Al Parsai is an instructor at Ashton College, where he teaches the Immigration Consultant Diploma program. He is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) and the author of 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada, which covers different aspects of Canadian visas and immigration. Al holds a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology and has extensive experience as an author, trainer, and public speaker. He has written ten books and published hundreds of articles in the past 20 years. We caught up with Al to talk more about his new book.
1. Why and when did you decide to write your book, 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada?
I decided to write this book in 2018 for two reasons: (1) No book in the market represented, concisely and comprehensively, the different aspects of Canadian immigration and visas, and (2) I wanted to create a simple guide for both applicants and representatives.
2. How did you manage to write a book with your busy schedule? What are some of the key things you did to keep the project on track? What time of the day/week did you work on the book?
I think the key to my success was taking one step at a time. I developed a schedule and stuck to the plan. I hired two artists to create the artwork for the cover and inside pages of the book. As they continued to make progress, it also pushed me to complete my part. The anticipation of others, especially my employees, inspired me as well. I worked pretty much whenever I had the chance to work on the book. There was no specific day of the week that I dedicated to the book, but I tried to fit writing and editing in any little free time I could find. I must confess the project took at least three months longer than what I initially anticipated, but I finished it eventually.
3. How much time did you spend researching the subject matter? How did you go about getting all this information?
The subject matter reflects my several years of experience as a practitioner and instructor. I had also written many tips in the form of articles on my website. By referring to reliable resources, I have ensured that the information is accurate and up-to-date.
4. How will this book be useful to current and future students, and practicing consultants?
This book is unique because it tackles almost every subject/topic related to immigration consulting. Despite that, the book is concise and only 300 pages long. Therefore, it can act as a quick reference guide for students. Moreover, it also opens doors for them to research the subject matter further. Practicing consultants usually focus on limited areas of the business. However, if they decide to expand their service offerings, this book could help them initiate their research process and thereby enable them to hone their skills.
5. How can they get the most out of the book?
I have divided the book into six parts. Each part covers a specific area. The reader can pick the part they need to focus on the most. They may then move to the next part of their choice. I have offered lots of cross-references in the book to enhance the reader’s experience.
6. Tell us a bit about your experience as a faculty member at Ashton College. How did that happen, and how has it been so far? Any memorable experiences?
Teaching the Immigration Consultant Diploma program or IMCD (as it is called) at Ashton College is, I believe, one of the best things to have happened to me in my life. The interactions with my students have helped me enhance my knowledge-base and also my appreciation for the diverse country we live in. I’ve had students from as far as Japan to a few blocks from my office. Many of my students tend to research case laws and investigate the subjects. They offer amazing added-value to the subject area. One of the reasons I managed to write the book is because of the interactions with my students at Ashton College.
7. How would you rate the immigration consultant diploma program at Ashton College?
I believe we are doing a great job. Ashton College has been a leader in the immigration consulting education space for years and has maintained the highest standard and quality of delivery. The program has been wisely designed and covers all the subjects a consultant needs to practice immigration. Of course, after their education, students need real-world experience to become seasoned practitioners.
8. How did you come into this field? What were some of the challenges you faced?
I used to write a blog about Canada in my mother-tongue, Persian. The blog became really famous and encouraged me to pursue this career path. It is both a rewarding and challenging profession. We are not the decision-maker, but many clients who use our services make this false assumption. It is our responsibility to educate our clients. At the same time, we need to make sure we are reliable representatives and advocates for them. I have strived in the past few years to be that person.
9. What are some of the qualities a good immigration consultant should have?
They say knowledge is power. I never argue with this sentence. A good immigration consultant is someone who sincerely cares about other human beings. This is a profession that directly affects the lives of people. Immigration consultants have to be aware of this fact and need to act ethically and lawfully.
10. What advice would you give to current and future immigration consultants?
Study hard and appreciate the sensitivities of the profession you are entering. Integrity is key. Never forget that.