It is a known fact that people all over the world get cheated by crooked people who pose as Immigration Consultants who can make dreams come true. It is hard to believe that intelligent, hardworking, professional people get cheated for thousands of dollars by these "ghost" agents who will take their money and disappear into thin air. Most people in their desperation to get into "greener" pastures are ready to believe anything and pay any sum of money and overlook due diligence.
So what should you look for when choosing an Immigration Consultant and what are the telltale signs of a "ghost" consultant.
1. Know that ONLY 2 parties are authorized to legally represent a client at Canada Immigration. They are registered Lawyers from a Law society in a Province in Canada or a Certified Immigration Consultant registered with the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC). These parties are called "Authorized Representatives"
2. An authorized representative MUST be a Permanent Resident or Citizen of Canada.
3. If anyone says they can get you to Canada ask them if they have a licence to practise and ask for a copy of the licence. Do not be afraid - this is your money and life you are putting at risk. Once you get the copy log on to the society they belong to and search if they are members in good standing, write to the member body (either CISC or to the Provincial Law Society) , call the member bodies if you have to confirm their membership.
4. If the Representative says he/she is just representing an authorized company or person in Canada or that they are agents for a company in Canada, then ask for the name of the company, a copy of the licence of the Canadian party and the agency certificate. Contact the company or person in Canada and make sure it is true.
5. If the representative seems too much in a hurry to sign you up or says the deal is ONLY for today or "I am only here for today - sign up or you lose your chance" know that a life changing decision cannot be made in an instant. Ethical authorized representatives will always provide you with ample time, give you options before they will ask you to sign an agreement or take your money. They will readily give you all information upfront
6. If anyone says they can "guarantee" your visas - know there is something wrong. According to the ethical guideline of authorized representatives no one can guarantee visas
7. Ask the representative if referrals can be provided - call the referrals and find out their experience
8. Ask if they have a website - check out the website.
9. Do your homework about Canada before you go. Know what the Provinces are, some statistics, and question the representative and check if they know the answers. Anyone who does not know about Canada should not be promoting Canada.
Asking questions and exercising due diligence is the only way you can save yourself from a lot of trouble later on. Be prepared - there are more "ghost" agents out there as against Authorized Representatives. Authorized Representatives have gone through rigorous studies and continuing education to serve you efficiently, provide you with sound advice, fight for you at Canada Immigration and get you to your dream destination as quickly as possible with minimum trouble to you. So do yourself a huge favour and choose a representative wisely and join us in crushing the underworld of Ghost consultants by reporting them either to Canada Immigration or to the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. We apologies for erroneously leaving out the name of the author in the Sunday April 10 2011 article published in the Education Times.
- Sharmila Perera. ACIS. CCIC. Certified Immigration Consultant - M042390