One of the major problems Canadian immigration is facing is fraud and the best thing to do is to avoid it by all means. Do you know people who have in the past been frauded in the process of immigration probably by a lawyer who promised to help them obtain an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in Express Entry, but never fulfilled his promise? Or probably by a consultant who made a misleading pact with them and even charged them higher than the usual? Or, one of the most common, probably a false employee who promised a job offer in exchange for money?
In as much as the best way to ensure you do not get frauded is to employ a consultant who has proof of successful track record, nevertheless, you need to know how to detect these scammers. In this article, we have compiled the list of five general red flags to look out for when you’re hiring an immigration consultant or lawyer. Once you can notice any of these things, continue with caution because what you perceive in the air may be the aroma of fraud.
Number 1 Red Flag: If the consultant/lawyer cannot provide a provincial law association listing or an ICCRC number.
The first thing you must bear in mind is that any representative that wants money to work on your immigration application must have the appropriate authorization. If the representative is an immigration consultant, then his or her authorization comes through the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) while if the representative is a lawyer, it comes through their provincial legal association, known as a Bar Association.
For having you check if your consultant has the appropriate authorization, you should tell them to provide their RCIC number and once they do so, search for the number on the RCIC website to view the status of the consultant.
While if he or she is a lawyer and you wish to check if he or she has the proper authorization, you should ask them for a link to their listing on the relevant provincial legal association website and once they do so, search the profile of the lawyer either directly or through their database.
Additionally, paralegals can represent you on your application especially in Ontario, nevertheless, he or they must have a good relationship with the Ontario Bar Association. Likewise in Quebec, where your representative can be a notary but must have a good relationship with the Chamber des notaries du Quebec.
Number 2 Red Flag: If the Consultant/Lawyer guarantees a successful visa, work permit, or permanent residence application.
Oftentimes, we are tempted to be assured of success irrespective of what we are trying to accomplish. Always bear in mind that in as much as you want to be guaranteed success, there is nothing as such and this is why unscrupulous Canadian representatives will sometimes take advantage of our emotions by telling us what we want to hear.
We are here to let you know that nobody can guarantee the success of your immigration application because a wide range of unexpected factors could affect the results of your application, ranging from forgetting to attach a document to having the rules of your program change at the last minute.
You should be extremely careful about working with a lawyer or consultant who guarantees you success. Most times, what we do not know is that the promise of success is a trick employed to lure in victims to be scammed, therefore the mantle should be: If it is too good to be true then it is not true.
The 3rd Red Flag is if a Consultant/Lawyer asks for money in exchange for a job offer.
Let it sink into your mind that immigration lawyers and immigration consultants are not employment recruiters. Funny enough, there is not even a single decent immigration lawyer or consultant that will offer to get you a Canadian job offer if you pay them money.
It is a big red flag once you’re asked to pay money in advance for a job offer in Canada.
We must reiterate that a Canadian employer cannot charge you any money for a job offer; be completely skeptical of any person who tries to convince you to pay in advance for a Canadian job offer.
This sort of scam could come in any of the forms listed below;
- A false recruiter trying to convince you to pay in advance so they can find you a Canadian job offer.
- A false employer sends you a bogus employment contract and requests that you pay either a visa fee, a processing fee, or any other kind of fee.
- A false recruiter trying to convince you to pay in advance with the guarantee of a Canadian visa and job offer.
No matter what, you should never pay in advance for a job offer in Canada.
Number 4 Red Flag if the Consultant/ Lawyer does not provide a retainer agreement or contract to sign
What is a retainer agreement? It is a sort of contract that makes available the type of services a lawyer or consultant is expected to provide, how long the service will last, the payment structure, and finally, what is expected of you as a client to provide.
In addition, endeavor to read and assimilate every word of the retainer agreement or contract. Unscrupulous lawyers and consultants are best known for writing extremely long contracts which allows them to hide additional fees and other tricks deep inside the contract because they do not expect you to read the whole thing but you must surprise them by going through every single word.
The fifth Red Flag is if the Lawyer/Consultant request a lot of money in advance without rendering any consultation
You know what a reputable consultant will do, he or she must first, offer you a one-on-one consultation, so you should consider this just before spending CAD 2,000 or more on a lengthy contract for an immigration program. During this consultation, the consultant will look at your personal information, your choice of immigration program(s), and your probability of being successful in it. If he or she is convinced that the program is a good match for you, then they’ll proceed to offer you a complete contract.
Bear in mind that any consultant who is unwilling to hold a one-on-one consultation before offering a large contract is a huge red flag ready for a rip-off.
Also, there are certain cases when a consultant or lawyer will charge a fee for other one-time services. For instance, a consultant might decide to charge you a one-time fee to review your application after you have prepared a complete permanent residence application through Express Entry, to review your application before you submit it. Well, it is a wise decision for you to consult the opinion of an expert before submitting.
In conclusion, do not forget our mantle; If it is too good to be true then it is false. Have it in mind that there are a thousand and one false consultants/lawyers out there looking for people to fall prey to their tactics but if you pay attention to these guidelines, then you will never be a victim.