The Differences Between an RCIC and a Canadian Immigration Lawyer

If you’re planning to immigrate to Canada, chances are you’ve heard the words “Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC)” and “immigration lawyer”. You may be familiar with these terms but what do they mean and what’s the difference?

The purpose of both these services is to help you with the Canada visa application process and make sure that the application is done correctly. So which one do you need? Let’s have a look at the differences between an RCIC and a Canadian immigration lawyer.

Main Differences Between RCICs and Canadian Immigration Lawyers

Services provided

When it comes to practicing immigration law, a Canadian immigration attorney and a consultant can offer most of the same services but there are some differences.

An immigration consultant acts as an advisor and is authorized to provide legal services in immigration and refugee matters.

A lawyer can advise you concerning your immigration and also offer representation before a judge should it be necessary.


Lawyers in Canada are licensed and regulated by The Law Society of Upper Canada. A Canadian immigration attorney will have specialized in Canadian immigration law after studying. 

Immigration consultants do not attend law school and generally complete a one-year certification in order to become registered.

Immigration consultants are specifically trained in immigration and refugee law, which means that they are not trained to give advice in any other areas of the law. 

What is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC)?


A Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) is an authorized immigration and citizenship representative, who is hired to evaluate your visa application and submit it on your behalf.  An RCIC must be a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC).

RCICs walk applicants through the visa application process which can be complicated to tackle alone. They then provide you with a beneficial strategy for your particular visa options.

Immigration involves paperwork and deadlines that can be overwhelming. An RCIC takes care of this for you. Authorized consultants can get your application submitted correctly the first time around, making sure that your application stands a better chance of being approved.

There are over 100 visa options available. An RCIC will be able to give you advice on choosing an immigration option that suits your personal needs and goals.

Check if your RCIC is authorized

While RCICs are very helpful and are great to work with on your immigration journey, you also need to be aware of platforms that claim to have RCICs who are in fact not qualified and seek to run scams.

If you are considering using an RCIC to help you with your Canada visa application, it is important to make sure that you are working with a legitimate consultant. Here’s how to check.

All authorized citizenship or immigration consultants must be a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants.

Simply type in the name or identification number of the RCIC you are working with. If their name appears there, they are authorized.

What is an Immigration Lawyer?


A Canadian immigration attorney can perform various duties. They advise clients on the process of obtaining permanent residence, work permits, study permits, and reuniting family once eligibility has been assessed.

They identify the reasons why a foreign national may not be permitted entry to Canada and advise on eligibility, Where applicable, they may provide advice on options to overcome challenges that may be barring you from entering Canada such as criminal inadmissibility issues for example.

Immigration lawyers also work with people who wish to sponsor a family member. They help them understand the steps required to sponsor a loved one, such as:

  • whether they are eligible for permanent residence status in Canada (an area of law that changes frequently)
  • which tests immigration officers use to assess whether an individual may be granted entry to Canada

Check if your immigration lawyer is authorized

As with RCICs, it’s also important to make sure that you are working with a legitimate Canadian immigration lawyer.

Both a RCIC and a Canadian immigration lawyer need to be members of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants, so you can search the same website to check if your immigration lawyer is authorized. Here’s how to do it in three simple steps:

  1. Visit the the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants website
  2. Fill in the details of your immigration lawyer; either the RCIC number, company name or place
  3. Click “search”

As a result, you will get the details of the immigration lawyer you have searched if they are authorized. If the lawyer’s name or company name does not appear, they are not a legitimate immigration lawyer.

5 Benefits of Using an RCIC

Having an RCIC helping you through the application process has many benefits. We’ve outlined some for you. Here are five reasons why you should use an RCIC when planning to immigrate.

1. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) know Canada’s visa system very well

RCICs are trained in their field and it’s their job to stay up to date with the latest policy changes in regard to Canadian immigration. These policies can be complicated to navigate by yourself. You can be assured that you are working with someone who is knowledgeable on the matter and who will provide you with good advice.

2. The RCIC can communicate with the Canadian immigration authorities and your employer on your behalf

Contacting a governmental department such as an embassy or consulate can be a time-consuming and difficult process. Working with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant can take this worry off your shoulders. The RCIC will do this for you and make sure that your application meets the requirements of the Canadian immigration authorities. This will significantly increase your chances of having your application approved.

4. Personalized immigration strategy created for you

The RCICs we work with know the Canadian immigration system extremely well. However, that's not all. They will also tailor the advice they give to your needs. You can trust tour affiliated RCICs to advise you on how to proceed with your application based on your needs and the goals you want to achieve.

5. All your paperwork is taken care of

Submitting all your documents can be a difficult and confusing process. You may also be worried about completing application forms correctly. An RCIC will take care of this for you. You don’t have to worry about being burdened with hours of paperwork. You can rest assured that your application is in good hands and being worked through by a qualified consultant.

6. Save Valuable Time

The process of immigrating is time-consuming so having someone by your side who is qualified to help you is extremely beneficial. You don’t have to be stuck with paperwork or other lengthy procedures involved in the visa application process. Working with an RCIC takes care of the stressful and time-consuming part of the immigration process.


1. Who regulates immigration consultants in Canada?

The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants licenses and regulates the practice of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) and Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) in the public interest.

2. How many registered immigration consultants are there in Canada?

The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants currently regulates approximately 3,600 Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants in Canada and abroad.

3. How do you become a regulated immigration consultant?

As of 2020, anyone who wants to become a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant must earn a graduate diploma in immigration and citizenship, then pass the Entry-to-Practice Exam offered by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.

4. Why do you need an immigration consultant?

While it is not a requirement to use a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), there are many benefits of using an RCIC.

Being advised and guided through your application process can make the process much easier as well as increase your chance of being approved.

The most important benefit of working with an immigration consultant is that they look out for your best interests.

You always have someone on your side, trying their best to get your application approved and helping you achieve your goals. Immigration can be a difficult process if you do it by yourself.

5. How much does it cost to use a Canadian immigration lawyer?

Average cost of different Canadian Immigration Lawyer services
Type of service Highest average price (in total) Lowest average price (in total)
work permit $8,000 $3,000
student visa $5,000 $3,000
permanent residence application $7,500 $1,000
Canadian citizenship (naturalisation) $4,000 $2,000
Asylum appeal $3,500 $2,000
Residency obligation appeal $15,000 $10,000

6. How much does it cost to use an RCIC?

If you’re using an RCIC, the cost varies depending on the company you use.

Now you know more about the differences between a RCIC and a Canadian immigration lawyer, and the importance of using these services. While it’s recommended to use an RCIC to help you apply for your Canada visa, each immigration case is different and you have the freedom to choose the best route for you.