Recently, there has been exponential rise in ‘Ghost’ immigration consultants across Canada.
There have been reports that unauthorized/unlicensed consultants may even have physical office in the major cities of Canada.
These illegal immigration & visa consultants are mostly active on social media platforms especially on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Some of these consultants are also advertising openly on Brampton transit buses.
In this article, we will be sharing some information and tips that will help you recognize these ghost consultants and empower you against such fraudulent consultants.
This can cause major setback for immigration & visa applicants leading to misrepresentation or incompetent application filing resulting in refusal or even ban from Canada.
NOTE: Seeking assistance from unauthorized consultants itself is an offence.
This article explains:
- Who are Ghost Consultants?
- Why only choose licensed RCICs, Immigration Lawyers?
- How to Identify a Ghost Consultant?
- Official Links to check whether a representative is licensed
- Additional Things To Identify Immigration Fraud
Who Are Ghost Consultants?
Ghost consultants are people who offer immigration services to clients without having the necessary education, training, or licensing.
They falsely represent themselves as immigration specialists. They are not permitted to represent or apply for a client’s immigration status.
Canadian law is clear. Only licensed RCIC (Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants), Immigration Lawyers in good standing with bar association, and Notaries (only in Quebec) can charge a fee for providing immigration advise and services.
Any other individual or organization providing immigration & visa services or advise is illegal in Canada.
Why only choose licensed RCICs, Immigration Lawyers?
Ghost consultants submit the applications using the client’s email or an email made in the client’s name, whereas Canadian immigration attorneys submit their clients’ applications using the legal representative portal.
In such a scenario, illegal consultant is practically not representing the client in eyes of IRCC.
Legal responsibility for any false statements made by the ghost consultant will fall on the client.
This can result in refusal or even exclusion order in case of misrepresentation.
Additionally, clients have the ability to complain against licensed RCICs or Immigration lawyers, if they are not representing their client correctly.
As a result, these legal representatives might end up losing their license. However, you cannot complain against the ghost consultants to any regulatory authority.
Most important part, ghost consultants do no have proper immigration law education, so there is clear risk of incompetent visa application that may result in refusal.
On the other hand, legal representatives have extensive knowledge of immigration law and policies.
Moreover, all the legal representatives are required to do continuous professional development (CPD) course every year to ensure they are up-to-date with new policies.
How to Identify a Ghost Consultant?
First of all sign a retainer agreement before hiring any immigration consultant or representative. Retainer agreement enlists all the details of your contract with a particular legal representative.
It has duties, fees, conditions, etc for both client and consultant/lawyer.
Secondly, it is not at all offensive to ask your representative for a proof that they are genuine.
Ethically, legal representative will tell you upfront that they are licensed and how you can check whether they are genuine or not.
Thirdly, legal representatives are mandatorily required to display insignia of the licensing authority on their website.
If there is no “insignia” on the website of a representative, then they are illegal. An insignia is a distinguishing mark of the regulatory authority.
NOTE: A regulatory authority might have different looking multiple types of insignias
This insignia on legal representative’s website should be clickable and link to the page where you can check whether that representative is in good standing with their regulatory authority.
Below are the link to check whether a representative is licensed:
- College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants for RCICs
- The Canadian Bar Association
- Law Society of British Columbia
- Law Society of Alberta
- Law Society of Saskatchewan
- Law Society of Manitoba
- Law Society of Ontario
- Barreau du Québec
- Law Society of New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
- Law Society of Prince Edward Island
- Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Law Society of Yukon
- Law Society of the Northwest Territories
- Law Society of Nunavut
- Chambre des notaires du Québec (French only)
Additional Things To Identify Immigration Fraud
- DO NOT use services, if an immigration consultant implies that he/she gives you 100% guarantee of visa or faster processing.
- There is no guarantee of visa in any category.
- No one can guarantee a job for Canada.
- No one has special influence in Canadian embassy or high commissions.
- Legally, there are no charges for LMIA. Its cost is paid by the employer, not the applicant.
- Never share your UCI or Application number or personal details with any website/YouTube/Instagram page/Facebook page or other social media platforms in anticipation of getting more information on processing.
- Only processing times provided on the IRCC website or your online application portal are true.
- No one has extra information on processing of applications.
- No one can offer you faster processing of application.
- IRCC will never call you to get your bank details for payment of fees.