The #1 question on every PR aspirant’s mind is whether you need an immigration agency to help you with your journey, and where to find them. The answer is not as straightforward as one would think, and there are many aspects to consider. Here’s our story and what we think you should do too.
Our experience with an agency
Like every other immigrant, our PR journey began with a dream of a land far far away. We did some research, evaluated the pros and cons between Canada and Australia, and eventually settled on Canada. Once done, we tried to go through the immigration process and immediately gave up. What? Why? Because the attention span of a metro city couple only lasts as long as an episode of stand up comedy (about 15 mins).
So with nothing else to do we decided to visit a big name in the immigration consulting industry in Chennai. (Name rhymes with axes). We hadn’t the slightest clue about the process, eligibility criteria, time, effort and cost involved. Yup, the perfect kind of customer anyone would want.
The “immigration consultant” started taking us through the process, shooting abbreviations, jargon at unsuspecting dreamy-eyed customers. And even before we knew it, the entire discussion had come to its climactic “just xxxx rupees for the entire process”, she said. That’s when the alarm bells went off, and we insisted on hearing the whole thing again. But that did not do us any good, because the consultant had conveniently left many details out of the story just enough to make the whole thing believable. So we plonked a ton of money down, and went with the flow.
Weeks later as the process became clearer and clearer, we began to understand the nuances involved. About how critical a WES evaluation could be, just how important an IELTS is, how difficult it is to get the funds together and so much more. We found ourselves doing most of the legwork, with the consultant only offering some token advice. In fact, at every step of the way we found more insight from the immigration community of people and their experiences, than we did from any consultant.
So yeah, we got scammed! But things worked out for us, and that’s when I thought it to be a great idea to share our experiences with other folks so you could be informed before depositing your hard earned money with an agency/consultant.
So what’s the bottom line? Do I need an agency or not?
Here’s how I’d like to answer this.
1. Regardless of who you are and what your situation is, acquaint yourselves with the current process to get a feel of whats involved.
2. If your hypothetical CRS score is 400+, then you don’t need any agency/consultant support. You are already well qualified to understand and execute the process by yourself with just a couple of hours of reading a week.
3. If your score is lesser than 400, then your options may be limited only to PNP and Atlantic Immigration Programmes. Once again, these are straightforward programs that you can read up on by yourself.
4. Signup for the forums on CanadaVisa.com . Its free, gives you access to resources, and connects you with thousands of immigrants around the world. 99% of the time, your issue/situation may have already been discussed here. This is a super active community, where everyone is trying to help each other.
5. If you still aren’t convinced, and/or do not have the little time necessary to read through the process and connect with other people, only THEN consider reaching out to an agency for help.
Things to keep in mind while engaging an immigration agency
- As much as possible, try to meet the people behind the agency. Avoid online-only services.
- Look for reviews online, and if possible talk the people who have used their services recently.
- Don’t be hurried, and don’t fall for “limited time offer only” kind of pressure from these guys. Take your time. Understand exactly what kind of service the agency is going to provide. For example, for a WES evaluation, clarify whether you have to write to the university and get the attested marksheets or will the agency do it on your behalf. In many cases, they say they will do it, but end up only giving you information on how get it done. World of difference, no?
- Don’t put yourself in a position where the immigration agency withholds login credentials for the CIC website. There are so many instances where consultants do not disclose this, and keep the customers dependent on them for updates.
- Do not sign any agreement that says that agency fees are non-refundable.
- Remember that your agency fees will not include the cost of WES evaluation, medical check-up, PR fees, etc.
- Look out for scams like job search package, or resume development services. You don’t need these. The Govt. of Canada provides these for free through their settlement agencies. Reach out to them instead.
- The Federal Govt. has just enacted a law to create a separate body to regulate all immigration agencies. This will involve new licenses and standards. Keep a look out for how this develops, and check with your agency if they are compliant or licensed/registered.
So while most people may not need an immigration consultant, your situation may warrant the need for one. Hopefully, some of the above points may help you find the right one.