Francis Ng is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant with over 20 years of experience in the field. An instructor for the Immigration Consultant Diploma program at Ashton College and the winner of a Faculty Achievement Award, Francis also runs the ICCRC Examination Prep course.
We sat down with Francis to learn more about his career journey and to get some of his insights on the immigration profession.
How did you get into your career in immigration?
When I first immigrated to Canada 30 years ago, I was the Deputy Executive Director of Hong Kong Trade Development Council. After working in Canada in the same field for UNITC, YVR, Guangdong State corporations, and BC Trade Development Corp for over 15 years since 1986, I had to think about what to do next. To put it simply, I knew I was at the cross road of my previous career, and I was looking for something beyond retirement age. I knew that to be successful, I needed to be in a regulated field as a professional with a a recognized designation, so I was never really looking for a job – I wanted to have my own business.
Immigration Consulting was going through many changes at that time: it was becoming a regulated industry, which made it more attractive for both consultants and clients. I knew I had the necessary skills to run an immigration business – in fact I was practicing immigration consulting since 1986, in a way, as I often needed to help my international clients in the areas of both temporary and permanent resident status application, among other things. I’ve also had experience dealing with and communicating to different international government officials throughout my career, so I thought that immigration might be a good fit for me.
I attended an information session at UBC in the spring of 2001 that talked about the changes in the immigration industry and then decided to pursue the designation. Oddly enough, I was told that I needed to pass the English proficiency test, which made me say – “no, thank you”. Why? Because I already had a Diploma in Management Development from Harvard Graduate School of Business, a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Business Administration from an English university in Hong Kong, and I was the executive director at the BC Trade Development Corporation. Thankfully, because of my prior international business experience, the language proficiency requirement was waived for me and I was then able to pursue my new career.
Why did you join Ashton?
There was an opening at Ashton College for an instructor for the Immigration Consultant Diploma program about 10 years ago and I applied for it. It was never my intention to teach – in fact, I applied because I could get CPD professional development points for my practice (when you are a member of an organization, you need to have a certain number of points to keep your designation). But after a while I realized that I actually enjoyed teaching. Students tell me that I have very good presentation skills, and I am able to develop great relationships with them. In fact, I still communicate with many of them, and we sometimes help one another in complicated cases internationally.
What do you like the most about Immigration Consulting?
I love dealing with people. Immigration Consulting is a profession where you get to help people and directly influence their lives. As an immigrant myself, I understand the value of having access to honest and candid immigration advice and getting support when one first comes to Canada.
What advice do you have for people starting out in Immigration Consulting?
First of all, you have to believe in what you are doing and understand who you’re doing it for. You cannot go into immigration only thinking about money, because immigration is about people’s lives. Your product is your service, and you are helping people fulfill their dream after arriving to Canada.
I think an important quality for immigration consultants is to have strong people skills. You have to be able to understand why people want to come to Canada. Of course, there are many different reasons; but you have to identify the reason that stands out for a person above anything else and provide them with guidance and help them achieve the things they want to achieve. There are many ways you can help the person. As an immigration consultant, you need to find the best option for your clients within the framework of immigration law.
Remember: as an immigration consultant, you can help people fulfill their dream, but you can just as easily shatter them. It is a big responsibility.
How can people get the best chance at passing the ICCRC Full Skills Exam?
When we talk about the ICCRC exam, just studying the Acts and Regulations is not enough. Of course the knowledge is important, but at the same time, remember that you are dealing with people. Every client is different, and you need to understand the client’s unique needs before making decisions, be it during the exam or in real-life practice.
The regulations are just words – you need to go beyond the words and interpret the reason for the regulations and their meaning.
Any advice for people planning to immigrate to Canada?
No matter how beautiful Canada appears to be prior to immigration, when you arrive – it’s a totally different picture. It is not all perfect: for instance, Canadian employers often don’t recognize other countries’ credentials; and the first question they ask is “do you have any Canadian experience?” You may have relevant or excellent international experience, but under the current Canadian system it may not be enough. Even if you have an MBA or PhD – sometimes this doesn’t even count. That’s the kind of hurdle that people have to go through as a new immigrant. This has deterred many new immigrants, and many have returned to their former countries because of it.
Coming here, you also have to be mentally prepared that you are coming to a new country, which quite often means opening a new chapter in life. You should forget what you’ve done in the past and focus on the skills that you need to build your status from scratch.
On top of that, you have to be able to mix with people here in Canada. The typical tendency is for many immigrants, if they can’t find a job they want to do, try to cling together in small communities that are isolated from everyone else. Of course, having support groups is important, but you have to remember that in this situation, you are not learning much about Canadian culture and the Canadian way of life. New immigrants need to learn to get out there and integrate into the Canadian society, experience new things. That’s the key to adjusting to a new culture, a new environment.
ICCRC Exam Prep Course
Ashton’s ICCRC Exam Prep course has helped numerous individuals prepare for the ICCRC Full Skills exam.
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