Beware of these immigration scams

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If you’re interested in immigrating, be wary about some unscrupulous schemes out there. These ploys take advantage of your desire to seek greener pastures and your eagerness to come to Canada by offering “quick and easy” ways to immigrate. Some of these have become so sophisticated that many trusting victims don’t know what hit them until they are left hanging and waiting for their visas that would never come:

Nomination from the “Canada Immigration and Resettlement Bureau”

In this scheme, targets receive an official-looking email about the “Canada Resettlement Provincial Nomination Program.” The “nominee” is informed that he or she has been chosen to settle in Canada as a result of an electronic ballot system. The letter is from the Canada Immigration and Settlement Bureau and is signed by a program coordinator. (To see a copy, go to: Scam

What is alarming about the email is that it looks quite authentic. It follows the format of emails sent by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (formerly CIC). It even provides you with a nomination code and ends with a “Legal Notice.” Applicants to the Provincial Nominee Program may be the primary targets of this dubious scheme. It can be easy to believe that it is an official email from the government of Canada until you discover that the Canada Immigration and Settlement Bureau does not exist.

The email does not ask for money or personal information (at least at first). This may lull you into a false sense of security considering that they are merely informing you that you are eligible for the program. But, take note that at the end of the email it says “Please confirm receipt of this notification by responding immediately.” This is how they will hook you into going through the next steps which will definitely involve more than a simple reply. Many victims have been fooled into sending large sums of money because of the “nomination” and settlement promises.

Fake job/scholarship offers

There are many variations of this scam. Usually, these start from ads (online or print) with the heading: “Guaranteed visas and jobs in Canada.” Some ads are looking for specific workers (teachers, cleaners, sales people, etc.) promising salaries amounting to thousands of dollars. Others offer study visas and scholarships. Another form would be a job offer coming from an alleged Canadian company (examples: Orange Farm, Flourish Hotel, Cathy Ranch and Farm in Quebec). These can reach you via direct emails that guarantee work visas in exchange for thousands of dollars in “processing fees.”

What you need to know is that nobody can guarantee you a visa or job in Canada. No outside private agency has special agreements with the Canadian government to secure jobs or visas on your behalf. Also, no legitimate employer will ask for money in exchange for a job. A red flag to watch out for is a request for payment (“visa or placement fees”) to be sent to a personal account. Some invent a third party that sounds official (they will say it is affiliated with the government) but the company does not exist at all.

Immigration agency “guaranteed visa”

These are travel agencies or “immigration representatives” who will handle your application for you in exchange for a considerable fee (they may call it application, handling or agency fee). While there are legitimate immigration representatives, you should beware of those who seem to be more interested in the processing fee (and demand it in advance) than explaining the actual process of application to you. Red flags to watch out for: Guaranteed visa, guaranteed quick processing time, high processing fees (considerably higher than those charged by Canadian visa offices), the lawyer or immigration consultant is not a member of professional organizations, or no updates are given after payment is made.

What you should watch out for:

  1. Typographical and grammatical errors on the letter, ad or email.
  2. The email not addressing you by name.
  3. The website or email address not coinciding with the company/agency name. Take note that the email and website address of CIC or IRCC (or any government agency in Canada) ends in or .ca not .com.
  4. The name of the organization is different or familiar-sounding but not exactly it.
  5. The offer is too good to be true.
  6. Everything is guaranteed.
  7. The letter conveys urgency. For example, “Act now, this is a limited offer!” or “Respond immediately as the deadline is closing”.
  8. Requests for sensitive or personal information like date of birth, passwords, and credit card information.

How to protect yourself:

  1. Know what you are getting into. Never trust blindly and leave your fate on another person or agency. Research and learn about Canada’s immigration streams. Read 11 ways to immigrate to Canada and Applying for immigration in 7 steps.
  2. If you have doubts about certain information, verify by going to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (formerly, Citizenship and Immigration Canada) site.
  3. Do not share personal or financial information online.
  4. Don’t open emails from people or organizations you don’t know. Don’t click links from unfamiliar emails.
  5. You don’t need a representative to apply for immigration. All forms are available for download (for free) on the IRCC/CIC site forms and guides and are easy to fill-out. If you choose to have a representative, go to Use of a representative before your hire one.
  6. Do an internet search on the company offering a job or immigration assistance. You can do a general search on Google. Also, read threads or join immigration online forums. Some victims of immigration scams post their experience to warn others.

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Community Resources

Read Protect yourself from fraud to be aware of other dangerous schemes out there.

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