New laws mean heavier sentences and fines for unscrupulous immigration consultants, but many say it’s still a Wild West out there.
NICHOLAS KEUNG / TORONTO STAR Order this photo
Marsha Rose Marie Tomlin, left, was assisted by licensed immigration consultant Marva Yvonne Kollar, right, in her complaint about an unlicensed consultant.
Three years after Ottawa launched a new regulatory body to police the immigration consultant industry, critics say there are as many illegal “ghost” consultants as ever preying on would-be immigrants.
“It is still a Wild West,” says Francisco Rico-Martinez, co-director of Toronto’s FCJ Refugee Centre. “The ghosts still operate out there. People still fall victim to them.”
Experts say that despite stiffer new penalties for those who operate without licences or oversight, unscrupulous consultants continue to take advantage of refugee claimants and immigration applicants struggling to navigate Canada’s confusing and ever-changing system.
A few of these ghost consultants, who sometimes counsel clients to commit fraud, have been arrested and charged under the new laws, which provide for up to five years in jail and $100,000 in fines.
Rico-Martinez complains that when complaints are made to the Burlington-based Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), it has no power to police ghost consultants.
Instead, it’s up to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to investigate. Continue reading