Canada is experiencing an immigration boom. We are attracting hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year and that trend is expected to continue well into the future.
This boom has generated very strong demand for skilled immigration professionals. These are the experts who help applicants secure visas to study, work, and settle in Canada.
The industry includes immigration lawyers, immigration consultants, and immigration case managers. Each has a different role to play in assisting clients, and each has different training requirements.
Are you considering a career in immigration, but don’t want to become a lawyer? Immigration consultant or immigration case manager are both excellent alternatives.
But you need to understand the key differences between these roles. Immigration consultants and immigration case managers often work closely together—but their jobs are totally different.
Here's everything you should know about these two immigration career paths.
1. Job Description & Responsibilities
Immigration Consultant: A Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) provides expert immigration advice and services to clients.
They help eligible people understand and navigate Canada’s complex immigration laws. This includes selecting the right visa programs, preparing applications, and helping clients appeal denials of admission.
RCICs work with international students, skilled workers, refugees, families seeking to reunite, and other people hoping to settle permanently in Canada.
Most importantly, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant is a licensed professional. They are held to high standards of professional conduct and are governed by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC).
Immigration Case Manager: An Immigration case manager supports the work of an immigration consultant or lawyer. They help manage the caseload by performing administrative tasks, such as:
- Working with clients to complete immigration application forms
- Doing legal research
- Communicating with clients on the status of their file
- Preparing immigration applications for submission to the government
- Helping to write submission letters
- Collecting and organizing supporting documents
- Managing submission deadlines
Immigration case managers specialize in immigration rules, procedures, and documents. The work they do helps lawyers and consultants focus more on strategy and serve clients better.
Immigration consultant and instructor Cassandra Fultz points out the fundamental difference between consultants and case managers, and how the two work together:
“An Immigration consultant focuses on determining a client’s eligibility to immigrate to Canada, developing an immigration strategy, and interpreting the law to instruct clients.
An immigration case manager is responsible for moving the file forward so that the application can be submitted and the client can achieve their goal. They provide assistance with documents, deadlines, and client communications.”
2. Licensing & Liability
Immigration Consultant: In Canada, immigration consultants must earn a licence to legally offer their services to clients.
Getting licensed starts with completing a training program that is approved by the CICC. Then, candidates must complete a challenging licensing exam. They must also pay annual licensing fees, complete ongoing professional development, and adhere to a code of conduct and ethics.
As licensed professionals, immigration consultants are legally liable for the services they deliver. If they break rules set out by the law society or the CICC, they will face disciplinary action.
Immigration Case Manager: Immigration case managers are not regulated in Canada. You do not need a licence to become an immigration case manager.
3. Career Options
Immigration Consultant: Most immigration consultants choose to join or start a private practice. They set up shop as immigration experts, often focusing on a particular area of the industry.
For example, some consultants specialize in study permits, sponsorship refusals, denied entry, or detentions. Others are generalists who handle everything from work permits and family sponsorship to applications for citizenship and permanent residency.
Immigration Case Manager: Most immigration case managers work in the offices of immigration consultants and lawyers. They are employed by immigration law firms and consulting businesses across the country.
Other career options include working for:
- Non-profit groups
- Settlement agencies
- Any company with a Global Mobility Specialist or in-house immigration counsel
4. Training Requirements
Immigration Consultant: Immigration consultants must complete a graduate diploma program. The program is only offered at two universities in Canada:
- Queen’s University Faculty of Law (English program)
- Université de Sherbrooke (French program)
The program takes about 12 months to complete.
Immigration Case Manager: Immigration case managers can complete their training at a private or public college.
Herzing’s Immigration Case Manager program is available at the Toronto and Ottawa campuses, as well as online. It takes nine months to complete.
Training includes a five-week internship at a law firm or immigration consultant business.
Which career path is right for you?
There are pros and cons to choosing either career path. For example, immigration consultants have to complete expensive training and licensing—but they have the power to start their own business and determine their own earning potential.
Immigration case managers can complete their training much faster and at a lower cost—but they cannot get licensed and open their own consulting firms.
Cassandra Fultz (managing partner of Doherty Fultz Immigration) highlights a few other key points to consider when making your decision.
“By the time they graduate and get their licence, immigration consultants have a lot of legal knowledge, but not many practical skills. It takes them time to attract clients, build a practice, and establish a good track record. It’s much harder than most people realize.
On the other hand, immigration case managers graduate with a wealth of practical skills. They are totally prepared for work right after training. This is why skilled case managers are highly sought after. I’ve been working with mine for 10 years and would be totally lost without her!”
trying to decide on an immigration career path?
A Herzing College admissions advisor can help you make an informed decision. An advisor will discuss your goals, guide you through our diploma program, and explain career options, financial aid, and application requirements.
Click below to explore the Immigration Case Manager program and chat live with an advisor. We’re here to help!