New measures to help protect vulnerable people
May 24, 2019-Brampton, ON – Canada is taking decisive action to hold immigration and citizenship consultants to account by improving oversight, strengthening enforcement, and increasing accountability to protect the public from dishonest consultants who take advantage of vulnerable people.
Proposed legislation included in the 2019 Budget Implementation Act, will create a new statutory framework to regulate immigration and citizenship consultants, making the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (the College) the official watchdog of consultants across the country. The College will have the power and tools it needs to protect both the public and consultants in good-standing, including the authority for vigorous oversight, investigations and the means to root out fraudulent immigration and citizenship consultants and hold them accountable for their actions.
Consumer protection will be at the core and the primary purpose of the College to help ensure that immigration and citizenship consultants operate in a professional and ethical manner. The proposed legislation will give the College the ability to enter the premises of a consultant to investigate when it suspects wrongdoing and the ability to request court injunctions against unauthorized consultants.
To punish and deter illegal behavior, the proposed legislation will also double the current monetary penalty for offences and provide new authority to the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to establish administrative penalties aimed at compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Citizenship Act.
In addition, the Government will engage closely with the College to: implement mandatory and robust training courses for those wishing to obtain an immigration and citizenship consulting license; introduce transparency on fees; establish a better system for people to make formal complaints; and create a victims’ compensation fund.
Finally, the Government will launch extensive public awareness activities, including establishing dedicated community outreach officers in visa offices abroad, to help prevent susceptible people from falling victim to fraudulent consulting practices.
“These changes will protect both Canadians and prospective newcomers as well as the many consultants in good-standing that are providing immigration and citizenship services ethically and professionally. While practicing law, I have seen the devastating effect these fraudulent “experts” have had on vulnerable people and I am committed to hold them to the highest standard. It is what is right, it is what is fair and it is time to put an end of an era of those preying on defenseless people.”
– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Unethical immigration consultants provide fraudulent and expensive immigration services to the public, while giving bad advice and charging higher fees. We have seen the devastating impact of this practice on some of our clients. The proposed changes to the regulatory regime is a welcome step in the right direction.”
– Naveed Chaudhry, Executive Director, Peel Multicultural Council.
Budget 2019 proposes $51.9 million over 5 years, and $10.1 million per year ongoing to encourage compliance and deter criminal activities; to focus more resources on the enforcement of provisions relating to immigration advice and representation; to introduce a new administrative monetary penalty and bans regime; and to engage in activities aimed at raising public awareness.
Of the $51.9 million, the Canada Border Services Agency will receive $10 million to increase its resources for the criminal investigation of complex cases, including those involving unauthorized representatives, misrepresentation and organized fraud.
Budget 2019 proposes resources for IRCC for public awareness activities and targeted outreach. This includes outreach to diaspora communities in Canada; translation of basic messages into other languages; social media messaging; and displaying posters and pamphlets at Visa Application Centres abroad, at service provider organizations, and at Service Canada offices. Outreach positions will be established outside of Canada to ensure that information is spread locally regarding the legal requirement to use an authorized representative and the consequences of using an unauthorized consultant.