“The money’s the same, whether you earn it or scam it.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — My exclusive interview with Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant Shereen Santos Dulay of the Kabayan Immigration and Network Services Ltd sometime in July 2010 in Surrey, Canada, proved to be prophetic.
When the Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines in Vancouver issued an “advisory on immigration and visa-related scams” in July 2018, some of the warnings and violations committed by unscrupulous “immigration consultants” raised by Dulay eight years ago were still apparently relevant and continued to be committed until now.
The Consulate has informed the Filipinos that “Interpol has issued an advisory about scams involving entities that pose as immigration law firms, visa travel companies, organizations or government agencies that target applicants for visas and residents/work permits, covering a wide range of categories such as study, scholarship, high-paying jobs and permanent residency.”
The Consulate added: “The scammers offer professional support for their would-be victims to immigrate to Canada, using social engineering methods as such telephone calls, sending emails and letters that include false documents and applications forms, or routing them to fake or look-alike websites that are under the control of scammers.”
“Victims are pushed to pay fees (such as for administrative processes, online examinations, etc.) and to send money through a specific private money transfer company in advance,” the Consulate further warned.
As Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) members, Dulay told this writer in 2010 they were mandated to report the existence of “ghost” immigration consultants who take advantage of the ignorance of some applicants.
“The mandate of CSIC is to really protect the public, not us,” she stressed. “As CSIC members we are bound to abide by its rules and regulations.”
Dulay warned that “because of lack of proper knowledge, some applicants go to ‘ghost’ consultants who don’t have liabilities.”
She lamented that when some applicants shied away from legitimate consultants to avoid paying lawful fees, “they were enticed and fooled by ‘ghost’ consultants who charged lower fees.”
Dulay lauded the CSIC for its efforts to neutralize unscrupulous consultants.
“CSIS has been placing advertisements in newspapers to warn the public,” she pointed out.
Dulay said CSIS prohibits immigration consultants from giving guarantee of success and faster processing time to applicants “because it is implying that you have special powers or connections with the CSIC.”
“That’s what the ghost consultants are doing,” she exclaimed.
Dulay also warned that foreign low skilled workers intending to work in Canada should not pay recruitment fees to their employers because it is illegal under the law.
The law provides that employers should be the ones to shoulder all the recruitment costs of foreign workers “but there are some applicants who still don’t know this,” Dulay stressed.
Dulay, licensed member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), invoked the guidelines for hiring of foreign workers set by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, saying employers can apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) under the Pilot Project for Occupation Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Hiring employers are expected to abide the following, according to Dulay:
-Meet at least the minimum recruitment efforts required for NOC C and D occupations;
-Consult with the local union to determine if the position is covered under a collective agreement;
-Cover all recruitment costs related to the hiring of the foreign worker; and
-Sign an employment contract outlining wages, duties, and conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, and health and occupational safety of the foreign worker.
Employers will also pay the transportation costs for the worker to travel from his/her country of permanent residence to the location of work in Canada and for the return to the country of permanent residence and offer wages that are equal or higher than the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians in the same occupation and region.
The guidelines states that “In an unionized environment, offer the same wage rate as established under the collective bargaining agreement.
In cases where benefits are offered to Canadians, extend those same benefits to the temporary foreign worker. In order to address unique circumstances, HRSDC/Service Canada maintains the right to set the prevailing wage rate.”
They must also agree to review and adjust (if necessary) the worker’s wages after 12 months of employment to ensure the worker continues to receive the prevailing wage rate of the occupation and region where he/she is employed; help the worker find suitable, affordable accommodation; provide medical coverage until the worker is eligible for provincial health insurance coverage; and register their workers under the appropriate provincial workers compensation/ workplace safety insurance plans.