Beware of these immigration scams

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There are many illegal immigration schemes out there. Learn about them to protect yourself from becoming a victim:

Fake job/scholarship offers

There are many types of this scam:

  • “Guaranteed visas and jobs in Canada.” These are advertisements looking for workers like teachers, cleaners, or sales people. They promise big salaries. Others offer study visas and scholarships.
  • Job offer from a fake Canadian company. Examples of these companies are Orange Farm, Flourish Hotel, Cathy Ranch and Farm in Quebec and various “Oil and Gas” firms from Alberta and Vancouver. These offers come via email. They guarantee work visas in exchange for thousands of dollars in “processing fees.”

Nobody can guarantee a visa or job in Canada. The Canadian government does not partner with private agencies to get jobs or visas. If you receive such an offer, don’t provide personal information or payment. Do a Google search to check if the company is legal.

Signs that the job offer is a scam include: free housing, extremely high salary and benefits, no interview required. Read Internet, email and telephone scams from the IRCC to know other signs.

Paper job immigration scam

This is a fake job that an employer illegally sets up. The foreigner who wants to be an employee in Canada pays around $170,000 and a big service fee. This pays for their salary for a year and the deductions the employer has to pay to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). The employer sends an amount to the employee’s bank account and to CRA monthly. After a year, the employee can apply to be a Permanent Resident.

Marriage of convenience

This is a fake marriage to a Canadian spouse. The foreigner pays at least $50,000 for this arrangement. It is a dangerous situation especially since immigration officers make strict document checks, visit people’s homes and conduct interviews with both sponsors and applicants. Couples charged with marriage fraud are fined for up to a $100,000 or sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years, or both. They will also be deported and will not be allowed to return to Canada for five years. This will be on their immigration record permanently.

Immigration agency “guaranteed visa”

These are travel agencies or “immigration representatives” who will handle your application for you. They will also charge large fees. Stay away from agencies that:

  • offer guaranteed visa.
  • offer guaranteed quick processing time.
  • charge unreasonably higher processing fees compared to those charged by Canadian visa offices.
  • has lawyers or immigration consultants who are not members of any professional organization.
  • provide no update after a payment is made.

Nomination from the “Canada Immigration and Resettlement Bureau”

Targets receive an official-looking email about the “Canada Resettlement Provincial Nomination Program.” It will say that you have been chosen by the Canada Immigration and Settlement Bureau to settle in Canada as a result of an electronic ballot system (To see a copy, go to: Scam

Provincial Nominee Program applicants are the targets of this scheme. Remember that there is no Canadian government agency called “Canada Immigration and Settlement Bureau”.

What you should watch out for:

  1. Typographical and grammatical errors on the letter, ad or email.
  2. The email or letter 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 company address does not exist, or if it does, it’s not the same company.
  5. The offer is too good to be true.
  6. Everything is guaranteed.
  7. The letter will push you to act. Examples: “Act now, this is a limited offer!” or “Respond immediately as the deadline is closing”.
  8. It will ask for personal information like date of birth, passwords, and credit card information.
  9. It will ask for payments before sending you the visa and other necessary documents.

How to protect yourself:

  1. Know Canada’s immigration streams. Learn about the application process. Go to the official site of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to know more.
  2. You don’t need a representative to apply for immigration. All forms are free: forms and guides. If you need a representative, read Use of a representative before your hire one.
  3. Do not share personal or financial information online. Never send personal documents like passports or birth certificates to people you don’t know.
  4. Check the company offering a job or immigration assistance. Look at their website. Check when the site was put up and their description of services (or the About Us page). Scam websites are usually weeks or months old. It will have grammatical errors and a vague description of services.
  5. Read forum threads or join immigration forums. Some victims of immigration scams post their experience to warn others.
  6. Never agree to short cuts or pay for services that agents will say speed up the approval of your application. Cheating or misrepresenting yourself is never ok. If you’re found out, it will be a permanent mark on your record even if it was an agent who did it for you.
  7. Trust your instincts. Ask questions, do your research and check all their claims and promises before agreeing to anything. Don’t be afraid to say no if you are not sure about what is being offered.

Article updated September 18, 2020.

Sources: Scamming your way to Canada is easy. The fix is easy too if government is willing to act, Richard Kurland, CBC News; Protect yourself from immigration fraud, IRCC; and Internet, email and telephone scams, IRCC. Accessed February 18, 2020.

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