1. Simply Resubmit the Application
As simplistic as this might sound, merely resubmitting your immigration or citizenship application is often by far the least expensive and most effective way over overturning an adverse Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rejection. However, there are two important caveats to this principle.
First, if your application has been rejected because you have been found to be inadmissible, resubmission is not going to help you. You are going to need an appeal or judicial review. Checking the wrong box or forgetting to include information in an application, or having some underlying difficulty like a medical or criminal background issue, which leads to an IRCC finding the you're inadmissible to Canada, can't simply be cured by more paperwork once an IRCC officer has made a final decision against you.
Second, even if there is no final negative finding made against you, rather just a "you didn't qualify based on what you told us" decision, don't just resubmit the exactly the same forms with the same supporting material a second time. If you failed once, you're going to fail again. Even if you were unlucky enough to get an IRCC officer having an off day that first time, the next officer to review your application will look at the notes of the first officer, and then scrutinize your application for something new. Did you fix the problem answers or questions you totally missed answering? Have you included more compelling supporting documents?
Even if you don't need an appeal or judicial review, If you've tried and failed on the initial submission of an immigration or citizenship application, it's probably time to get a lawyer for the resubmission. An immigration and citizenship lawyer will be best placed to figure out what exactly went wrong the first time, if resubmitting is worth it, or if other remedies are needed, and exactly how to best resubmit to maximize the prospect of success a second time around.
2. Appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)
A large number of IRCC officer immigration and citizenship decisions unfortunately do not have a right of appeal to the IRB. Because who has, and does not have, a right of appeal can become such a complex legal question of statutory interpretation, it's advisable that you contact a lawyer for legal advice on your options, even if you're thinking of trying to do an IRB appeal yourself. You don't want to be put in the position of filing an IRB appeal, only to be told months later that the IRB has no jurisdiction over your issues, and that you should have sought leave to bring a judicial review application to the Federal Court where the very narrow 15 day window to have filed leave application to the court expired long ago.
Even though the IRB is a less formal place the Federal Court, it still has lots of rules of evidence and procedure that you need to be aware of if you're planning to seek help there. First is that you can't be late in filing your notice of appeal. Second, you need to be precise in explaining why you believe there was a legal error made by the IRCC in rejecting your immigration or citizenship application. Third, if your case does make it to an IRB hearing, you need to be prepared to present evidence (including witnesses and documents), as well as legal argument (including precedent caselaw and statutory references) as to why your argument should succeed.
We believe that not necessarily every initial application to the IRCC for immigration or citizenship needs a lawyer (though a lawyer would always maximize your prospects of success), but that the IRB is so much like a court, and the stakes are usually so high, that it is highly advisable to hire a lawyer for an appeal. We offer flat block fees for all IRB appeals, at the same rate for either Toronto or Montreal, so you can assess the value of having experienced legal representation to make the most compelling case possible for you.
3. Seek Judicial Review to the Federal Court
Unfortunately the IRB has quite limited jurisdiction and you might fall into one of those cases where an appeal to the IRB is not available. Or you might have already been to the IRB and failed. Either way, if you've got no statutory route of "appeal" left, your only choice is to head to the Federal Court for a "judicial review." A judicial review isn't quite like an "appeal," because in appeal you can usually argue any error of law or sometimes mixed fact and law, whereas for judicial reviews you usually need to argue that the decision being challenged was "unreasonable" which requires meeting a higher threshold to succeed.
The other problem with going to the Federal Court for immigration matters is that a political decision has been made to restrict the number of immigration cases proceeding to the Federal Court each year (unlike in all other challenges to Federal Government action) by requiring a two step process of first seeking "leave" (permission) of the court to bring a judicial review (which is a paper process), and then later filing and arguing the judicial review itself (which includes oral argument before the court) if leave is granted. Over 5000 people a year seek leave to bring immigration judicial reviews to the Federal Court, and only about 1 in 4 are granted. Though that still means over 1200 immigration cases are permitted to proceed annually on judicial reviews which is a healthy number that makes seeking leave worthwhile.
Only lawyers can provide representation in the Federal Court, and while representing yourself at the IRB might be possible (though is not advisable), self-reps at the Federal Court have even greater difficulty because of the even more complex rules and procedures. Thus we believe it is imperative that you retain legal counsel for any judicial review. Like the IRB, we offer flat block fees for any judicial review. Regardless of where in Canada a case originates, the Ottawa headquarters of the Federal Court can deal with it, and we find an earlier hearing date can often be obtained in Ottawa because that is where all Federal Court judges reside.