Why work with an immigration consultant?

By CENK KEMAL HAZNACI, RCIC

First of all, you don’t have to work with an immigration consultant to be successful in a Canadian immigration application. Then why work with one? I’ll give you my two cents about it in three aspects:

  1. You
  2. An RCIC (Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant)
  3. Other factors

1. You

TIME = MONEY

Without a doubt, the “You” aspect is the most decisive factor of all. After all, you pay the money; it is your immigration application; and you know yourself the best.

You have to look at the pros and cons of going at it alone. How much time will it take you to learn about how to submit an application? How much time will it take you to learn about other potential programs and streams? How much time will it take you to make sure you don’t miss anything? Do you have that much time? And how much is your time worth? In other words, how much do you make in an hour, doing what you do for a living? I used the word ‘time’ a lot because this will take a heck of a lot of time. And time is money.

I’ll give you a bit of a first-hand information here because I did this weighing the pros and cons thing for myself in 2014. At the time, I was in Turkey, working as a freelance translator and pondering on moving to Canada. And honestly, I didn’t do the pros and cons correctly. I couldn’t estimate the time to be spent accurately. And I didn’t even take into account my time’s worth. The sticker shock was enough for me to make up my mind when I received my first quote from an immigration consultant. I ran the other way and did not ask another consultant for their fees ever again.

The initial learning of how Canadian immigration system works probably took me about 200 hours. This requires going through immigration forums every day, reading through the IRCC website and trying to read/watch whatever else you can find to get some kind of guidance and wrap your head around the things you see for the first time. So if your first application is successful, 200 hours might be the time you expect to spend to get there.

THE MATH

The math is simple—multiply your hourly rate with 200. If the result is smaller than what your immigration consultant quoted you, going at it on your own might be a financially viable choice. That is until you make a mistake and your application is rejected and you have to start over. That’s exactly what happened with me. After my application was returned for being incomplete—effectively making me lose my chances since the mail took 3 months to reach Turkey and it was already 2015 by then and the submission window had been closed—I had to go through a whole system makeover in 2015 (the introduction of Express Entry), a provincial nominee application and a second federal PR application. The hours I spent probably exceeded 600. So sometimes even doing the math right might not save you.

LACK OF EXPERIENCE

That takes me to another question: Will the effort you put in to learn things be enough for you as an inexperienced applicant, especially when the matter is of a life-changing nature, such as an immigration application? Even when you think you don’t make errors too easily, a squeezed schedule, lesser hours to sleep etc. might turn the tables on anyone. You have to get it right at your first try. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of a gamble.

2. An RCIC

The second aspect is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, a. k. a. RCIC. This part is going to be easy.

An RCIC will charge you not just for the time they’ll spend on your application, but also the time they spent on learning and becoming who they became—a person with training and experience in immigration matters.

A PROFESSION

RCICs make a living out of immigration services. Your application is not going to be their first. Even if it is a new RCIC, you will still be in good hands because as per the regulations and codes of ICCRC—the regulating body for Canadian immigration consultants—RCICs lacking experience or competence in an immigration matter must introduce a co-counsel (an experienced RCIC or an immigration lawyer) to your case. All in all, an RCIC’s chance of a grave error is greatly lower than yours.

RCICs go through Practice Management Education sessions and must meet Continuing Professional Development requirements on a continuous basis, which means having to attend immigration-related events, webinars and training sessions regularly. And we are audited annually.

A WIDER VIEW

In Canada, federal programs and provincial streams combined, there are almost a hundred ways to go to for immigration. An applicant might not be aware of all of their options. By looking at your answers to an intake questionnaire, an RCIC can show you alternative routes that you might never have thought of. That is one of the biggest values RCICs add to you.

NUANCES

You may be surprised to hear this, but Canadian immigration processing is not carried out uniformly throughout the world. There is officer discretion in most matters, and some visa offices might be quite harsh while others might be lenient. Knowing the behavioral patterns, the nuances, of visa offices makes a difference.

LEGAL JARGON

RCICs almost always write a submission letter and submit it along with your application. A submission letter addresses the weak and/or strong points of an application and makes a case for a positive decision. We cite the relevant articles from Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and Act and also the case law in support of the application. This eases the visa officer’s job and often leads them towards a favorable decision.

3. Other factors

Full representation is not the only service most RCICs offer. All you need might be an Initial Consultation Session to clear your head about a few things you got stuck on before submitting that application. An hour of consultation session might be a cheap but a very effective solution for some.

When you do everything on your own and fail, you have no one but yourself to blame. When you work with an RCIC, you can always blame them! LOL. But I know you’ll be nice and not do that to your RCIC. Kidding aside, if you think something was not done right, you have rights. 

CONCLUSION

As I said at the beginning, you don’t have to retain a professional to be successful in a Canadian immigration application. It all boils down to you and your needs. If your time is valuable, I think it is a no-brainer—you have no reason not to go with an RCIC. Even if your time is not that valuable and when you do the math you spend a few hundred dollars less without retaining an RCIC, think about what you read above. I think you are still much better off working with an RCIC. 

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