Filing a Complaint

Before filing a complaint against a GCES member with the Complaints and Discipline Department, check the GCES website to verify that the person is a member. If the person’s name is not listed as a GCES member and you can demonstrate that the person works with a GCES member, then a complaint may be filed against the member.

Complaints must be received in writing within 180 days (six months) of when you first became aware of the issue or issues. A complaint form is located on the GCES website and identifies the information required to facilitate the complaint process.

Intake Process

Upon receipt, the Complaints and Discipline Department Intake Officer will review the complaint to ensure that it is within GCES’s jurisdiction and raises allegations of professional misconduct contrary to the GCES Rules of Professional Conduct, Guidelines, and By-laws. In addition, the Intake Officer will review the complaint to ensure that the relevant documentation has been submitted to support the allegations made against the member. If additional information is required, the Intake Officer will contact the complainant to advise what is required and provide a timeline for response. Upon receipt of the required information, an assessment will be made as to whether the matter can be resolved at Intake, will be referred to another body, to investigation, or will be closed.

Third- Party Representative

Complaints are often filed by a person who is not the applicant in the immigration process. In certain circumstances, this person, who is identified as the third-party representative, will be allowed to act on behalf of the applicant where the applicant has provided written consent authorizing the third party to act on her or his behalf. The role of the third-party representative is to assist the applicant in the complaint and investigation process for example, by facilitating communication with GCES, rather than to assume the role of the complainant.

Early Resolution

A number of the complaints that are received relate to communication issues, fee disputes, transfer of client files and retention of client documents. Often, these are matters that can be resolved at the intake stage. Therefore, in certain circumstances the Intake Officer may be directed by the Manager to attempt an early and expeditious resolution to the issue that will be of benefit to both the client and the member. The complainant will be contacted and advised of the decision to attempt an early resolution of the matter.

Closure of a Matter at Intake

If the complaint and supporting documentation do not suggest that a GCES member may have engaged in professional misconduct, the file will be closed. Additionally, the file will be closed if the complainant fails to provide the documents, information, or authorizations requested by the Intake Officer in the timeline provided.

Where issues are raised that are outside the GCES jurisdiction or a matter is closed at the intake stage, complainants may be provided with alternatives depending on the nature of the complaint such as small claims court for the resolution of a fee dispute, referral to another regulatory body, or referral to the Police or Immigration Authorities of a respective country.

Communication with the Complainant

Every complaint received in the Complaints and Discipline Department is acknowledged in writing. Confirmation of receipt is sent to the complainant by e-mail and where an e-mail address has not been provided, by regular post. The complainant is provided with a file number. To ensure a timely response to inquiries, the file number must be referred to in all correspondence.

Once all the relevant documentation is received and the Manager makes a determination that the matter will be referred for investigation, notification of assignment for investigation will be sent to the complainant. This notification will include the name and contact information of the investigator assigned to the file.

Obligations of Complainant

GCES acts in the public interest and as such has carriage of a matter. The complainant’s role is that of a witness. Complainants do not direct the process. When a matter is referred to an investigation, complainants may be interviewed by the investigator and may be required to provide additional information. Consequently, the investigator will be in contact with the complainant as required. The investigator will determine the frequency of complainant contact and will apprise the complainant about the outcome of a matter. If the matter is referred to a hearing, the investigator will maintain ongoing contact with the complainant who may be called as a witness. Information about the matter will only be provided to the complainant or the authorized third-party representative.


The intake and investigation process is confidential. Administrative law requires that a member be provided with the complainant’s name and sufficient information concerning the allegations in order to provide a response. Therefore, anonymous complaints are not accepted. Complainants are required to respect the confidentiality of the process and to restrict communications concerning the complaint to the intake officer, an investigator assigned to the matter, and their representative if one has been appointed. Complainants are also expected to respect the integrity of the process and refrain from compromising or interfering with the investigation. The GCES CEO and Board of Directors are not involved in the complaints and discipline process and will not intercede on a complainant’s behalf. In addition, complainants are prohibited from publicizing, announcing, posting, and distributing any communications related to the filling, investigation, and disposition of a complaint, on blogs, discussion boards, websites, and other electronic, print, or broadcast media.


The length of time to resolve or close a complaint will depend on the nature of the complaint, its complexity and the seriousness of the regulatory issues. Many complaints are resolved or closed upon completion of the investigation by means of mediation, corrective action or disciplinary action by the Manager without the need to refer the matter to a hearing. If a matter proceeds to a hearing, additional time will be added to the length of the process.

Complaints Resolution Commissioner

Where the Manager makes a decision to take no action on a matter, the complainant may request a review of the decision within thirty days of the date of the Manager’s decision on the basis that new and relevant evidence pertaining to the original allegations is available that was not previously considered. The Complainant shall make written submissions to the Complaints Resolution Commissioner as to why the matter should be reconsidered.

Matters closed at the intake stage are not eligible for review.

Contact Information

Complainants are required to provide any change in contact information to the Intake Officer.