How to Avoid Employment Scams When Looking to Move to Canada, New Zealand or Australia

Lately there has been an increase in the amount of immigration scams relating specifically to working abroad. These scams target those looking to work and move to Canada, Australia and New Zealand and numerous other countries around the world.

In order to protect yourself from these scams it is important to first know the basic requirements of working abroad so you can easily spot a scam based on the offer itself. In this article we are going to focus on Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In order to work in Canada the basic requirements for obtaining a work permit are as follows:

  • You need to obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer;
  • In most cases the employer needs to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (this is the approval number that allows a Canadian employer to employ a foreign national). There are certain cases where a Labour Market Impact Assessment may not be required;
  • The Canadian Government needs to approve the Labour Market Impact Assessment;
  • If the Labour Market Impact Assessment has been approved, you can then apply for a work permit through your local Canadian Embassy or High Commission;
  • Your local Canadian Embassy or High Commission will evaluate your application and either approve or reject your application;
  • If your application is approved, you will then be issued with a work permit to work in Canada.


A Labour Market Impact Assessment is where the Canadian employer needs to prove to the Canadian Government that they could not find a Canadian Citizen or Canadian Permanent Resident to fill the available position. The basic requirements are that they will need to advertise the positions in Canada for a minimum of four weeks, interview all eligible candidates that apply, and only if they can show there were no suitable candidates, then apply for the Labour Market Impact Assessment. Even if the employer does apply for the Labour Market Impact Assessment it can still be refused if the Canadian Government does not believe they could not find a suitable Canadian Citizen or Canadian Permanent Resident to fill the available position or they did not comply with the requirements.

Mr. Andrew Kerr, Director of of Network Migration based here in South Africa, was asked to comment on the processes for New Zealand and Australia as he is registered with both the Migration Agents Registration Authority of Australia and the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority.

For New Zealand he stated that “very few people will qualify for a skills based points tested visa without having an offer of employment so we usually do the work visa application first once we have the job offer and then the residency applications are completed on shore whilst the client is working in New Zealand.”

For New Zealand the basic requirements for obtaining a work permit are as follows:

  • You will require a job offer from an employer in New Zealand;
  • For those who cannot obtain a job offer from South Africa, they can apply for a visit visa to enter New Zealand and look for work;
  • Once a job offer has been obtained you can apply for your permit from within South Africa;
  • Processing times can then take between 7 – 25 working days.


For Australia the basic requirements for obtaining a work permit are as follows:

  • You need to obtain a job offer from an Australian employer;
  • The employer then needs to apply for a Sponsorship Approval Number (this is the approval number that essentially allows an Australian employer to employ a foreign worker to work for their company in Australia).  The employer needs to therefore complete the relevant forms and motivation for the employment offer. Note, this only applies if the employer doesn’t already have an existing valid Sponsorship Approval Number;
  • Once the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has issued the employer a Sponsorship Approval Number, the employer then applies for a Nomination Number for the particular position he/she wants the foreign employee to fill. The employer completes the relevant forms. Once these two steps are completed, then the main application for the applicant can be lodged. You would require the signed offer of employment, the employment contract and job description for the employee.


In terms of actually obtaining a job offer abroad, this is where we see most of the scams taking place. As it is quite difficult to find work abroad, especially where the employer is required to go through certain authorisation processes, many companies are specifically targeting those looking to work abroad claiming they can guarantee work. They may pose as recruiters or employees of the company themselves.

The first such scam pertains to fake job postings. 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 upfront once you apply. This is not how a legitimate process works. The employer is required to pay any fees relating to your authorisation such as a Labour Market Impact Assessment mentioned above. When actually applying for your work permit either you may be required to pay the fee directly to the government, or your employer may pay it for you. You can view two examples of these scams below:

In both of the above cases the employer was contacted and confirmed that the offers were part of 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. You can also search for the offer on the internet and in many cases some of these offers have already been flagged as scams.

Some of the major indicators that a job post or offer is not legitimate are as follows:

  • The person who contacted you is using a Gmail/yahoo/Hotmail account and not an actual business e-mail address. For example one of the latest 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 protected]
  • 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 and not the employer.
  • 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 an 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;
  • They tell you that you need to obtain a document which does not exist. For example, some individuals were asked to complete a form for their “Canadian Foreign Labor Certification (CFLC)”. This does not exist, and in Canada they spell “labour” with a u.


The second type is what we call “legal scams”. In these cases, companies offer you assistance in finding a job abroad for a fee. They may say they can guarantee you a job or they have a network of recruiters and employers that they work with and can find you a job wherever you are. They typically also like to excite the prospective client by telling them that their job is in high demand. In most of these cases you will pay the money and get no results from it. As their retainer/client agreements usually stipulate this in the fine print you have no grounds for a refund once you have signed on with them.

In these cases, the first thing to ask is, “have they said they can guarantee me a job?” No one can guarantee you a job, as even if you get the offer there are other steps involved before you can work abroad. Also, the final outcome is at the discretion of the prospective government and not the agent or recruiter.

Next, ask yourself, “what are they asking me to pay for?” What will the money be used for? Their services, government fees, employer’s fees etc?  Once you have an answer ask yourself it makes sense based on the service being offered.

Next, read the fine print. In many of these cases it is lawyers or agencies with legitimate consultants on staff, but the service being offered is not what you signed on for. One such example are self directed employment search packages. In these cases, you may be asked to pay $2,000 or more for assistance in finding a job. An example of what you get for these fees are as follows:

  • They will submit your CV to their network of recruiters;
  • They will provide you with a list of employers in Canada;
  • They will re-format your CV;
  • They provide you with video tutorials;
  • They will provide you with a certificate issued by their company, not the Canadian government, which will show employers you are eligible to work in Canada, New Zealand or Australia (please note these do not aid you in searching for work as they are not issued by the relevant government and have no bearing on applying for work abroad).


The agreement you then sign will clearly state that they cannot guarantee you a job, they will not contact employers on your behalf, they cannot guarantee that the list of employers they provide you with are hiring, they cannot guarantee that any of the employers are willing to hire foreign nationals. Always ensure you read this fine print and ask yourself if the fee you are paying is worth what you are getting. Will you be happy paying this fee if it means you will not get a job offer out of it? Once you sign that agreement and pay them the money they may not be obliged to do much for you. You can find CV and résumé templates online for free. You can search for jobs online for free. You can read up online about the interview process in different countries and research employment tips on your own for free.

When looking to work or move to Canada from South Africa, or any other country such as New Zealand and Australia, it is important to do always do your homework.

In some cases, a job offer may not be required for certain individuals looking to move to Canada, New Zealand or Australia. In these cases you would need to be interested in immigrating to Canada, New Zealand or Australia as these programs would be for Permanent Residency and not temporary residency.

If you think you have been scammed or know of an immigration scam that you would like to share with others, please feel fee to contact me directly at [email protected] and it will be posted on our immigration blog for others to be aware of.

Tel: +27(0)110119022