RCIC Competency with Co-counselling and Peer Review
Rajesh, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), sought to deepen his understanding of competency and peer review in his profession. Eager to enhance his professional skills, he pursued knowledge in these areas. His motivation stemmed from a desire to offer his clients more comprehensive and informed services, aiding them effectively in their Canadian residency pursuits. With a commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement, Rajesh aimed to maintain a leading position in his field.
Table of contents
- What is Competency?
- How CICC Code of Conduct Views and Interprets Competency for RCICs
- What Is Co-counselling?
- What are CICC expectations in co-counselling situations?
- RCICs must maintain competence.
- Peer-review and competence
- Enhancing RCIC Practice through Training and Peer Review
- Personalized Mentorship and Co-counselling Opportunities
What is Competency?
Competency in professionals blends knowledge, skills, and personal capacity. Rather than relying solely on formal qualifications like licensing or education, it also heavily depends on practical experience. For instance, evaluating a licensee’s competence to perform specific immigration consulting services involves assessing their understanding of relevant laws and policies.
These include the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Citizenship Act, alongside practical case-handling experience. This combination ensures consultants can offer sound, comprehensive advice and represent their clients effectively. Competency also requires strong communication skills, both oral and written and the adaptability to use technological advancements in service delivery (Section 19(2) of the CICC Code of Conduct).
How CICC Code of Conduct Views and Interprets Competency for RCICs
The CICC’s Code of Conduct sees RCICs’ competency as professional ability and personal suitability. For example, licensees lacking the “Class L3 – RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice” license by July 1, 2023, cannot represent clients before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). This rule shows how CICC aligns licensing with specific competence areas.
The Code also notes that even if technically allowed, some services might require experience or expertise a licensee lacks. RCICs should, therefore, be cautious when entering unfamiliar practice areas. New licensees must also evaluate their skills and experience before taking on complex cases. Additionally, the Code considers physical or mental capacity issues, recognizing their impact on a licensee’s ability to meet professional obligations. The CICC ensures that RCICs maintain high competency standards in all professional aspects (Interpretation of the CICC Code of Conduct on Competence).
What Is Co-counselling?
Co-counselling for Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) involves collaboration between professionals. This approach is vital when an RCIC lacks the required competencies for a client’s case. Section 20 of the CICC Code of Conduct states that an RCIC must either decline to act or seek assistance from another competent, authorized individual if they lack the necessary skills. This collaboration ensures clients receive comprehensive and effective representation.
What are CICC expectations in co-counselling situations?
The CICC has clear expectations for RCICs in co-counselling to ensure professionalism and transparency. When an RCIC needs assistance, they must inform the client in writing. This includes the terms, the assisting individual’s name, and the services’ scope (Section 20(2) of the CICC Code of Conduct). Clients must understand and agree to this arrangement. Additionally, fees or disbursements for the assisting individual’s services must adhere to specific regulations. The CICC guidelines underscore the importance of clear communication and client consent in co-counselling scenarios.
RCICs must maintain competence.
RCICs must actively maintain their knowledge and skills per Section 21 of the CICC Code of Conduct. This requirement aligns with the class of license they hold. Licensees must uphold the standards set by the Act, its regulations, and by-laws for their specific license class.
The College By-law outlines various classes of licenses, ranging from Class L1 (RCIC – Conditional Practice) to Class L5 (RISIA – Unrestricted Practice). Maintaining competence includes completing mandatory programs like the New-Licensee Mentoring Program and Practice Management Education (PME) courses. It also involves meeting annual Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements and any additional training the College prescribes. For example, only those with a Class L3 – RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice license issued on or after July 1, 2023, and licensed paralegals by the Law Society of Ontario have the credentials to represent clients before IRB tribunals. This mandate ensures that RCICs are always equipped with current knowledge and skills relevant to their practice areas.
Peer-review and competence
Peer review plays a crucial role in ensuring competence among RCICs. It involves critically evaluating a colleague’s work by another professional of similar competence. As outlined in the CICC Code of Conduct, this practice is integral to delivering quality services (Section 22). Peer review helps ensure that all RCIC services are up to standard, including adherence to deadlines, efficient and cost-effective operation, effective communication, and cultural sensitivity. Through peer review, RCICs can maintain high reliability, responsiveness, and flexibility/adaptability in their services. It also encourages RCICs to meet all deadlines and develop cost-efficient service agreements, fostering a relationship of trust with clients.
The Code also emphasizes the importance of keeping clients informed and providing timely updates on their case status, further reinforcing the role of peer review in maintaining high service standards. In essence, peer review acts as a quality control mechanism, ensuring that RCICs adhere to the professional obligations outlined in the Code, such as preparing and submitting necessary documents and information accurately and on time and using certified interpreters or translators when needed. This process ensures compliance with professional standards and enhances the overall competence of RCICs in delivering quality, reliable services.
Enhancing RCIC Practice through Training and Peer Review
As the leader of the Immigration Consultants Membership Network (ICN), I provide a dynamic platform for immigration consultants, immigration students, and related professionals to enhance their skills. The ICN focuses on collaboration, training, and peer review, keeping members updated with the latest trends and best practices in Canadian immigration. This network is an essential resource for professionals in the field to stay informed and develop their competencies.
Personalized Mentorship and Co-counselling Opportunities
In my mentorship program, I offer personalized sessions to licensed practitioners, covering various aspects of Canadian immigration law and practice. These sessions, ideal for lawyers and RCICs, delve into application processes, inadmissibility issues, and IRB hearings. I also provide practical co-counselling opportunities, allowing for hands-on case experience. This direct involvement in real-world scenarios enriches the learning experience, helping RCICs to improve their practical skills and understand complex immigration matters more deeply.
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Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada
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