In this edition:
Amendments to the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act
On May 18, 2023, John Murray, President & CEO of the College, and Michael Huynh, Director, Professional Conduct, appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology as part of its study of the subject-matter of Bill C-47, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023.
The panel at the Senate Committee focused on Division 18 of Part 4 of Bill C-47, which deals with amendments to the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act (College Act).
The College Act establishes a comprehensive regulatory framework to govern Canada’s immigration and citizenship consulting profession, including statutory powers which are important to the success of the College. However, there are some amendments necessary to ensure the better protection of the public interest, and efficient and effective College operations.
Amendments to the College Act included in Bill C-47 will add new powers that were missed during its creation under the 2019 Budget Implementation Act and will help clarify provisions of the original legislation. These include amendments:
- clarifying that the College may provide training and development programs for licensees
- allowing the College to enforce disciplinary orders through the courts
- protecting directors, officers and employees from liability for actions taken in good faith
- clarifying elements of the discipline process and the penalties that may be imposed
- allowing the College to assume custody of a licensee’s business in certain circumstances to ensure client interests are protected, including by identifying another licensee to take on active matters, or by returning client documents and funds
- allowing the College to enter into formal information-sharing agreements with other agencies and governments
- expanding the College Board’s ability to make by-laws to regulate in certain areas.
What is the status now?
Bill C-47 passed the Senate and received Royal Assent on June 22, 2023. The College will continue to keep licensees informed of changes to the College Act, By-laws, Regulations and Policies.
Board of Directors Meeting Highlights - June 8, 2023
The College Board of Directors met on June 8, 2023. All directors attended either in person or via Zoom. Ms. Alexis Graham, Director General, Social Immigration Policy and Programs and Ms. Sabrina Kabir, Senior Policy Analyst, of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) attended the meeting as Ministerial Observers pursuant to s. 76 of the College Act. Also in attendance was Mr. Phil Buckley, Managing Director, Change with Confidence, engaged by the College to support the agenda item focused on the Strategic Plan 2023-2025.
The Board of Directors approved the following items of interest to licensees:
- A 3-year Strategic Plan consisting of 4 strategic objectives and 21 initiatives to support the vision of the College was approved. The plan, based on the mandate as outlined in the College Act, was developed by management with the guidance and input of the Board of Directors.
- A budget for Fiscal 2024, which supported the initiatives in the Strategic Plan, was also approved on the recommendation of the Finance and Audit Committee (FAC).
- A New-Licensee Mentoring Program Policy was approved on the recommendation of the Governance and Nominating Committee (GNC) to provide clarity to licensees participating in the Mentoring Program. This new policy replaces the Supervised Practice Program Policy as well as the Supervised Practice Assessment and Grading Policy which were both repealed.
Other items before the Board of Directors included:
- Review and discussion of recommendations contained in the Independent Complaints Review Officer’s Q3 Report on certain professional conduct activities
- A presentation on communication response times to licensees by the College’s Registration Department: the College utilized analytical software to track email response times and reported that College responses to emails received by the Registration Department average 2 business days.
Full minutes of this Board meeting will be posted on the College website upon approval by the Board at its next meeting on September 28, 2023.
Note that College Board meetings are open to the public and licensees who wish to observe. Please see the College website for details.
Practice before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) will become a restricted area of practice on July 1, 2023
RCICS who do not hold the RCIC-IRB class of licence on July 1, 2023, are not permitted to represent clients before tribunals of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) as of that date. “Representation” includes:
- pro bono work
- appearing in an oral hearing
- written submissions
- preparation, advice or any other form of assistance to clients in IRB matters
RCICs who currently represent clients at the IRB and who will not hold an RCIC-IRB licence on July 1, 2023, have been contacted by email. They have been instructed to:
- inform their clients that they will no longer be authorized to represent them before the IRB from July 1, 2023. Retainer Agreements (service agreements) must be terminated on or before July 1, 2023
- transfer client files and return client funds and property
- advise clients of their representation options – to act as self-represented claimants or engage another authorized representative under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (RCIC-IRB; a licensed paralegal (Ontario-only), a lawyer, or a member of the Chambre des notaires du Québec)
Note: A list of RCICs with the RCIC-IRB class of licence is available on our website here.
Complying with the College’s requirement
RCICs who currently represent clients at the IRB and who will not hold the RCIC-IRB licence on July 1, 2023, are also required to complete an Acknowledgement and Undertaking Form and submit it to email@example.com by June 30, 2023. RCICs who do not comply by the deadline will be suspended from all RCIC practice.
How to obtain the RCIC-IRB class of licence after July 1, 2023
RCICs who want to obtain the RCIC-IRB class of licence after July 1, 2023, must successfully complete the College’s Specialization Program and Specialization Exam. RCICs who have completed a Graduate Diploma Program, or who are licensed paralegals, are not required to complete the Specialization Program or write the Specialization Exam.
Review the Client File Management Regulation for guidance on closing and transferring a client file.
Refer to the Eligibility to Obtain RCIC-IRB Class of Licence Policy for more information.
Complete your Annual Renewal
Deadline to complete the Annual Renewal is June 30, 2023, 11:59 pm ET.
How to submit the Annual Renewal
You have received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with the “Invitation to join/invitation à joindre SMApply” subject line. If you cannot retrieve that email, please send a message to email@example.com by 5 pm ET on June 27, 2023.
In the email, click on the “Join now” button to access the SMApply portal.
If it is your first time using SMApply, please create a password and click “Create an account”.
If you have already used SMApply in the past, please enter your password.
Click the "Apply” button to begin your Annual Renewal. The Annual Renewal is split into several forms that you may save as you progress through the Annual Renewal. Once all forms are completed, click the "Submit” button.
Note: For your Annual Renewal to be considered complete, you will also need to pay your annual fees invoice when you receive it at the beginning of July.
Who must complete the Annual Renewal?
All licensees except those on a medical leave of absence, a retirement leave of absence, or whose status is listed as “resigned”.
What is the penalty for submitting the Annual Renewal late?
Late submissions will be subject to a $100 fine.
What happens if a licensee is not compliant and/or does not complete their Annual Renewal?
A licensee may face suspension of licence.
For further information, please visit our “2023 Annual Renewal” webpage.
The College is looking for some talented professionals to join our team.
Do you or someone you know want to be part of a team that protects the public by overseeing regulated immigration and citizenship consultants and international student advisors?
Interested in any of these opportunities? Submit your resume and a brief cover letter indicating why you feel you are a fit for the role.
For more information on these positions and the most up-to-date College career postings, visit the College's Career page.
CAPIC National Conference
The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) held its 18th Annual National Citizenship & Immigration Conference in Winnipeg this month.
The opening reception and Gala for the event, titled “Next Gen: Immigration, Technology and Representation”, was held on June 7 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a Winnipeg landmark devoted to human rights for all.
The conference welcomed more than 400 attendees in person and an additional 232 who tuned in via webinar. Attendees heard from more than 30 speakers and panelists, including College CEO & President John Murray. These sessions provided licensees the opportunity to earn up to 19.5 CPD hours.
Senior Management and staff from the College, as well as members of the College Board, were pleased to participate in the conference sessions and learn from licensees and industry experts.
Many licensees visited the College’s exhibitor booth to talk with staff and share feedback.
The College’s Tribunal Committee is an independent adjudicative committee that hears and decides regulatory cases about licensees in accordance with the College’s core values of fairness, transparency, and public protection.
Below are summaries of the most recent decisions of the Tribunal Committee. Full decisions are available, without charge, on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s (CanLII) website at:
https://www.canlii.org/en/ (please enter “ICCRC” or “College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants” in the “Document text” field).
Discipline Committee Decision
Maria Esposito; R410431
|Service de consultation en immigration
Montréal, Quebec and Mississauga, Ontario
|Written Disciplinary Hearing
This complaint is in relation to the RCIC’s practice before the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. The RAD is responsible for adjudicating the appeal files of asylum seekers. The RCIC committed one or more of the following breaches in relation to approximately 60 files: failed to meet the deadline for filing notices of appeal at the RAD; failed to meet the deadline for the preparation of appellants’ files at the RAD; and failed to respect the extensions of time granted by the RAD on its own initiative or following requests from the RCIC. These failures constitute non-compliance with the time limits set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The RCIC asked the RAD to either reopen or extend the deadlines to file an appeal for more than 45 files where the RCIC had missed the deadline. The RCIC informed the RAD that the conditions leading to those violations were temporary and that they would take the necessary measures to put their practice in order. However, the RCIC continued to fail to meet deadlines in 20 of the 45 cases despite being granted extensions. The RCIC’s failures to meet the deadlines exposed the RCIC’s clients to severe consequences, including dismissal of their appeals, and made them liable to be removed from Canada.
At least 36 appeal cases were rejected by the RAD because the RCIC did not respect the deadlines prescribed by law or by the IRB. Of those, at least 5 of the refugee claimants received notices to appear from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stating that the individuals are at risk of being removed and imposing a meeting to facilitate their removal from Canada. The 5 refugee claimants’ appeals were eventually allowed to be considered on the merits.
Additionally, the RCIC failed to communicate to their clients important notices regarding missed deadlines and did not maintain a system to record the appeal dates and the deadlines concerning those clients. The RCIC did take measures to rectify the affected files, namely by taking measures to obtain further extensions, by pursuing the reversal of orders for dismissal and by perfecting appeals.
The RCIC acknowledged that they breached sections of the 2019 Code:
• Section 2.2.3(a) – Conduct Unbecoming a Member
• Article 3.1 – Obligation to act in good faith
• Article 5 – Duty of competence
• Article 5.1.1 – Duty of permanent competence
• Article 5.2.1 – Nature of jurisdiction
• Article 5.3 – Obligations in case of incompetence
• Article 6.1 – Maintaining the quality of service
• Article 7.1 – Honesty and frankness required
The RCIC’s licence was revoked. Within 14 days of the date of the order, the RCIC had to return their licence to the College and provide the Compliance Department with a sworn confirmation that their clients have been informed in writing of the revocation and that they have been provided with options for representation. The RCIC must immediately provide their clients with all the documentation or information regarding the clients in the RCIC’s possession. Within 90 days of the date of the order, the RCIC must pay a fine in the amount of $10,000.
The RCIC is to pay costs to the College in the amount of $10,000.
Discipline Committee Decision
Robin Edoh; R410167
|Canadian Immigration Services
|Written Disciplinary Hearing
The RCIC represented 11 refugee claimants before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). In accordance with rule 6(1) of the Refugee Protection Division Rules, SOR/2012-256 (RPD Rules), refugee claimants are required to submit a document called a Basis of Claim (BOC) form which provides details about a claimant and why they are claiming refugee protection in Canada. A BOC form must include the most important facts and events of a claimant’s life experience and critically, must be truthful. It is one of many factors used by the RPD to decide whether a claim is valid. In accordance with rule 11 of the RPD Rules, claimants must provide documents establishing their identity and other elements of their claim; it also clarifies that a claimant who does not provide acceptable documents must explain to the RPD why they did not provide the documents and what steps they took to obtain them. Most of the 11 refugee claims were refused by the RPD because of the RCIC’s failure to comply with RPD rules in the filings and representations for these clients.
The RCIC was hired by the client to file a refugee claim on the basis that they identified as an LGBTQ+ person in a country where they are persecuted. The client later met their partner. However, shortly thereafter, their refugee claim was denied by the RPD. The couple got married and the partners met with the RCIC to discuss options of sponsorship for permanent immigration status in Canada. The RCIC failed to enter into a separate retainer agreement with each client or to create a joint retainer agreement with both of them. The sponsor client informed the RCIC they did not want to sponsor all 7 of their spouse’s children in addition to sponsoring their spouse. The RCIC informed the sponsor client that the 7 dependents needed to be included in the immigration forms regardless of whether they were accompanying the spouse. The RCIC drafted immigration forms which indicated that the 7 overseas children would not be accompanying the sponsored client to Canada and later submitted the spousal sponsorship application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). CIC sent a letter requesting further information for the sponsorship application, including information about the sponsored client’s 7 overseas children. The RCIC submitted a letter to CIC respecting the sponsorship application which provided CIC with the name of each of the sponsored client’s 7 overseas children, the names of their mothers and their addresses. CIC sent a letter to the sponsor client informing them that they had met the requirements for eligibility as a sponsor.
A CIC officer contacted the RCIC to confirm whether the sponsored client’s dependents were accompanying them to Canada or whether they were non-accompanying. The RCIC sent a response to the CIC officer advising them that the sponsored client’s overseas dependents were accompanying them to Canada.
The RCIC entered into a retainer agreement with a client to assist with their refugee claim, the preparation and submission of their BOC form and their representation before the RPD. That same day, the RCIC entered into a separate retainer agreement to assist a second client with their refugee claim, the preparation and submission of their BOC form and their representation before the RPD. At all relevant times, the clients were individuals who identified as LGBTQ+ and were partners.
The clients met with the RCIC to prepare their BOC and provided the RCIC with their individual stories and further information relevant to their BOCs. The RCIC asked the clients questions about their narrative and later acknowledged that they could have inquired further about their clients’ circumstances.
Both clients executed a BOC and, in their BOCs, indicated that they identified as lesbians who resided in a country where LGBTQ+ individuals were persecuted. The clients had met in their mutual country of origin. The clients had mutually decided to come to Canada on a farm worker visa and had subsequently made a refugee claim. CIC issued a notice to the clients asking them to return for an interview and the clients were separately subjected to an interview by a CIC officer. The RCIC sent a letter to the RPD in respect of the clients’ refugee claims, including 3 documents which the clients intended to rely upon in support of their refugee claims. While no other letters were produced by the RCIC showing the documents sent to the RPD, the RCIC was able to confirm that the documents provided to the RPD included a letter from the clients’ pastor, documents demonstrating the clients attended the 519 Church Street Community Centre, a letter from a hospital stating that one client attended for psychiatric assistance, and a doctor’s prescription detailing medication being taken by that client.
The RCIC acknowledged that they had asked the clients’ pastor to provide a letter of support on their behalf for their refugee claims. The RCIC acknowledged that they should have better collaborated with the clients and their pastor in the writing and execution of the support letter. The clients appeared before the RPD for their refugee hearing during which the RCIC made submissions which essentially intimated that because the clients had had previous relationships with men, they could not be lesbians and must be bisexual. The RCIC made a further assertion that their clients had to lie as a result of living where they could not disclose their sexual orientation. A notice of decision was sent by the RPD to the clients informing them that the RPD refused their refugee claims and found that they were not Convention refugees. The RCIC filed a Notice of Appeal of the RPD decision before the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). The clients retained new counsel. One of the clients visited the RCIC’s office and requested that the RCIC cease their representation and provide the client with a copy of both clients’ entire records, including the recording of the RPD hearing. The clients filed an Application for Leave and Judicial Review (ALJR) with the Federal Court which granted the clients’ ALJR and overturned the RPD’s decision. The RCIC also failed to issue invoices throughout the term of the retainer.
Complaints #4 and 5
The RCIC failed to enter into an initial consultation agreement with a client. The RCIC later entered into a retainer agreement to act as the consultant with respect to the client’s refugee claim and to specifically assist them with the preparation and submission of their BOC form and to represent them before the RPD. The client was the principal claimant on a refugee claim that included their daughter, who was approximately 19 years of age. The RCIC failed to enter into a joint retainer agreement with both clients. The RCIC was paid; however, no invoices were issued. The client is an individual who identifies as LGBTQ+ and, during a meeting with the RCIC, provided their story and information for their BOC. Later, the RCIC began to represent a third client who had started dating the initial client. The RCIC first learned of their relationship when they first attended the office together. The RCIC advised the clients that they should disclose information about their relationship to the RPD when asked. The RCIC sent letters to the RPD in respect of the clients’ refugee claims. The RCIC included information gathered while meeting with both clients. The RCIC also appended various photographs and communications between the two clients. The clients appeared before the RPD for their refugee hearing. Both clients provided support letters for each other prepared by the RCIC. The RCIC failed to inform one of the clients that the Minister was intervening. The RCIC also failed to advise the clients that they should update their BOC forms to include information regarding their relationship. Both clients’ refugee claims were refused for the late filing of a document and for failure to update their information on the BOC form. The RCIC advised one of the clients that they could assist with the filing of an appeal to the RAD; however the client refused and retained new counsel.
Complaints #6 and 7
The RCIC was hired by clients who are husband and wife. The RCIC failed to enter into an initial consultation agreement with the clients to act as a consultant with respect to their refugee claims. However, the RCIC later entered into a retainer agreement with the clients. The RCIC met with the wife client to specifically assist them with the preparation and submission of their BOC form and to represent them before the RPD. While the RCIC asked the client questions about their narrative, the RCIC acknowledged that they could have inquired further about their particular circumstances. The RCIC provided the client with drafts of the BOCs for the client and their daughters. In their BOC, the client specified that they made the claim for refugee protection on the basis that if they returned to their country of origin, they would face harm from their former partner. The RCIC sent a letter to the RPD in respect of the client’s refugee claim and enclosed various documents which the client intended to rely upon in support of their refugee claim. Appended to the letter were a letter of support written by the client’s pastor, a letter written by the client’s husband, photographs of injuries sustained by the husband from a recent physical attack, a letter from the husband authorizing the wife to travel alone with their children, and documents which spoke to the specific conditions in the wife’s country of origin. The RCIC provided the husband client with a draft BOC. This client made a claim for refugee protection on the basis that if they were returned to their country of origin, they would face harm from the wife client’s former partner. The clients appeared before the RPD for their refugee hearing. The clients’ refugee claims were refused. The clients retained new counsel and filed an appeal with the RAD.
In all complaints, the RCIC acknowledges that they relied on a template BOC form to assist them with the completion and execution of the BOCs for their clients. The RCIC acknowledges that a BOC form is a highly individualized document and that the information contained in the clients’ BOCs needed to be particularized to their circumstances. The RCIC acknowledges that the use of a template, without adequate alteration, amendment, and particularization, constitutes a violation of their competency obligations under the Code. The RCIC further acknowledges that the BOC they drafted on behalf of their clients failed to meet the required standards of competence.
The RCIC acknowledged that they breached the following articles of the 2012 and 2016 versions of the Code of Professional Ethics:
a. 2012 Code:
i. Article 3.1 – Serve Honourably
ii. Article 3.2 – Privileged Role
iii. Article 4.1 – Maintain Integrity
iv. Article 4.2 – Courtesy and Good Faith
v. Article 5 – Competence
vi. Article 6.1 – Maintenance of Quality of Service
vii. Article 7.1 – Honesty and Candour Required
viii. Article 7.2 – Restricted Scope of Practice
ix. Article 11.1 – Twin Responsibilities
x. Article 12.1 – Content of Retainer Generally
xi. Article 12.2 – Specific Content of Retainer
xii. Article 13 – Joint Retainers
b. 2016 Code:
i. Article 3.1 – Duty of Good Faith
ii. Article 5 – Duty of Competence
iii. Article 6.1 – Maintenance of Quality Service
iv. Article 7.1 – Honesty and Candour Required
v. Article 10.1 – Advocacy Duties
vi. Article 11.5 – Member Action Required on Withdrawal
The RCIC was suspended for a period of 6 months to commence on July 11, 2023. The RCIC is to complete by May 13, 2024, the following 4 hours of CPD courses covering such topics as ethical practice, oral advocacy, written advocacy, representation before the IRB and refugee law. The 4 hours of CPD courses shall be in addition to the RCIC’s annual CPD requirements and cannot be counted as part of the RCIC’s existing annual CPD obligations. The RCIC will also be subject to a practice audit set to commence 4 months after the conclusion of the RCIC’s suspension; the practice audit will include various terms and conditions identified in the order. The RCIC is to pay a penalty of $10,000 to the College.
The RCIC is to pay costs to the College in the amount of $3,000.