New law in Canada as part of crackdown on illegal immigration consultants

by Ray Clancy on April 4, 2011

New law to crackdown on illegal immigration consultants

New legislation in Canada has been introduced to crackdown on unscrupulous immigration consultants who are engaging in illegal activities and those who engage in unacceptable activities.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said that Bill C-35, originally introduced as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, which has now received Royal Assent, is expected to come into force in the coming months.

‘Once in force, this legislation will make it an offence for anyone other than an authorized immigration consultant, lawyer, other representative or authorized entity to conduct business at any stage of an application or proceeding,’ said Kenney.

‘We are targeting undeclared ghost consultants as well as other unscrupulous immigration representatives who are engaging in unacceptable activity,’ he added.

The Act strengthens the rules governing those who charge a fee for immigration advice or representation; closes certain loopholes; increases penalties for unauthorized representation; and allows for more government oversight in order to improve the way in which immigration consultants are regulated.

‘Crooked immigration consultants pose a threat not only to their victims, but also to the integrity of our immigration system. This new legislation will help us protect people wanting to immigrate to or stay in Canada, as well as the integrity of Canada’s immigration system,’ he explained.

The law doubles the maximum fines for the offence of providing unauthorized immigration advice from $50,000 to $100,000 and summary convictions from $10,000 to $20,000. It will also impose penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee, at any stage of an immigration application of proceeding. This includes the period before a proceeding begins or an application is submitted.

In addition, the legislation authorizes the disclosure of information on the ethical or professional conduct of an immigration consultant to those responsible for governing or investigating that conduct.

This process is part of a broader strategy to protect people wanting to immigrate to or stay in Canada from immigration fraud.  Kenney recently raised the issue of immigration consultant fraud in meetings with officials in China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. He has urged those governments to protect their citizens from exploitation and abuse by crooked immigration consultants.

In order to improve the integrity of the immigration system, Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, has announced that a new regulatory body is being proposed to oversee immigration consultants.

‘The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) has committed to enhancing the protection of the Canadian public and those who use the services of immigration consultants. I am confident that, with the ICCRC’s strong regulation of immigration consultants, people using our immigration processes will be offered quality consultation, representation and advice,’ she said.

It is proposed that the ICCRC becomes the regulator of immigration consultants. Immigration consultants are currently regulated by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC). Reports by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in 2008 and 2009 pointed to governance issues and a lack of public confidence in CSIC. Based on the Standing Committee’s reports, CIC decided to launch this public process.

‘I anticipate that the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council will not only help ensure public confidence in the integrity of the immigration program, but also that immigration consultants provide their services in a professional and ethical manner,’ said Kenney.

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