RCIC vs. Immigration Lawyer

Anaya is a Pakistani citizen. She and her husband and children intend to immigrate to Canada. Anaya understands that immigration is a complex process and involves legal or procedural matters such as admissibility to Canada, meeting the minimum requirements, filling out several forms, preparation and submitting documents, and  communication with the officials of the government of Canada. As a result, Anaya has decided to hire a professional to help her with the matter. She has heard that both an immigration consultant or an immigration lawyer may help her with the process. She wonders who she may hire.

Canada has 10 provinces and three territories. Each of these provinces or territories have a law society (e.g. the Law Society of Ontario, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, or the Law Society of British Columbia). Canadian lawyers are members of one of those law societies. Under section 91 of IRPA, a lawyer who is a member in good standing of one of the law societies in Canada, may represent clients to the immigration authorities. The scope of practice for lawyers is not limited to immigration. They may, for example, deal with criminal litigation, civil lawsuits, real-estate transfers, and more. In fact, lawyers usually take less than three subjects related to immigration at law school.

Another group of licensed representatives are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants, also known as RCIC. An RCIC is a member of ICCRC or Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. According to ICCRC,a person needs to take a 500-hour approved training program and show excellent knowledge of English or French languages among other requirements to become an RCIC. Almost all the training an RCIC receives is directly related to the immigration law and practice. However, RCICs do not receive training in other fields of the law. In other words, RCICs are more into the process of immigration and lawyers in the field of litigation. Of course, some lawyers are dedicated to the immigration process as well.

The following table shows a brief list of services offered by the Lawyers and RCICs. In this table, “Yes” means the service could be offered by a competent professional; “Maybe” means they may need extra licenses to do the job; and “No” means the service is outside their scope of practice.

Service Lawyer RCIC
Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Yes Yes
Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Yes Yes
International Mobility Program (IMP) – Visa application under several treaties such as NAFTA, GATS, and CETA or under Canadian Interests, etc. Yes Yes
Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) for Tourists, Business Visitors, Speakers, and Performers Yes Yes
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) Yes Yes
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) Yes Yes
Study Permit and Visa Yes Yes
Economic Classes (Federal Immigration) Yes Yes
Sponsorship Applications for Spouses, Children, Adopted Children, Parents, and other Family Members Yes Yes
Refugee Applications/Claims Yes Yes
Detention Hearings (Immigration and Refugee Board – IRB) Yes Yes
Inadmissibility Hearings (IRB) Yes Yes
Immigration Appeal Division Hearings (IRB) Yes Yes
Refugee Protection Division and Appeal Hearings (IRB) Yes Yes
Representing Applicants/Travellers to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Yes Yes
Offering Canadian Immigration, Visa, and Citizenship Advice Yes Yes
Citizenship Applications Yes Yes
Rehabilitation applications Yes Yes
Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC) Yes Yes
Immigration, study permit and work permit to Quebec Yes Maybe
Judicial Review (Federal Court) Yes No
Offering legal advice Yes No
Immigration to other provinces Maybe Maybe


When you are hiring a lawyer or an immigration consultant, make sure they are competent in the field of their practice.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting

This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches immigration courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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