Canada’s immigration minister has announced the new self-regulatory College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants will officially open on November 23, 2021.
The move, announced by Marco Mendicino on August 10, 2021, follows years of consultation into how to regulate the industry, and how to replace the ailing Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
“The College will become the official regulator of immigration and citizenship consultants across the country, improving oversight and cracking down on criminals,” an IRCC statement said.
“It will be an arm’s-length institution, regulating the profession by protecting both the public and consultants in good standing from those who take advantage of vulnerable people.”
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Stakeholders are wary of the new CICC, and its accompanying code of conduct, given the repeated failure at self-regulation demonstrated by the immigration consultancy industry.
Too often, so-called ghost immigration consultants have been allowed to slip through the net by a series of self-regulatory bodies beset with unprofessionalism.
IRCC knows this, which is why it conducted a review of the system in 2019 in the first place. But the result of that review was to persist with self-regulation, announcing the formation of a new College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) in April 2019.
Damning Parliamentary Committee Report
Delays since then, including the coronavirus pandemic, left industry regulation still in the hands of the ICCRC.
The ICCRC was the subject of a damning parliamentary committee report as far back as 2017, which recommended it be disbanded and the job of regulating consultants be brought under the direct remit of the federal government.
The ICCRC was itself set up in 2011 because of irregularities regarding how the previous body, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, created in 2003, was being managed.
Despite all this, IRCC is allowing the existing ICCRC to form the basis of the new CICC when it officially takes over as the regulatory body.
Whether this rebranding will actually make any difference remains to be seen, but the federal government does acknowledge the past failures of the system.
Honest, Professional and Ethical Advice
“Those who wish to come to Canada deserve honest, professional and ethical advice – and we have a responsibility to ensure they’re getting it,” Mendicino said.
“Our new College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants is a major milestone in these efforts. The creation of the new College delivers on our promise to better protect newcomers and bolsters Canada’s immigration system so it can continue to be the envy of the world.”
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act came into force on December 9, 2020, providing a statutory framework to regulate citizenship and immigration consultants.
Ottawa says the new CICC will have new powers to give it teeth when it comes to tackling immigration consultancy fraud, including being able to force witnesses to appear before its discipline committee and request court injunctions.
The CICC’s board of directors will be comprised of five public interest directors appointed by the immigration minister, and four members of the College (consultants).