Detour to Canada

How to Check if an Agency is Legit (A Self-Assessment Questionnaire)

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“Is this immigration agency legit?”

This is the most common question I hear from other aspiring immigrants. And it’s a sad reality that many of them are being taken advantage of by fake immigration consultants or agencies.

Another sad thing is that others also deal with a lot of stress just to find a legit agency. I had a chat with an applicant who told me that she had already inquired to dozens of agencies and it’s now getting stressful for her. 

So, which of these agencies are actually legit? How do you find the right one? And how can you make sure that you won’t be the next victim of a scam?

In this post, I’m going to share with you a self-assessment questionnaire that would help you find out if the agency you’re planning to hire is legit and is authorized by Canada to represent your application. Go through the questions and answer them one by one. It might be a bit tedious, but in the end, you’ll probably be thankful that you did this exercise.

REMEMBER! According to IRCC, hiring an unauthorized consultant might result in your application getting returned to you, or worse, rejected. So make sure that your consultant is 100% legit.

Disclaimer: This self-assessment questionnaire is based on ICCRC’s (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) Top 20 Tips to Avoid Immigration Fraud (link to original page has been deleted). ICCRC is now CICC starting November 2021. To verify the most up-to-date information, visit CICC’s website.

How to Check if an Agency is Legit (A Self-Assessment Questionnaire)

DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link by Grammarly. That means when you sign-up for a free account or when you upgrade to Premium using my link, I get a small commission but without extra cost to you.

BEFORE SIGNING OF AGREEMENT

  1. Is the immigration consultant running or managing the agency you’re hiring registered with CICC and with an “ACTIVE” status? (If he/she is a lawyer, then he/she must be registered in one of Canada’s 13 Law Societies, while notaires must be registered with the Chambre des notaires du Québec). To check this, go to this link and search for the consultant’s full name (see example below). 
  2. Does the consultant’s contact details (company name, etc.) match with what is displayed on CICC’s online public register? 
  3. Does the agency’s website display CICC’s Member Insignia and not ICCRC or CICC’s logo (see example below)? 
  4. Can your consultant answer your specific questions about immigration or Code of Professional Ethics?

For example, I verified my aunt who is a licensed immigration consultant here in Canada. I went to CICC’s website, and then I typed her name in the public register. Here’s what appeared.

Verify your consultant

And when I clicked ‘contact’, here’s what appeared.

Verify your consultant

If you’re verifying your consultant, his/her full name must also appear and should match the details in your agreement (like his/her license number and company details).

When it comes to RCIC Member Insignia, below is a sample (screenshot taken from FlyNorth Immigration’s website)

RCIC Member Insignia

DURING THE SIGNING OF THE AGREEMENT

  1. Did you sign a detailed retainer agreement (or services contract) before the consultant begins any service? 
  2. Does the retainer agreement (or services contract) contain information like your consultant’s full legal name, license number, and outline of the immigration services fee? 
  3. Did the Licensed Immigration Consultant himself/herself sign the retainer agreement/services contract (and NOT a company rep, agent, or someone else)? 
  4. Does the contract only mention a fee for immigration services (and NOT for any service like job placement)? If it includes a job placement fee, CICC advises not to sign the contract. A job placement service fee should be in a separate contract.
  5. If you signed a separate job placement contract, is your consultant a QUALIFIED AND CERTIFIED licensed recruiter? If not, then he/she is not authorized to provide job placement services. 
  6. Did you sign a “Use of Representative Form” (IMM5476) that has both your and your consultant’s signatures? 
  7. Do you have copies of all the forms you have signed with your consultant? 

ON PAYMENTS

  1. Did your consultant ask you to pay for immigration services by check, credit card, or bank transfer? Beware if you are required to pay by cash because this is not trackable.
  2. Did you get an invoice for the fees BEFORE you paid?
  3. Did you get a receipt AFTER you paid? 

ON FILING FORMS

  1. Is your consultant only asking you to sign forms that are duly completed? If your consultant is asking you to sign a blank form, CICC advises NOT to sign it. 
  2. Is your consultant encouraging you to NOT make any false statements in your application forms? Beware if he/she is advising you to tell a lie. 
  3. Is your consultant NOT charging you for the application forms? Application forms are FREE to download from IRCC’s website. 

If you answered YES to these questions, the consultant you’re hiring is most likely legit and authorized to represent your application. Otherwise, you might consider finding another one.  

However, don’t look for a consultant who can guarantee you fast visa processing or definite visa approval. It’s actually a red flag if someone promised you that. Because a consultant’s job is to guide you in the process and provide professional immigration advice, and NOT to guarantee you a visa.

If you’re considering doing a DIY application, read here the pros and cons before you decide

I hope this post helped you. For more immigration tips, sign-up on our mailing list. 

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Kevin and Kris

About the author:

JK Legaspi is a permanent resident of Canada since 2018. She and her family lives in the beautiful Niagara Region. As the founder of Detour To Canada, she aims to help aspiring and future immigrants reach their Canadian dreams by sharing her family’s own immigration and newcomer story. 

Do you have some questions about immigrating to Canada? Join our Facebook group, “Explore Your Ways to Canada” to ask your questions and meet other immigrants.

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