How to Become a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant
Working in the field of immigration can mean a dynamic and rewarding career helping people from abroad become new Canadians.
If you want to become a certified immigration consultant in Canada, you'll have to earn some specific credentials first. As of 2020, anyone who wants to become a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant must earn a graduate diploma in immigration and citizenship, then pass the Entry-to-Practice Exam offered by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
Immigration consultants typically work for law firms, government agencies, or private firms dealing specifically with immigration cases. Immigration consultants are skilled professionals who help people from outside Canada with the process of immigration and naturalization. Immigration consultants can expect a median salary of approximately $84,000 CAD per year.
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC)
In Canada, immigration professionals are regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), and any immigration consultant who wants to work in Canada must be registered with this organization.
As of 2020, ICCRC has established a specific pathway for students and new practitioners to enter the practice of immigration consultation in Canada (pdf). Here, we'll walk you through the basic steps to becoming an immigration consultant.
Step 1: Bachelor's degree
As your first step, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Your field of study isn't critical, as you'll be pursuing further education after you graduate, but you may want to consider a program in law or public policy to give yourself a firm grounding for your future studies.
You'll also want to be sure that you earn decent grades and make a good impression on your instructors. To qualify for the next step, you'll need at least a B average — roughly 70% across your courses — as well as receive a good reference from an instructor. You should take advantage of professors' office hours to build a rapport and improve your chances at receiving a good reference.
Step 2: Graduate diploma
Only two schools in Canada are permitted to offer the required graduate diploma program: Queen's University, whose program is taught in English, and Université de Montréal, which teaches in French. Here, we'll focus on the Queen's University program, offered by the Faculty of Law.
The Queen's University Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law is a necessary step on your way to becoming a registered immigration consultant in Canada. It's a three-semester program, designed to be completed in one year, and it's optimized for online learning, meaning you don't need to go to the Queen's campus in Kingston, Ontario, to take part.
To be considered for the program, you'll need to meet the qualifications noted above, and also submit a short Statement of Interest explaining your career ambitions and interest in the field.
You'll take part in weekly tutorials and coursework, which will take roughly 40 to 48 hours per week — about the equivalent of a full-time job. Fees are charged per term, but you can expect to pay a total of about $14,000 in tuition.
When you've completed the program, you'll earn a Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law. Though the program is taught by the Queen's Faculty of Law, you won't be qualified to practice law in Canada — though you will be ready to write the ICCRC's Entry-to-Practice Exam, which is the next mandatory step on your way to becoming a certified immigration consultant.
Step 3: Entry-to-Practice Exam
The final step to becoming a Canadian immigration consultant is passing the Entry-to-Practice (EPE) Exam administered by ICCRC. By completing the Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law from Queen's University, you'll be well prepared to pass the exam with flying colours.
Be aware that only Canadian citizens and permanent residents can write the exam! If you're an international student planning for your future, be sure that you've earned permanent resident status by this point, if not outright Canadian citizenship. Again, only Canadian citizens and permanent residents are able to write this crucial exam to become registered immigration consultants in Canada.
The exam is run several times each year (pdf) by ICCRC. The exam consists of about 140 questions, each of which presents a hypothetical case to test your judgment as a future immigration consultant. Each question is multiple choice, and you can take the exam in English or French. The exam takes a total of three hours to complete.
The exam is open-book, meaning you can bring reference materials in with you, including notes and textbooks from your graduate diploma program, so you should have no problem passing the exam requirements. ICCRC offers a study guide (pdf) to help you prepare.
If you've made it this far, congratulations! You're now a registered immigration consultant, eligible to work in the field of immigration, citizenship, and naturalization in Canada. You're eligible for continuing professional development through ICCRC, and you can start seeking work as a Canadian immigration consultant.
Good luck in your exciting new career!
Learn more about becoming an immigration consultant in Canada