As the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) transitions into the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), immigrants who were taken advantage of by fraudulent immigration representatives will soon have a stronger regulatory body to protect them.
For many years unlicensed and unscrupulous immigration agents have been a sore spot of the immigration process. In some extreme examples, some immigrants have lost all their life savings to them while others have been banned from coming to Canada for five years. The latter is a penalty immigrants could receive for misrepresenting themselves to the Canadian Government with a false application. Oftentimes this misrepresentation is a result of documents falsely filed by an unlicensed agent on behalf of an immigrant, who unfortunately put faith in their services.
The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is a not-for-profit organization that is the regulator of Canadian Immigration Consultants. All immigration consultants who offer immigration consultations for a fee need to be licensed members of the ICCRC. The council oversees the education and the disciplinary process of immigration consultants who are licensed under them. They have the power to audit, suspend or revoke their membership.
Christopher May, ICCRC’s Director of Public Affairs & Communications stated in an email interview with ImmiSearch that the council’s current authority arises from its designation by the Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Citizenship Act. This means the delegated authority creates administrative and legal challenges that can prevent ICCRC from delivering effective compliance and regulatory services.
In other words, ICCRC is not powerful enough to fight illegal activities and doesn’t have the tools to deal with non-licensed members. This means that if a non-ICCRC member commits an illegal activity then all the ICCRC can do is refer that person to law enforcement. The new College will change this problem.
On August 10, 2021, Marco Mendicino the Canadian Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced the date of continuance to become the College of Immigration and Citizen Consultants (CICC). As of November 23, 2021, the Council will be continued as the College with a new name, new authority, and a new website.
“In the past two years, ICCRC has worked with the IRCC and key stakeholders to obtain the necessary statutory authority. This will provide enhanced powers and tools for oversight, enforcement, and investigation, and expanded authority to identify unlicensed immigration consultants and hold them responsible for their actions,” stated May.
When the new council comes into effect the college act states that employees of ICCRC in place immediately before the date of continuance will become employees of CICC. Existing RCIC's and RISIA’s will transition to be licensees of the College and all proficiency standards will be monitored. Any future upgrades will be addressed through continuing education.
A new Graduate Diploma Program will be the standard to become a licensee of the new college. It was launched this year in French at the University of Montreal and in English at Queen's University. It will be the foundation of the College’s competency-based learning approach. The transitional College Board will be composed of nine directors, five of which are to be appointed by the Minister of Immigration. The other four will be the current individuals who held the previous roles of Chair and Vice-Chair of the Council’s Board immediately before the date of the continuance. Two more directors will be selected from the same board.
One of the most important new and needed changes is that the College will now have the authority to order refunds for inappropriate fees for immigrants adversely affected by the unlawful conduct of unlicensed consultants and a new fund will also be created to compensate affected persons. This new feature is great news for Regina-based licensed Immigration Consultant Kay Wilson.
“Hopefully with the College having the authority to go after these people it will help rid the industry of some of the fraud that happens,” said Wilson.
Wilson, who was licensed by the ICCRC in 2017 said she one time encountered five clients who unfortunately sought advice from the same fraudulent immigration agent and they all lost money that was never returned.
An important question asked by many people who work in the immigration industry is how this transition will affect Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) and other government immigration programs. May reassures that the transition will be smooth.
“We are working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on the development of regulations to support the new college and we will have more specifics regarding licensing, compliance, professional conduct, and professional development as we go forward.”
May also stated that complaints made to the College will be vigorously and efficiently investigated.
“In the short term, the public can expect the College to step up licensee-enforcement activities with respect to open cases, and institute immediate actions against several unlicensed immigration consultants who have been on our radar,” stated May. “We will continue to build on our partnerships with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and other levels of government to better share information and coordinate our efforts to crack down on fraudulent activity in Canada and abroad.”
The College will also look into the issues affecting immigrants due to Covid-19.
“The immigration process is complex and Covid-19 has made it more cumbersome. Our competency-based approach to learning will ensure that RCICs are competent and have the skills to help clients navigate this challenging process.”
If there is anything that can be gained with the transition of the ICCRC into CICC, it is the reassurance that immigrants will finally feel safe which will build trust and peace of mind when it comes to immigrating to Canada.
Kevin Lee, Co-Founder of Vancouver-based ImmiSearch. A web platform designed for Immigrants so they can find accurate and reliable Canadian immigration information. Lee said ImmiSearch was first created for the same reasons ICCRC exists today.
“To this day, ImmiSearch’s mission driven team works day and night to ensure people immigrating to Canada don’t fall victim to the practices of unscrupulous agents and consultants. We fully welcome the transition of ICCRC to the new College. It gives the regulator of immigration consultants the edge it needs to follow through on their mandate, keeping consumers of immigration services safe.”
May referred to the transition as a new beginning in the regulation of Canada’s immigration consulting profession that will benefit immigrants now and for years to come.
“The immigration process is life-changing and complex, and it’s our job to make sure people get the best advice and services from immigration consultants. We are confident that the immigration ecosystem and its stakeholders will develop confidence working with a complete regulator that has full statutory powers to regulate in the public interest.”
ImmiSearch prides itself on providing valuable and reliable information regarding the immigration to Canada process. For more information please go to ImmiSearch.ca