Vic Satzewich wrote a book some time ago, Points of Entry, that lifted the curtain on overseas visa processing. While now somewhat dated, it provided great insight to those of us on the other side of that curtain. As lawyers we saw the outcome and to understand the process had to reverse engineer CAIPS/GCMS notes, decisions, and what our client’s told us what happened during their interviews with visa offices. That type of insight is invaluable; both Bjorn and I were Officers but with the IRB and IRCC in-land.
Satzewich has continued to write in this area. In a more recent article, published in the Canadian Review of Sociology, he “examines the 33 year-long jurisdictional dispute between immigration lawyers and immigration consultants…” concluding, in part, that the legal profession were not able to kick the consultants out (my wording, not his) because lawyers did not speak with one voice at the 2017 Standing Committee hearings on this matter.
Satzewich examined the testimony of the nine lawyers that appeared; on one side was Ravi Jain and Kathleen Terroux of the CBA on the other were “consultant friendly” lawyers including myself, Lorne Waldman and Richard Kurland. Jain advanced a “hard-line eradication” position in his post-appearance brief but suggested a role for immigration consultants to work under the supervision of lawyers during the hearing itself. The others “took a compromise, boundary blurring position” and advocated a “graduated licensing system”.
Ultimately Satzewich finds that “the voices of individual “consultant friendly” lawyers, and whose position was different from that of the CBA, in a way “won” and noted that a “profession is not a homogenous entity that speaks with voice…”
I would not characterize the resulting decision to promulgate the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants as either a win or a loss for the legal profession. It is my belief that there have been significant positive strides in consultant education, training and oversight of consultants since 2019.
The process explored a number of different issues including past concerns of inadequate regulation of consultants, concerns of access to justice, among others. The decision to try (for the third time) to train/regulate immigration consultants was taken by the government and as Satzewich notes, may well have been made on other considerations not fleshed out or advanced fully by the lawyers appearing before the committee.
It was a interesting and valuable experience and I’m glad that I was able to take part and contribute.
Satzewich, V. Lawyers, immigration consultants and the 33 year jurisdictional war. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie. 2021; 58: 186– 206. https://doi.org/10.1111/cars.12338