How to protect the public from unscrupulous consultants/lawyers
The Canadian government has regulatory provisions protecting the public from unscrupulous immigration consultants and other immigration representatives. There are those who take advantage of people who have strong desires to move and live in Canada. Many false representatives promises jobs or faster visa issuance and charges fees for undelivered services. Many people are being cheated with job offers overseas that do not exist and the applicants are willing to pay to work on those jobs and for their immigration to Canada.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney confirms that “crooked consultants” in such places as India, Pakistan and especially China are a problem. “A lot of people,” he said in an interview, “are willing to pay a lot of money to cut corners.
Bill C-35, an Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, came into force on June 30, 2011. At the heart of the Act are changes that require an immigration representative used at any stage of an immigration application or a proceeding to be a lawyer or a paralegal who is a member in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society; a notary who is a member in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec; or an immigration consultant who is a member in good standing of the ICCRC. New regulatory provisions following the adoption of Bill C-35 also include an oversight mechanism requiring that the ICCRC provide information to the government to ensure it is governing its members in the public interest.
On May 25, 2012, new rules took effect making it easier to investigate the professional or ethical misconduct of immigration representative, either an immigration consultant, a lawyer, a paralegal or a notary.
“Sharing information on the misconduct of an immigration representative with the regulatory body will help protect the integrity of our immigration system, and immigrants themselves,” said Minister Jason Kenney.
These regulatory provisions allow officials from CIC, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to provide information regarding an immigration representative’s professional or ethical conduct to people governing or investigating that conduct. When CIC, CBSA or the IRB believes that immigration representatives have contravened their professional or ethical obligations, it can share this information with the governing body, in a manner consistent with the Privacy Act.
The information-sharing provisions came into force on April 10, 2012. Cooperation on information sharing will help the ICCRC and other governing bodies better regulate their membership.
“My department regularly receives tips from the public about crooked representatives,” added the Minister. “Now we can finally ask the regulatory body to investigate these tips.”
Examples of information that can be shared are allegations or evidence of:
- Making false promises to an applicant;
- Providing false information about Canada’s immigration processes;
- Failing to provide services agreed to between the representative and the client; or
- Counseling to obtain or submit false evidence.
Canada, the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia are united in their efforts to warn prospective visitors and immigrants of the dangers of being misled by unscrupulous immigration agents. Representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the UK Border Agency and the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship also sent a clear message to crooked agents that they are working with other countries and with Indian authorities to combat immigration fraud.
“Fraud is a criminal offence in Australia and can lead to severe penalties for those involved. But ultimately the responsibility for a visa application lies with the applicant,” said Jose Alvarez, Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Regional Director of South Asia.
“Providing fraudulent documents or misleading information can result in severe consequences not just for the agent but also the applicant. Applicants need to protect themselves from immigration fraud by being aware of the ways people may try to take advantage of them and their situation.”
When applying for a visa through foreign agencies, make sure to check if the person you are dealing with is genuine. In this case, it would be possible to check with the Canadian Government to find out whether the agent is an authorized immigration agent who can process work permits. It is also very important to check the background information of your potential business partners. Be cautious. Generally, these agents will guarantee a work permit for your clients, and charge the application fee in advance. However, they don’t ask for detailed information on the applicants. For example, resumes, certification or work experience information. This information is very important when applying for a work visa program.
Public awareness is very important in protecting people being misled by unscrupulous representatives, not all of them are checking the Canada Immigration Website and they believe all information given to them, for example; that it is acceptable to submit forged documents with your visa application not knowing that their visa will be refused. Visa officers authorized in every office worldwide make decisions and representatives do not have the influence on application processing times. Therefore, paying a huge amount of money in exchange of faster visa issuance should not be considered. The application will not be given special attention by hiring consultants or representatives nor guarantee it’s approval. Applicants should also know that they can check if the representative is a member of ICCRC and even members if believed to have violated ethical conducts of licensed representative should be reported to the authorities. Visa officers also does not meet applicants outside their offices and does not contact the applicants to ask for money so the public must be very careful in dealing with suspicious transactions with people pretending to be visa officers or licensed representatives. The public have to check the official website for various information in applying for visa or immigrating to Canada.
There are warnings and signs posted by Immigration Canada for the public not to deal with crooked immigration consultants and lawyers. The government can use more awareness campaign through various government sectors or organizations within Canada and abroad to help the majority of people who wants to come to Canada.
Mary Jone Causing Buchholtz