Video Instructions to Assist in Completing Canadian Immigration Forms

By Author: Admin | August 9, 2010

Canada’s immigration website has introduced video instructions to assist in the completion of one form, the “Use of a Representative Form (IMM 5476)” as can be seen here.

The motivation for this may be to make government services more accessible to the public. . Given this screen-o-centric age, with even larger video screens in homes, public places, and smart phones, it this could be a case of the government catching up to the proliferation of technology.

On the other hand, it is inevitable that videos such as these will embolden people to submit applications without the assistance of an immigration lawyer knowledgeable in Canadian Immigration Law.  This latter group of people would include those persons who have no credentials other than knowing more English or French than others in their community.  The video instructions will thus provide no assistance for persons who don’t understand one of Canada’s official languages, but may reinforce them as a target for these video-trained, under-credentialed ghost consultants.

The form that was the subject of the video, the Use of a Representative form, is one of the simplest, most straightforward forms that have to be completed.  The video length explaining this simple form is 3:20 minutes in length.  I cannot conceive of how long the video instructions will be for other forms, such as immigration forms that capture a summary of a spousal relationship, or the past five years of business activity of a person (i.e. forms that are over five pages in length).

The selection of a Use of a Representative form is an odd one for CIC to start off with, since this form is often associated with persons who already have immigration counsel (and thus could avail themselves of that counsel to assist in the completion of the form).  I suppose if I was lazy, and had a client who was willing to pay me money to point them to a video on a website, I may find this useful.

The video contains the misleading statement,

“You are not required to hire a representative. The Government of Canada treats all applicants equally, whether they have a representative or not. If you hire a representative, we will not give your application special attention or process it faster, and you will not get a more favourable outcome.”

The above statement is true to the extent that no one will put a gun to your head, demanding you hire a Canadian Immigration lawyer.  The above statement is false when it states that the government of Canada treats all applicants equally.  If this were true, then the government of Canada would have 19 visa offices in India, and 19 visa offices in China, rather than three in each of China and India (there are a total of 19 Canadian visa offices in the United States and Europe which means that American and European residents do not suffer seven year delays in processing of immigration cases as occur in China and India).

The other comments, (“If you hire a representative, we will not give your application special attention or process it faster, and you will not get a more favourable outcome”,) are perhaps premised on the notion that the forms would be filled identically by an educated layperson and by a Canadian immigration lawyer if they were in two separate rooms, and obtained the same information.  Such a theoretical scenario cannot be replicated in real life, where immigration lawyers ask questions, and thus acquire an understanding of a person’s individual circumstances. An experienced Immigration Lawyer is cognizant of the pitfalls that hinder even the most qualified applicants. While it is true that Citizenship and Immigration Canada will not give those applicants with qualified representatives special consideration or a faster processing time, it is no accident that those who do hire experienced representatives enjoy a higher rate of success on their respective applications. By contrast, a video instruction on a form can only provide context to the question on the immigration form.

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