Comments of the Canadian Council for Refugees
On Proposed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
Published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, 13 December 2003
1. Representation for a Fee
The CCR welcomes the fact that the proposed regulations limit representation
for a fee to authorized representatives, while continuing to allow representation
without a fee by others. Member organizations of the CCR as well as
other non-governmental organizations serving refugees and immigrants in some
cases represent clients in matters under the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act. For many people who do not have the means to pay a representative,
this is the only way that they can be represented. It is for this reason
that NGOs offer this service, despite the many other demands on their limited
The CCR also welcomes the fact that NGOs (and others offering representation
for free) are not required by the regulations to apply for exemptions from
the requirements applying to those offering representation for a fee.
It would not be appropriate for NGOs to be in any way subject to the Canadian
Society of Immigration Consultants, since that body is created to regulate
consultants, not to evaluate NGOs, whose role and mandate are quite different.
We also note the potential negative effect of placing burdens, such as requiring
applications for exemptions, on NGOs offering representation for free.
If the regulations made requirements of those offering representation without
a fee, NGOs might cease to offer such services, with the result that the
applicants would be disadvantaged because they would end up being completely
The CCR notes however that it will be necessary to have in place measures
to ensure that unscrupulous consultants do not subvert the law by falsely
claiming to be representing the applicant free of charge, perhaps by hiding
behind a phony NGO. Such measures should be designed to target potential
abusers, without inconveniencing NGOs.
2. Penalizing the applicant
The CCR is concerned that the proposed regulations have the potential for
penalizing the applicant if, through no fault of the applicant, the information
about the representative is incomplete or inaccurate. By amending IRPR
10(2) to include the name and details of the representative as part of the
required information for an application, applicants may be penalized, since
processing is delayed if the application is incomplete. Worse, the
delay may mean that an applicant misses a deadline and loses an entitlement
(for themselves or for a family member).
Furthermore, by including the representative’s details among the required
information, the government is making the applicant responsible for the accuracy
of the information. According to the Regulations, the applicant must
sign that the information is “complete and accurate” (IRPR 10(2)(d)).
Thus the applicant could be found guilty of misrepresentation if the representative
provides false information.
We recommend that the responsibility for the information about the representative
lie with the representative, who should sign a declaration as to its accuracy.
If the representative is not an authorized representative, the application
should not on that account be considered incomplete. Instead the applicant
should be informed that the government will not accept that person as their
representative, but that the application will still be processed. Any
appropriate disciplinary measures should be pursued against the representative,
without penalizing the applicant.
3. Four-year phase in
The CCR considers excessive the proposal of a four year period during which
unauthorized representatives would continue to be accepted. While regrettably
it is true that immigration files often take many years to be processed,
it is not clear why the government should facilitate the continuing representation
by a person who has not become an authorized representative. Applicants
do quite often change their representative in the course of a case, and if
their representative is not an authorized representative it may in fact be
to their advantage to do so. Two years would give ample time for the
government to inform applicants that, unless their representative becomes
an authorized representative, they will either have to find another representative
or proceed unrepresented. In any case, it should be clear that any
outstanding applications would continue to be processed even after the end
of the grace period, although the representative stipulated on the application
would not be recognized beyond that period, unless authorized.
12 January 2004