Wish I was exaggerating when I say that the amount of people seeking to move to Canada from South African has sky rocketed this year, but it has. With this increased interest in immigration to Canada and several other countries, the amount of immigration scams occurring in South Africa has also increased. When looking to move to Canada from South Africa, or any other country for that matter, it is important to do your homework and ensure that you are using someone reputable and that you are obtaining the correct advice and information, otherwise you could be wasting not only your time but also your money.
One of the major factors to watch out for when selecting an immigration company / representative to assist you is to ensure that the company or representative is legally authorised to give immigration advise. Many companies state that they have an authorised representative working for them, but they fail to tell you that that person is not handling your case. In most cases companies advertise they are registered, but all the registered individual does is sign off your file before submission. They never assess you, communicate with you, or even complete your application. In most cases the authorised individual is not even on this continent. One of the major issues with this method is, if you sign on and go through the entire immigration process you may actually find out months later at the time of submission that you never actually qualified for immigration to begin with.
When anyone assesses you or qualifies you for immigration OR gives you paid advice ensure they are actually authorised to do so and are not a case worker, agent of the representative or a sales person. For example, when dealing with Canadian Immigration you need to be one of the following to provide advice or recommend an immigration program / plan:
- Lawyers and paralegals who are members in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society (Does not include South African Lawyers or paralegals)
- Notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec and (Does not include South African Notaries)
- Immigration consultants who are members in good standing of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC)
If you are on the phone with someone who is telling you that you qualify for Canadian immigration, or immigration to any other country, ask him or her if they are a salesperson or if they fall into one of the authorised classifications for that specific country. If they say that they do, ask for their registration number and verify it on the official website for that organisation. Do not be afraid to hang up and call them later. A lot of companies are using scare tactics and try to force you to sign up o the phone immediately and to pay them via credit card. Also be clear that you want to speak with the authorised representative directly and not the case manager before signing on for anything or making payments of any kind to the company. We highly recommend you get the authorised representative’s phone number and direct e-mail address as well to see if they communicate with you, to ensure they are legitimate.
If you are looking to immigrate to Canada from South Africa you can find out if the person you are dealing with falls under one of the categories by checking with their regulatory board in Canada directly. The regulatory board will be able to confirm their registration and their physical address. The immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) provides the list of all of their members on their website where you can search by name, location, company name, and a variety of other criteria:
If the person you are looking to hire for your Canadian immigration application does not appear to be registered with any of the regulatory boards listed above, ask them directly which regulatory board they belong to along with their membership number. This will give them the opportunity to clarify your concerns. You can then use this to confirm with their regulatory body. Also, most companies display their membership logo directly on their website. If you do not see this logo, it may be a clue that they are not legally authorised to represent you.
If you find a person or company is not authorised to provide Canadian immigration advise for a fee you should not use them in order to protect yourself and your application from any possible issues with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. You can also report them directly to the ICCRC by visiting the site below:
Alternatively, if it is a lawyer who is not registered with the required body you can report them to the law society which they are a member of:
If you are looking to immigrate to New Zealand then by law, any person that gives you immigration advice about New Zealand must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority unless they have been given an exemption. This includes people giving New Zealand immigration advice from South Africa, or anywhere else in the world. You can find out if the person you have contacted is licensed at the link below by searching a variety of criteria including country of location:
You can also see if they have an exemption at the link below:
If you are looking to immigrate to Australia then only registered migration agents can legally provide you with immigration assistance in Australia. To do this, they must be listed on the Register of Migration Agents, held by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. You can find a registered agent at the link below by searching a variety of criteria including country of location:
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Most countries require that anyone providing immigration advice be registered by a designated body. If you are looking to immigrate to a country that is not listed above be sure to do your research with their government to review the requirements.
When researching representatives for any of the countries listed above, always ensure you are researching the correct company. Many scam companies are now copying authorised individuals’ websites in hopes of scamming clients who think they are using the legitimate company. The company name could vary by one letter and look and sound exactly the same. This is why it is also important to always check for the appropriate logo on the website and to search for the representative’s name. Most countries require by law that the name of the authorised representative be listed on the company website. You can then use these details to do your search on one of the sites above. For some of the countries above, such as Canada, you can actually contact the authorised representatives directly through the government site. This way you know the person who receives your e-mail is the correct person.
Another major issue which has arisen with the increased interest in emigration is the amount of fake recruiters and job offers on the internet. These posts usually advertise what appears to be a legitimate job in another country. Once you apply you will be contacted and either told you have to sign a contract within 24 hours, and then they will request a specific fee from you to “obtain your job offer”, or they will simply ask for the money up front once you apply. This is not how a legitimate process works. Depending on the country, the employer has to obtain authorisation from the government before they can apply for your work permit, so even if they want to hire you there is no guarantee you will be given authorisation from the government to take the job. Some of the major indicators that a job post or offer like this is not legitimate are as follows:
The person who contacted you is using a non business e-mail account such as Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail. For example one of the latest job offer scams used the company McCain Food and was contacting people from Gordon /McCain Foods and Dairy and Farms Ltd in Canada using the e-mail address email@example.com. A company as large as McCain Foods would not have their Human Resources or Recruiting Department contacting people from a Gmail account. You can view the full fake job offer as a reference here:
The advertisement or communication states that your job is “guaranteed”. No immigration document or permit can ever be guaranteed as it is at the discretion of the applicable government. You should take note of this for any immigration program or application, not just job offers.
The advertisement states that you need to pay for up front fees that the employer cannot cover such as your work permit, labour market impact assessment, or visas. They then ask you to pay these fees to them and not directly to the government. The government will never ask you to deposit money into a individual’s bank account or transfer money to a private company.
Money is requested up front for anything. If anyone is asking you for money up front for a job and is not clear what the money is for or who it is going to, then it is likely a scam.
If you do receive a job offer and you are not sure whether it is real or fake, contact the company directly on their contact details listed on the company’s official website. In the case of Gordon /McCain Foods and Dairy and Farms Ltd we contacted them directly in Canada and were provided with a written response confirming that the job posting was indeed a scam and that no money should be sent to the individual.
If you think you have been scammed or know of an immigration scam that you would like to share with others, please feel free to contact me directly and it will be posted on our immigration blog for others to be aware of http://www.canadaabroad.com/blog/