A June 2020 report by the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) revealed an expected increase in immigration fraud post-pandemic. The report predicted that Canada will likely be a destination for individuals from countries that have been hard hit by the pandemic. Due to the economic hardship caused by COVID-19, those desperate for a better life in Canada may attempt to circumvent the legal process; others may unknowingly may have an unlicensed representative commit fraud on their behalf.
What does this mean for immigration applications?
Due to an anticipated spike immigration fraud, all applications will be scrutinized in detail. As Canada becomes more vigilant in assessing applications, processing time is expected to increase overall. Canada will be paying close attention to travel documents and documents used to apply for study and work permits. Canada will also be carefully reviewing spousal sponsorship applications to spot ingenuine marriages of convenience.
What is immigration fraud and how can I avoid it?
Unfortunately, immigration fraud is a prevalent issue in Canada, even prior to the pandemic. Many hopeful immigrants fall prey to immigration scams where individuals or groups claim to be legitimate representatives and commit immigration fraud on behalf of the applicant. These scams can come in many forms. Some claim to be Canadian companies offering employment and help to facilitate their arrival to Canada, usually asking for a fee or personal documents. There are also unscrupulous fraudulent representatives that will claim to be legitimate but will provide applicants with fake immigration documents.
Fraud can have very serious consequences for applicants. For instance, individuals caught using fraudulent documents can face misrepresentation charges, resulting in admissibility to Canada and a potential 5-year ban from the country.
When working with an immigration representative, it is important to check their credentials. The right to offer paid Canadian immigration advice is exclusive to lawyers and Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC). You can check the credentials of a lawyer on their provincial bar association registry. The ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) regulates the role of immigration consultants in Canada; licensed consultants can be found on the ICCRC’s online registry.
As interest in Canadian immigration increases, we can also expect an increase in fraudulent representatives preying on hopeful newcomers. Applicants wishing to come to Canada should look for red flags when hiring an immigration representative to ensure they are protected from immigration fraud.