How can I tell if my immigration or refugee legal representative is reliable?
You must make your refugee claim using the new online application system if you:
- are inside Canada, and
- are eligible to make a claim
You might also have to send information through this portal if a border services officer tells you to use it.
If your legal representative is submitting the claim for you, they must create an account and both of you must sign a Declaration form.
If you are submitting your own claim, you must create the account.
If you don't have a legal representative, it's important to get legal help.
Choosing an immigration or refugee lawyer or representative is very important. Sometimes people who offer legal help are not qualified to do so. They can charge you money without providing the service you hired them for. And sometimes they just take your money.
Immigration and refugee law is very complicated. Some mistakes can cause serious problems. For example, you might not be able to stay in Canada or bring family members here to join you.
It's important that you hire an “authorized representative”. In Ontario, an authorized representative must be:
- a lawyer or paralegal who is licensed by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) or
- an immigration consultant who is registered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
Check the LSO website or ICCRC website to make sure the person has a license and that they don't have any discipline issues, such as a suspension.
An authorized representative can help you with sponsorships, refugee claims, and applications for permanent residence or temporary status, such as work, study, or permits.
Sometimes friends or family members might try to to give you advice on your claim or application. But it's important to get help from someone who is:
- trained and knows immigration and refugee law, and
- authorized to give you the legal help you need. An authorized representative has a membership number from their licencing body. You can ask to see that number.
For more information about getting legal help with a refugee claim, read Where can I get legal advice and help with my refugee claim?
For information about getting legal advice about immigration status in Canada, read Where can I get legal advice about immigration status in Canada?
The Muslim Legal Support Centre has an intake form that you can complete to be referred to legal services. You can also call 416 350 2914 to leave a message for someone to call you back.
Tips to avoid fraud when looking for help
You're a victim of fraud if:
- you paid money for a service you did not get
- you hired someone who lied about what they can do to get your money
Fraud can happen both inside and outside of Canada. It's harder to protect yourself against fraud outside of Canada. And help with cases of fraud is limited, especially outside of Canada. In Canada, you can report fraud to:
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
It's hard to get your money back if you have been the victim of fraud. Here are some tips to help you avoid fraud and hire a reliable legal representative.