Are you wondering if you should use a representative to help with your Study Permit application (study permit is the term for a student visa in Canada)?
Here are some steps for you to go through to answer this questions
Step 1 Do I need to have someone represent you?
It is absolutely not a requirement. As the Canadian government emphasizes in this official statement:
You don't need to hire a representative! It's your choice. Using one will not draw special attention to your application and doesn’t mean we’ll approve it. You can get all the forms and instructions you need to apply for a visa, a permit or citizenship for free on this website. If you follow the instructions, you should be able to fill out the forms and submit them yourself. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigration-citizenship-representative/learn-about-representatives.html Step 2 What are the advantages and disadvantages of having someone represent you? ADVANTAGES If the representative is highly competent, it may save time, may lead to avoiding some mistakes you might make on your own, and may also lead to guidance on how to handle complications in your profile. “Complications” could refer to unlimited possibilities. Examples would be a prior visa refusal of any kind to any other country, or a refusal of a close family member. It could refer to somethig about your academic profile that could be better explained than you might do yourself. DISADVANTAGES You could use a representative who is not competent, and might make errors that you might not make or give bad judgement. An example of the worst judgement is to be advised to fake something in your application. This can not only lead to a study permit refusal but have serious consequences for your future hopes to travel or migrate to Canada. Step 3 If you want a representative, how to choose a reliable one A representative can be someone that charges a fee or someone that does not charge a fee Authorized representatives who can charge a fee are officially defined as:
lawyers and paralegals who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society
notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec and
citizenship or immigration consultants who are members in good standing of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants
If someone charges a fee and is not authorized as above, your application could be returned and refused.
Unpaid representatives could include:
other third parties who do not charge a fee
https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigration-citizenship-representative/learn-about-representatives.html Step 4 How can I know if the representative is authorized? Click to verify if someone is a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) You will see a link for: Verify your Immigration Consultant To verify someone is a lawyer (including Barrister & Solicitor, or in Québec, a notary), you must check with the Law Society which governs the practice of law in that person's Canadian province or territory. Ask the lawyer, under what province or territory is she regulated. The Canadian government provides links to all of these law societies here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigration-citizenship-representative/choose/authorized.html
It is the opinion of this writer, as a general guideline, that law societies more strictly regulate lawyers than the CICC regulates consultants It is the further opinion that the training required to become a lawyer is considerably more rigorous than to be come a licensed consultant. Lawyers will generally be required to complete six or more years of formal education, including 3 years of law studies. The requirements to be a CICC member are mainly a relatively short course of training. However, this course of training is highly concentrated on immigration issues.
ADVICE: Do not hesitate to ask someone claiming to be an authorized representative to provide to you proof and to guide you as to how you can independently confirm that the proof is genuine. If someone is not immediately able to provide that to you, you should strongly consider not hiring this person to assist you.
NOTE: If your application for a Canadian study permit is refused, only a lawyer can commence proceedings to challenge this in a Canadian court of law (usually the Federal Court of Canada).
The Canadian government website also has important warning about fraudulent representatives. It also has more information about how to protect yourself from fraud.
Remember that even if someone is a licensed consultant or a lawyer as a member of a Canadian law society, just like hiring any electrician or accountant or other licensed person, that person could still perform the duties inadequately or poorly, or still advise something fraudulent. You are expected to make all the final decisions about your application so take every representation you make to Canada Immigration very seriously.
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