Citizenship industry rife with fraud and criminality, immigration consultant warns

By Drew Penner

Canada has much stricter barriers to entry than many citizens realize. Our average of around 250,000 yearly immigrants over the past decade suggested by the federal government’s advisory council to tick up to 300,000 or even 450,000 sounds like a lot. But that’s only a fraction of the people trying to get it. Just ask Alex Khadempour, the managing director and senior consultant at Vancouver-based CICS Immigration Consulting Inc[1]

“There’s no shortage of people want to come to Canada,” he said, adding there’s also no shortage of immigration scams either. “There’s a lot of people who end up losing money.”

Last month, when a federal court judge affirmed a deportation order for West Vancouver mansion owner Xiao Quing Ling and her two sons, whose permanent residency had been renewed based on incorrect information, the problems with immigration scams were once again brought into stark focus for the public[2]

But Khadempour says, sadly, it’s a situation citizenship professionals are all too familiar with.

“It hasn’t really made waves in the industry,” he said of the case. “Things like this happen all the time.”

Part of the issue is just how damn hard it is to get the thumbs up to move to Canada legally. For example, about 60 per cent of immigrants come in through the two-step Express Entry system[3], where you have to qualify for an economic program and then make it through a ranking system were you get a certain number of points before being invited to apply.

There can be 70 – 80,000 people sitting in that pool at any one time, but only around 6,000 people at a time are even invited to apply. And that opens the door to abuse, Khadempour explains.

“I know a lot of consultants and lawyers who will take the upfront fee, knowing this person will not be able to come into Canada,” he said, stressing his company’s ethos is the exact opposite.

Xiao Quin Ling’s family had forged papers created by immigration fraudsters New Can Consultants (Canada) Ltd. / Wellong International Investments Ltd., whose owner Xun “Sunny” Wang pled guilty to other immigration offences. The family was found not to be helpless victims of New Can, as the court noted they lied to stay in the country.

Khadempour says he encounters a deluge of similar citizenship industry criminality, getting about one email a week from companies offering things like work permits, with price tags in the range of $20 – $100,000.

In fact, a couple months ago his company name showed up in Asia, where some mimickers were attempting to use his clout to scam people in India.

He feels for the families who get caught up in these scams, since they are often doing their best to escape poverty and start a new life in Canada lawfully.

“There’s a lot of false promises,” he said. “It’s a huge industry and a huge market.”

Even licensed consultants Khadempour warns can make mistakes, since our immigration law is so complex.

“There are so many fake paths,” he said. “There’s only a select few who will actually understand what the legitimate paths are.”

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