By Author: admin | May 19, 2015

I requested the immigration history of a client whose last interaction with Canada’s immigration department dated from around 1990. He wanted me to find out what information the immigration possessed about him as of the year 2015. This is captured in the government notes known as “Field Operations Support System”, or FOSS.

After sending the appropriate request, Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy responded stating they “decommissioned the FOSS system on 13 Dec 2014. CIC says they have “no way of retrieving FOSS”. This has happened with around three other access to information requests I’ve made. The decommissioning was likely due to the immigration department adopting a new record keeping system, the Global Case management System).

As all nerds are aware, a profound change in computer hardware or software must be accompanied by a backup prior to making such a change.

I googled the phrase “backup data” and obtained “About 239,000,000 results (0.28 seconds) “. That’s a lot of solutions to backing up data. Even the “seriously dumb yahoo answers” sagaciously mentions: “Personally I always back up Windows and documents saved on the computer to an external hard drive”

I suspect most immigration lawyers have a backup of data on a periodic basis. Indeed, the Canadian Bar Association recommends among other things,

“5. Back up your data.

“If something screws up today, if someone steals the computer today, if it is destroyed in a fire today, you have the information necessary to carry on your practice,” advises Ferguson. “That means backing up daily, taking backup media offsite on a regular basis, and checking that backup data to make sure it’s working.”

In other words, one’s confidence can’t be inspired if the government “has no way of retrieving” a record of someone’s interaction with said government.

As for those clients whose records have vanished, some other possibilities may emerge; some clients may opt to return to Canada after a long absence with a much less complex history for immigration officers to glean. Other clients who are subject to deportation may leverage this absence of information to try to remain in Canada. The concept of the government having a ‘thin file’ is viewed dimly by the Federal Court; the Federal Court sets aside refusals on the basis of the government keeping an inadequate record.

This lack of government accountability is related to a larger trend of decreasing government transparency either on the basis of “culture of secrecy “ of the failure of the government to keep up with technology.

Use of Representative Form (IMM 5476)

By Author: admin | May 5, 2015

The above forms as of March 2014 states, You do not need to hire an immigration representative. It is your choice. No one can guarantee the approval of your application. All the forms and information that you need to apply are available free at This is an example of intentional obfuscation: providing a form (the IMM 5476) that exists only to allow a lawyer to represent you, and simultaneously undermine the purpose of the form by stating, (almost akin to a last ditch effort) that you do not need a lawyer. And while it is technically true that a lawyer is not required, often times individuals choose to hire a competent professional to eliminate the possibility of errors that can lead to a refusal, or, for more obtuse and esotericapplications, provide the submission that is less-than-explicitly required by CIC.

The Use of Representative form indicates that you may only have one representative at a time and that if you appoint a new one, the previous representative will not longer be recognized by CIC as having a relationship to your file.

Conveying the signed Use of Representative form to CIC is often a frustrating ordeal for your putative Representative. There is a dedicated CIC email address to which a completed Use of Representative form is sent. However, it takes 10 (!) business days for the Use of Representative to be matched to a visa application. This assumes that the lawyer is able to get the form past a CIC agent seemingly tasked to deflect the Use of Representative away from the officer assigned to a client’s file.

CIC call centre agents apparently have a mandate to deflect a Use of Representative form for among other things, failing to indicate the “type of application” or “location of office” (contained in question three of the imm 5476). One pedantic call centre person I spoke to mentioned that this is required because a person may have more than one representative – despite the fact that the form itself says it is not possible to have more than one representative.

Similarly, the ‘location of office’ is often, over the life of an application, more than one location. For example, a sponsorship file may move from Mississauga to an immigration office in Canada, or to a visa office abroad. Further, some applications submitted online are at locations in which the lawyer may not be apprised of when uploading said online application.

The delay by CIC call centre agents in conveying the Use of Representative form to the officer dealing with the file often causes prejudice to said lawyer’s client. This may occur, for example, where a request for information is sent to a client rather than to the client’s lawyer leading to the missing of a deadline in which to submit said information. The Federal Court has repeatedly stated that this is a denial of procedural fairness and an error; CIC may not legally dismiss a representative for bureaucratic minutia. Still, it can be frustrating for me and the client to have to threaten legal action to reopen the file.

I often have to remind myself, through gritted teeth, that call centre agents are not officers. They are so placed so that officers do not have to speak to the public and so they can devote their time to administering the Act rather than providing advice. Most officers are very happy to communicate directly with counsel as they do not have to worry that their instructions are not sufficiently laic and thus do not have to devote time to explaining or repeating instructions.

All the above being said, there is a persistent view among the self-filing community that call centre agents are a substitute for counsel, and that if you are having a problem or if you have a question, you can call them and they will be happy to help. Although most call centre agents do not lack for enthusiasm, this view is completely wrong. As a colleague once remarked on reddit ( “There are people in jail, or who have been removed from Canada, based on relying on flatly-wrong Call Centre advice.” If a lawyer is wrong about the advice he or she gives you, that lawyer may be subject to disciplinary action if they are wrong and you are harmed. Call centre agents have no such responsibility.

Interrupted Studies in Canada – Will a 3 Year Post Graduation Work Permit be issued?

By Author: admin | April 24, 2015

An application for a Post-graduation work permit of three years duration is available to those foreign nationals who study at an appropriate school in a program of at least two years duration. One question that arises is whether the duration of the minimum two years of study can be interrupted. Such an interruption may occur if a person studies for perhaps one year, leaves Canada due to an emergency and returns after more than one semester to study at a different course.

The policy in the above scenario is not helpful. Said policy requires full time studies in Canada ‘continuously’. The only exception to the requirement to continuously study is when a person is in her final semester of studies and has met the requirements to graduate in the studies pursued.

The only other exception to study permit holder having a gap in studies and being eligible for a Post Graduation Work permit is where a study permit holder obtained a one-year graduate degree or diploma from an appropriate school in Canada. If two years prior to obtaining said one-year graduate level degree or diploma, the student had obtained a degree or diploma within the past two years, then a three year post graduation work permit may be possible.

Restoration within 90 days of losing a study permit is possible if the person holding the lapsed study permit continued to meet the requirements under which the person was allowed to enter and stay in Canada, as well as meeting all the conditions imposed on the study permit.

Immigration Regulations amended June 1 2014 reinforce the requirement to be “actively pursuing” studies while in Canada and while possessing a study permit. Thus the possibility of losing a study permit is possible if an immigration officer discovers that a student has not registered or attended classes for extended periods of time, or arguably, has failed to acquire a passing grade in a certain number of courses. Such a lack of attendance and/or failure to pass has been associated with study permit holders who are not genuine students, but rather, persons who used a study permit as a way to work in Canada illegally.

If you’ve acquired a gap in studies it’s a good idea to get legal advice about whether the gap may make you ineligible to either renew your study visa, or to obtain a Post Graduation Study Permit.

Work Experience – The Cornerstone Of Canada’s Express Entry System

By Author: admin | April 14, 2015

When putting up a profile on the Express Entry system, you must possess at least one year of work experience.  At this early stage of uploading a profile, you don’t need a work reference letter.  Once you’ve been issued an Invitation To Apply, you must follow through with proof of what you said in your initially submitted profile.

Such proof includes third party documents such as police checks and equally important work reference letters.  Such letters are ostensibly authored by your employer.  Express Entry promises a six month processing time once you’ve been issued an Invitation to Apply.  Obtaining permanent residence after receiving an ITA is not a ‘sure thing’; you must back up what you’ve said in your initial EE profile and the failure to do so will result in a finding of misrepresentation and a consequent five year ban.

Post Graduate Work Permit Holders often have a three year work permit.  In that three years they must acquire one year of full time work experience at a suitably skilled level, at a job usually requiring post secondary education.   Similarly, Federal Skilled Worker candidates availing themselves of the EE system have to possess at least one year of paid full time work experience.

Canada’s immigration department has very specific guidelines as to what constitutes a proper work reference letter .  Such a letter must stipulate facts such as whether the job performed was full time or part time, amount of remuneration (and benefits, if any), start and if applicable, end date of employment,positions held and duration of time at each job position, but most importantly, the main duties performed.

This latter point has been the source of countless federal court cases; if your duties are listed with inadequate detail, you have failed to prove the minimum one year work experience required under EE; if your duties too closely match the National Occupational Classification, then then you fail; if your letterhead appears ‘smudged’, your letter may be ‘inadequate’ and you fail.  If you send an updated letter from your employer and the logo or letterhead differs, you fail; if the quality of the paper you employer prints the letter on is poor, you fail.


Officers try to fail you on work experience by stating the letter is not fraudulent, but merely inadequate.  If the work reference letter is in adequate, then an officer need not accord you procedural fairness; in other words, the officer can summarily refuse your application without giving you a chance to submit an improved work reference letter.

It is no doubt a challenge to acquire skilled work experience in Canada after graduating.  I suppose the immigration department’s view is that you get three years to acquire that one year of paid experience.  Indeed, other countries such as the UK or USA or Australia have no such pathway to permanent residence via studying in Canada; foreign students in those countries have to return to their home country after paying hefty student tuition fees.

Adding a Common Law Partner to an Existing Application

By Author: admin | April 9, 2015

If you have an application for a visa to Canada, being permanent resident, or a temporary visa, you may have changed your life in a significant way.  Some life changes must actually be reported to Canada’s immigration department if your application is still pending.

One such change is if you’ve become a common law partner while your visa application is in progress.  In other words if you’ve been in a relationship of  exclusivity with a high degree of commitment for more than one year, you may have to declare the relationship to the immigration department or be at risk of misrepresenting yourself before a Canadian visa officer.

Most couples know when they’ve entered a common law relationship, but perhaps not down to the exact day.  Such couples may have started as roommates but gradually, started to share household chores and pay for expenses for each other.  They may have also presented themselves to their peers and relatives as an exclusive couple.

When the common law relationship has been in place for more than one year, it should be declared in the context of a pending visa application.  Such a declaration, however, may have certain consequences to an already filed application.  For example, adding a common-law partner to a Canada Experience Class application or to a Federal Skilled Worker application may add more processing time.  The additional processing time would arise from the inevitable medical and background checks for the added common law partner.    In less clear cases, an officer may have to spend additional time making a determination of whether, in fact, the person being added is a common law partner.

Such an analysis would entail a review of evidence showing that the couple do, in fact, share a life together, in a substantive way.  There may be evidence of the origin of the relationship, its evolution from acquaintance to friendship to exclusivity, the sharing a large and/or long term financial burden, testimonials from relatives and friends, etc.

From an immigration officer standpoint, it is preferable for an applicant to simply get married, as the amount of scrutiny of officer may have to exercise would be less than assessing evidence of a common law relationship.   The reasons for maintaining  a common law relationship  as opposed to getting married may relate to cultural impositions. For example, if a couple from a less culturally evolved country has yet to tell their parents of the exclusivity of the relationship, they may opt to maintain the common law status until they have proven to each other’s’ respective parents that they are compatible as a couple.

If an officer deems that inadequate evidence has been given to prove the relationship is not a common law one, then the excluded putative dependent partner would be excluded from the application and would not get the benefits of said application, be it permanent residency, or in other cases, an open work permit.

The issue may be more material in Federal Skilled Worker applications where a dependent spouse’s education may yield additional points to the main applicant.  In such cases, if evidence of a weak common law (or indeed, a weak marriage) was put forward, the main applicant could be refused and barred for materially  misrepresenting a fact to an officer; the penalty for such misrepresentation would be  five years of inadmissibility to Canada.

In such circumstances, advice from a Toronto Immigration Lawyer would be prudent prior to making an application to Canada’s Immigration Department.

Removals as Soon As Possible – Fair and Efficient?

By Author: admin | April 1, 2015

The current government is preoccupied with streamlining processes and reducing backlongs.  One backlog relates to removing persons who have been ordered deported.  Attempts at making it easier to remove person have involved changing a phrase in one part of Canada’s immigration laws; the change is from the phrase ‘as soon as practicable’ to  ‘as soon as possible’. 

The Immigration Refugee Protection Act at s.48 states

Enforceable removal order

  • 48. (1) A removal order is enforceable if it has come into force and is not stayed.
  • Effect

(2) If a removal order is enforceable, the foreign national against whom it was made must leave Canada immediately and the order must be enforced as soon as possible.[Emphasis Added]


The use of the phrase “as soon as possible” constitutes  a change from the 2012 version of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act  which stated that an enforcement order must be enforced ‘as soon as practicable’.

What’s the difference?   The difference is that ‘as soon as possible’ puts pressure on the Canada Border Services Agency to give a priority to removals of those possessing removal orders over and above the other activities of the CBSA.    This also creates an expectation by the public that the CBSA will remove  in a timely way, persons who have received deportation orders.

You may wonder, who amongst the public may want the CBSA to give effect to a removal “as soon as possible”?   One case may include spousal sponsors of often male foreign spouses who land in Canada and commit spousal abuse against the sponsor.  A sponsor whose abusive sponsored husband is reported to the police and the CBSA should under the current law expect that abusive husband to be removed “as soon as possible”.  This is particularly so since the sponsor is financially responsible for the abusive husband for three years.  A lackadaisical CBSA would legitimately be the target of a law suit by the abused sponsor to recover any social assistance that may be taken by the abusive applicant.

To shirk their duty, the CBSA has recently tried to ‘turn the clock back’ on a removal  of a war criminal by asking the appropriate tribunal to issue a second ,redundant, removal order.  In that case, said tribunal asked the CBSA, why the government was seeking another deportation order when one has already been issued“.   Said tribunal also asked “why Mr. Rogan [the person with the removal order] is still in Canada and why the minister is seeking this proceeding…”

Department of Justice lawyers have, when opposing a request to stay a removal order interpreted ‘as soon as possible’ to mean that a CBSA removal order may only be stayed by the Federal Court.  One judge took issue with that interpretation and was of the view that the Officer using said section to deny a deferral of removal “…had no feelings at all!”


Express Entry: Any Hope For Immigrating To Canada?

By Author: admin | March 3, 2015

The Express Entry system has had three draws as at the time of writing (I’m writing this on 15-02-28) on the dates listed below:

  • 779 candidates receiving an Invitation to Apply based on the minimal ranking of   886 points (on January 31 2015);
  • 779 candidates receiving  an Invitation to Apply based on the minimal ranking of 818 points(on February 7, 2015)
  • [TBD] candidates receiving  an Invitation to Apply based on the minimal ranking  of 735 points(on February 27, 2015)

The minimumpoints required in the three draws were well above 600 points.  A review of the comprehensive ranking system reveals that 600 points or above cannot reached unless one has acquired aLabour Market Impact Assessment (or, in limited cases, nomination from a province).  This is very difficult to get as the employer must satisfy the government that there were no Canadians or Permanent Residents available to do the job. And they must be willing to recruit nationally. And the penalties for Canadian employer for misrepresenting said recruitment efforts include being banned from the LMIA system, fines and/or jail.

Express Entry has been in the works for several years, and at this point, there is no doubt that the system was designed prior to the recentscandals of the past two (2) years. Two (2) years ago it was relatively straightforward to get approval (previously called a Labour Market Opinion or LMO) to hire a foreign worker. Recruitment standards were laxer andthe processing times were faster. Employers could even obtain a positive LMO for an international student on a post-graduation work permit without trying to recruit in Canadawithout paying a fee. After the tightening mentioned above, the Harper government boasted that its crackdown on the system reduced the number of applications for approval to hire a foreign worker by 74%.

Viewed through the regulatory prism of 2-3 years ago, the Express Entry system makes sense. However, in a period where it is very, very difficult to get said approval, and large firms simply refusing, as a rule, to submit to such an assessment, certain younger applicants already in Canada become excluded. There is often very little economic reason to submit an LMIA given the cost and effort involved (which these companies recognize) and as a result employers will instead submit them for non-economic reasons, like family reunification.

Minister Alexander has responded to criticism of Express Entry weight by stating that: “We will not apologize for prioritizing in our selection process those with skills that allow them to integrate more quickly and more fully into Canada’s economy and Canadian society.” He retorts that younger applicants gain more points from their age than older applicants gain from their work experience. This, while true, does not obviate the above-mentioned criticism of the weight of the LMIA – even a 60 year-old with a LMIA would beat a 25-year-old engineer who graduated at the top his class from the University of Waterloo, but whose firm does not wish to file LMIA applications. The latter may never even processed and be forced to return to his country of origin.

A perhaps mitigating factor is that the number of people being called through Express Entry is still very, very low. Lower than what we would expect if the Harper government expects to meet its 60/40 economic/family immigration level.

The immigration department is expecting about 172,100 economic immigrants (as opposed to immigrants sponsored by family) to receive permanent resident status for 2015.  By contrast, the above three picks by CIC cited above look to number about 2400 persons, perhaps double, to 4800 persons there is an accompanying spouse and/or children.    Why is the score so high?  How will Canada get to 172100 immigrants in the year 2015?

There is no doubt that the department has a backlog of old cases under the old categories that existed during the last four (4) years.  These include the Canada Experience Class (at least those who filed before October 2014).  This class numbers 8000 persons, who, based on typical processing times would receive their permanent resident visas sometime during 2015.  Many of those 8000 may have a spouse or children, so perhaps a number closer to 16000 persons may be landed as permanent residents during 2015.

Similarly there existed a number of permanent resident applicants who applied under the Federal Skilled Worker system that existed since May 2013.  That system had a cap of 25000 persons per each of the 27 occupations (reduced to 25 occupations in 2014).  They too may be processed sometime during 2015.   The 25000 persons may in fact yield at least 50000 persons on the assumption that each applicant will have a spouse and/or a child.

Applicants in thosepre-2015 categorieswill trickle through and land in 2015 or even 2016.  Indeed, I have a client who applied under the Federal Skilled Worker Program in 2010 who shall receive her visa in the next month or so.

It may be that the ranking number will drop during subsequent draws in the year 2015, so as to reach closer to the intended number of economic immigrants who land as permanent residents.  Indeed, given that most of the economic categories are subject to the Comprehensive Ranking System, there would appear to be no other way to reach the intended number of economicimmigrants per year unless the minimal accepted point total under the Comprehensive Ranking System lowers to a level of at least relieving a candidate of the requirement to obtain a LMIA.

This appears to be the stated intent of the Immigration Minister who indicated 23000 persons are expected to be landed under the Express entry system. Thus, in future years, it may be that you do not need an LMIA or nomination to be selected.

The Credit Card and Immigration Application Bounceback

By Author: admin | March 3, 2015

Joe[1] tried to get his application filed at the Sydney Nova Scotia immigration office.  An application, when properly filed, contains specific forms, supporting documents, and a government fee. 

Canada’s immigration department allows a visa-seeking person to pay a government fee via a credit card.  If you pay via credit card, you are risking having your application rejected.  The reason is in the following regulation:

  • 10. (1) Subject to paragraphs 28(b) to (d) and 139(1)(b), an application under these Regulations shall
    • (a) be made in writing using the form provided by the Department, if any;
    • (b) be signed by the applicant;
    • (c) include all information and documents required by these Regulations, as well as any other evidence required by the Act;
    • (d) be accompanied by evidence of payment of the applicable fee, if any, set out in these Regulations; [Emphasis Added]and
    • (e) if there is an accompanying spouse or common-law partner, identify who is the principal applicant and who is the accompanying spouse or common-law partner.


The failure to present an application in accordance with the above specifications will cause a ‘bouncing back’ of the application (i.e.the package you sent to the immigration department gets returned in its entirety and no record of the application ever gets recorded at the immigration office).  An officer will send an unsigned letter stating “credit card declined”.  This may occur if the credit card company unilaterally,  for your own protection decides to decline the transaction after an immigration officer attempts to input the credit card information (since a charge for a credit card from a small Canadian town that you have never visited appears suspicious) .

But what if your credit card company has no record of ever declining an attempted charge for a filing fee from the immigration department?  This may mean that the officer failed to input the credit card information properly when trying to debit your credit card.  This would not be your fault.  Nevertheless, the package gets returned.

If you re-file the application with a different payment such as a money order or bank draft and resubmit, that may be your only solution.  However if the application in which you applied was subject to a cap or limit on the number of applicants who may apply, then you’ve lost your ability to apply.   You may try to communicate the immigration office and request to explain the situation but it is unlikely you may get a sympathetic ear, unless perhaps you have proof that the immigration officer incorrectly inputted the credit card application.

[1] Admittedly not the most creative or common name I come across in an immigration law practice.

What is Terrorism? Depends on How You Look At It

By Author: admin | February 17, 2015



A group of four young men were allegedly plotting a killing spree on Valentines Day 2015 at a mall in Halifax Nova Scotia, but were foiled due to an anonymous tip.  If the intended carnage were carried out would this have been an act of terror?

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the alleged plot was not linked to terrorism.It is disappointing that the Justice Minister, who presumably has some expertise in Canada’s laws would misconstrue the Criminal Code.  It has come to light that the individuals involved were supporters of white supremacy, an ideology.

The definition of terrorism in Canadian law specifically encompasses ideology as can be seen in the Criminal Code at 83.01 (b) as follows:

(b) an act or omission, in or outside Canada,

  • (i) that is committed
    • (A) in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, [Emphasis Added] and
    • (B) in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the public or the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada, and
  • (ii) that intentionally
    • (A) causes death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of violence,
    • (B) endangers a person’s life,
    • (C) causes a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public,
    • (D) causes substantial property damage, whether to public or private property, if causing such damage is likely to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C), or
    • (E) causes serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private, other than as a result of advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work that is not intended to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C),

and includes a conspiracy, attempt or threat to commit any such act or omission, or being an accessory after the fact or counselling in relation to any such act or omission, but, for greater certainty, does not include an act or omission that is committed during an armed conflict and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, is in accordance with customary international law or conventional international law applicable to the conflict, or the activities undertaken by military forces of a state in the exercise of their official duties, to the extent that those activities are governed by other rules of international law.


Given the above, it is appropriate to cite the graphic illustration above which indicates that the label of terrorist tends to get attached to certain ideologies more than others.   If anything, the Justice Minister’s refusal to acknowledge the foiled Halifax plot as an intended act of terror is an admission that Canada’s current laws and police apparatus are sufficient in their present form to keep Canada safe from terrorists.  As a consequence, proposed changes to Canada’s laws are unnecessary and would impede freedom of expression.

PS. The reference in the ‘lone wolf’ part of the picture to a ‘parking problem’  refers to an incident on February 11 2015 that took place in North Carolina.  If anyone can tell me the significance of each person using a different looking gun in the above picture, then please contact me on my website at

What step by step process should I follow

By Author: admin | February 9, 2015


The above question was recently posed at the Quora Website. As of writing this, (i.e. 2015-02-08) there was one answer given by an anonymous person who mentioned, that it is possible to file for Canadian permanent residency without a consultant (and by logical extension, without an immigration lawyer).

Specifically, the response given by anonymous was,

Yes this is POSSIBLE I have friends and family members who have done all the process on their own. Few are already in Canada, few will be there shortly.” [Emphasis in Original]

I’m concerned that the ‘few already in Canada’ and the few who are to arrive shortly did not apply under the Express Entry system which has only been in existence for seven weeks . Thus it is impossible for the aforementioned ‘few’ of anonymous’ friends and family members to have qualified under the current system of immigration to Canada as an economic immigrant.

Reference was made to the official immigration website of the government of Canada which provides links to government forms and accompanying guides for form completion. It is true that one may be able to file an application following the guides to fill out the forms. Common mistakes I’ve seen with clients who self-file include leaving gaps on forms in areas such as client history since the age of 18. Such gaps mean that the application is incomplete leading to the immigration department returning the application after eight-12 weeks, thus necessitating you to correct the forms, resubmit said forms and await another eight-12 weeks. This often leads to situations where a person may apply three times without success. The latter case resulted in delays resulting in a daughter becoming over-aged and was hence disqualified from immigrating with her parents.

Reference was also made to a popular Canada immigration forum where persons exchange anecdotes on each other’s cases, and ask/give advice on each other’s cases. I find such websites useful to see if there is a delay in a certain type of case, or if a certain immigration office is delaying a certain type of application. However, it is extremely dangerous to see persons post a very brief description of their case and then see others presume that their case is exactly the same as the one with the brief description. In fact, 99% of the time a case you think is just like yours has one or two differences which either require a different course of action, leading to a longer processing time.

Another point raised in the Quora response was the presumed advantage of being the direct contact with immigration instead of through a third party representative such as a lawyer :

Many folks recommend doing it yourself, which enables you to know the exact status and you are the primary contact with the immigration department.

I’ve successfully litigated three cases where the client, self-represented, never received a critical email leading to refusal of immigration. This has required the refused person to engage in the expensive time consuming step of a Federal Court proceeding for such clients who have self-filed, and have complained of the failure to receive an email or letter from the immigration department. A common problem is a critical email from Canada immigration (containing a deadline to submit a document) gets sent to a junk email folder, thus leading to the missing of the deadline and refusal of the application.

If I were applying for immigration, I’d at least want to first check out the official Canadian website on immigration, see if there is any online self-assessment guide, complete that guide, and then consult with an immigration lawyer, who will double check how my self-assessment reflects my chances to successfully immigrate to Canada.

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