Regulator extends deadline for immigration consultants facing new rule
Immigration consultants have been granted a last-minute reprieve by their regulator from meeting a looming deadline in order to continue their practice before Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.
On Friday, the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants extended the July 1 deadline for a new licensing requirement by one year to allow current consultants time to enrol in the new specialization course and sit for the qualifying exam.
The move, in consultation with senior officials at the refugee board, avoids operational disruptions at the board and saves consultants’ clients from having to scramble to find new legal counsel to represent their cases.
“In supporting the motion, the Board (of directors) considered that the public interest is served with respect to the need for a vulnerable and at-risk client group to proceed with scheduled hearings before the IRB in a timely fashion,” the college said in a statement to the Star.
“This new date will ensure that all those currently enrolled in one of the program pathways and those who enrol promptly will have the opportunity to complete the program requirements … before the new deadline.”
The deferral of the enforcement of the new rules came after some refugee claimants raised concerns about going before the board without legal representation, or with new representation unfamiliar with their files, because their current consultants would not be able to meet the deadline.
Since the college started offering the 4 1/2-month-long specialization course last August, there have been only two qualifying exams held. Of the 38 specialization courses scheduled — each with 35 spots available — since August, 17 of the cohorts will have completed the classes on or before July 1.
Last week, the college added more exam dates in the coming months to accommodate the needs and said it was in consultation with the refugee board to explore moving the deadline.
IRB data showed 105 consultants who will not meet the new requirement until the fall had “active” cases — some with multiple files — to be heard in July and August.
Kerry Molitor, who has been among a group of consultants raising concerns, said she was grateful the regulator listened to their voices and recognizes the interests of their clients, who are the most vulnerable and desperately need proper legal help.
“Now we can keep our existing clients and help new clients who need representation before the refugee board without worrying about having to abandon them in the middle of their proceedings,” said Molitor.
“The uncertainty was causing everyone a significant amount of stress and now we can move forward together.”
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