Canadian warning!

Canadian warning!

BY ARLENE MARTIN-WILKINS Associate editor - news

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

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AN official at the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica is warning Jamaicans seeking to immigrate to Canada against engaging the services of unauthorised immigration representatives who are operating under the guise of approved consultants.

Counsellor Kate O'Brien suggested yesterday that not all who present themselves as legitimate representatives are authorised to make submissions to her office on behalf of clients, even as she stressed that the use of consultants is optional.

Her warning comes as the economically vibrant North American country rolls out its newest immigration system, Express Entry, which it is using to attract more skilled immigrants.

"For years we have been cautioning people on this phrase 'buyer beware'. There are many individuals who have figured out that there's lots of hope among individuals who hope to find a better life in Canada; and I certainly accept that. [But] anybody who says they are a consultant or immigration representative, if they can't meet the requirements, they cannot submit an application to my office on your behalf," O'Brien told journalists at a meeting at the offices of the Canadian High Commission in Kingston.

"Canada, along with Australia, New Zealand and other countries have said enough of this! We will regulate immigration consultants to protect consumer interest in clients because this is going on for too long where people pay US$3,500 to US$5,000 to someone who has no authority to deal with me. And that person spends US$3,500 and US$5,000 and they've got nothing. And, in fact, we are obliged to not accept an application under our law from someone who is not authorised," O'Brien explained.

She turned attention to the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), the self-governing regulatory body for authorised consultants. On its website, the ICCRC makes it clear that its mandate is to "safeguard consumers who seek Canadian immigration advice and representation from immigration consultants".

"Federal law requires that immigration consultants in Canada or abroad, who provide Canadian immigration services for a fee, must be registered with the ICCRC and accredited as Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs)," the website states.

The website lists all ICCRC members, their consultation identification, and the countries in which they practice. A search relating to Jamaica turns up only one name in Antonn Brown, who writes a weekly column for the Jamaica Observer.

Yesterday, O'Brien advised that relevant information on authorised representatives, among other topics, are posted on the high commission's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, the Express Entry programme allows individuals to submit online profiles to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Those who meet the requirements are put in pool that is accessible by Canadian employers. Once a job offer is made, the candidate is invited to apply for permanent residence.

Yesterday, O'Brien said candidates will have 60 days within which to submit the required documents -- a process she said does not necessarily need the involvement of a lawyer or consultant.

"It is perfectly acceptable if you want to use a consultant, but not mandatory. If you choose to use a representative, make sure the representative is authorised to represent you," she warned.

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