False hope: “ghost” consultants and the immigration system

Illegal consultants overseas are out of reach for Canadian law

People anxious to immigrate to Canada can fall victim to advisers, known as “ghost” consultants, who frequently charge significant fees and may promise would-be immigrants high-paying jobs or fast-tracked visas. These prospective immigrants often find out too late that they have been deceived.

Currently, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada regulates the activities of immigration representatives from the point of submission of an application or beginning of a proceeding, until the issuance of Permanent Resident Visas for new landed immigrants.

Ghost consultants is the name regulators and law enforcers give to illegal operators, some of whom swindle would-be immigrants to Canada. Those ghosts feed off hopes raised by the federal programs. But the illegal consultants who operate outside Canada’s borders are beyond the reach of Canadian law enforcement.

Report by the Canada Border Services Agency also notes abuse in the student visa system, describing bogus students who say they are coming to Canada to study but never show up for class. Corrupt consultants often help students scam the system, according to the report.

These days you may choose to use a representative to act for you with either:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC),
  • Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, or
  • Canada Border Services Agency

There are two types of immigration representatives: paid and unpaid. Only some people can charge a fee or receive any other type of payment to represent or advise you on a Canadian immigration proceeding or application. These are:

  • immigration consultants who are members in good standing of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council
  • lawyers and paralegals who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society
  • notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec

These people are called “authorized” representatives. Government of Canada and CIC will not deal with representatives who charge for their services and are not members of one of the above groups.