Canadaâ€™s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today encouraged potential newcomers to use authorized immigration representatives to avoid becoming victims of fraud.
March is Fraud Prevention Month and this year Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has partnered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) to promote awareness of authorized immigration representatives and what services they can provide.
For Fraud Prevention Month 2014, CIC has developed a new video which urges newcomers to avoid becoming the victim of a â€œdisappearing actâ€ and explains where they can obtain information on immigration representatives that are authorized to deal with the Government of Canada.
Unscrupulous and unauthorized representatives weaken Canadaâ€™s immigration system, cost taxpayers money, and slow down the processing of valid applications. Under Canadian law, only authorized immigration representatives can charge a fee to help someone apply for a visa to come to Canada. If a newcomer uses an unauthorized representative, their application may be refused and they could risk becoming victims of fraud.
To learn more about choosing and using a representative, visit CICâ€™s website.
- Of nearly 6,500 permanent residents who have been flagged as being linked to major investigations, 1,894 people have withdrawn or abandoned their citizenship applications â€“ a sign of success with our immigration fraud deterrence measures.
- Regulations, which came into force on June 30, 2011, impose penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding. If the court finds a person guilty, the following penalties would apply:
- on summary conviction, the person is subject to a fine of up to $20,000, or up to six months imprisonment, or both;
- on conviction on indictment, they are subject to a fine of up to $100,000 or up to two years imprisonment, or both.
- Bill C-24 reinforces the value of citizenship by cracking down on fraud and ensuring Canadian citizenship is only offered to those who play by the rules. Proposed measures include:
- stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison);
- expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality which will help improve program integrity; and
- making it an offence for unauthorized individuals to knowingly represent or advise a person on a citizenship application or hearing for a fee.
â€œFraud is a very serious issue in our immigration system. Our government is taking action to combat fraud by introducing specific measures in the Strengthening Citizenship Act that will address misrepresentation in the citizenship system. Fraud Prevention Month reminds newcomers of the importance of using authorized immigration representatives and provides information to newcomers so that they do not become victims of fraud.â€
â€œUnauthorized representatives are not trained or regulated, and take money for services they cannot provide, which often leads to the refusal of applications that might otherwise be approved. Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are highly trained and effectively regulated, so their clients can be sure that they are getting the best advice and representation possible.â€
â€œAs the regulators of the legal profession Canadaâ€™s law societies ensure that lawyers, Quebec notaries and Ontario paralegals meet high standards of competence and professional conduct. It is vital that anyone thinking of using an immigration representative check that they are authorized. Verifying whether a lawyer, Quebec notary or Ontario paralegal is licensed and in good standing is easy. The information is publicly available through the on-line directories of the law societies or by calling the law society directly.â€