Protect Yourself from Unauthorized Practitioners | MyConsultant

Protect Yourself from Unauthorized Practitioners

Protect Yourself from Unauthorized Practitioners

Watch out for unauthorized practitioners if hiring someone to help you navigate the Canadian immigration maze.

You do not want to end up in a situation where you feed unauthorized practitioners handsomely only to ruin your life. In late 2022 and early 2023, a string of protests launched by some Indian international students in Canada caught the attention of the media. The students were in a dismal situation where after years of studying and working in Canada, they were to be removed back to India on the grounds of misrepresentation because their acceptance letters were fraudulent. They claimed the fraudulent letters were their representative’s doing and it was unfair to have them punished by their representative’s actions. 

Following extensive media exposure of the protests, the Standing Committee of Immigration and Citizenship (CIMM) embarked on a study of the situation. On June 14, 2023, the CIMM issued a news release to publicly condemn the UAP who preyed on international students. 

Compared to around 1300 “clients” who lost their legal status because of misrepresentation stemming from Sunny Wang’s illegal immigration practice (the biggest immigration fraud in Canadian history), these students were lucky, as Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) created a workforce to provide them with another opportunity to prove their innocence. 

You do not want to join the ranks of either unfortunate “clients” of Sunny Wang or the fortunate Indian students. Therefore, read on to find out how to protect yourself from unauthorized practitioners’ predatory practices. 

What does the term unauthorized practitioners mean?

According to ss. 91(1) and (2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 (IRPA), only authorized representatives can provide Canadian immigration service/advice for returns. Authorized representatives are Canadian lawyers and other members in good standing of a law society of a province, notaries, and other members of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, and members in good standing of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants, also known as RCICs.  Ss. 21.1(1) and (2) of the Citizenship Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-29 prescribes the same. 

Persons who are not among the listed authorized representatives, if to provide immigration/citizenship service/advice, may only do so for FREE. If they charge or have any form of gain for their immigration/citizenship service/advice, they are unauthorized practitioners (UAPs) and commit an offence that is punishable by a fine, by imprisonment, or by both depending on the severity of the crime under s. 91((9) of IRPA and s. 29.1 of the Citizenship Act respectively. UAPs operate illegal immigration practices at the cost of the integrity of the Canadian immigration system and the future of the ones who engage them as representatives.

UAPs were once known as “ghost consultants” based on the presumption that because of the illegal nature of their practice, they operate their “businesses” secretly, shying away from public eyes. However, the harsh reality is that it is not the case. On the contrary, UAPs, are not only actively promoting their illegal practice outside Canada but are also comfortable operating in Canada. Sunny Wang had been operating in Canada for years before he was charged. Brijesh Mishra, the Indian citizen who provided fake acceptance letters to Indian student protestants facing removal, had filed about another 1,000 study permit applications that were refused by IRCC according to IRCC data. Ironically, he was arrested in July 2023 when trying to seek entry to Canada, while the letters he created had gained much attention from the media, government departments, and the general public, and the CIMM study of the situation in which he was the creator was underway. The precedent shows that UAPs do not see themselves as ghost consultants. Regarding them as ghost consultants gives a false impression to relevant parties that the chances of encountering these bad actors are low, namely, assuming those who operate out in the open must be legitimate is misleading and risky, as in fact that is not the case.

In addition, with the coming into force of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act, S.C. 2019, c. 29, s. 292 (the College Act), the designation of “immigration and citizenship consultants” and its variations, according to the College Act, can only be used by the  licensees of the College, the regulatory body for licensed immigration consultants. Using the term “consultants” for UAPs in the context of immigration/citizenship service/advice only opens the door for misinformation and disinformation, which benefits only UAPs.

In summary, UAPs are unauthorized practitioners who are offenders subject to criminal penalties. 

The risks of using a UAP

Sunny Wang’s and Brijesh Mishra’s “clients” provide a clear idea of the risks and impact of using a UAP: 
  • loss of status,
  • facing removal from Canada, and/or
  • being banned from entering Canada for five years.  
If you are at the application stage and are found to be using a UAP, your application may be refused on the grounds of misrepresentation, which means a five-year ban on top of the refusal. 

How to avoid hiring a UAP

UAPs are always on the lookout for prey and easy victims. You do not want to fall into their traps. Here are what you should do to avoid hiring a UAP:

  • Understand that UAPs’ practices are illegal
  • Learn more about authorized  to ensure you have adequate knowledge of legitimate immigration/citizenship practices;
  • Check the responsible regulators’ public register, it may also be known as member directory, to confirm that the representative you intend to retain is an authorized representative in good standing with the regulator;
  • Identify impostors, as some UAPs impersonate authorized representatives.  Confirm the information your representative has provided to you is consistent with what is on the public registry from the regulator.
  • Do not sign blank forms or sign forms/documents. The information on the forms is about you, and you must review it together with your authorized representative to make sure it is accurate and truthful.
  • When in doubt, contact the responsible regulator.
  • Obtain answers to these two key questions from your potential representative and double check them on the regulator’s website:
1)  Can you provide your licensing number and show me your registration in the regulatory body’s registry? 
2) Can you show me a sample of your service agreement and review it with me?

Report UAPs to protect yourself

What if you run into a UAP or you have hired a UAP? 

If you encounter a UAP in Canada, you may report the fraud to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) by calling 1-888-502-9060 or filling out the web form. If you are outside Canada, you may contact the Canadian visa office or send an email to IRCC at

If you have hired a UAP, fire him/her right away, ask for a full refund, and report them accordingly. Immigrating to Canada is a complex process. To make your Canadian immigration journey a smooth one and work towards your Canadian dream, be vigilant to UAP practice. If requiring representative, check the Directory to find a licensed immigration and citizenship consultant.

About the author

Find a Consultant