Lawyers are an essential part of Canada’s immigration system


This guest article was authored by David Garson, Partner, Garson Immigration Law.

I had a consult recently with potential clients. They were nervous, asking me the same questions multiple times… “to be sure.” They looked at each other anxiously (we were on Microsoft Teams), and then thought of several permutations of possible outcomes that may impact their Canadian immigration objectives.

When I was speaking to them, I kept my voice steady. I answered each and every question with a smile on my face and a chipper tone to my voice. I wanted to be comforting and soothing. I wanted them to leave the conversation calmer than when they went in.

What does this have to do with anything? Ah, glad you asked.

I’ve been an immigration lawyer for a really long time. There have been many challenging days, but also lots of very rewarding weeks. When I was speaking to these people I felt…. useful and necessary. They had looked at the stuff on the websites and were confused. They had no idea how to proceed. We discussed what had to be done and made a plan. If they are generous enough to retain me, then when we do represent them, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will receive an organized set of documents clearly delineating the facts and the arguments of the case.

Unfortunately, IRCC has been making it a habit to exclude immigration lawyers.

So, imagine this: It is a criminal matter… The concerned individual’s whole life is on the line… And the court system of Canada says, “You don’t really need representation… You’ll be fine. Just follow the instructions we give you, and, by the way, we also adjudicate your case… No pressure.” Have fun in prison!

Or, perhaps it’s a complicated corporate deal… Millions, maybe even billions on the line… Who needs counsel then? There’s Google and various informative pamphlets. Better to keep the lawyers out of it….They only complicate things.

These examples kind of strike you as ludicrous, right? Effective counsel is intrinsic to these systems. The government almost insists upon it. Yet, IRCC is resisting.

In a sense, it seems bizarre that IRCC would want to get ill-prepared applications. Wouldn’t that create more work for them? Isn’t what I’m doing somewhat helpful?

What I am getting at here is this: If lawyers are needed and demanded in pretty much every other type of law, it doesn’t make sense why this wouldn’t apply to immigration law. We help the system. We are necessary. 

The sooner that IRCC recognizes this and starts working more closely with immigration lawyers, the better off IRCC and immigration applicants will be.

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