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By: Ronda PaynePublished On: August 16, 2018
Being a successful immigration consultant takes a lot of hard work. But, before the work of helping potential immigrants begins, school work is necessary to understand the field, and the diverse elements of it. Through an immigration consultant course, a student works towards becoming a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
Immigration courses in Canada are generally very detailed and allow students to fully immerse themselves in the particulars of the field from many aspects. It’s important to select a school that offers a program with multiple courses within it, as your success in the field depends upon learning all the possible options and procedures a potential immigrant may be eligible for.
This learning and understanding of the field happens within the curriculum most education institutions have established. Courses in immigration consulting will most likely cover the principles of immigration, its history, judicial framework, policy and regulations as well as administrative law.
Other areas that are often covered include the various immigration programs in provinces, territories and the country along with their individual regulations and processes, the importance of (and skills involved in) client representation, practices involved in running a successful Canadian immigration consultant firm and business communication, professional conduct and ethical skills and tools. It is this last aspect – that of communications, conduct and ethics – that becomes more important as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant begins representing clients.
Once the two most important things to enable you to get started in the field are completed – taking an immigration consultant course and become a regulated consultant – it’s time to take a closer look at communication and conduct, beyond what was offered in the program you graduated from. You may need to brush up on these skills and information once you’ve become certified and are ready to get down to work – whether in your own firm or for someone else.
While they may be called “soft skills”, there is nothing soft about the interactive skills, which are essential to an immigration consultant in Canada. Knowing how to communicate, follow the highest standards possible and represent a firm, as well as individuals, in the best possible light will make or break a career in the industry.
While you may think business communication skills are something that an administrative assistant, executive secretary or office-worker needs, the truth is that good communication is a key element to being involved in someone’s immigration journey. The immigration process is wrought with communication challenges that need a keen eye and strong project management abilities.
It starts with the ability to talk to and work with clients in ways that make them comfortable when data needs to be extracted. The process requires a very thorough and complete approach to ensure all of the information is gathered at the outset of starting a client along their journey. Not only does this require the ability to know what data is required, it also takes keen analysis and speaking skills in order to ask the right questions to get the right information. On the flip side of speaking is listening. Listening skills along with an analytical mind allow you to process the information, get to know if the client is answering the question fully and probe further if additional details are required.
Watching live interviews and becoming involved in programs like Toastmaster may help with learning about question and speaking skills, while there are many courses, books and online tools to help with active listening. I may even come down to asking your friends and family to quiz you after they’ve shared information to ensure you understand the nature of what they said.
Another aspect of business communication that is essential to immigration consultants is the ability to complete complex reports and documentation. There are many documents required for every potential immigrant whether they are part of a family unit or applying for immigration on their own, coming to work, study or visit. Using the proper language on these documents can lead to the success or failure of an application.
If the instructors from the school you took your immigration courses in Canada are practicing immigrations consultant, ask them for tips on improving your language on applications. No matter how good you are at gaining information from clients, you must be able to position it in the right light on the applications and documents to be successful.
No one ever wants to be accused of being misleading or behaving inappropriately. Especially for an immigration consultant in Canada, this kind of “black mark” can be a career-ender. Knowing what to do and the appropriate way to do it is an essential skill when representing potential immigrant clients.
At all times, an immigration consultant must remain professional with clients – even while presenting a friendly and helpful disposition. There will always be times that questions of ethics come up. Most education institutions that offer immigration consultant courses will explore the concept of ethics and help build ethical decision-making to ensure situations are always handled the right way for both you and the client.
It is extremely beneficial to establish a mentor-type relationship with an established immigration consultant, especially for those new to the field. Having an experienced professional to talk to allows you to anonymously share information with someone who understand the field. This way your mentor can help provide you with the answers you need to make the best decisions ethically and professionally without damaging your career or reputation.
Ongoing involvement with ICCRC will provide you with opportunities to interact with fellow immigration consultants as well as offer access to tools to help work through ethically challenging situations.
Immigration consultants have a demanding job. They are responsible for presenting their clients in the best possible light to ensure a better future. By completing education from a well-respected school, spending time working on communication skills and establishing strong ethical thinking, success in the field (and for your clients) will come naturally.