In 2019, the government of Canada took steps to increase regulations for individuals and businesses that provide immigration and citizenship consultancy through the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Acts. This is also known as the College Act.
This legislation was specifically designed to protect the public and potential immigrants from fraudulent consultancy practices. If any misrepresentation or fraud occurs, then the immigration consultant providing immigration or citizenship advice services may face stringent penalties or disciplinary action.
Recently, on May 15, 2021, the Canadian government launched an updated code of conduct under subsection 43(1) of the College Act. This updated version will clarify the ethical and professional standards for immigration or citizenship consultants and their clients.
What is the Updated Code of Conduct Under the College Act?
The updated code of conduct is divided into 6 parts:
This section provides detailed definitions of terms used in the Code and the overall purpose and application of the code.
2. General Standards:
This section will specify what is deemed as professional conduct and competence. This section will outline ethical principles, behavior, and attitudes that are excepted of the professionals working in the field. This section will also provide the obligations and responsibilities of a consultant when there is a conflict of interest including recruitment services. This section will also define the level of competence required for Consultant Licensees and professional standards for practicing consultants.
3. Relationship to Clients:
This section will outline the kind of relationship consultants are expected to have with their clients including standards for confidentiality, retaining services of a translator or interpreter when required, and other requirements regarding fee and fee disputes with clients. This section will also outline what will be expected of the consultant in case of errors and omissions in the case of a client.
This section will also clarify the information that must be provided and clarified to the client, including a list of services being provided and a clear description of all the costs or fees charged. Consultants must also inform their clients about the Code of Conduct and the College’s Complaint and Discipline Regime. The new code of conduct requires more transparency by the consultants to inform their clients on how to complain in case of any concerns.
4. Office Administration and Management:
This section will provide guidelines about recordkeeping and protecting client’s documents and providing adequate supervision to any person assisting in providing consultancy services.
5. Relationship to College and Other Persons:
This section will outline the reporting requirements of the consultant to the College and other necessary communications.
6. Marketing of Immigration or Citizenship Consulting Services:
This section will highlight the parameters in regards to the advertisement and promotion of citizenship or immigration service, including how not to provide misleading or false information.
This initiative for a new code of conduct began in December 2020. However, the implementation of this code will happen in stages. The college will ensure compliance by working with all stakeholders.