Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in Canada to know what is expected of you. You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in Canada to know what you need to do before you can legally launch your business.
You can start your business from a small town in Canada and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.
20 Steps on How to Start an Immigration Consulting Business in Canada
Table of Content
- Understand the Industry
- Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity
- Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
- Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services
- Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Understand the Industry
Players in the immigration consulting industry offer services relating to the legal status of individuals, including permanent residency and visa services. These services include submitting visa applications, providing visa advice, and preparing for and representing before a court of review authority in relation to visa applications and related matters.
Immigration lawyers and attorneys who are major players in this industry assist individuals in obtaining visas and gaining Canadian citizenship; defend the rights of immigrants; navigate issues of illegal immigration and assist businesses in understanding immigration issues in a global marketplace.
In spite of high levels of immigration in Canada, the growth experienced in the industry was stifled due to falling per capita disposable income and corporate profit, causing individuals and corporations to find alternatives to industry services. Nevertheless, revenue is expected to rise as post – recessionary conditions benefit corporate profit and stricter federal and state immigration laws are implemented.
The Immigration Consulting Firms cum Immigration Lawyers & Attorneys Industry is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in Canada. Statistics has it that the CBA Section has approximately 1,000 members practicing all areas of immigration law.
Their members deliver professional advice and representation in the Canadian immigration system to thousands of clients in Canada and abroad. The industry is projected to grow going forward and it is important to state that there are no establishments in this industry that has a lion market share.
One thing is certain about starting an immigration consulting firm in Canada, if you are able to conduct your market research and feasibility studies, you are more likely not going to struggle to secure clients because there are always individuals, and corporate organization who would want to hire your services from time to time.
Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of immigration consulting firms is not restricted to people who intend migrating from another country to Canada or from one country to another, but it is all inclusive.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your immigration consulting business, you should make it all encompassing. It should include expats who are looking towards migrating to work in Canada or Canadians who intend traveling out to work, families who want to visit Canada or Canadians who want to visit other countries for tourism; refugees, asylum seekers, spouse and children who want to re unite with their family members and students.
Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Most immigration consulting firms tend to operate a general immigration consulting business that involves every business activity or service that a standard immigration consulting firm is expected to offer. That is why it seems that there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, some immigration consulting firms may decide to major in some key or niche area such as;
- Providing legal advice on the ability to reside in Canada or country of their choice
- Collect and submit appropriate documentation to prove a case
- Help obtain documentations needed to legally reside within the country
- Obtain immediate access to citizenship in emergency situations
- Assist with citizenship tests
- Defend a person’s case to prevent him or her from being deported
- Handle family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrant visas, Diversity programs, Refugees and Asylees and other categories.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Surviving in the business world as an immigration consulting firm requires more than your expertise but also how to network with key people that matters especially within migrant communities. The level of competition in the immigration consulting industry to some extent depends largely the location of the business and of course the niche your business is offering. If you can successfully create a unique niche for your immigration consulting firm, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
For instance, if you are the only immigration consulting firm that specializes in handling family – sponsored immigrants, employment – based immigrant visas, diversity programs, refugees and asylees and other categories and also defend a person’s case to prevent him or her from being deported in your location, you are sure of monopolizing that aspect of the business; your competitors can even sub – contract jobs to you to help them deliver.
When it comes to immigration consulting firms, distance is never a barrier when competing for clients especially international students. What most potential migrants want is result, hence they are ready to hire immigration consulting firms no matter the part of the world they operate from as long as they have good track record and can deliver excellent results.
But over and above, there are several immigration consulting firms scattered all around Canada and in the cyber space. So, if you choose to start your own immigration consulting firm in Canada, you will definitely meet stiff competition.
Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Here are some of the most popular immigration consulting firms in Canada;
- CICS | Licensed Canadian Immigration Consultants, Vancouver
- Parsai Immigration Services
- Global Immigration Consultants
- INFO Immigration Centre for Application Inc.
- Bright Immigration
As an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking for a business that requires less stress and perhaps minimal startup capital to start, then you can consider starting an immigration consulting business. The cost of running an immigration consulting firm when compared to the turnover you get can be poles apart (this is applicable when you have been able to establish your feet in the industry).
Entrepreneurs that venture into immigration consulting can as a matter of fact start the business from their home and still make headway in the business. One thing is certain when it comes to immigration consulting business, you are sure of making profits when you successfully produce results that are measurable for an organization.
As a matter of fact, the cost of running the business process from start to finish could be restricted to the cost of making phone calls, transportation, internet subscriptions, PR and in some cases materials such as fliers and handbills et al. With that, it is easier to place a projection on the profits you are likely going to make if you are able to successfully secure a deal to handle immigration consultancy job for potential migrants.
Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to start from the scratch as against buying a franchise. First and foremost, before you can secure an immigration consultancy job or before migrants can hire your services, your profile will be scrutinized even if you are operating the franchise of a successful immigration consulting firm.
Besides it is expensive and perhaps difficult to come buy the franchise of an immigration consulting firm. Please note that most of the big and successful immigration consulting firms around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand.
It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success. If you decide to buy an immigration consulting franchise in Canada, here are some of the available companies you can choose from;
- Parsai Immigration Services
- Global Immigration Consultants
- INFO Immigration Centre for Application Inc.
Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own immigration consulting business in Canada, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established immigration consulting firms and the only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on small migrant communities and asylum seekers who can’t afford the high-end fees charged by well-established immigration consulting firms.
Other potential threats to note are unfavorable government policies, bad publicity and of course the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation.
Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity
If you choose to start your business in Canada, it is important to note that there are only four basic forms of business ownership or legal entity you can build your business structure on in Canada and they are the sole proprietorship, the partnership, the corporation and the cooperative.
You need not get confused on which will best suit your business idea as what you intend achieving, and the type of business you want to build are some of the key factors that will help you make a choice on a legal entity to choose for your business.
Having said that, here are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own immigration consulting firm in Canada, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Daniel Rose® Immigration Consulting
- Sure Travels® Immigration consulting firm
- Montreal Team® Immigration Consultancy
- James Leesha® Immigration Consulting Firm
- Molly Nelly® Immigration consulting firm
- Pro Serve® Immigration Consulting Group
- Hilton Justin™ Immigration Consulting
- Mike Marshall® Immigration Consulting Services Co.
- A to Z® Immigrations Consulting Services Firm
- Canadian Dream® Immigration Consulting Services Firm
- Tim Moore® Immigration Consulting Company
- All & Above™ Immigration Consultancy
Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In Canada, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own immigration consulting firm in Canada;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers compensation
- Building/Property insurance
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
You can contact the following leading insurance companies in Canada to purchase the needed insurance policies for your immigration consulting business;
- Intact Insurance
- TD Insurance
- Economical Insurance
- RSA Group
Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own immigration consulting firm in Canada, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection.
Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Aside from the results you produce, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some immigration consulting firms stand out. If you want to make an impact in the immigration consulting industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run an immigration consulting business;
- Certified Immigration Consultant
- The Immigration Specialist Paralegal Certificate
- Certified Immigration Forms Preparer
Please note that the higher your qualifications and experience, the easier it is for you to secure high profile immigration consultancy contracts from multinational organizations and institutions.
Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in Canada without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your immigration consulting business in Canada;
- Goods and Services Tax/ Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST)
- Business and liability insurance
- Council Permit
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting an immigration consulting firm business can be cost effective especially if you choose to run the business from your home, share office space with a friend or make use of a virtual office. Securing a standard office is part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital, but if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you may not need to source for fund to finance the business.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your immigration consulting business;
- Raise money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raise money from business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Immigration consulting firms and most services-based type of businesses require that you see physically with your clients hence it must be located in good location; a location that is prone to both human and vehicular traffic and a location that is at the epicenter of an immigrant community if indeed you want to attend to loads of clients.
The fact that you can operate your immigration consulting firm from your home does not mean that location has little influence on the success of the business. If you have taken your time to study the industry, you will realize that immigration consulting firms are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in a busy university cum business district; a place where student activities are at its peak.
It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor.
Having said that, these are some of the cities in Canada where you can locate your immigration consulting business;
- Toronto, Ontario
- British Columbia
- Calgary, Alberta
- Quebec City, Quebec
- Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
There are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized educational recruitment software and social media management software applications et al.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the immigration consulting firm you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard immigration consulting firm, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility.
As regards the employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), Immigration Lawyer, an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Marketing Executive, Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer, and Accountant.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 8 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard immigration consulting firm. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to hire experts to help you handle some high – profile immigration cases especially as it relates to court processes.
If you are just starting out, you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you which is why you should make plans to partner with other immigration experts that operate as freelancers.
The Service Delivery Process of an Immigration Consulting Firm
The way immigration consulting firm works varies from one agency to another, but ideally, an immigration consulting firm is expected to first build a robust company profile before sourcing for jobs; it will give them an edge over their competitors.
Basically, most immigration consulting firms welcome people who are interested in migrating from one country to another, get them to fill the required forms and submit all the needed documents and processing fees.
Thereafter, the firm will handle all aspects of immigration related services; such as assisting the applicant in obtaining visa or gaining Canadian citizenship, defend the rights of the immigrant, navigate the issues of illegal immigration and assist the organization in understanding immigration issues in a global marketplace.
Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
As an immigration lawyer/consultant in Canada, you would have to prove your worth before you can be awarded any contracts. So, if you have plans to start your own immigration consulting firm, it will pay you to build first build a successful career in the Immigration Consulting Service.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience in the Immigration Consulting Industry in Canada, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your immigration consulting service;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to multinational organizations, migrant communities, households and international students in Canada
- Advertise your business in relevant travel and tour magazines, radio stations and TV stations
- List your business on local directories / yellow pages
- Attend related expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing.
Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services
One key factor that will help you offer your immigration consulting services at a cheaper rate is to ensure that you incur high debt – payment burden or if possible start small without borrowing money. Another strategy that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name.
Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services. So also, if you are able to secure business partnerships as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The immigration consulting industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways of tackling challenges in the industry.
In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that your company is transparent and public figures especially in the migrant communities work as ambassadors for your firm; it will sure give you leverage.
Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always.
If your customers are satisfied with your service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers. If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your immigration consulting firm;
- Place adverts on immigration-based magazine and related newspapers, radio and TV stations.
- Encourage the use of word-of-mouth publicity from your loyal customers
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google+ and other platforms to promote your business.
- Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in and around your neighborhood
- Contact migrant communities, multinationals, and households et al by calling them up and informing them of your organization and the educational support services you offer
- Advertise your business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Brand all your official cars and ensure that all your staff wear your branded shirt or cap at regular intervals.