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Job: Regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC).

The role: An RCIC helps those interested in moving to Canada navigate the immigration process.

Through consultations and assessments, RCICs recommend the best path for the individual, family or group, and assist with strategizing, preparing and presenting both oral and written submissions to the appropriate authorities.

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RCICs also advocate on behalf of their clients before government agencies such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, The Canada Border Services Agency, The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, as well as provincial immigration authorities.

“The role of an immigration consultant is to consult and assist people who would like to come to Canada as immigrants – or after becoming permanent residents, [to become] citizens – to guide them through the law, the regulation and the complex system of immigration in Canada,” said Dory Jade, chief executive of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, or CAPIC.

Upon receiving certification, RCICs can choose to work as independent practitioners, as part of an immigration or more broadly based consultancy, within a law firm, at a university assisting with international-student programs or for companies that seek to employ immigrant workers.

Salary: The salary expectation of an RCIC ranges depending on their employer, years of experience and area of specialization. Furthermore, independent practitioners often earn inconsistent salaries, while those employed by immigration consultancies often have commission-based incomes.

“They are within the average income of Canadian citizens, around $40,000 or $60,000 [a year] in the beginning to mid-career,” Mr. Jade said. “We believe most immigration consultants, after 15 years, make a much higher income on an annual basis.”

According to member surveys conducted by CAPIC, independent practitioners typically charge approximately $250 an hour, and have an average operating cost of roughly $100 an hour. “If they work for those large consulting firms or immigration firms, they get higher salaries with time and experience,” Mr. Jade added.

Education: A relatively unregulated industry prior to 2004, anyone that charges a fee for providing immigration or citizenship advice must now be a member of The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), a Canadian law society, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec, according to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, as well as the Citizenship Act.

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“They need to have education in immigration law, citizenship law and regulation,” said Mr. Jade, adding that in order to receive ICCRC certification, immigration consultants need to pass an exam in one of their first three attempts. “They also have to take continuous professional development training on an annual basis as a requirement to maintain their licence.”

Mr. Jade adds that 60 per cent of immigration consultants currently hold a bachelor’s degree, according to member surveys. Changes to strengthen educational requirements are expected in 2019.

“The regulator will soon increase the standard to require a postgraduate diploma,” he said. “That would guarantee that all immigration consultants have a bachelor’s degree, because you can’t have a postgraduate diploma without a bachelor’s degree.”

Job prospects: Mr. Jade says that immigration and refugee numbers are relatively high per capita in Canada compared with other countries, resulting in strong job prospects for immigration consultants.

“The prospects of the industry are considerably high, as immigration to Canada is recognized as being the basis and core of economic growth,” he said. “Refugees and immigrants are economic drivers to this country, so there's a lot of prospective work for immigration consultants.”

Challenges: Immigration consultants are challenged to meet the changing requirements of the Canadian immigration system on behalf of clients that often come from difficult circumstances, and are at times unable to provide necessary documentation. “The regulations continuously change, so immigration consultants need to be updated on a very regular basis,” Mr. Jade added. “This is a very big challenge for them.”

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Why they do it: Mr. Jade says that RCICs enjoy a rewarding work environment that not only helps thousands of people build a new home in Canada, but also stimulates the local economy through job placement.

Misconceptions: Despite the recent focus on regulation in the industry, enforcement has historically been lax, allowing unlicensed immigration consultants to slip through the cracks and ultimately damage the reputation of the industry as a whole.

“When it comes to immigration consultants, they deal with people who are vulnerable to misinformation in their home countries,” Mr. Jade said. “They might use someone who is unlicensed who might mistreat them, and the newspaper reports on these immigration consultants, but technically this person is not regulated and therefore not an immigration consultant, but the media doesn’t always differentiate.”

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