be a lawyer, a consultant or any other person, including a friend, whom you hire for a fee or ask to help you do any of the following at no charge: (1) apply for permanent residence or a temporary stay in Canada; (2) submit a refugee claim; (3) appear in front of an adjudicator; (4) appeal a decision; (5) apply for citizenship; or (6) request information on matters dealing with the Immigration Act or the Citizenship Act.
What you should know before seeking the services of someone to help with your application
Do you need a representative?
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) does not require you to have a representative. We have tried to make our application kits as simple as possible so that you can complete them yourself. You can get additional information on how to complete an application from the CIC Web site or from a CIC Call Centre.
If you decide to use the services of a representative, you are free to do so.
CIC treats all applicants equally and does not provide preferential service to applicants with representatives.
Who can act as a representative?
Anyone can act as a representative.
Only lawyers licensed to practise in Canada can represent you at the Federal Court.
CIC can provide information on your file only to people who are either (1) Canadian citizens, (2) permanent residents of Canada or (3) physically present in Canada. Representatives who live outside Canada and are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents might be unable to help you.
Volunteer and non-governmental organizations that deal with immigrants may provide free services.
CIC cannot recommend representatives or vouch for their honesty or skills. It is your responsibility to make sure that the representative you choose is ethical and competent to perform the services required. You should not be afraid to ask the representative (whether a lawyer or a consultant) for references or for other proof that he or she has the necessary skills.
Beware of representatives who claim that you will get a visa, obtain citizenship or benefit from special treatment from the Canadian government by using their services. CIC is not associated with any representatives.
Be cautious when dealing with foreign-based representatives. Such companies or individuals may be outside the reach of Canadian law, and there may be no protection or remedy available in Canada to a dissatisfied client.
Lawyers practising in Canada are regulated by provincial regulatory bodies. Only a lawyer who is a member in good standing of a provincial or territorial law society may practise law. The law societies regulate lawyers and can investigate complaints against members, impose discipline and provide financial compensation to clients who are victims of negligence or misconduct.
If you live in Canada and you want to hire a lawyer, call the law society of the province or territory in which you live for the names of lawyers. In many cases, you can consult a lawyer free of charge for half an hour before deciding if you want to hire him or her. However, in some cases, a fee may be charged for the consultation.
Immigration consultants are not regulated by either the federal or provincial governments of Canada.
Find out if the consultant (whether he or she is in Canada or overseas) belongs to a professional association in Canada and ask about his or her experience with immigration or citizenship matters.
Call the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out if the consultant has a satisfactory rating. Business people who fail to respond to letters of complaint sent to the BBB receive an unsatisfactory rating.
Dealing with representatives
CIC requires your written authorization in order to release information to your representative.
You may give your own mailing address or the mailing address of your representative as a point of contact for CIC. If you choose to give your representative's address, all correspondence from CIC, including notices for interviews, requests for information, medical forms and visas, will be sent to the representative.
If you change representatives or stop using their services, you must cancel your authorization in writing to CIC or CIC will continue dealing with them. If you hire a new representative, you will have to provide a new authorization to CIC.
Make sure that the representative who helps you with your application is willing to be identified as your representative.
Information given to CIC must be truthful
Submitting false or misleading information to CIC can lead to the refusal of your application, the cancellation of your visa, the revocation of your citizenship, your deportation from Canada, and criminal charges being laid against you.
You are responsible for any documents you submit to CIC or that your representative submits on your behalf.
Where to go for help if things go wrong
CIC cannot help you if you have a dispute with your representative as it is a private matter between the two of you. However, you may write to the CIC office dealing with your case or to the following address to inform CIC of the situation:
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Social Policy and Programs
Jean Edmonds Tower North, 7th Floor
300 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario KIA 1L1
Note: You should file a complaint with the proper authorities as soon as possible if you encounter serious difficulties with your representative as limitation periods may apply.
If your representative is a lawyer practising in Canada
Address your complaint to the law society of the province or territory where your lawyer practises. Law societies impose a code of conduct on their members to try to protect the public interest. They have rules for disciplining lawyers and compensating clients. You may be able to obtain financial compensation from the law society's insurance fund.
If your representative is a consultant practising in Canada
If your consultant is a member of a professional association in Canada, file a complaint with that association.
If your consultant is not a member of any association, you might ask the consumer protection office in your province or territory for advice. Some associations might offer to contact the consultant to seek a solution.
You can report your problem to the Better Business Bureau in the province or territory where your representative works. The BBB might contact your representative to try to resolve the issue for you.
If your representative is either a lawyer or an immigration consultant practising in Canada
If you believe your representative has committed an offense in the course of representing you, you should go to the local police or to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
If you are in Canada and you wish to recover money you paid for services you did not get, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. You do not need a lawyer to do so, but you will have to pay a small fee.
Legal Aid services are available throughout Canada for people who cannot afford to pay for legal assistance. Contact them to see if you qualify for assistance.
If your representative's place of business is abroad
If your representative is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you should present your complaint to the appropriate authorities overseas. The Canadian government cannot get involved in the dispute.
CIC Call Centre
Montréal (514) 496-1010
Toronto (416) 973-4444
Vancouver (604) 666-2171
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