Immigration Corner - Was I scammed?
Deidre S. Powell, Columnist
Dear Ms Powell,
I visited a place in Kingston that says it can help me to get a work permit for Canada. I met with a man who said he was an immigration consultant. I gave him all the documents and money that he asked for, but even now I haven't got a permit. I keep calling and I can only get his assistant and can't speak to him. I don't even know if he submitted my application. How can I know which consultant is legitimate and if he submitted my application? Can I ask the embassy if they got my application?
You are not the first person who has contacted me about these new agencies in Jamaica. I should caution you that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will not accept an application from a third party unless the person is an authorised representative. The persons who are authorised to charge a fee for representing you are lawyers, notaries, paralegals and immigration consultants who are in good standing with their governing organisation. Before you hand over your documents and money to an individual or company, you have a duty to investigate the person to ensure that they have the appropriate licence to practise and the experience dealing with immigration matters.
You should check the designated governing organisation via their website or via telephone to find out if the person has a licence to practice. If an individual is not a member in good standing, you should not use them as your application will not be accepted by CIC.
CIC has warned that they will only accept applications from persons who are licenced to represent and give advice. There is a complete list of the various Provincial and Territorial Law Society websites posted on CIC's website, www.cic.gc.ca.
To investigate an immigration consultant, you need to check the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). You can review this list at www.csic-scci.ca. If you find his name there and you have a complaint, then you may also file a complaint there. For a list of lawyers in good standing in Ontario, contact the Law Society of Upper Canada at www.lsuc.on.ca.
1. Did you sign a 'use of representative' form? All legitimate consultants would ask you to sign a use of representative form. Your application cannot be submitted without it. The consultant would be required to put his regulatory body and his membership number on it.
2. Do you know anyone else that has used this representative? Has anyone else heard of this consultant?
3. Did you check the credentials of this consultant that you are entrusting your confidential personal information to? Do not rely on an individual's website alone to check their credentials. It's not uncommon to hear about 'ghost' consultants who take people's money and do not submit an application to CIC.
4. Did you sign the application forms? Most application forms require your signature. In fact, you can see the required forms on CIC's website. If you did not get these forms to review and sign, then chances are the application was not submitted.
5. Did you ask your consultant for proof that he has delivered your application? Are you able to verify that the application was delivered?
Unfortunately, you can't ask CIC whether or not an application was submitted on your behalf. They will not respond to you unless you lodge a formal complaint against the consultant.
I suggest that you return to the consultant's office and ask for his membership number and copies of the documents that he submitted on your behalf. If he is unable to provide you with proof that your original documents have been submitted, then you have the option of reporting the consultant to the police and even the Canadian Border Security. You will need to provide proof of the documents and money paid to the individual. It is a crime for anyone to collect money to assist individuals without a licence to practice. I truly trust that you are not a victim of fraud and that you will be able to get the answers you are seeking directly from the consultant.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, personal injury, real estate, family and administration of estates. She is on the roster of Mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration. Tel: 613.695.8777/ 876.922.8899. Find her on facebook.com/JamaicanLawyer.