By Omar Al Khatib
In the past years, and because of the bloody events in the Arab world, the desire of thousands of people from Arab countries to come to Canada has insanely increased. They have always been looking for a new home that can bring them hope for a better life. Therefore, several questions are being raised and consultations are needed widely. This has made a group of mediators more willing to seek benefits in any form and in any way.
After hundreds of humanitarian asylum files were recently rejected for some suspicious reasons questioning immigration offices ethics and their greed. Others are skeptical of vocational training amidst the shock of hundreds of rejected applications after losing their savings and their dreams shattered on the rock of bitterness.
Under this situation, there are those who were committed to come to Canada in any way after the unprecedented conditions in the Gulf countries. We thus sensed the utmost importance to try to save those wishing to emigrate from the bitterness of fraud by answering the following question: Who is the best legal entity to represent me at the Canadian Immigration Authorities?
According to the Canadian immigration authorities, the only authorized professionals are: the lawyer and the notary in Province of Québec, the immigration consultants and Paralegals (judicial assistant). As a first step, you must check the status of the professional by accessing the trade union page and searching for the concerned person’s name. Canada has one Immigration Consultants Council. One Chamber for the notaries in Quebec, and a Bar Association in each Canadian province. Therefore, you are required to know the name of the province where your professional is registered if you want to verify his or her professional status.
As for Paralegal, his powers vary from province to other. According to the Canadian immigration website, Paralegals in the Province of Ontario is recognized as a legal representative before it. For your convenience, the link below helps to ascertain the professional status of your legal representative:
Who is better: lawyer, notary, immigration consultant or paralegal?
Now, you might ask: who is the best to defend and represent your file behind Canadian authorities? Is it the lawyer, notary, immigration consultant or paralegal?
We will attempt to approach the answer by looking for objective standards to understand the difference. Thus, one major standard is the professional qualification. Here, we will give an overview of the professional qualification of the lawyer, notary, immigration consultants and the Paralegals
The lawyer and the notary in Quebec should both have a bachelor’s degree in law (in Quebec preceded by a two-year study in law techniques. In other provinces, the law college requires obtaining another bachelor’s degree in another field). Contrary to other law colleges in Arab countries, we see that law colleges in Canada have an elite character to graduate the best of law specialists.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in law, we notice that in all Canadian provinces most successful students apply to the School of Lawyers to become lawyers, however, in the Province of Quebec, the Bachelor’s degree holder has another choice : applying to the university to a Masters’ degree in Notarial Civil Law to be notary in Quebec. The specificity of Quebec is due to the influence of the French legal culture, which gives great prestige to the profession of notary in terms of professional qualification and good reputation. The duration of the study varies according to the province, for example, in Quebec, from four to eight months in in School of Lawyers and two years are required in the Master of in Notarial Civil Law.
While the profession of lawyer allows him to work in all aspects of the law and its branches, we note that the notary in Quebec is specialized in virtue of his work and in the rules governing his profession in family law and commercial law in addition to the law of real estate. Most often, immigration cases and asylum interfere with family laws (family sponsoring, marriage, divorce and adoption) etc… and sometimes with commercial law, (Business immigration program). Thus, it is better to choose who has experience not only in immigration law but also in other overlapping branches of law, whether a specialized lawyer or a notary in Quebec.
A significant difference in qualification and programs between lawyer and immigration consultant
The lawyer can litigate at all stages of claims, regardless of being administrative or conflict based while notaries in Quebec as a public official can’t litigate in conflicting claims. Generally, most immigration and asylum cases do not have a conflict litigation state. So we say the preference between the lawyer and notary in Quebec go beyond the good qualification framework for both of them to the professional considerations related to years of experience and specialization and at other times to personal considerations and also to the nature of the claims; whether it is of a conflict or administrative nature.
For the immigration consultant, his qualification training is in one of the professional institutes. The immigration consultant continues to be trained for about 400 hours, and the admissions requirements are simple and easy (just to have the basic: Language, secondary qualification certificate). In comparison with the Canadian law schools, immigration-training programs are almost universally available even you can study at distance in some institutes. For the contents of the programs, they focus more technically on how to fill in the forms and applications of immigration and asylum programs with some intensive theoretical qualification on the immigration and asylum laws. Therefore, the immigration consultant cannot handle all files of immigration and asylum as a lawyer and notary in Quebec do. For example, he cannot plead before federal courts. Sometimes, the immigration consultant is forced to communicate with a lawyer to handle complex cases or to sue federal courts.
The qualification training of paralegals varies from one province to another and from one educational institution to another, ranging from one year to four years. Admission requirements are often simple and easy when compared with Canadian law schools.
The programs for paralegals qualification training are generally available to all (just to have the basic: Language, secondary qualification certificate), and some institutes also offer distant learning. Generally, the legal qualification for paralegals is longer and deeper than immigration consultants, however, the content of these programs ranges from being limited to his qualification to work in a law firm or work independently in some legal cases. Among these cases is immigration and asylum just as the lawyer and notary in Quebec with the same degree. For instance, he cannot plead before the federal courts and often have to communicate with lawyers to handle complex cases or to sue federal courts.
Importance of Legal License
It is very important for those who wish to communicate with one of them in relation to immigration to make sure that the person concerned has the license to work in the field of immigration and know the limits of what he can and cannot do within the limits of this license.
Based on my extensive contacts with many people in the Arab countries, especially in the Gulf countries, I found that the great number of workers in immigration field is either immigration consultants or persons with no legal status who work as intermediaries for immigration consultants or fraudsters who sneak through social networking pages or cafes and abuse people. I even noticed that many people, especially residents of the Gulf, believe that the immigration consultants are immigration lawyers. In any way, the lawyer by definition is a member of the Bar Association and anyone who claims that status without being a member of it is considered an impersonation that the Canadian laws shall sanction. Actually, there are many precedents in this issue
The percentage of Canadian lawyers and notaries in Quebec is limited compared with immigration consultants. The challenge for Arab immigrants wishing to join law schools, legal school programs, legal documentation and success in them might be caused by comparing them to immigration consultants. In addition, public relations play a big role in promotion. Lawyers and notaries in Quebec have not been very successful in promoting their offices compared to immigration consultants, especially if we know that the fees of a number of immigration consultants working in the Gulf market go beyond the lawyers and notaries working in Canada!
A paralegal who has a license also seems to have a limited presence in the Arab countries, compared with immigration consultant, to the extent that it is not possible to give estimates of people’s impressions of their profession and the fees they receive.
In conclusion, it is challenging to give a final impression on the preference of the lawyer, the notary, the immigration consultant, and the paralegal. The answer seems to have two aspects: a professional one related to qualification training and experience, and a personal aspect concerned with confidence and psychological comfort.