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Why do you need a lawyer?

<p>I always feel awkward when I am asked by a prospective client “Do I really need an immigrant lawyer?” If I say “yes,” I might sound self-interested.</p>

Professionals can help you avoid process delays





“Immigration practitioners are generally faster ... because they avoid delays in a number of different ways.”





I always feel awkward when I am asked by a prospective client “Do I really need an immigration lawyer?”


If I say “yes,” I might sound self-interested.


After all, Canada’s immigration department provides information through its toll-free call centre and online access to its latest forms and application kits. Furthermore, CIC even suggests that a representative’s involvement will contribute absolutely nothing to the process. It states:


“You are not obliged to hire a representative. We treat everyone equally, whether they use the services of a representative or not. If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention nor can you expect faster processing or a more favourable outcome.”


Is this true?


It is true that clients who have lawyers are not given “special treatment.” (I’m not sure who suggested that they would.)


However, it would be foolish to think that a person who has never handled an immigration application before will be able to get his/her application through the immigration bureaucracy as quickly, predictably, and successfully as someone who has filed that type of application dozens or hundreds of times before.





Immigration practitioners are generally faster, not because they are given “special treatment,” but because they avoid delays in a number of different ways:


1. By being able to accurately predict how immigration officials might resolve a particular issue, practitioners can avoid filing an application that is likely headed for failure.


2. The practitioner knows what type of documentary proof is needed to prove critical facts. Immigration officers can refuse an application without notice if the evidentiary material filed is not persuasive. Filing a new application will return the applicant to the back of the line.


3. Once the application is filed, the practitioner knows the tempo of the process i.e. what should be happening and when. If something doesn’t seem right, s/he can immediately take corrective measures. The self-represented person has no such experience to guide him/her.


4. The experienced practitioner will know how and who to contact when things do get off-track. The department is particularly adept at avoiding communications with clients since any form of correspondence is viewed as an obstruction to the management of its caseload. Knowing how to reach a helpful officer is invaluable.


5. If the application is refused, the practitioner is likely to appeal on time. Self-represented people often allow the appeal period to expire while they are attempting to resolve the problem through their MP. This leaves them no choice but to reapply.

Next week: The financial considerations of hiring a lawyer versus going it alone.





Guidy Mamann is the senior lawyer at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him at 416-862-0000. Direct confidential questions to metro@migrationlaw.com

 
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