Patrick Arsenault, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) works with foreign nationals and permanent residents to address immigration-related legal issues and concerns.
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Hiring a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant is an important decision to make and there are several factors to consider; cost is certainly one of them. Of course, the cost professionals charge depends on several things, including years of experience, credentials, areas of expertise, size of the practice, location and operation costs, types of services offered, etc.
Years of Experience
In 2018, Canadian Lawyer Magazine conducted a survey of immigration lawyers in Canada and found that on average, they charged the following hourly rates. These rates are for lawyers, so expect the fees of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants to be around 20% to 25% less. That is mostly, because RCICs are specialists and not generalists. They solely focus on immigration, which means that they may not be able to assist in very complex immigration cases that involve other areas of the law such as criminal law.
There are only 13 higher education institutions in the world that grant the credentials required to register as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. On the other hand, there are 21 law schools in Canada and thousands more around the world. In addition, many top Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants hold additional degrees and credentials. They also are involved in various professional organizations where they contribute to regional, national, and international high-level conversations about immigration laws, regulations, and procedures. When assessing how much you are willing to pay for a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, consider what kind and level of expertise you are looking for.
Areas of Expertise
Immigration projects are complex and they often require consultants that are well-versed in many areas. I have found that most foreign nationals interested in relocating to Canada are most interested in assistance with education or career projects. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants must be knowledgeable and competent in areas that they practice in. Often time, clients need more than help getting immigration documents, such as:
Size of the Practice
In the vast majority of cases, clients will opt to enter in a retainer agreement where they agree to pay a set amount for their immigration issue to be resolved or for their complete work permit application. In the long run, this is almost always cheaper than paying the going hourly rate. The all-inclusive prices can vary greatly. Two factors that have an impact on these prices are the type of services and the size of the immigration consulting practice. The 2018 Canadian Lawyer Magazine survey revealed the following.
One important thing to keep in mind is that smaller offices, particularly independent consultants, sometimes have more latitude to adjust prices for services based on the individual needs of a specific client.
Location and Operation Costs
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant are all authorized to practice everywhere in Canada except the province of Quebec, which requires an additional professional designation. That means that you can hire a Consultant based anywhere in Canada. It does not matter where you intend on settling. Based on the following table taken from the 2018 Canadian Lawyer Magazine survey, foreign nationals are often better off at looking for Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants in either Ontario or Atlantic Canada (East). Beyond that, it is useful to consider where consultants are based. For example, a consultant in rural Ontario would be able to deliver more value for less than a consultant based downtown Toronto, because of operation costs.
Types of Services Being Offered
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are all regulated by the same body and must respect the same code of conduct and meet the same requirements to be authorized to legally provide immigration advice and represent clients in immigration cases. However, the services offered can vary quite a bit. You may find a firm that charges $200 less than another, but the firm in question is actually only offering to review your documents or even only providing access to a "Do it Yourself" (DIY) Course. Foreign nationals have to understand what level of service to expect for the price they are paying. If the price you get quoted is not aligned with national minimums and averages as presented in this article, there is probably a good reason!
The Bottom Line...
There are many great reasons to hire a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. Individuals interested in hiring an RCIC can find it difficult to determine how much they should be willing to pay for these services. I truly hope that this article containing real current data about the going rate of immigration professionals in Canada will help you determine what your budget should be, how to reduce the cost of an RCIC, and what questions to ask before making a final decision. Finally, many RCICs will provide prospective clients with an affordable short consultation. These consultations can allow you to ask questions about the nature of services available, get to know the RCIC better, and learn about additional areas of practice that could be useful, such as educational counseling or career strategy.