Jason Kenney attempts to crack down on crooked immigration consultants

Today, legislation to crack down on crooked immigration consultants who exploit prospective immigrants was introduced in the House of Commons by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

The Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act would strengthen the rules governing those who charge a fee for immigration advice, close immigration system loopholes currently exploited by crooked consultants, and improve the way in which immigration consultants are regulated.

“While most immigration consultants working in Canada are legitimate and ethical, it is clear that immigration fraud remains a widespread threat to the integrity of Canada’s immigration system,” said Minister Kenney. “The Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act will better protect prospective immigrants from crooked consultants and help safeguard our immigration system against fraud and abuse.”

The Act would make it a crime for unauthorized individuals to provide immigration advice for a fee. It would also amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so that fees for immigration services could only be charged by authorized consultants, lawyers and notaries who are members in good standing of a governing body authorized by the Minister. This includes services performed before an application is submitted or a proceeding begins, thus closing a loophole in the current framework regulating consultants.

“Crooked immigration consultants victimize people who dream of immigrating to Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “Worse still, there is evidence that these individuals encourage prospective immigrants to lie on their immigration applications, to concoct bogus stories about persecution when making refugee claims, or to enter into sham marriages with Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This undermines the integrity and fairness of Canada’s immigration system.”

Accompanying the Minister today was a family featured in a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) video warning would-be immigrants to be wary of immigration fraud.

The Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act would also give the Minister the authority to designate a body to govern immigration consultants and establish measures to enhance the government’s oversight of this body.

In addition, the legislation would close another loophole in the current framework which prevents information sharing. It would allow CIC to disclose information relating to the ethical or professional conduct of a member of a provincial bar or the Chambre des notaires du Québec or a member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, the body currently governing immigration consultants, to those responsible for governing or investigating that conduct.

The Minister is also taking immediate steps to address a lack of public confidence in the regulation of immigration consultants. In addition to tabling this bill, a Notice of Intent will be published on June 12, 2010, in the Canada Gazette. It will announce CIC’s intention to launch a transparent public selection process to identify a governing body for recognition as the regulator of immigration consultants, under current authority. The Notice of Intent will request comments from the public on the proposed selection process.

“The body regulating consultants must regulate effectively and must be held accountable for ensuring that their membership provides services in a professional, competent and ethical manner,” said Minister Kenney.

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