On Sunday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney praised a Federal Court ruling denying citizenship to Syrian immigrant Nasoh Raslan. At trial, it was revealed that Mr. Raslan’s Ontario “home” phone number was common to 62 other citizenship applicants, and his mailing address to 126 others.
Mr. Raslan reacted to events with a mixture of repentance and perplexity: “I now know that I definitely did not do the right thing,” he averred in an affidavit, “but at the time, I thought that [applying through another address] was simply a common and small stretch to the rules.”
Mr. Raslan has a right to be confused. Far greater stretches to the immigration rules—if under “rules” we include moral precepts of transparency and integrity—are made all the time, as any candid immigration judge will confirm.
Where do immigrants get the idea that stretching rules is “common” here? Partly from mercenary Canadians such as the “ghost” immigration consultants advertising their expertise on the perfectly legal website quickvisacanada.com. If the boasts put forward therein are even approximately accurate, Nasoh Raslan and his fake address represent the least of Canada’s immigration problems. The first thing you see on the website’s professional-looking home page is the statement: “A cheap, quick and effective way to come to Canada.”
Intrigued? I certainly would be if I were a credulous would-be immigrant eager to avoid a lot of red tape.
The website lays out the steps for coming to Canada “quickly and easily,” including this one: “The next step is to help you find a motive in order to claim refugee in Canada. We will provide you with a listing of different motives so that you can choose the one that best suits you” (emphasis mine—though I will leave in all the various spelling and grammatical mistakes).
Leaving nothing to chance, the company provides motives that have worked for other people: “For example many of our clients choose the type of motives in which they claim that there were part of an organization (anti-abortion, human rights, gay or lesbian movement, etc., etc.) back in their home country and that some people were against that movement. This is just a simple example. Our services are so complete that we will brief you before your departure so that your motive is well documented and well verbalized. We guarantee you that the immigration official will not return you to your country.”
In case the encouragement to be creative with the truth didn’t sink in the first time, it’s repeated again under the Frequently Asked Questions: “When you retain our services we help you find an effective and valid motive. Do not worry. We are experts in this matter.”
To the FAQ question, “I am 75 years old. Can I go to Canada?” they answer: “Of course you can. If you apply for a Skilled Worker visa you will probably be denied du to the age factor but when you claim refugee in Canada, the important point is your motive … We will make sure that you have a valid motive.”
Another FAQ raises the question of what to do if one’s “motive” is rejected. The answer: “We will guide you with a lot of information so that your refugee claim is gives the impression of being realistic and convincing. You will not have any problem. We have helped more than 1,200 people in the past eight years to claim refugee in Canada and every single person was able to claim refugee without being detained. … We never leave anyone stranded. That is why we are so famous and that is why so many people hire us to come to Canada.”
You will not find the endorsing logo of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) on quickvisacanada.com or other sites like it, but how is an immigrant to know that he should look for such a stamp of approval? In any case, there’s no downside to the client using ghost consultants (if they have the US$2,250 to pay up front) because claimants are not at present even asked if they have been coached by immigration consultants, let alone whether those consultants are legitimate or not.
Quebec, the only province controlling its own immigration policies, is moving to regulate immigration consultancy and close this loophole, a sensible initiative applauded by the CSIC. The federal government must also become ghost consultant-busters. Then Mr. Kenney may more credibly boast, as he did regarding the Raslan court decision, that his government is working hard “to protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship, particularly from those who would obtain it through fraud.”