Cassandra Fultz (RCIC) in her office at Doherty Fultz Immigration in Toronto, Ontario
Herzing College Toronto is very pleased to announce a brand new Immigration Assistant program. Training takes 9 months, including a 5-week internship at a law firm or immigration consulting business.
Demand for Immigration Assistants has been growing rapidly across Canada. We are welcoming record numbers of immigrants each year, which has spiked demand for immigration lawyers, consultants, and assistants.
What part does an Immigration Assistant play? What special skills do they have and where are they employed?
Cassandra Fultz is the ideal person to ask. Cassandra is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and Managing Partner of Doherty Fultz Immigration, a successful consulting firm in Toronto.
She helped design the curriculum for Herzing's new Immigration Assistant program and will be teaching the course this fall. Cassandra is also a Herzing graduate.
She completed her immigration consultant training at Herzing College Toronto in 2015, and returned as an instructor for the program several years later.
Cassandra has been working in the field of Canadian immigration for the past 11 years. She has a unique perspective on the industry, our new program, and career opportunities for Immigration Assistants.
Read on to meet Cassandra, explore the industry, and find out what to expect in class.
Q: What exactly does an Immigration Assistant do? Can you describe the role and responsibilities?
Cassandra: An Immigration Assistant is the glue that holds an immigration legal team together. Day to day, Immigration Assistants are responsible for some routine tasks like working with clients to complete application forms, and keeping clients updated on the progress of their file.
However, Immigration Assistants are also responsible for more specialized tasks. They perform legal research into case law and legal precedent, help to write persuasive arguments on clients’ behalf, and prepare immigration applications for submission to the government.
The role of Immigration Assistant is extremely important because it allows the legal representative on the file, such as the Immigration Consultant or Lawyer, to focus on their own responsibilities.
The end result is better service for clients and more application approvals. My own assistant has worked with me for ten years and I would be lost without her!
Q: What's the difference between a Law Clerk or Legal Assistant, and an Immigration Assistant?
Cassandra: The key difference is the Immigration Assistant's area of expertise, which is specifically focused on the procedures and regulations of Canadian immigration.
A Legal Assistant or Law Clerk could have experience and education in a variety of legal areas, such as real estate, litigation, or contract law.
However, like a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant or Certified Specialist in Citizenship and Immigration Law (Lawyer), Immigration Assistants are expected to have a certain depth of knowledge specialized in the field of Canadian immigration.
They occupy a special "niche" within the field of legal administration.
Q: Where can graduates of Herzing's Immigration Assistant program get hired?
Cassandra: Immigration Assistants work everywhere from the big immigration law firms in downtown Toronto to boutique immigration consulting firms in the Prairies.
The Canadian immigration legal industry is everywhere in Canada – every city in every province, and all the regions in between.
Not only is there a need for Immigration Assistants in the offices of Immigration Lawyers and Immigration Consultants, but also at not-for-profits, settlement agencies, and any company with a Global Mobility Specialist or in-house immigration counsel.
Successful graduates of Herzing's Immigration Assistant program will find a diverse range of job opportunities.
Q: Why are Immigration Assistants in such high demand? What is driving employment?
Cassandra: There has always been a shortage of professionals with direct knowledge and relevant education in the Canadian immigration field.
With Canada continuing to welcome hundreds of thousands of new immigrants every year, the industry just keeps getting bigger.
There are more Immigration Consultants and Lawyers than ever before. And as their practices grow, they need the support of knowledgeable Immigration Assistants to help manage the case load.
Q: What are the biggest differences between an Immigration Consultant and an Immigration Assistant?
Cassandra: An Immigration Consultant and Immigration Assistant work together very closely to deliver superior service to clients - but they have very different roles.
An Immigration Consultant’s responsibility focuses on determining a client’s eligibility to immigrate to Canada, developing an immigration strategy, and interpreting the law to instruct clients.
An Immigration Assistant’s focus is moving the file forward so that the application can be submitted and the client can achieve their goal.
The Immigration Assistant is responsible for corresponding with clients, managing deadlines, managing supporting documents, legal research, preparation of applications, and composition of cover letters to accompany clients’ applications.
Q: What’s the advantage of becoming an Immigration Assistant versus an Immigration Consultant?
Cassandra: There are several advantages to becoming an Immigration Assistant instead of an Immigration Consultant.
First of all, as of January 2021, only one law school in Canada will offer the Immigration Consultant training program. The cost of training has doubled to nearly $15,000, not including books or other materials. The cost of Herzing's Immigration Assistant program is approximately half that amount.
Also, upon graduation, it’s common for new Immigration Consultants to have a lot of legal knowledge but little practical skill. It takes time to attract clients, build a practice, and establish a good track record.
However, by the end of the Immigration Assistant program, graduates will have relevant legal knowledge and a wealth of applicable skills. They will be prepared to hit the ground running in any professional immigration environment. This makes them highly employable and sought after in the industry.
Finally, students in the Immigration Assistant program will have completed their classes, finished their internship, and be working in just 9 months.
By contrast, it takes Immigration Consultant students a full year just to complete the program. This does not include taking the licensing exam or getting registered with the ICCRC once they have passed the exam.
Overall, becoming an Immigration Assistant is faster, less expensive, and leads more quickly to employment.
Q: What practical skills will students will learn in Herzing's new Immigration Assistant program?
Cassandra: Students will learn a wide range of practical skills! These include:
- how to read the Annotated Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)
- how to research case law and legal precedent
- how to request and interpret refusal letters and officers’ notes
- how to format and compose submission letters
- how to complete immigration application forms
- how to build an immigration file in accordance with industry practice and regulations
- how to put together a variety of immigration and citizenship applications
Herzing students will also learn about the regulations that govern Immigration Representatives like Consultants and Lawyers, so they can better assist their colleagues.
Q: What kinds of assignments will students do in class to prepare for a real work environment?
Cassandra: The Immigration Assistant program is very hands-on. Students will draft a mock retainer agreement (client contract), draft mock emails to clients, complete a visitor visa application, and draft a mock submission letter.
They will also submit a mock case specific enquiry (correspondence with the government), submit a mock Access to Information request, interpret officers’ notes and complete a mock family sponsorship application.
That is just the tip of the iceberg! Our students learn how to prepare a wide range of immigration documents to a high professional standard.
Q: Do Immigration Assistants need to earn a license? Is the occupation regulated?
Cassandra: No, the occupation is not regulated and Immigration Assistants do not need a license. However, their actions and behaviour fall under the responsibility of the Authorized Representative (Consultant or Lawyer) who oversees their work.
If an Assistant does something which is prohibited by the Law Society or ICCRC, the Representative can face disciplinary action.
This is exactly why ethical practice and Law Society/ICCRC regulations are a substantial part of Herzing's Immigration Assistant program.
Q: What qualities are needed to become a successful Immigration Assistant?
Cassandra: This is such an excellent question because while skills can be taught, personal qualities are just as important to achieve success in this field!
Attention to detail is the number one quality needed to succeed as an Immigration Assistant. After this, a hunger for knowledge and strong desire to help others are paramount. This is what the field is really all about.
Learn more about the Immigration Assistant program
If you're interested in Herzing's Immigration Assistant program, your next step is to speak with Admissions.
An Admissions Advisor will guide you through application requirements, class schedules, start-dates, costs, and financial aid options.
An Advisor can also discuss your background and career goals, to help you decide if Immigration Assistant training is right for you.
Chat live with an Advisor right now. Or request more program information by email. Classes start soon! Reserve your spot today.