Use of representatives: Counselling applicants during interview

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Once applicants have designated a representative, IRCC staff should not

  • appear to suggest or solicit applicants to change or abandon their representative by asking them to sign another designation
  • solicit information from applicants concerning the fees paid to representatives, or how and why the applicant has retained a representative.

If an applicant is represented, the representation remains valid and should not be the subject of any counselling between the IRCC officer and an applicant unless the applicant revokes the representation in writing. If an applicant advises that the previous designated counsel no longer represents them, the proper course is to have the applicant complete the IMM 5476 form to revoke the previous representative and/or designate a new one.

Presence of counsel

Officers will usually conduct examinations, interviews and/or reviews in the presence of the person concerned (and counsel, where applicable).

Persons do not have a right to counsel at removal order determinations and eligibility determinations, unless they are detained. In all cases, however, persons must be given the opportunity to obtain counsel at their own cost.

In detained cases: Persons have the right to have a counsel of their choosing present during the interview. Officers must inform persons of their right to counsel prior to commencing the interview.

In released cases: Officers must inform persons of the possibility of retaining counsel prior to commencing the interview. They do not have the right to have counsel present during the interview. However, in the spirit of procedural fairness, officers should permit counsel’s presence. At any time during the interview, however, officers may require counsel to leave if they are of the opinion that such an action is warranted.

Note: Participation by counsel involves speaking on the client's behalf, presenting evidence and making submissions on the issues. Allowing counsel to participate does not mean that the Minister’s delegate is required to tolerate disruptive or discourteous behaviour by counsel. Where such conduct is encountered, the proceeding may be terminated.

For citizenship cases, the officer or citizenship judge should generally permit a representative or counsel to be present in the room during an interview or hearing, but may ask that person to leave in appropriate circumstances, such as where they are being disruptive, or their presence is unduly impeding the hearing or interview process.  The representative would generally not be allowed to assist or speak on behalf of the client during a citizenship knowledge test or language assessment, but generally representation is permitted when fairness dictates and the integrity of the process is not compromised.

Cases involving victims of abuse or neglect

When individuals report abuse, neglect or child abuse to IRCC, officers should advise them that this information may be disclosed to authorized representatives (for example, sponsors, other family members or friends, lawyers or consultants), unless this authorization is otherwise revoked. If an individual advises an officer they would like to revoke the authorized representative, the officer should ensure that the Global Case Management System (GCMS) is updated immediately.

Disclosure of personal information

The Use of a Representative (IMM 5476) form has two purposes:

  1. it designates a representative, and
  2. it gives authority to disclose an applicant’s personal information to that representative.

However, since the IMM 5476 gives authority to represent and disclose personal information concerning a specific application only, the form must be linked to a specific application.

If the applicant wants to disclose their personal information to an individual other than their representative, they should complete an Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual (IMM 5475) form.

Private versus group information sessions

Many representatives request private sessions in order to obtain information on "local office procedures." This is discouraged as it diverts resources from case processing.

Authorized representatives are members of professional organizations. These organizations provide updates on changes as well as information and training services to their members. Representatives should be advised to access the resources available to them (including the IRCC website).

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