We often hear stories about immigration fraud, which ranges from sham marriages to human trafficking. The consequences of the fraud are very serious and tend to affect everyone in Canada. It is important to understand the existence and variety of fraud, and be prepared to report it before falling a victim to one of them.
Types of Immigration Fraud
Someone, pretending to be Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) official, calls you informing that you have failed to complete or submit specific immigration documents. They insist on you paying the fees to them immediately or provide them with your personal information, threatening with deportation, loss of status, account suspension, arrest, assault or even kidnapping. Scammers can often times use a fake name and agent numbers. Please remember, IRCC will never contact you in person or through phone to request payment of fees or fines for any reason.
Immigration Telephone, Internet and Mail Scams
Fraudsters are offering unrealistically low-price immigration services, guarantee secured jobs and employment contracts, offer faster application processing, or asking you to pay to access immigration forms and guidelines. Scammers provide these guarantees in order to steal your personal and/or financial information. Be careful to transfer any fees, specifically when you are asked to pay application access fees or any deposits before the actual application process has started.
If you would like to use a paid representative assisting with your immigration or citizenship application, be mindful to make sure that this person is indeed authorized to perform services and is not a scammer. You should check if the representative is licensed to represent you or provide advice. Immigration and citizenship consultants must be members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council; lawyers and notaries must be members of the Chambre des notaires du Québec or Canadian provincial and territorial law society. Before retaining a representative always check if your representative is a licensed lawyer or an immigration consultant and is a member in good standing.
- For immigration consultants check: https://iccrc-crcic.ca/find-a-professional/
- For notaries in Quebec check: https://trouverunnotaire.cnq.org/en/find-a-notary.html
- For provincial lawyers check:
Nova Scotia: https://members.nsbs.org/LawyerSearch
British Columbia: https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/lsbc/apps/lkup/mbr-search.cfm
Prince Edward Island: http://lawsocietypei.ca/find-a-lawyer
Newfoundland & Labrador: https://lsnl.memberpro.net/main/body.cfm
- For territorial lawyers check:
Northwest Territories: https://lawsociety.nt.ca/member-directory
This type of fraud can be witnessed on Canadian borders and must be reported. It can include marriages of convenience, providing false or misleading information, someone wanted on an immigration warrant or other signs of suspicious border activities.
Here individuals commit fraud if they hide information about their case or pretend they had lived in Canada in order to obtain citizenship.
It is a very serious offence to provide false information and/or provide false or altered documents to IRCC, also called misrepresentation, and it is a crime. Lying during an interview with IRCC or on your application also falls into the scope of misrepresentation. The consequences include not only refusal of application but can also include travel ban to Canada for 5 years, the record of fraud on the file, crime charge, removal from Canada, and/or suspension of permanent residence or Canadian citizenship status.
REPORTING IMMIGRATION FRAUD
If you have become a victim of immigration scam, witnessed fraud or want to report it or preclude it from occurring, here are the ways it can be done.
For general immigration fraud contact Canada Boarder Services Agency (CBSA) at 1-888-502-9060.
If your representative committed fraud, cancel the representative through “Use of a Representative” form and let IRCC know through Webform at https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/contacts/web-form.asp. You can also notify CBSA at 1-888-502-9060.
If you want to file a complaint against your authorised representative, you should refer to the regulatory body your representative is subjected to:
- For immigration consultants, file a complaint with Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council athttps://iccrc-crcic.ca/complaints-professional-conduct/file-a-complaint/
- For a complaint against lawyers or notaries initiate the process through their respective provincial or territorial law societies (please refer above) or the Chambre des notaires du Québec at https://www.cnq.org/en/file-complaint.html and https://www.cnq.org/en/report-illegal-exercise.html.
- For a complaint for paralegals in Ontario refer to the Law Society of Ontario athttps://lso.ca/getdoc/8626e365-d1a8-4cdc-9ee4-63a8054a3417/how-to-make-a-complaint
Report when outside of Canada
In a situation when you want to report the immigration fraud and you are located outside of Canada, the better way would be to find and report it to the closest located Canadian consulate or embassy. For some specific types of fraud, you may wish to contact the embassy or a consulate of the country where that fraud is taking place. In some cases, involving identity or financial information theft, you may want to consider contacting your local police as well.
For citizenship fraud contact IRCC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 for in Canada calls. Please note that Client Support Centre agents will accept your call Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., eastern time. For those calling outside of Canada, you can reach your nearest Canadian visa office. Alternatively, reporting tips could be forwarded by email to Citizenshipfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Internet, telephone and mail scams
Royal Canadian Mounted Police can be reported for Internet, telephone and mail scams via the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You can contact the Centre by phone at 1-888-495-8501 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4.45 p.m., eastern time. You can also report fraud via the Fraud Reporting System provided by the Centre and accessed online.
If you want to report possible human trafficking, and you know the victim, contact your local police. If you prefer to remain anonymous, report it by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
If you have been a victim or a witness of immigration fraud, stay calm and gather as much information as possible to invoke effective reporting. Report the incident to your financial institutions if there was a transfer of money involved. Remember to protect yourself – scammers could target fraud victims multiple times with promises of recovering money. Share additional updates with the institutions you have filed your report. Tell about your experience to people you know, this may prevent someone from falling a victim to immigration fraud or a scam.
Contact Konan Law for all your immigration matters.