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'Ghost agents' slip through immigration loophole

By: Barry O'Regan

Ghost agents, providing pen to paper filling out immigration paperwork on behalf of Canadians seems to be a pretty lucrative business making some Ghost agents thousands and thousands of dollars in Vancouver and the lower mainland.

Whether by word of mouth, attending cultural community events and networking, Ghost agents promise Canadians a speedy process, sometimes promising an "in" with immigration authourities, to bring family members to Canada for a fee.

What is distressing is many Ghost agents are usually from the same culture or country, such as the Far East, thus giving the prey a false sense of security and comaraderie to those seeking immigration advice to those in the community.

Currently Ghost agents, long a thorn in the side of legitimate and registered Immigration Consultants need not be registered in Canada. It is akin to having a friend of a friend do your income taxes, because they are cheap or promise a big tax refund, only to have the Canadian Revenue Agency audit or find glaring errors in your return.

The federal government if they have their way will soon put a stop to unscrupulous Ghost agents who promise the moon and the stars for cash, yet deliver very little. Those who use the services of Ghost agents seem to have little recourse in recouping the thousands of dollars paid by those seeking a solution in bringing over family members.

The CIC website has implicit instructions on how everyone can fill out all the paperwork themselves.

The two mottos to abide by it seems are, "if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is", and "if you want something done right, either do it yourself or hire a legitimate agency."

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