exit canada

James Metcalfe - Director of ImmigrationJim Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: To avoid being used by immigration scammers, would-be immigrants would do well to remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Immigration Scammers

Two stories. The first is from Nova Scotia a few years back, where a Halifax-based immigration consultant and hundreds of his clients got caught scamming the system. Bold mine:

As part of the crackdown on immigration fraud, Ottawa announced earlier this week it was in the process of revoking the citizenship of about 3,100 people…

Police allege Al-Awaid helped clients get Canadian citizenship and passports by creating false addresses, phone and bank statements, even false medical records to make it look like they had been living in Canada for years while they actually lived overseas.

Canadian passports are coveted because it makes it easier for people to travel internationally and to leave their homeland quickly if needed. The RCMP says its investigation of Canadian Commercial is still ongoing, so those numbers could grow even larger.

The Residency Scam

Immigration scammers arrestedOne of the key ways to secure permanent residency and citizenship in Canada is to be in the country long enough to file an application. For permanent residency, you must be in the country for at least two years out of the past five years. This can then lead to citizenship, which requires you to have been in the country as a permanent resident for 1460 days out of the 6 years immediately prior to your application.

That’s a lot of time. Scammers try to fast track it by making it look like you’ve been in country for years when it’s actually been months or, sometimes, when you’ve never been in the country at all.

The way the government checks to see if you’ve spent enough time in the country is to check utility bills, bank statements, phone records, etc, in order to see that you’ve actually been living in the country. If something doesn’t add up, as it didn’t with the above Halifax scam, then the government will investigate. As you can see with the Halifax case, pulling on one string can unravel the whole works. Thousands of people were put in line to leave the country.

The Investor Scam

Canada has several investor immigration options that allow people to enter Canada if they’re opening a business or investing enough cash. Naturally, this option attracts scammers, too. This story is from British Columbia, where a scammer promised easy immigration for joining a bogus investor program. The allegations have yet to be proven in court, but here’s the gist:

Zhelun claims the investment company marketed an opportunity for would-be immigrants to apply for residency through a Yukon Business Nomination plan. It was supposed to be an “easy program” compared to others.

The Chinese company claims clients were told the “requirements for the program were minimal in comparison to other programs” in respect to language testing. There were also allegedly not supposed to be any assessment interviews. According to the court documents, Zhelun claims that by the summer of 2015, 90 clients had submitted applications to UCII, along with $11.9 million. But in July 2015, two-thirds of the applicants were told to report to the Canadian immigration services office in Hong Kong for interviews with immigration agents.

“The clients that were interviewed reported that the interviews were not successful,” the claim says. “The applicants who attended the scheduled interviews were humiliated and embarrassed as a result of the failed Hong Kong interviews and failing to obtain their documents that would lead to their permanent residency cards or visas.”

Note the key words above: Easy. Minimal. No assessment interview. Too good to be true? Yes, indeed.

exit canadaThe scam artists get the headlines, but the willful ignorance of some of the clients shouldn’t go unnoticed. All of the information I’ve written above is available after a simple Google search. Even word of mouth would alert people that something isn’t right about using fake addresses and phone numbers. So colour me skeptical when someone is astounded to find out that they shouldn’t have a permanent resident card or a Canadian passport a few months after they hit the ground in Canada.

Scams Are Here To Stay

I believe scams like these will be regular news out of British Columbia and, to a lesser extent, other parts of Canada. Every other month, I find a story similar to those above. Most go like this: “Come to Canada. We will set up a virtual residence for you and in the fullness of time, you will get a passport. No language test necessary, just give us the money. No one will know.”

Don’t be fooled. In today’s electronic world, you leave a trail every time your PR card is swiped or your passport is scanned. Once a red flag goes up, the result will likely be cancellation of your Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status.