The Difference Between Lawyers and Immigration Consultants

Many clients ask me what is the difference between lawyers and immigration consultants. The answer is complicated but at the same time rather simple.

I understand that my clients are curious about this difference because they want to know who they are granting access to their immigration case. Their question is often based on determining who has higher knowledge, and this is the complicated part, because credentials aren’t everything. And, there have been cases of fraud committed by immigration consultants as well as lawyers.

Like in all professions there are those who are honest, and then those who are not. Doctors that are extremely professional and others that are not, teachers who are excellent and others who are not so much and so on. It is the same thing in the immigration field, there are professionals who are good, and others who are better.

Because of the fraud that often is committed in the industry, consultants and lawyers without ethics have contributed to the fact that now people take more precautions. For this, I understand perfectly why my clients and applicants of immigration processes in general want to know these differences.

This article covers the following points:

  • The main difference between lawyers and consultants
  • Differences between some consultants and others: characteristics that need to be taken into account

Regarding immigration, both lawyers and consultants are authorized to manage cases in all their stages until the level of Judicial Revision before a Federal Court.

The main difference is that lawyers can present themselves and litigate a judicial revision in the Canadian Federal Court when errors are made at an administrative level. These types of judicial revisions costs millions of dollars and it can take years in some cases, and this in turn means most people would just re-apply again instead of reaching this scenario. What this means, is that this difference should not be determinant.

In contrast to many other countries, in Canada, law students have the freedom to choose part of the courses that they want throughout their careers. So in Canada, not all lawyers learn about Immigration Law during their studies, and this means that not every lawyer is knowledgable of Canadian Immigration Law.

As a result, it is very common for people coming from other countries to believe that lawyers can practice in all areas just because they are a lawyer. This is a misunderstanding.


Among consultants there are important differences that need consideration and it is a matter of choosing the most adequate one, like in any other profession.

It is very important to take into account that not all immigration consultants have knowledge of the law. Individuals must know what the previous job of the consultant was before obtaining his/her licence. This is because a consultant that has no notion about law or judicial reasoning might handle the case slightly different; even more so, if the case is complicated. This does not mean that they are incapable but it is something that needs to be considered by the individual.

A lot of times I give this metaphorical example to answer the question:

  • Imagine that you live in a country where there is no licenced doctors and only medical consultants with a licence.
  • If you have a disease and require surgery:
  1. Would you rather have the surgery done by an individual that has the corresponding licence to do a surgery and that practiced medicine previously, for a long time before obtaining the licence?
  2. Or would you rather have the surgery by an individual that was an engineer or sales expert, which obtained the same licence to conduct a surgery but has never performed a surgery before?

This example, although out of context, says a lot. If you plan to work with an immigration consultant, make sure that this person has the necessary abilities on top of a licence. This same analysis must be practiced when searching for a lawyer, because as previously mentioned, a credential is not everything.

An immigration process is more than just filling out forms. The interpretation and application of the law is a very important ability that is acquired throughout the years and with the corresponding studies. An immigration process is an administrative process that is resolved at a tribunal level. The decisions that officials make are not always correct or reasonable and it is necessary to be able to apply the law from the beginning to obtain the best possible result. Immigration law is made up of various laws, regulations and policies; on top of being influenced by common-law/case-law.

During immigration processes, it is important to recognize when a violation exists to the legal principles of procedural fairness, Independence, impartiality and bias; your representative should know when and how to act to demand some type of legal remedy based on the law and prepare the necessary petitions according to the Rule of Law.

At Global AG, we pride ourselves in making sure that your application is always done according to the law. Our services include much more than just filling out forms and Maria Campos has the necessary knowledge to obtain a positive outcome in your case.