Canada’s immigration lawyers are subject to certain unique characteristics depending on where they practice. Vancouver immigration lawyers appear to have the benefit of a more progressive media outlet in the form of the Vancouver Sun. An editorial, published on February 9, 2010, entitled, “Time to exorcise ghost immigration consultants”, was significant.
It was one of the few the mainstream news outlet that acknowledged the term “ghost consultant” – immigration consultants who provide the services of a Canadian immigration consultant, but without the license required by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. Vancouver lawyers in the practice of Canadian immigration law will benefit from this article due to the increased awareness that will no doubt accrue from this pithy editorial.
It mentions the ‘exploitation’ that characterizes the mode of operation of the ghost consultants. It has even characterized the presence of ghost consultants as a national security issue. Toronto immigration lawyers were not as lucky in this regard. There was an expose a couple of years ago in the Toronto Star that used undercover reporters disguised as clients who were counselled to make false refugee claims (at the link:http://www.thestar.com/article/289751). I recently blogged about the issue of a ghost immigration consultant who was apparently filing fraudulent citizenship cases in Mississauga (covered in the Globe and Mail February 1 and 2 2010). However Toronto lawyers in the practice of Canadian immigration law operate in a somewhat more saturated market than Vancouver immigration lawyers. There are more Canadian immigration lawyers in Toronto, as well as more immigration consultants, both licenced and ghost, than there are immigration lawyers in Vancouver. Indeed, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants is based in downtown Toronto.
It is laudable that the Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration intends to make legislative reforms in this regard. It is also laudable that CSIC intends to advertise about the risks associated with hiring ghost consultants (the new ad consisting of a shark eating some other sea creature) is graphic and vivid:
The issue of ghost consultants affects the reputation of licensed Canadian immigration consultants, and Canada’s immigration lawyers, and adds cannon fodder for anti-immigration cranks. However, the problem of ghost consultants cannot be legislated away. Similarly, no educational campaign will reduce the presence of ghost consultants. Ghost consultants fill a market niche that cannot be filled by Canada’s immigration lawyers and Canadian immigration consultants: clients who actually intend to break Canada’s immigration laws. Every experienced Toronto or Vancouver or other Canadian immigration lawyer has come across such a client. The client either does not meet the criteria imposed by Canada’s immigration laws or feels too inconvenienced by the strictures of Canada’s immigration laws. I consulted with such a person once. This person was convinced that simply buying real estate in Canada entitled him to Canadian immigration status. I told him that at best, this may be part of a broader strategy for his immigration to Canada. When I told him that this fact itself does not confer any special status for obtaining Canadian immigration, he got up, threw his consultation fee on my boardroom table and left my office. He wanted to give me the impression that he was wasting his time consulting with me on Canadian immigration matters. However, you cannot legislate morality. No matter how much harsher the penalty for violating Canada’s immigration laws, there will always be willing law breakers. The ghost consultants will be there to serve this market niche despite the penalties.