Beware unauthorised immigration agents
Dear Mr Brown:
I would like you to provide me with some clarity on conflicting information I received from a local agency that promotes a study and work programme in Canada. I was informed that I would have to apply for a work permit when I start my studies in Canada, and that work is guaranteed during my studies. However, a month later I read one of your articles, which stated that in June 2014, an international student can work using the study permit and does not have to apply for a separate work permit. I was not comfortable with the information I received from the agency and sought a refund but by request was denied. Could you please provide me with some advice on what to do?
I am not sure what steps you can take in obtaining a refund as it may depend on the contract you signed, if any, or the terms of your agreement. However, it is never wise to receive immigration advice from someone who is not educated and trained in Canadian immigration law or licensed to practise Canadian law.
Under Canadian law, only authorised immigration representatives can charge a fee to help someone apply for a visa (visitor, study, work, or permanent residence) to come to Canada. Therefore, it should be noted that all employment agencies, travel agencies or education agents in Jamaica must be authorised agents to provide any form of immigration advice.
I am not suggesting that successful visa applications can be guaranteed by any authorised representative. However, visa applicants who use unauthorised representatives will be refused by the Canadian High Commission. There is also the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. The regulations restrict Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and other Government agencies to only
deal with members in good standing of one of the regulatory bodies if the representative in question is receiving any compensation for services.
The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is the body responsible for monitoring the conduct of immigration consultants. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) is the national co-ordinating body for provincial and territorial law societies in Canada. Together with CIC, these organisations help safeguard potential immigrants from unauthorised immigration representatives who pose a threat to the integrity of Canada's immigration system.
In fact, the CIC, in partnership with the ICCRC and the FLSC, launched Fraud Prevention Month in March 2014 to promote awareness of the dangers of using an unauthorised immigration representative.
The Canadian immigration regulations prescribe which immigration representatives may (or may not) represent or advise, for a fee or other consideration, a person who is the subject of either an immigration proceeding or a visa application.
Authorised representatives can play a helpful role in assisting applicants with immigration and refugee matters. In order to be authorised, representatives who charge a fee for advice or representation with regard
to an immigration application or proceeding must be
registered with one of the regulatory bodies.
An unauthorised representative is an individual or company who receives a fee for advising or representing a client on immigration matters, who are not members of the ICCRC or a law society. As mentioned, unauthorised immigration representatives not only contravene the laws of Canada, but they are not even recognised by the High Commission of Canada. The ICCRC has issued several specific advisories regarding the use of education agents, as well as travel agencies and employment or recruiting agents.
Canadian Regulations impose penalties on unauthorised representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding.
Unless an education agent is an authorised representative, it is an offence for an education agent to provide immigration advice, complete immigration forms, including study permits, work permits or visitor's visas, communicate with the
Canadian High Commission on a client's behalf, or represent
clients in an immigration application or proceeding.
Unless a travel agent is an authorised representative, it is an offence for a travel agent to provide immigration advice, complete immigration or visa forms, communicate with the Canadian High Commission
on a client's behalf, advertise that they can provide immigration advice for compensation or represent clients in an immigration application or proceeding.
Unless an employment recruiter is an authorised representative, it is an offence for a recruiter to provide immigration advice, complete immigration forms, such as work permits, communicate with the Canadian High Commission on behalf of a client, or represent employers for a Labour Market Opinion, at any stage of a Canadian immigration application or proceeding.
I would advise that you verify whether an agent has membership of the ICCRC or Law Society to establish authorised representation.
For further information visit jamaica2canada.com.
Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM -- a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to email@example.com.