Immigration lawyers offer many services to people coming to the country as immigrants. This includes thousands who request refugee status. Some of these services include:
- Explaining your rights under Canadian law and the protections you may have as a refugee
- Helping you prepare the paperwork you need to immigrate or make a refugee claim
- Dealing with Canadian authorities on your behalf
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
It’s not absolutely necessary to hire a lawyer when you arrive in Canada, but it can be very useful. Here are some advantages:
- Immigration, especially for refugee claimants, can be a long and difficult process with lots of paperwork. A lawyer sees this paperwork all the time and understands it well.
- The immigration system is designed to be fair, but mistakes can happen. A lawyer will make sure you are being treated justly under the law.
- If you have been convicted of a criminal offence in your country of origin, it is usually very difficult, if not impossible, to immigrate to Canada. However, exceptions are made in some cases. A good lawyer is familiar with these exceptions and may be able to help you.
Immigration Lawyers: The Basics
Here are a few key things you need to consider when you decide to consult with a lawyer:
- What type of immigrant are you? There are several categories: skilled worker, business class, provincial nominee and family class. For refugee claims: do you qualify as a "convention refugee" or "person in need of protection"? Try to find a lawyer who specializes in a particular area.
- Do you have all the proper forms? Most immigrants need to complete several application forms that ask for personal and family information. Because you are hiring a lawyer, you will need to fill out an additional "Use of a Representative" form.
- How qualified is your lawyer? Before choosing one, ask about experience in immigration law and look for references.
- If you have trouble understanding English, look for a lawyer that can speak your language (many immigration law firms offer multi-lingual service).