Regulatory body has no jurisdiction over unlicensed immigration consultants: CEO
Three men from India who say they were duped by the same immigration scam complained in vain about their alleged fraudster to an oversight body that they thought could help: the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
John Murray is the president and CEO of the Burlington, Ont.-based ICCRC.
“We don't have jurisdiction over individuals who are not licensed with us,” Murray told CTV News.
The men say they trusted Karnail Singh Ghadial, a so-called “ghost” immigration consultant, who operated in a kind of unregulated black market. The men allege that Ghadial gave them fake job offers that eventually quashed their chances of working in Canada and got them expelled from the country. Ghadial says he didn’t know the job offers were fake.
“This is a major issue for us and one which we can do very little about,” Murray explained.
The ICCRC does, however, pass complaints on to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), but the under-resourced agency admitted to CTV News that it investigates “mass fraud, rather than one-offs.”
But those “one-offs” can be repeat offenders. In the past two years alone, the ICCRC says it has referred 98 cases to the CBSA, which led to 16 charges.
The men from India say there has been no update from the CBSA regarding their case.
“All I want is justice,” Kamalpreet Singh told CTV News from Jalandhar, India. “That’s all I want.”
The ICCRC, moreover, says it lacks enforcement powers even with its own licensed members. It can name and shame them, remove licenses and issue small fines, but it has trouble collecting that money. It also can’t compel witnesses to tribunals or search and seize documents.
Murray of the ICCRC says Ottawa was been stalling on the group’s push to get more teeth.
“We've gotten a consistent message, and the message is, ‘Soon, but not yet,’” he said.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says complaints such as those from the Indian men are not taken lightly by Ottawa.
“We take anything that threatens the integrity of our immigration system very seriously,” he told CTV News.
When it comes to helping people move to Canada, Ravi Jain of the Canadian Bar Association says that such jobs should be left to lawyers and not consultants.
“Some of them practice without even (graduating) high school,” Jain claimed in an interview with CTV News. “Some of them practice and are grandfathered by just taking a rinky-dink online community college course.”
The ICCRC’s push for stricter rules comes as Ottawa is taking in more immigrants -- 350,000 by 2021 -- which many feel should be accompanied by additional measures to crackdown on scammers preying on would-be Canadians.