A travel agent or visa company helps you with your Canadian travel visa. You don’t bother to check to see if the company is associated with an Authorized Representative because the company says they know what they are doing or because your friend used that person last month and his visa application was successful. You get your visa and go to Canada. Yay! It’s maple syrup and poutine dreams for you!
However, once you are there, maybe you decide to extend your stay in some way, or maybe you end up living in Canada long-term. If the Canadian Border Services Agency or CIC eventually discover that the person who assisted you with your original visa is not an Authorized Representative OR that you did not disclose to CIC in your visa application that someone else assisted you with that application, you may end up losing your status in Canada. In short, your visa may be taken from you and you may become inadmissible to Canada in the future.
REALLY??? Yes, really.
Officially called Temporary Residence Visas, Canadian travel/visitor/holiday visas are not given the respect they deserve.
The inception of Bill C-35 now makes it illegal under Canadian law for someone other than an Authorized Representative to give advice, fill in forms or submit ANY application on a person’s behalf under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) either for a fee or for consideration. This includes all Temporary Residence Visas (including transit visas, single/multiple entry visitor/travel/holiday visas, working holiday visas, Super Visas (for parents and grandparents), and business visitor visas.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about Who Can Help You Immigrate, using an unauthorized visa company or travel agent to process your Canadian visa is downright silly. Why would you pay someone who is not properly trained and not legally recognized to handle your visa? Would you pay your doctor’s secretary to give you medical treatment? Would you pay a retail clerk to represent you in court? Of course not. So why do you pay your travel agents and/or unauthorized visa companies to help you process your Canadian visa?
Travel agents specialize in TRAVEL. They are not trained in legal matters and they are not recognized by Citizenship and Immigration to process visa applications. Foreign visa companies are also not trained in Canadian legal matters and Canada has not authorized them to be taking fees for such service. These companies are being irresponsible and putting consumers at risk.
You can read the Canadian Regulatory body’s statement on travel agents. This also applies to ANYONE who offers to process Canadian temporary residence visas for a fee or consideration, including foreign visa companies: http://www.iccrc-crcic.ca/admin/contentEngine/contentImages/file/Advisory_1_2March2012_How_New_Immigration_Rules_Affect_You_Travel_Agents.pdf
The argument I most often hear about this issue is that “it’s just a holiday/travel/visitor visa.” JUST?!??!?
Do you understand that whatever is submitted with your application will remain on CIC’s system for all eternity? That if you are refused once, that refusal will tarnish ALL other future visa applications? That your future status in Canada may be revoked if it is discovered that you paid an unauthorized person to do your visa application or that you received advice from anyone, compensated or not, and did not submit the Use of Representative form with your visa application?
This is the form that MUST be submitted to CIC with your application if someone handled your Temporary Residence Visa application for you, whether you paid that person for advice or not: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/imm5476e.pdf
Unauthorized visa company staff and travel agents should be giving you these forms to sign and submitting them in your visa application, but they don’t. Why? Maybe because they want to avoid detection. Or maybe because they don’t even realize that what they are doing is illegal. But if someone is handling your Canadian Visa application and does not even know that they are doing it illegally, doesn’t that tell you something?? The first thing one learns in any Canadian immigration practitioner course is who can and cannot help with visas!
But what about overseas visa companies and travel agents? Canadian law doesn’t apply to them, correct?
Wrong. Although Canada cannot enforce its laws in other countries, it does have ways of trying to protect people from companies abroad who are not qualified to be processing visa applications.
- First, when it receives a complaint about a foreign company processing visas contrary to the IRPA provisions, the Canadian Border Services Agency informs the Canadian Embassy or High Commission in the country where the illegal activity is taking place, and the Embassies/High Commissions are starting to work with local Consumer Protection Agencies to protect consumers from being preyed upon by unqualified companies.
- Second, the people involved with offering the illegal services are entered into the CBSA database as ‘Watch Fors”, and these people will be inadmissible to Canada if they attempt to travel there.
- Finally, and most importantly, (1) if CBSA is able to determine that a traveler did consult with someone for advice about his/her visa and the traveler did not declare to CIC that they consulted someone and did not submit the Use of Representative form, and/or (2) if that person’s visa was processed by someone who is not an Authorized Representative, that person’s status in Canada may be revoked. CIC revoked over 6,000 Canadian citizenships last year for all sorts of reasons, including misrepresentation.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Find an Authorized Representative to help you with your Canadian travel visa.
Here is the membership list for ICCRC again: http://secure.iccrc-crcic.ca/search/en
And the link to the provincial law societies: http://www.flsc.ca/en/canadas-law-societies/
And here is a step-by-step guide on how to choose an Authorized Representative: http://dirussellimmigration.com/2012/08/14/who-can-help-you-immigrate-part-four/
If you would like to use my services, you can email me at email@example.com or visit my Facebook page for information: www.facebook.com/Canadiation