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article imageOp-Ed: 'Crooked Immigration Bill' C-35 Creates New Cartel, New Criminals Special

By Steffan Ileman     May 17, 2011 in Crime
Ottawa - Touted as the “Crooked Immigration Consultant Bill,” Bill C-35 to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act had no opposition passing through Parliament.
The Bill has now received Royal Assent and is ready to make criminals out of anybody that dares to go near an immigrant hopeful to sell a service, except lawyers, licensed paralegals, and those that can receive the blessings of the Minister or work under a lawyer, any lawyer for that matter.
The Bill will be Section 91 of the Act, which states, “...no person shall knowingly, directly or indirectly, represent or advise a person for consideration — or offer to do so — in connection with a proceeding or application under this Act.” Contravention of this section is subject to a fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment of up to two years, or both. A new regulatory body for consultants will be established under the Act.
What the Bill doesn’t do is to provide any deterrence or punishment for crooked lawyers and consultants that can manage to obtain a license. It will not deter the crooked consultants abroad over whom Canada has no jurisdiction at all and who often work with lawyers in Canada. The Bill criminalises not the criminal act of deception or fraud and its perpetrators, but the occupational status of a person that charges a fee for an immigration related service, which brings the real purpose of the Act into question.
Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) is most unhappy with the new legislation, since it will be stripped of its monopoly privileges to be replaced by a cartel of organisations that will be licensed by the Minister, lawyers, and licensed paralegals. Ontario is the only province where paralegals can be licensed by a provincial law society.
Since CSIC was created, hundreds of qualified immigration consultants dropped out of the business. They couldn’t afford the investment of time and money required for certification, and they were not allowed to represent applicants without certification by CSIC. A certified consultant I talked to in Vancouver, Gina K., told me she had to dish out about $15,000 to get her certification and it costs her about $8,000-$10,000 a year to maintain her license, $3,500 + HST of which is the annual license fee charged by the Society. Gina charges $5,000 for a work permit, permanent residence or refugee application, and most of her immigration related services start at that price. Although she belongs to a small ethnic group, she’s not complaining as a realtor specialising in selling luxury West Vancouver homes to overseas clients.
Mark Kady is an interpreter and translator and a former immigration consultant who dropped out of the business because he couldn’t afford the cost of licensing. Most of his clients are poor refugee applicants or immigration applicants that could hardly pay for his translation services to complete forms, let alone the hefty fees charged by lawyers or licensed consultants. Now, he says, he won’t touch an immigration form with a 10-foot pole. He believes Bill C-35 discriminates against Canada’s smaller ethnic communities.
Most processes under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are about completing the applicable forms correctly, and applicants are generally expected to do this without any help. Lawyers’ services come into play in complex or problematic cases or appeals, and most general practitioner lawyers, or certified consultants, are not competent in the Act or Federal Court appeal procedures.
Immigration & Refugee Board’s (IRB) website states that most of the unsuccessful applications that came before the Board were rejected because of poor English or French and incorrect completion of forms. The Board says there’s a need for services to help refugees that lack language skills to fill out the forms correctly. It’s now doubtful if anyone will risk jail to help for a nominal fee or even volunteer a free service that might come under criminal scrutiny under the Act.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Bill C35, CSIC, Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, IRB, Immigration & Refugee Board
 
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