Saturday, May 19, 2012

DIASPORIAN: No place for middlemen, now!

Data Page of Canadian Passport
Data Page of Canadian Passport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Added by Pradip Rodrigues on May 18, 2012.



An employee working with an immigration firm, specializing in investor category immigrants, could be out of job by July. That’s when new law governing investors and investments from overseas comes into effect. Immigration to Canada will never be the same again and while many are bewildered by the pace and scope of the changes, others in the know are wondering simply what took the government so long? How could a sovereign nation knowingly allow fly-by-night immigration consultants across the globe sully the reputation of the country and defraud and gouge immigrants to this extent?
It is not just immigration consultants and lawyers to blame for assisting their clients to skirt or break rules in order to get accepted as immigrants to Canada but often it is the immigrants themselves that are willing to pay a premium if a sketchy immigrant consultant could ‘get things done’. And many a times they did, by cleverly exploiting the laws, forging documents and putting their clients under categories that would get them into Canada. What the government is doing today is plugging those gaping loopholes and raising the requirements. Furthermore, immigration is being made so transparent that a would-be immigrant from anywhere could access information and apply, minus the middle-man.
Every single new change that has been made is a result of high levels of fraud and misuse and most immigrants have heard first hand of some of the fraud.
Here are some common ones in layman’s terms without the technical aspects of the scam:
*Many immigrants who ‘used’ the investor category, never started the businesses they claimed they’d start, or if they did, showed it sold to their partner while they got out of their obligation.
*Many so-called refugees, fly into Canada unmolested from the very country they claim their lives were in danger only to fly back ‘home’ on vacation days after they get permanent residency.
*Many of these ‘refugees’ own and continue to invest in properties in the very countries they claimed in their application were dangerous.
*After 9/11, dozens of women with dozens of children, many of South Asian heritage, showed up at Canadian borders claiming refugee status. These ‘refugee’ lived illegally in the US, their husbands flew back home and the wives claimed they were abandoned thus qualifying for housing, living and medical expenses that some of us legal immigrants would envy.
Some residents in my neighborhood admitted they paid big money back home to forge documents that enabled them to migrate, thanks to their immigration consultant, who handled everything beautifully. They told me to refer him to anyone I knew, wanted to immigrate here, no case was difficult or impossible for him. Poor chap is no longer in business.
And then of course are tourists, who arrive here and suddenly realise their lives could be in danger if they returned home, so they filed for refugee status, a very reliable and concerned lawyer, specialising in refugee law, would file a real tear-jerker of an application. Medicals, including medications etc, would be given to the refugee claimant, who would then happily skip his hearings and would never be heard off again.
Such fraud is now the stuff of myth and every immigrant wanted that prized Canadian passport, especially law breakers from other countries, who found the immunity it gave them priceless.
One would think that the Canadian passport would be an immigrant’s most cherished possessions but it is common knowledge that thousands of immigrants have ‘lost’ their passports mostly in their ‘home’ countries. Many are known to have repeatedly ‘lost’ their passports. No doubt, there are cases where Canadian tourists have been robbed off their bags containing their passports. It is well known or at least at one time that there were thousands of dollars to be made by ‘losing’ passports.
Fake marriages, scams
Who hasn’t heard about the racket about fake marriages being held at halls where even the guests were rented? And the one about Canadians marrying overseas partners only to dump them and dupe their victims of thousands of dollars? Who hasn’t heard about dowry demands from Canadian passport holders?
There are plenty of such scams that have been taking place for years and it was not that the governments of the time were unaware of the ongoing scams. It was just convenient and simpler to look the other way. Immigration visa became and still is a great Canadian export that brings in millions of dollars and human capital.
In earlier times, immigration lawyers and consultants collectively earned millions by being middle-men and facilitating the whole immigration process. Now, the government is striving to get rid of the middlemen, who’ve corrupted the system.
Will these measures be scam-proof? Far from it, already fraudsters are looking at ways and means to circumvent the law. But for now, many of the scams I’ve listed above are in decline or have been stopped temporarily. There is no doubt that a Canadian passport has lost its value in recent years as internationally a large number of newcomers with questionable backgrounds have been granted Canadian citizenship. Perhaps the tightening of regulations and closer scrutiny will result in a new healthy respect for new Canadians as they flaunt their passports.

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