Candidates for immigration to Canada encouraged to perform due diligence on representatives
After this week’s news that two people are facing seven charges each for allegedly acting as unauthorized immigration consultants and committing fraud in Regina, Saskatchewan, individuals are being encouraged to ensure that their immigration representative has the proper authorization to act on their behalf.
A large number of individuals immigrating to Canada choose to hire an immigration lawyer or consultant to represent them to the authorities and/or offer advice throughout the process. Services may include the proper preparation and submission of documents and forms, as well as representation to the government of Canada and/or provincial governments on behalf of the client.
The latest case of immigration fraud
It is alleged that, between 2007 and 2013, the two Regina residents gave false job offer documents to foreign nationals. Officials claim the accused targeted people applying for permanent residence in Canada. If convicted, the individuals could be made to pay up to $100,000 in fines and could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
This incident is the latest in a series of cases of immigration fraud that have become public over recent months.
- In January, 2016, it was found that a man in Halifax, Nova Scotia had helped thousands pretend they were in Canada to get around citizenship rules.
- Last year, a man in Vancouver was found to have produced altered passports and fraudulent identities for up to 1,200 individuals.
- Earlier in 2015, three Toronto residents were charged with acting as unauthorized immigration consultants and providing false information to clients and government officials.
- Another Toronto resident was charged with defrauding more than $2.3 million from 600 prospective Filipino immigrants who had paid up to $10,000 each for assistance in coming to Canada as temporary foreign workers.
While law enforcement authorities have been successful in discovering cases of fraud such as those highlighted above, it is entirely possible that other unscrupulous individuals currently remain undetected. Therefore, individuals wishing to come to Canada on a permanent or temporary basis are encouraged to perform background checks on representatives who offer services, by asking the following questions:
Is this representative authorized to represent me?
Unless an individual is authorized to do so, it is illegal for him or her to charge another person for representation on a Canadian immigration file.
- Lawyers or notaries must be a member of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
- Citizenship or immigration consultants must be a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
- Paralegals (Ontario only) must be members of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The government of Canada states that “If they [the representative] are not members in good standing, you should not use their services.” Most law societies let you check online to see if a person is a member in good standing.
What is this representative’s track record?
Once it has determined whether the potential representative is authorized to represent them or offer advice, individuals interested in hiring a representative are encouraged to conduct research into that representative’s prior record in the field.
Is this job offer legitimate?
Some individuals posing as immigration representatives may send what appear to be job offers to people who have contacted them regarding immigration to Canada or work in Canada. Unfortunately, there have been many fraudulent schemes circulating on the internet, and scammers have been known to impersonate lawyers, companies, and even government officials. Individuals who receive job offers that they have reason to suspect may be fraudulent are encouraged to consult a third party, such as an authorized representative and/or the company in question directly, with regard to the job offer’s authenticity.
Ensuring safety, transparency and fairness
“Stories such as the one from Saskatchewan this week are disturbing, to say the least,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“People who wish to immigrate to Canada or come here on a temporary basis have made a major life decision that often involves uprooting a family or leaving a job abroad. They deserve honesty and fairness, which is the opposite of what these fraudsters provide.”