Applicants more successful with immigration lawyers: report

By Rob Lamberti, Contributor

Visa applicants who use an immigration lawyer are more successful in their attempt to enter Canada than those who rely on consultants or do the paperwork themselves, says Toronto immigration lawyer Andrew Carvajal.

The Toronto Star reports that 86 per cent of temporary residence applications filed in 2017 were filled out by the applicants. Six per cent were handled by immigration consultants, and five per cent by immigration lawyers.

The story states 19 per cent of the 342,154 temporary applications filed were rejected. Those who prepared their own also had a 19 per cent rejection rate, compared to 18 per cent for those who relied on a consultant and only 10.4 per cent for the ones handled by a lawyer.

"It's nice to see our hard work reflected in the statistics," says Carvajal, partner with Desloges Law Group, who is currently working in the firm's satellite office in Colombia. "Two things are striking. One is that the success rate is almost 90 per cent when clients rely on a lawyer."

The second point is that statistically, there is little difference between applicants doing the paperwork themselves or using an immigration consultant, he tells

"You're better off with a lawyer. From the figures, there appears to be little to no benefit to paying an immigration consultant," Carvajal says.

"There are many good consultants out there. I've taught some of them, and I have worked with a number of them over the years, so I have great respect for many of them," he says. "But there are also some whose work can be mediocre and others who run fraudulent practices."

The Star reports that "licensed immigration consultants must meet a minimum language requirement and graduate from an accredited immigration practitioner program, which takes about a year to complete full time. While only about 1,000 lawyers practise immigration law, there are five times more licensed consultants in Canada."

"It's clear from the numbers that people aren't getting the results they’re hoping for with consultants,” Carvajal says, adding that a lawyer can offer applicants most of the help they need at the beginning of the process.

"If someone is interested in coming to Canada, there's also publicly accessible information provided by the government," he says.

"But there are more than 80 immigration programs that allow people to come to Canada," Carvajal says. Although people can do their own research online, "immigration lawyers know how to navigate different programs to come up with alternatives people don't know exist," he says.

Carvajal says he's guided discouraged clients — who did their own research — to avenues they didn't know were open to them.

"Sometimes we're able to explore things that are under the radar. But, it's best to do things the right way from the beginning rather than fix them later," he says. "I would say 30 to 40 per cent of the people who come to our office have tried on their own, or with an immigration practitioner, and they didn't succeed."

Carvajal says it’s even more difficult to get approval when there’s a refusal on the record.

Lawyers also handle more complex cases, such as those for applicants previously refused, and those involving misrepresentation, medical and disability issues, and criminal history. Despite the added complexities, immigration lawyers are statistically more successful, he notes.

"People really care when they're trying to immigrate to Canada," Carvajal says. "For some people, this is a life-changing opportunity. They want to leave a country because of the conditions there or the economy, and when planning to make a drastic change that will significantly affect their lives, I would imagine they want to do it right.

"It's important to get the right advice," he says.

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