If you are looking into a career as a Canadian Immigration Consultant, you need to meet a few requirements, such as being a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, taking an accredited Immigration Consulting program, and having the necessary language proficiency. After you finish these requirements, you are eligible to become a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) by passing the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) Full Skills exam.
Immigration Consulting is a very rewarding field: after all, you have an opportunity to change people’s lives by helping them find a new home in Canada. At the same time, being an immigration consultant is not an easy task. Canadian consultants need to not only know the Canadian immigration law and continuously keep up with its updates and changes, but also need to be in a good standing with the regulating body, ICCRC.
The first step to getting the ICCRC accreditation and becoming a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant is passing the ICCRC Full Skills Exam (FSE). If this is making you nervous – you are not the only one. After all, you would need to demonstrate not only the factual knowledge of the immigration law but also an ability to apply that knowledge in different client situations. This means that you really need to be prepared for the exam! Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the FSE and set your expectations on track.
Know the Exam Format
ICCRC Full Skills Exam is a 3-hour-long multiple choice exam. Each question is comprised of a scenario-based situation, and your goal is to choose the best suitable answer in accordance with the Canadian immigration law. The exam is open-book, but don’t count exclusively on that. After all, textbook materials can help you when you are in doubt or need to confirm a clause, but they will not be helpful if you don’t know your material at all.
- When writing the exam, keep the time limit in mind. It is too easy to fall prey to the desire to scan the textbook for an answer and waste precious time. Remember: it is always better to skip the questions you are uncertain about and come back to them later, once you’ve gone through the entire exam.
- Focus on understanding, not memorizing. You definitely need to know all the different concepts and terms, but you also need to know how to apply them in a given context.
- Ask more questions during your Immigration Consulting program, and ask for extra examples from your instructors. This way you will get the most from your program: knowledge of the law combined with the ability to think on your feet and apply what you know to hypothetical client situations.
Focus on the Major Review Topics
ICCRC publishes a study guide that helps you prepare for the FSE. The guide describes several major sections that exam-takers need to focus on. The latest study guide for RCICs was published on February 1, 2017, outlining the following focus areas for 2017:
- Appeal/ Hearings,
- Application of Immigration and Refugee Court Ruling,
- Business Class,
- Code of Professional Ethics (ICCRC),
- Detention Reviews,
- Economic and Family Classes,
- Humanitarian and Compassionate,
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP),
- Quebec immigration,
- Residency Obligations/Citizenship,
- Temporary Resident Class.
Check out the latest study guide for RCICs for more information and further breakdown. Please remember that the study guide from ICCRC is “not intended to serve as an independent preparation tool”, as you are expected to have learned the materials through your immigration practitioner program, as well as other preparation programs and/or resources. This guide only provides focus areas for review before you take the exam.
- As an immigration consultant, you need to be up-to-date with the changes in the immigration law. However, ICCRC has a 90-day cutoff date for the exam questions, which means that the changes made up to 3 months before the FSE will not be on the exam.
- Access the latest version of the ICCRC Code of Ethics to make sure you stay up-to-date: there will be about 5-7 questions on ethics, deadlines and calculations.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Preparation
Even if you excelled in your Immigration Consulting program, you should not underestimate the power of preparation. Take a look at the sample questions from ICCRC and make sure you know how to reply to those. If you want to have access to more sample questions or are looking for a refresher before you take the exam, taking an ICCRC Full Skills Exam Prep course can be beneficial for you. You can also practice with your colleagues or classmates by testing each other on different terms, or by discussing various real and/or hypothetical immigration cases. Do whatever helps you study, but remember: practice is what will help you prepare, both for the FSE and for your future as an immigration consultant.
- The goal of an accredited Immigration Practitioner program is not to prepare you for the ICCRC Full Skills Exam: it is to equip you to become the best immigration professional you can be. That in itself is a difficult task, considering how complex immigration law can be. Therefore, you may need to do further study and preparation to make sure you are ready for the FSE.
- As nervous as the exam can make you feel, try to spread out your study time and not pull all-nighters right before the exam. Going into the exam tired will not help you write it better. Plan ahead and make sure you have some rest right before the exam!
The last thing you want to happen is being turned away at the exam doors (you’ll be surprised, but it happens more often than it should). Make sure you bring an original government-issued photo identification, as well as two separate full-colour copies of that ID. Remember that provincial health cards are not accepted!
- Although it is an open-book exam, make sure you go through the list of permitted exam materials and are aware of what the unauthorized materials are.
- Make sure you plan to come to the exam early! This allows you to account for potential transit delays and gives you an opportunity to check in early. If you miss the exam, you will have to pay the fee to retake it!