Eroding Client Service and Access to Immigration Lawyers by Canada’s Immigration Department


This article was authored by Ravi Jain, Founder and Principal Lawyer, Jain Immigration Law, and Co-President, CILA.

The importance of immigration lawyers in guiding clients through complex immigration processes is undeniable. However, recent developments have raised concerns about the Government’s treatment of immigration lawyers and its impact on clients seeking assistance with their immigration process. From restricted access to case management to lack of transparency, the challenges faced by both lawyers and clients demand attention. This article examines the undemocratic marginalization of immigration lawyers and proposes recommendations to restore transparency and client support.

Government Actions Impeding Immigration Lawyers

The recent closure of the Case Management Branch (CMB) email inbox as a point of contact for immigration lawyers has sparked frustration in the legal community. Immigration lawyers often used the CMB as a last resort to raise and address critical issues with their clients’ files. Unfortunately, the alternative ‘webform inquiry’ system often results in months-long delays in responding to lawyers’ inquiries, hampering their ability to advocate for clients effectively.

Transparency Erosion and Frustration

The lack of transparency is not limited to communication channels. Access to Information requests for Program Managers’ details at visa offices have been returned heavily redacted, limiting lawyers’ ability to resolve urgent matters. This erosion of transparency contradicts the Government’s promise of openness and trust in the Prime Minister’s Mandate Letter to the former Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen in February 1, 2017, where he said that the Government had “committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in Government. It is time to shine more light on Government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their Government, we need a Government that trusts Canadians.”

Impact on Clients

The consequences of restricted lawyer access to vital information impacts clients directly. Members of Parliament have been forced to intervene on behalf of their constituents due to the Government’s unresponsiveness. The lack of proper communication channels contributes to unnecessary delays, leaving clients frustrated and uncertain about their application progress.


  1. Reinstate Open Dialogue: The Government should not exclude and rather engage immigration lawyers as valuable partners and reinstate communication channels such as the CMB email inbox for lawyers. Collaboration with immigration lawyers can prevent unnecessary negative publicity and foster a better understanding of client needs.
  2. Recognize Lawyers’ Value: The Government should not lump lawyers with immigration consultants on the IRCC’s website warning about potential fraud when using a representative. Instead, alter the language to emphasize well-documented problems with immigration consultants while recognizing the essential role that immigration lawyers play in guiding clients through the complexities of immigration law. The expertise of immigration lawyers preserves public resources and ensures proper utilization of the immigration system.
  3. Facilitate Access to Counsel: Eliminate barriers to hiring immigration lawyers, considering the language barriers and vulnerability of many prospective immigrants and refugees. Accessibility to immigration lawyers ensures a fair and just application process, essential for a functional democracy.

Marginalizing immigration lawyers creates unnecessary hurdles for clients and hinders their ability to obtain effective representation when navigating through the Canadian immigration process. Transparency, valuing legal counsel, and ensuring access to immigration lawyers are vital to building a more democratic and supportive immigration system. Collaborative partnerships ensures that immigrants and refugees receive the assistance they need while upholding the principles of the rule of law and equality for all.

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