Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Immigration Corner | Can I use a travel agent to apply to live in Canada?

Published:Tuesday | November 6, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Deidre S. Powell

Dear Miss Powell,

I hear all the time about friends and colleagues moving to Canada for a better life. I have a degree and work as a manager for a small business. My husband is an electrician. How can we get to Canada? How fast can this application be done? Do we need to use a lawyer, or can we just use a travel agent? A friend said she just signed up with a travel agency to apply for her to become a citizen of Canada. Should I do the same?

- J.J.

Dear J.J.,

Canada has several pro-grammes available under which you can apply to go to Canada to visit, work, and study or live permanently. Each programme is unique, and therefore, the programme that you choose should be based on your individual situation.

The most popular programmes under which you apply to go to Canada are the following:

1. Family Class Sponsorship

2. Quebec Skilled Worker Programme

3. Federal Skilled Worker Pro-gramme

4. Federal Skilled Trades Pro-gramme

5. Canadian Experience Class

6. Provincial Nominees Pro-gramme

7. Entrepreneurial, Self-Employed and Investors Programmme

Your application should be based on your circumstances, abilities, qualifications, experience and financial situation. I suggest that you consult with an authorised Canadian immigration lawyer and answer a few critical questions so that, with the help of your lawyer, you can choose the programme that you are most suited for and establish an immigration plan.

The kinds of questions your lawyer will ask you are details about yourself and your spouse. Some questions will be about your country of birth, and residence, exact date of birth, and education, work experience, language ability, the number of persons in your family, your income or savings, whether or not you have family in Canada, whether or not you have previous work experience or studies in Canada, and so on.

The answers you provide will determine the programme that you are most suited for. Therefore, you will need to be truthful and accurate with your answers in order to get the best advice.

You should note that the pathway to citizenship is a two-step one. Generally speaking, individuals will need to obtain permanent residence first, live and pay taxes in Canada for a period of time, then apply for citizenship. The exception would be for individuals whose parents are Canadian citizens. In that case, the application would be different.

You must select a lawyer who is a member of the Law Societies in Canada. Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will only communicate with authorised lawyers, Quebec notaries and immigration consultants. It is your duty to investigate whether or not the representative is in good standing or is authorised to provide legal services. If you use unauthorised agents or individuals, you do so at your own risk. IRCC will not deal with individuals who are not authorised.


Authorised representatives


IRCC has noted on their website that "only some people can charge you a fee or receive any other type of payment" to provide you with assistance with your application. These people are called authorised representatives. They are members of the Provincial Law Societies in Canada and immigration consultants of the Canada Regulatory Council. It is your duty to check if the person is a member in good standing with their governing body. Each member in good standing is usually listed on their respective law society's website.

There are benefits to using immigration and citizenship representatives. These benefits include the fact that you will have a skilled professional who can explain and give advice on your immigration or citizenship options. The representative can help you choose the best immigration programme for you. The representatives may also complete the application and submit it on your behalf to IRCC. Most importantly, they are trained to be able to effectively communicate directly with the government of Canada on your behalf and represent you if there is the need for an immigration or citizenship application or hearing.

Remember, there are immigra-tion lawyers and certified consultants who are trained to evaluate your circumstance and help you to choose the best pathway for you and your family. The speed at which your documents are processed depends on category, submitting the correct documents, and the processing times of the office that is handling your application. If your application is being submitted under the express entry system, then your application could be processed within six months.

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the law society in Jamaica and Ontario, Canada. Her office is located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are immigration, personal injury, family and commercial administration of estates. She is on the roster of Mediators for Ottawa, Toronto, and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: Subject line: Immigration