In October 2020, the federal government announced that Canada intends to welcome 401 000 newcomers in 2021, 411 000 in 2022 and 421 000 in 2023, as an aide to compensate for the deficit in newcomers caused by COVID-19 and to ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill crucial labour market gaps and remain competitive on the world stage.
Since then, Canadian immigration has exponentially grown in popularity worldwide. However, with popularity and the need for more skilled workers in Canada, ensues the prospect of unscrupulous scammers with elaborate schemes to lure potential immigrants to send them money.
“With more people looking to immigrate, there is likely to be an increase in fraud in all immigration streams via the use of fraudulent supporting documentation to bolster visa or permanent resident applications, fraudulently acquired travel documents to be able to board flights to Canada and misrepresentation,” according to a June 2020 strategic intelligence report by the Canada Border Service Agency.
The report cited that COVID-19 is likely to have been the driving for the increase in immigration fraud and human smuggling as desperate migrants try to get into Canada. It further warns that that economic downturns and increased poverty abroad caused by the pandemic will prompt more people to resort to irregular methods to come to Canada.
The Canadian government recommends neither paying money nor providing personal information to anyone but a trusted provider, as even personal details can be misused, or be a starting point for extortion.
It is an offence under Canadian law to take money for immigration services if not regulated by Canadian law society the ICCRC, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
Three tips to identify a scam or fake immigration firm:
- Citizenship or immigration consultants must be a member of the Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) or a certified immigration lawyer. Before depositing any funds always request for their licence number or a lawyer’s proof of certification. To ensure that the consultant is authentic you may verify their details on the ICCRC website or visit the Candian Government Authorized Representative webpage. Only an RCIC or immigration lawyer is legally authorized by the Canadian government to offer immigration advice as well as submit your Canadian visa application for you for a fee.
- If something seems too good to be true then it probably is. Hoax companies will offer false guarantees to take your money or steal your private information.The most common scam to entice victims is a guarantee entry into Canada, high-paying jobs or faster processing of your application for an extra fee. No legitimate immigration company can guarantee you a job (unless it is specifically with their firm) or a Canadian visa. If they do, it’s a red flag that you almost certainly dealing with a scammer.
- Beware of duplicate websites and fake e-mail addresses. While their website may seem legit, look out for the intricate details that may prove otherwise. Scrutinize the smaller details on the site such as the domain name and its encryption. A reputable company will never use a random email address such as a gmail or hotmail account. Always ensure that the e-mail address is linked to the website’s domain name and to check the email address before you open it as the email itself could contain malware that could put your personal and private information at risk
If you believe you have been a victim of immigration fraud contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre on 1-888-495-8501 if you live in Canada or contact your local police station.