Where can I get legal advice about immigration status in Canada?
Question & AnswerWhere can I get legal advice about immigration status in Canada?
Understand who can give you legal help
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) calls someone who is paid to give you legal help with an immigration problem an “authorized representative”. An authorized representative must be:
- a lawyer or paralegal, who is licensed by the Law Society of Ontario, or
- an immigration consultant or international student advisor, who is registered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
Members of Parliament (MPs) sometimes help people. For example, they may ask IRCC about an application if there's been an unusual delay. But this is not legal help.
Lawyers have training that qualifies them to give legal advice. Legal advice means that a lawyer can explain what the law says and how it applies to your situation.
They can also represent you if you're making an application or if you have a hearing at a tribunal or in any court.
You can check the Law Society of Ontario’s directory to find out if someone is licensed as a lawyer.
A paralegal is another type of legal professional. But they can't do everything that a lawyer can do. For example, there are strict limits on when paralegals can give you legal advice. And a paralegal:
- can't complete documents for you unless those documents are related to an hearing where the paralegal is representing you
- can't represent you if you need to challenge a decision in Federal Court
Some paralegals work for lawyers but others work on their own. If a paralegal works for a lawyer, the lawyer is responsible for the paralegal's work.
You can check the Law Society of Ontario’s directory to find out if someone is licensed as a paralegal.
Consultants and advisors
Some immigration consultants are paralegals. Others have some training in immigration law. A consultant might cost as much as or more than a lawyer.
And a consultant can't do everything a lawyer can do. For example, a consultant can't represent you if you need to challenge a decision in Federal Court.
You can check the ICCRC’s registry to find out if an immigration consultant is registered.
International student advisors work for schools that are recognized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and give advice to students from other countries who are living in Canada.
To find out if an international student advisor is registered, check the ICCRC’s list of advisors.