When you think of immigration fraud, most people tend to have an image of a shady character that is complicit in trafficking people into the country for illegal work or providing people with counterfeit documents.
Immigration fraud can be much more subtle than that with far reaching effects on both individuals and society as a whole. Some of these possible effects can be;
- Financial loss: Immigration fraud often involves money or fees paid by individuals seeking immigration to Canada. Fraudulent immigration consultants or lawyers may charge exorbitant fees, promising quick and guaranteed immigration, and then disappear with the money. Victims of immigration fraud may suffer significant financial loss, which can be devastating.
- Emotional trauma: Immigration fraud can cause emotional trauma to individuals and families who have invested their hopes, dreams, and resources into the immigration process. Victims of immigration fraud may experience feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and helplessness.
- Legal consequences: Immigration fraud is a serious crime in Canada and can result in legal consequences for both the perpetrator and the victim. Victims of immigration fraud may face deportation, removal from Canada, or ineligibility for future immigration applications.
- Undermining Canada’s immigration system: Immigration fraud can undermine the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and erode public trust in the system. It can also lead to delays in processing legitimate immigration applications and negatively impact the reputation of Canada as a welcoming and inclusive country.
- Exploitation of vulnerable individuals: Immigration fraud often targets vulnerable individuals, such as those with limited English or French language skills, lack of knowledge about Canadian immigration laws and policies, or those who are desperate to immigrate. These individuals may be exploited by fraudulent immigration consultants or lawyers who take advantage of their vulnerability and lack of information.
As a legitimate immigration company, we ourselves have been targets of fraudulent activity. Certain individuals or ‘ghost consultants’ use our details to lead people into thinking they are working for or with us. They often use our address or our company name on their social media page or they will use WhatsApp and give our number out to make it seem like they are part of our team. A quick check will make people think it’s legitimate when they see the telephone number matches.
There are various things to look out for when you are enlisting the help of a professional in your immigration endeavors;
- They guarantee success: No immigration consultant or lawyer can guarantee that your application will be successful. If someone promises you a guaranteed visa or permanent residency in exchange for money, this is a red flag.
- They are not authorized: Only authorized representatives can legally represent you in your immigration application. You can verify an immigration consultant or lawyer’s authorization status;
- Citizenship or immigration consultants must be a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) https://www.college-ic.ca/protecting-the-public/find-an-immigration-consultant?l=en-CA.
- Lawyers or notaries must be a member of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigration-citizenship-representative/choose/authorized.html#law-societies.
- Paralegals (Ontario only) must be members of the Law Society of Ontario https://lso.ca/home
- They charge excessive fees: Be wary of consultants or lawyers who charge excessive fees or demand payment upfront. Legitimate consultants or lawyers will usually charge a reasonable fee and may offer a payment plan.
- They provide misleading information: If an immigration consultant or lawyer provides you with false or misleading information, this is a sign that they may not have the necessary expertise or qualifications to assist you with your application.
- They use high-pressure sales tactics: Be cautious of immigration consultants or lawyers who use high-pressure sales tactics to persuade you to use their services. Legitimate professionals will provide you with accurate information and allow you time to make an informed decision.
In this age of social media, it can be very easy to become a victim of fraud. Most immigration companies have a social media presence, and this is an easy way for fraudsters to prey on people. It’s extremely important to remember that if you have any doubts about a company then conduct some thorough research;
- Go to their website and look through it. Check out the staff and confirm the consultants are registered with CICC.
- Call the company up and ask to speak to an agent that you see on the website. Make multiple calls to see if you get the same person all the time when there are multiple people showing on the website.
- Ask them to email you some information so you can check their knowledge and their email address.
- Check their google reviews and see what other people are saying.
Carrying out due diligence is the only way to fully ensure you are not going to be their next victim. If everybody works together then there is hope that these fraudsters won’t get a chance to ruin anymore lives.
If you suspect someone is a fraudulent Canadian immigration consultant, you can file a complaint to the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. If they are a fraudulent lawyer or notary, you can file a complaint to the Canadian provincial or territorial law society or the Chambre des notaires du Québec (available in English and French)