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Duties of an Immigration Legal Assistant

By: Ashley Fazekas

Published On: October 3, 2022

Two immigration lawyers discussing paperwork

Immigration Legal Assistant Overview

A legal assistant is an integral part of a law office, helping a lawyer with many important tasks and communication. There are many specialties that paralegals or legal assistants can be in, and an important one is immigration. To become specialized in the immigration sector of paralegals, you should obtain an immigration legal assistant certificate to give you the education and tools necessary to excel in this career.

There is also a low barrier to entry for this field, you do not have to have any previous immigration or legal background to earn your certificate. Everything you need to know will be taught during the program, as long as you have passion, enjoy working with people, and can handle detail orientated tasks you will be set up for success.  

Immigration Legal Assistants help Immigration Practitioners and Immigration Lawyers by handling paperwork, communicating with people, and doing other important tasks. Working with potential Canadian immigrants is a fulfilling career that offers many opportunities for advancement. It is an excellent option for lawyers or legal professionals who are new to Canada, or those who want to specialize in Immigration Law. Legal Assistants and Paralegals can also use this program to improve their skills in the field of Immigration Law.  

What Do Immigration Legal Assistants/Paralegals Do?  

Immigration legal assistants provide paralegal support to immigration attorneys. They will demonstrate knowledge of immigration requirements and may have some experience in a law firm before becoming specialized in this area, but this is not a requirement. Their responsibilities could include: 

  • Managing caseload intakes, filing visa applications for permanent residency, and preparing non-immigrant and immigrant visa petition packages for review. This could include processing and filing documents, gathering application and petition information from external parties, and they may be required to respond to immigration inquiries. 
  • Assisting immigration attorneys with visa and permanent residency applications and preparing applications for permanent residency and secondary benefits for foreign nationals. 
  • They process applications, prepare petition packages for review, and maintain case files. They are also required to keep clients informed of progress made with their cases. Maintaining hard copy files and entering data into an immigration case management system. 
  • Reporting to the immigration program manager and collaborating with the Regional Paralegal Manager and immigration attorneys. 

Career Opportunities

There are many opportunities in the field of immigration in Canada. Professionals who want to work in this field can find jobs in consulting firms, law offices, government offices, recruitment agencies, and settlement organizations. There are also many opportunities for graduates to continue their studies in the fields of immigration and law. Other career opportunities could include: 

  • Office Administrative Assistant 
  • Immigration Processing Assistant 
  • Clerical Assistant 
  • Immigration Application Assistant
  • Legal Administrative Assistant in an immigration consulting office or law firm

This program would be useful for individuals who are foreign-trained lawyers or who have legal experience outside of Canada, and are looking to gain some Canadian knowledge and experience. Additionally, if you are a legal assistant already and looking for a specialization, this certificate is an excellent option. The skills involved with this certification would support anyone working towards a career in the Canadian immigration sector.

Recently, the Canadian federal government to increase its immigrant targets for the coming years. Originally, the set targets were 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022; those targets have increased to 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. See more information on the Government of Canada's website.

What do those increased targets mean for you? There is a steady stream of people who need immigration consulting services and qualified expertise. Lawyers who may not typically assist on immigration cases may also see an increase in demand, which translates to more job opportunities for legal assistants who have the background knowledge and foundation to assist them.

Ashton College's Immigration Legal Assistant Certificate

ILAC 01 (Working in a Legal Environment, 30 hours): This course has been improved to further outline the Canadian Justice System, time management and file management, and the role of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. Students will differentiate between the various documents needed to support clients through legal proceedings. The course learning objectives have been updated with more details about the technicalities of the legal system and understanding the organization required surrounding the various documents.

ILAC 02 (Legal Accounting, 30 hours): The course has improved to include more detailed accounting terminology, as well as a practical application of understanding the material through the production of accounting documents. A more hands-on approach is applied to the course content, and students will acquire an understanding of legal terminologies more conversationally. Basic accounting principles are used in this course.

ILAC 03 (Legal Research and Informatics, 30 hours): Updates include further application of students' understanding of legal research and a more detailed practice in identifying numerous laws and regulations.

ILAC 04 (Communications for Legal Professionals, 30 hours): Students understand their role in a legal setting, and have the practice of hands-on drafting and editing legal correspondence. The previous version of ILAC 04 included more details about immigration policies and temporary residents, which has now been extended into a new course.

ILAC 05 (Immigration Fundamentals and Admissibility, 30 hours): Introduction to the fundamentals of immigration, refugee and citizenship law, as well as admissibility. Students will look at how this relates to Canadian laws.

ILAC 06 (Temporary Immigration Programs, 30 hours): Students will look into temporary immigration programs, paperwork and visa applications, and work permits. Explores LMIAs through Service Canada centers and Employer Compliance requirements.

ILAC 07 (Permanent Residence Program, 40 hours): Looks into the permanent status application process by classes of entry and decision-makers. Students will be able to complete the necessary forms and applications.

ILAC 08 (Refugees and the Immigration and Refugee Board, 40 hours): Explains the international conventions and government assistance programs process protecting refugees. Practical exploration of forms and supporting documents related to protected persons and refugees will be used.

ILAC 09 (Enforcement and Appeals, 30 hours): Provides an overview of the Immigration Division: Immigration Hearings and Detentions and Immigration and Refugee Appeals. Understand and explain the roles of the division, and examine reports, hearings, removal orders, etc.

ILAC 10 (Citizenship and Legal Professionals – Ethics and Regulatory Processes, 30 hours): Learning the process of citizenship acquisition in Canada. Gives an overview of legal parameters of practice for Immigration Legal Assistants with Authorized Representatives, and reviews examples of relevant codes of conduct.

Please note that this program DOES NOT qualify graduates to practice as Regulated immigration Consultants or Lawyers.

Taking a legal assistant training course is the first step in exploring this exciting specialty field of immigration legal assistants. The Immigration Legal Assistant Certificate program is a great way to learn about the Canadian Immigration system and better understand the policies and procedures of immigration in Canada. Are you ready to start this rewarding career?  


The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog. 


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