The government of Quebec recently proposed regulations (February 2010) to better control who may provide provincial immigration services to immigrants. Specifically, under the proposed regulations, only Quebec-licensed lawyers, notaries and immigration consultants will be entitled to represent clients in Quebec immigration matters.
Note that the Quebec and Canadian governments have a long-established agreement that gives Quebec the authority to regulate immigration to the province, as it applies to both temporary and permanent applications.
As a result, immigration professionals, including lawyers from other jurisdictions or countries who are not licensed in Quebec, will no longer be able to represent clients in Quebec immigration matters, such as temporary foreign work permits and permanent residence applications.
Under the new regulation, immigration consultants in Quebec must meet the following requirements:
- Be a member in good standing with the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC)
- Pass an examination on the rules regarding Quebec immigration
- Demonstrate knowledge of French appropriate to the exercise of activities
- Not have committed any offense under the Quebec Immigration Act and Regulations
- Not have breached her or his obligations as an immigration consultant in the three years preceding the application
In addition, immigration consultants will now be held accountable to strict rules of professional conduct. They must also carry errors and omissions insurance and pay into a client compensation fund. Following the government’s announcement, the CSIC noted:
CSIC members, known as Certified Canadian Immigration Consultants (CCICs), are held to a strict code of professional conduct and must constantly develop their professional skills in order to stay abreast of issues that could affect their immigration practice and, ultimately, how they represent a client.
In March 3, 2010, the Quebec government published additional regulations requiring all immigrants to divulge the name of any representative they hire, which will enable the government to identify ghost agents. In addition, the government will be able to impose hefty fines on consultants that behave improperly.
So how does this apply to lawyers outside of Quebec? Canadian lawyers outside of Quebec will need to obtain a special authorization from the Quebec Bar Association to practise immigration law in Quebec, and will not go through the immigration consultant requirements.
That’s it, that’s all!