What’s the Difference between an Immigration Consultant or Lawyer

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What’s the Difference between an Immigration Consultant or Lawyer

When searching online for the difference between immigration lawyers and immigration consultants, you’ll find various opinions. It’s no surprise that when an opinion is written by a lawyer, it favours lawyers over consultants. When written by a consultant, it favours consultants. It’s a given one promotes its own profession over another, especially when they are in competition for business.

When I am asked this question, I am always happy to answer it. Given our firm is a combination of lawyers and consultants, my answer is somewhere in between. Yes, there is a slight difference of what services they can offer. However, for most immigration cases, the critical question is not what profession is better, but what individual is the most professional, trustworthy and has the relevant experience and knowledge for your case.

Here are the two main differences between the lawyer and consultant profession:

  • Services: When it comes to practicing immigration law, lawyer and consultants can offer most of the same services. Lawyers however can represent a client in federal court for complicated cases, whereas a consultant can only go up to the appeal tribunal level when there is an issue with an application.
  • Education: Lawyers graduate from law school, having studied various areas of law over a three year period, plus articling with a firm and writing the bar exam. They typically specialize in two or three areas once they graduate. In contrast, consultants do a 6 to 12 month course specifically on immigration law, and write a national exam. Both programs have a prerequisite of university.

For complicated cases, it’s crucial the applicant has a lawyer or consultant who can provide proper representation. When it is possible the application could go to the federal court, having a lawyer from the beginning of the process (at submission) may be a wise idea. Keep in mind that while consultants cannot go to the federal court, not all lawyers are interested handling these type of cases either.

Furthermore, education is only part of the equation to being a qualified lawyer or consultant. Experience and ability to interpret and apply the law are extremely important. To say all lawyers or all consultants are more experienced than the other is false. Both lawyers and consultants must start somewhere when they enter their profession. They equally find their own niches as well. One lawyer may be an expert at family sponsorships, whereas a consultant may be more experienced with temporary foreign workers. There are over 60 immigration programs. It’s hard for any professional to be an expert in all.

Regarding fees, both consultant and lawyer fees can range among their own peers and between professions. It is true that often immigration consultants charge less for some cases than a lawyer would, but not always. We’ve seen both lawyers and consultants fees range between $8,000 – $10,000 at one firm, and $3,000 to $5,000 at another, for the same service. Our recommendation is to do your research. Get a sense of what the market rate is.

At the end of the day, it’s your future in Canada. Choose a professional, whether it is a lawyer or consultant, that you feel is right for you. Ask about their experience. Meet them in person or on skype when possible. Read client reviews and testimonials. Know their fees. You want someone who is professional, experienced and trustworthy. Remember, you could have a great or bad experience with either an immigration lawyer or consultant.

At Bell Alliance, we have a combination of lawyers and consultants. Our lawyers are experts in Real Estate, Estate Planning and Corporate Law. While they are sometimes involved in an immigration case, its our regulated immigration consultants who work intimately with our clients on immigration matters. Our lawyers and consultants collaborate with and support each other, which in turn gives our clients confidence that all their legal matters can be taken care of under one roof. As a team, we offer clients a one-stop shop for their individual, family and business needs – immigrating to Canada, buying their first home, re-doing their wills or setting up or expanding a business.


Author: Heather Bell

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How To Work In The Trades in Canada

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If you have worked in a skilled trade outside of Canada and would like to be employed in British Columbia, it is possible to have your work experience and education recognized and receive a certificate for your previous trades experience. Trades is a growing industry in BC and there are hundreds of jobs available for people who have the correct certification. The future is bright for trades and the wages can be very good as well.

The Industry Training Authority  (ITA) does offer ‘challenge exams’ for most trade occupations. These challenge exams are available for persons who have worked outside of Canada and had most of their training in another country.

The following steps will explain the procedures a foreign trained person will need to take to become certified to work in their trade in British Columbia.

Step 1 – Visit the website Industry Training Authority and do a search for your trade.

Step 2 – On the page which features your trade there will be a heading for “Challenge Exam”.  In this section you will need to complete an application form and pay the fee of $120.

As part of your application you will need to have any previous employers you have worked for state the amount of hours that you were employed and the employer will need to write in detail the tasks you did at the job. You will also be required to list your educational background.

Step 3 – Next step is an assessor at ITABC will contact your previous employers, confirm your tasks at your previous jobs and training. The fee for this is $120 and can take 3 – 6 months depending on how complex it is to get documents and emails translated to another country.

Step 4 – Then once the assessor has completed the appraisal,  there is a one year period to write the challenge exam and the fee for the test is $120. It is possible to write the exam three times within one year. If the applicant has still not passed the exam after three tests, then there will be an additional fee of $100 to write the exam again.

Step 5 – Once the exam has been passed then the person will be granted a certificate in their trade and can start working in the occupation.

For more information and help with your questions about foreign credential recognition in BC. The Industry Training Authority can provide additional assistance:  http://www.itabc.ca/

There are other trades that require certification through a specific regulatory body i.e. crane operators, electricians, gas fitters, blasters, etc. A complete list can be found here: http://www.tilma.ca/pdf/BCRegulatoryAuthorities.pdf

The trades in British Columbia is a growing industry with an exciting outlook and long term steady employment. There is a path available for foreign trained persons to work and be prosperous in this thriving sector.

For more information, please contact us.

Or Find out if you qualify

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Season’s Greetings from Bell Alliance Group

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        Looking for Holiday Activities in Vancouver?

              We suggest…

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Hire an Immigration Consultant or Do It Yourself ?

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Bell Alliance Global Immigration Services Inc.  sat down with Francois of 2Vancouver.com to discuss whether applicants applying to immigrate to Canada should hire an immigration consultant or do it themselves. Bell Alliance Global would like to thank 2Vancouver for hosting! Here is the short interview with Heather Bell and Pablo Martinez talking about the role of immigration consultants and lawyers in Canada.

For more information: Should I Hire an Immigration Consultant?


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The changes to Canada’s Immigration over the past decade

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For the past decade, there has been an ongoing consistent need for immigrants in Canada. This need is in large part due to the aging population and Canada’s inability to fill labour shortages. Without immigration, Canada’s economy could experience difficulties.

Since 2003, there have been several changes to Canada’s Immigration system. Ten years ago the focus was more on permanent immigration and today Canada’s Immigration policy is centered around a higher number of temporary foreign workers. Typically these workers will work in jobs that locals will not do. The number of migrant workers in Canada in the past ten years has tripled from 101,100 to 300,210.

In 2013, there are a number of programs which these temporary foreign workers can obtain permanent immigrant status in Canada. The Canada Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Programs (which each Province will have their own unique program). These two programs provide migrant workers in Canada who have accumulated local work experience with the option to stay in Canada on a permanent basis.

During the time of 2002 and 2011, all provinces and territories, not including Ontario, saw their immigration numbers increase — Manitoba’s immigration increased three times in numbers, Alberta saw their immigration numbers double, Saskatchewan’s numbers increased five times and the highest immigration increase occurred in Prince Edward Island with their immigration numbers increasing 17 times.

Ontario immigration numbers declined, this is in large part due to the manufacturing sector experiencing losses and the other provinces being very active to recruitment newcomers. Ontario, numbers dropped from 133,600 to 99,500.

The result of the increasing number of ‘economic’ class of immigrants has been reflected in the numbers of newcomers being admitted to Canada, The numbers have grown from 137,860 to 156,120 over the past ten years. The category that has experienced a decrease are immigrants arriving under the family reunification class. These numbers have decreased from 62,300 to 56,450.

Ten years ago immigration from China and India was strong. Now, there is a shift to the Philippines as the highest number of newcomers. To escape the high unemployment in their home countries recently the skilled Irish, French and British have been arriving to Canada.

Other changes which have occurred over the past decade, are a greater value being placed on employment and the ease of integration people can make to start their new life in Canada. This includes a greater importance on language skills and younger skilled workers being able to contribute to the job market quickly.

Evaluation of a person’s previous education has changed in the past ten years. Currently, a person applying for immigration to Canada must have their  education reviewed and obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) of their completed foreign educational credentials.

Over the past ten years, there has been an increased focus on filling the gaps in the labour market in Canada. Now, there are specific eligible occupations for Federal Skilled Worker applicants. Previously, the skilled worker immigration program placed more importance on work experience and education and now in 2013, the Canadian government has to be certain that the newcomers who arrive to Canada will be able to work in jobs where employers are unable to find workers.

Looking back over the past decade, the focus of Canada’s immigration policy has shifted from seeking highly educated professional to skilled workers who will be able to make a strong contribution to the work force in the shortest amount of time.


Written by Sacha DeVoretz, blog contributor to Bell Alliance Global Immigration Services Inc.

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Apply as Engineering Manager under Federal Skilled Worker Program

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The federal skilled workers program is still open and accepting applications.

Are you an engineering manager, still can apply.

These are the general requirements to apply as Engineering Manager for Permanent Residency in Canada.

–          Bachelor Degree in Engineering

–          Extended experience in managing /supervising engineering areas/departments.

–          IELTS score of 6 en all the categories.

–          Have your degree assessed/evaluated

–          Have enough funds according the following table.


Family Members

Funds required (CAN)













7 or more



Contact us for more info info@bellallianceglobal.com


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Labour Market Opinion (LMO) Facts – An Overview!

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Note: the Labour Market Opinion is now being transformed to the new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), to check out for more details regarding this change, see: New Labour Market Impact Assessment

If you’re looking for a job opportunity in Canada, you may have heard about the Labour Market Opinion (LMO). What exactly is a LMO? Do you and your employer need a LMO for your prospective job offer?  Let’s review the facts about the Labour Market Opinion.


A LMO is an application made by Canadian employers for an “Opinion” from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to confirm that “reasonable efforts” to recruit Canada citizens or permanent residents for the position(s) have been made and that there are no qualified, willing and able Canada citizens or permanent residents for the position(s).


The purpose of the LMO is to ensure that there really is a shortage of Canadians or permanent residents willing and able to do the job, and therefore that hiring a temporary foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market.


If the job offer is genuine and if the employment of the foreign national is likely to have a neutral or positive effect on the labour market in Canada. The Approval of a LMO comes in the form of a “Confirmation” from Service Canada. Although a foreign national may be identified on the Labour Market Opinion, the confirmation pertains to the Job position, not the foreign national. When the LMO application approved, employer will receive a positive LMO. This LMO is provided to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and communicated to the employer.


What if I got a “Neutral” LMO? HRSDC/Service Canada determine whether the entry of a TFW would likely have a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market. This wording was intended to emphasize the benefits to employers of having access to TFWs, in contrast to the former approach which emphasized the negative impact (e.g. the focus was on potential loss of job opportunities for Canadians). Whether a decision is based on an assessment that the impact is positive or neutral, the outcome is the same in practical terms: a positive LMO is issued.


Work permits exempt from an LMO

There are some regulatory authorities to issue a work permit to a worker who does not require an LMO. Including :


  • Workers covered under international agreements:Professionals, traders, investors and business people coming to Canada to work under certain international agreements.
  • Participants in exchange programs:People whose employment in Canada will provide similar employment to Canadians abroad, such as participants in youth exchange programs, teacher exchange programs or other reciprocal programs.
  • Spouses
    • Spouses and common-law partners of certain foreign students who are studying full-time.
    • Spouses and common-law partners of certain skilled foreign workers.
  • Workers, their spouses/common-law partners or their dependents who are eligible for a work permit through an active pilot project
  • Workers nominated by a province for permanent residence:A person who has been nominated by a province for permanent residence and has a job offer from an employer based in that province.
  • Entrepreneurs and intra-company transferees:Some types of entrepreneurs, workers transferring within a company, and other types of workers who will provide significant benefit to Canadians or permanent residents by working in Canada.
  • Academics and students: Certain academics and students.
  • Co-op students: Foreign students who are studying in Canada and who need to do co-op work placements as part of their program of study.
  • Religious workers: People doing charitable or religious work.
  • Others: Certain people who need to support themselves while they are in Canada for other reasons such as the refugee determination process.

As of April 29th 2013, the government introduced several changes to the Labour Market Opinion Process. Check our Blog to see Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program .


Tips for Applying for an LMO

If applying for an LMO, here are some tips:

  • Plan as far in advance as possible when hiring temporary foreign workers. Do a needs assessment to determine if you will need to hire in the next 6 to 12 months.
  • Apply for the LMO ASAP! Once you identify a need, even if it’s not for several months, start the LMO process. It can take 2-3 months for HRSDC to make a decision on an LMO.
  • Recruit more than the minimum. Employers must recruit for at least 14 days. Don’t just meet the minimum. Recruit longer and on more sites than what HRSDC requires.
  • Once an application is submitted, be prepared for a call from HRSDC. HRSDC will contact the employer in most cases and expect the employer to respond immediately to their voice message or email. If an employer fails to respond within days, HRSDC may refuse the application.

For more information and the application for a LMO, please contact us.

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Bell Alliance at ExpoPlaza Latina – February 7th 2013

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Bell Alliance will be attending ExpoPlaza Latina on Thursday February 7th 2013 at SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver. As well as attending, Bell Alliance is a proud main sponsor of the event and Richard Bell will also be speaking on the expert panel for the discussion ‘How to fill the Labour Gap for Mining & Construction in Canada’.

In all, there are four panel discussions featuring speakers from the BC Government, US Government, GoldCorp Inc, Accenture, DFAIT, SFU Beedie School of Business, Peruvian Legal Network, and various CEOs of Latin American and sustainability companies.

Bell Alliance is excited about the potential of this event and the strength of the emerging Latin American markets. Latin America’s combined GDP grew by 14% in 2011 and represents an up-and-coming area of the world where expertise and business partnerships are in-demand.

Three of Latin America’s leading industries: mining, construction and green technology are the focus of ExpoPlaza Latina. If you are a professional in one of these industries, an investor or someone interested in international trade, this is a unique event that you must attend.

For more information, please go to www.expoplazalatina.ca or contact Andrew Jackson at andrewj@latincouver.ca (1-604-500-2930). 

ExpoPlaza Latina is also on Twitter at @ExpoPlazaLatina.

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Meet our Latin American Consultant: Immigrate to Canada / Inmigrar a Canadá

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We are excited to welcome our newest member to our team, Pablo Martinez, a regulated immigration consultant with years of experience helping his fellow Latinos move to Canada. Pablo is originally from Mexico and immigrated to Canada over 5 years ago. While working full-time as an Engineer in Vancouver, he devoted much of his free time helping friends, colleagues and family members to visit, study, work or move to Canada. It became a huge passion and he is now pursing this further by joining Bell Alliance Global as our Latin American Regional Manager.

Check out our latest video “Immigrate to Canada / Inmigrar a Canadá” and meet Pablo!

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Richard Bell founding member of Asian Real Estate Association Vancouver’s Chapter

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The Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) has formed a Vancouver Chapter. Richard Bell sits on the Board Committee and is one of the founding members of the Chapter. The purpose of AREAA is to promote an international networking community of professionals who work in the real estate industry and its related fields. The Vancouver Chapter will be hosting a launch event in January 2013. Stay tuned…http://areaa.org/vancouver/about.php








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