There are more illegitimate “ghost” immigration consultants in Canada than there are members of the industry’s regulated professional body, according to the national regulator.
John Ryan, chair of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, says investigators have tracked nearly 2,000 “ghost” consultants in Canada who are providing unethical advice and in some cases counselling prospective immigrants to commit fraud for fees that range from $1,200 to $30,000 each. His society, which is the arms-length government regulator, has 1,655 members.
“The situation is simply unacceptable. It not only threatens the integrity of our citizenship and immigration systems but it also raises in my mind national security issues,” Mr. Ryan said.
“We know who [the ghost consultants] are and where they’re operating. But law enforcement agencies can’t do anything currently to stop them.”
Mr. Ryan is calling on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to close a loophole in the law that allows consultants who aren’t members of CSIC to advertise themselves as consultants without legal sanction.
“CSIC’s mandate is to educate and accredit and hold accountable its members. The government of Canada, under our system of regulation, retains the ability to prosecute those who would circumvent the regulations,” Mr. Ryan said.
He made the remarks at a press conference in Toronto Wednesday, at which he announced a $1-million advertising campaign that warns of the danger posed by unethical immigration consultants. The ads depict a seal being eaten by a shark, and will be displayed in ethnic media and other outlets across the country.
NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow, who was also at the press conference, said the changes CSIC is demanding won’t go far enough.
She is calling for root and branch reform of how immigration consultants are regulated.
“We need to have a non-share corporation or a government regulator,” Ms. Chow said. “CSIC as it’s set up right now has no power to go after ghost consultants. It has no power to censure, you don’t have to be registered with CSIC to practice. $1-million for an ad is admirable, but there’s lots of sharks out there and they continue to wreak havoc with immigrants.”
Mr. Kenney has vowed to enact changes to the regulation of immigration consultants but has not yet released any detailed plans. The Globe and Mail revealed this week that the RCMP are investigating dozens of immigration consultancies across Canada on suspicion of fraudulent activity.