Guilty By Association – You are judged by the Company you Keep!
Posted on - Oct 06, 2021
By Catherine Sas Q.C.
Immigration fraud has always plagued the immigration application process. But in more recent years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have combined forces with the RCMP and police to pursue flagrant instances of fraud and abuse.
One of the most egregious examples in recent years was that of New Can Consultants and immigration consultant Sunny Wang. Sunny was ultimately convicted to seven years in jail for his scheme of creating fake identification and false employment records. “New Can cases” as they were referred to ate up vast resources of CBSA, IRCC and ultimately the Immigration Division (ID) and Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
In the course of their investigations, officers located hundreds of applicants‘ files and initiated proceedings against those applicants for misrepresentation, (as well as other charges), with the result that many individuals were stripped of their permanent resident status and received a 5-year ban from ever being able to apply to come to Canada. Several other of New Can’s employees also went to jail for their role in the scam.
More recent severe examples include Can Asia Consultants and the principal business owners of Rupinder “Ron” Singh Batth and Navdeep Kaur Batth, as well as Balraj “Roger” Singh Bhatti, an immigration lawyer, and his spouse, Sofian Dahak.
Can Asia’s cases predominantly involved colluding with local employers in the creation of fake job offers which they sold to desperate applicants for tens of thousands of dollars. The consultants and employers would split the funds between them and then recycle the money to make it look like the individuals were really employed. The going rate for such a job offer in the lower mainland ranges from $30,000 to $60,000. The case for Can Asia is still pending.
The Bhattis’ offences involved counselling applicants to make false refugee claims. They have plead guilty to most of the charges against them and are awaiting sentencing in 2022.
Who you hire to represent you matters can have dire consequences on your immigration case. Here are some tips to avoid the pitfalls of working with an unscrupulous or fraudulent immigration representative.
1) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Be extremely wary of a representative who promises to do everything for you such as select your school, choose your courses, pick you up at the airport and find you accommodation. These representatives may not have your best interest at heart because they are being compensated at every stage of the process and this affects their judgement. Rather than advising you about wat is in your best interests they are more likely to lead you to places where they earn the most commissions.
Similarly, a representative who offers to find you a job “in any industry” and charges a hefty fee for this should be viewed suspiciously. Why would an experienced business professional accept a job as a general farm worker or construction labourer? You need to use your common sense and ask yourself whether what is being proposed to you makes sense.
Knowing whether a deal sounds too good to be true is also much easier when you understand what the standard range of fees for immigration services are. Shop around to see what immigration professionals are charging for similar services that are being offered to you. You should be suspicious of any proposals to charge you fees that are many times the going rate for an application.
By wary of scams offering you a “package” of immigration services such as for a combination of a job offer (LMIA), work permit and permanent residence, which is packaged this way in order to justify charging you higher fees, regardless of the actual outcome of these processes. You are better off to
2) Don’t pay for a job offer
It is illegal to pay for a job offer in Canada. All of the provinces and territories of Canada have employment standards legislation which prohibits a prospective employee from being charged a fee in exchange for finding employment. Legitimate recruiters earn their commissions from employers and not from prospective employees. CBSA and IRCC are very familiar with the various scams luring workers to Canada for hefty fees. The business practices of Can Asia Consultants colluding with employers to sell job offers for hefty fees are very common in the marketplace.
3) Be accountable for your own application.
You are responsible for your own application. Period. Engaging the services of an immigration professional does not absolve you of your responsibility or culpability in the application process.
At our immigration law office, we are frequently consulted by individuals who have no copies of their applications nor the supporting documents that were submitted to IRCC. They don’t know the information that was provided because they did noy play an active role in preparing them.
Regardless of whether or not you are playing an active role in preparing your application, you will ultimately be responsible for any errors and omissions in the application. An immigration application is yours and yours alone. You need to be completely aware of all the information that you are providing and that it is truthful and accurate. For more on this topic please refer to our former blog “Really, you signed blank forms?” https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/really-you-signed-blank-forms-best-practices-for-immigration-clients/
4) Fake equals Fraud
If someone offers to provide you with something fake – something that you know, or ought to know, is not genuine -, then you are committing fraud. Committing a fraud will lead to a finding of misrepresentation under section 40 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which carries a five-year ban from applying to come to Canada.
Similarly, counselling a misrepresentation is illegal under section 126 of the IRPA and can attract a financial penalty of up to $100.000 or jail time of up to five years, or both. You can also be charged with fraud under the Criminal Code of Canada and end up with both jail time and a criminal record.
Most individuals who hired the services of Sunny Wand and New Can Consultants knew what they were doing was dishonest. They were paying him and his forms to create false documents such as passports and fake employment records to make it look like they were spending more time in Canada than they actually were. They were complicit in the fraudulent behaviour. There is simply no way of explaining your way out of such action with IRCC or CBSA, nor the ID or IAD.
5) Seek immediate relief from IRCC, CBSA and the RCMP
Thankfully, both IRCC and CBSA are well aware of the many scams in the marketplace to lure people to or keep them in Canada. IRCC has a special program for persons who are victims of immigration fraud. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/protect-fraud.html
The key word here is “victim”. This program is not meant for persons complicit in improper behaviour. If you have been duped, you need to come forward immediately and report what you have experienced to IRCC and either the RCMP and/or the CBSA. You will be able to get an open work permit for a year to try and put your life in order to sort things out legitimately.
Even genuine victims of immigration scams can be denied relief if they do not act quickly. One such individual who came to us arrived in Canada with a work permit as a farm labourer only to find that there was no farm at the address for the job location. There was no business either. The employer did not answer the phone. This was a good example of a case where the individual could have sought relief under IRCC’s program for victims of immigration fraud. There was just one problem: the individual had not reported this incident to either the RCMP or CBSA and they had waited over 18 months – more than a year and a half! – to come see us for assistance. Such delay in discredits any claim to being a legitimate victim.
Canada is a highly desirable country attracting immigrants from around the globe. People are often prepared to pay exorbitant amounts for the opportunity to ultimately come to Canada whether as a student, worker or permanent resident. Sadly, there are those in the immigration industry who prey upon those ambitions for their own financial gain. You need to choose the immigration professional that you work with carefully and wisely. Aligning yourself with an unscrupulous immigration professional can have dire consequences and will very likely result in the end of your Canadian immigration dreams.
Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 30 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 9 consecutive years.
To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.
Related Topics: family, Immigration, worker