The Chinese Exploitation Of Turkish Citizenship To More Easily Obtain US/EU Residency Permits — Greek

Would be nice to have more data rather than just examples of advertising by immigration consultants. That being said, not surprising that alternate and backdoor pathways emerge:

In order to circumvent strict norms put in place by the United States, rich Chinese people are on the lookout for easier alternatives to acquire the US citizenship.

They have recently discovered that obtaining Turkish citizenship first would make it easier for them to acquire US citizenship.

Chinese websites and social media platforms are flooded with advertisements for obtaining Turkish citizenship.

These advertisements underline that the alternate way to obtain US Citizenship is by first obtaining Turkish citizenship which can be acquired through an investment of at least USD$250,000 in property.

The advertisements emphasise that it is possible to go to America and other western countries easily after obtaining Turkish citizenship.

The tagline of ads reads, “if you buy real estate, all your family members get their passports as gifts.”

As a result of China’s strained relations with the USA and many European countries in recent years, it has become difficult for Chinese citizens to obtain a residence permit in Western countries.

One Chinese real estate consultancy firms that deals with real estate sales from Turkey, emphasises in one of its advertisements that for Turkish citizenship, “Britain is the best springboard for settling in developed countries, such as the USA.”

The expressions used in the advertisements for Turkish citizenship published in China are as follows: “AFTER YOU BUY THIS, YOU CAN GO TO THE USA.”

The advertisements highlight the features of the Turkish passport: It can only be earned by buying a house for USD$250,000.

• It is a cheap and simple process, and it has two great advantages: It is the best springboard to go as an immigrant to developed countries such as the UK and the USA. After obtaining a Turkish passport, you can go to the USA as an immigrant with an E2 investor ID.

• E2 is a visa issued by the USA only to countries with mutual trade partnerships. After you get Turkish Citizenship, you can commute to and from the USA, you can live in the USA. Your spouse can work in the USA. Your children can study in American schools.

• Turkey is a country that has a trade partnership with the US. The E2 visa is the country’s most issued visa. It can take 500-600 people every year.

• If you get a Turkish passport, you can go to England with a business visa. The UK government allows Turkish citizens to engage in business. A 1-year commercial visa can be obtained on the first application. After five years, the right to stay in the UK indefinitely can be earned. After getting a business visa from the UK, your children can study in the UK. They can study for free in public schools.

• You can earn a Turkish passport with very simple transactions, just by buying a house. You don’t need to go yourself. If you buy real estate for 1.600 million yuan (USD$250,000), all your family members will be given passports. It does not ask for any documents. You can complete the transactions without leaving home.

It is recalled that a Turkish passport guarantees visa free travel to over 100 countries. You can get an E2 visa to the US with it.

Turkey has provision vide, in which a foreigner can obtain Turkish nationality on the basis of certain amount of investment in real estate, capital investment, by way of business generating employment for Turkish nationals, or by investing in Treasury bonds or any type of government loan instrument.

In 2018, with a legal regulation, the lower limit of real estate investment, which is one of the options for citizens of other countries to obtain Turkish citizenship, had been reduced from USD$1 million to USD$250,000.

However on January 06, 2022, the regulation on the ‘Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law’ was amended and the investment values were enhanced.

The Turkish government facilitated the regulation for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship in a bid to support the Turkish lira.

However, China is exploiting this provision of Turkey, whereby Chinese citizens are purchasing real estate in Turkey or making a fixed capital investment to obtain Turkish citizenship.

This is in order to bypass the difficulty its citizens face in obtaining the residence permit in western countries.

Source: The Chinese Exploitation Of Turkish Citizenship To More Easily Obtain US/EU Residency Permits — Greek

Owners of 30 immigration firms in Chandigarh booked

At one point, the Canadian consulate had a “wall of shame” of fraud examples ….

Two days after the UT police booked owners of 29 immigration consultancy companies for not providing their information to the Police Department, the owners of 30 more such companies operating from Sector 17 and 22 have been booked for the same offence.

As per the District Magistrate’s orders, the immigration consultancy companies are supposed to provide information about the company and their antecedents to the police. The list of these companies is then uploaded on the Chandigarh Police website to assist people.

A police official said a majority of the companies operating from the city had not provided information to the police following which a check was being conducted and action being taken against erring company owners.

“We advise people to choose among the consultants whose names are mentioned in the list as in case the consultant commits a fraud, the police can easily track them,” said an official.

Meanwhile, an investigation has been initiated into the cases at the Sector 17 police station.

Source: Owners of 30 immigration firms in Chandigarh booked

Curry: Sorry, lawyers, that ship has sailed [re consultants]

Of note:

As a full-time Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and part-time journalist/opinion writer, I have been following New Canadian Media’s stories regarding immigration lawyers vs. immigration consultants with interest.

Writer Fabian Dawson’s Nov. 26 article quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA), who attempted to make the argument that immigration consultants should work under the supervision of lawyers. 

I have to point out to lawyer Barbara Jo Caruso, that with legislation passed by the federal government creating the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), that ship has sailed. It is so far out to sea, in fact, that it should not even be on lawyers’ radars. The battle is over, and lawyers did not get what they wanted.

The follow-up article by Dawson and Fernando Arce on Dec.1 did a good job explaining the role of the new College and quoting both its CEO, John Murray, as well as the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants(CAPIC) CEO, Dory Jade. The headline, “‘We are not subordinate to lawyers,’ say immigration consultants,” sums it up nicely.

Here’s my take:

More education?

Lawyers trumpet the fact that they went to law school. How many courses on immigration did they take? 

A lawyer in North Bay told me she took no courses on immigration in law school. That’s why she enlisted my assistance with a family court case with an immigration component. Of course, lawyers specializing in immigration law have taken courses — but how many?

I took seven with the University of British Columbia. With the new College, all new Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) will have to graduate from the Queen’s University program operated by its School of Law or from the University of Montreal for French-speaking RCICs.

Prior to my UBC experience, I was the executive director for eight years of the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre, an immigrant settlement agency, which also has an office in Timmins. I chaired the board of directors for three years after that. Back in the 1990s, I was chair of the board of a previous immigrant settlement agency for six years.

Yet, my immigration background is not as fulsome as that of many of my 9,500 RCIC colleagues.

I am the only RCIC practicing in North Bay, Ontario. There are no immigration lawyers in North Bay, and I have clients here who abandoned high-priced Toronto lawyers because they were not getting their calls returned or they felt they were being gouged.

In general, lawyers charge more than RCICs for the same service, and that’s why clients come to us. 

I have a BA from Carleton University and an MA from Central Michigan in addition to my year-long certificate from UBC. Sometimes, I feel uneducated compared to many of my colleagues, some of whom have MBAs, PhDs, or were Chartered Accountants in their previous lives. Many previously worked with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

‘Get over it’

Ms. Caruso says lawyers have to keep up with changes in immigration law and case law. So do RCICs.

I also subscribe to Lexbase, a monthly newsletter compiled by Vancouver lawyer Richard Kurland, that keeps us current. I read The Globe and Mail daily plus many other media sources, such as New Canadian Media. I read Andrew Griffith’s daily immigration blog. He is a former director-general with IRCC. His blog posts arrive while I am eating my breakfast.

I read the daily forum of emails by RCICs, operated by CAPIC, which is an invaluable source of information on cases and technical tips to survive the wonky online world of IRCC and its portals.

I have the third edition, and the second edition as well, of the excellent text by lawyers Chantal Desloges and Cathryn Sawicki — Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law, A Practitioner’s Handbook, published in 2021. 

I have current bound copies of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Our regulatory body, the College, requires that we take 16 hours of approved professional development sessions each year. I chalk up more hours than that, as do most of my colleagues.

All this is to say to lawyers: we don’t need you looking over our shoulders. The federal government has decided that isn’t going to happen, so get over it.

No one is listening

Ms. Caruso says the new College is just a name change. It’s far more than that, as Jade pointed out in the follow-up article. A major change is that it now has the power to go after unlicensed consultants, also known as ‘ghost consultants’, who plague the industry. These people are the vermin of our industry and operate mainly in foreign countries.

I have had my own experience with them. A scam outfit calling itself “Burlington Associates” with a phony website and Edmonton address stole my full name and RCIC identifier number and used it on their website, claiming I was an immigration lawyer working for them. 

I received two phone calls from overseas skilled technical people who had lost thousands of dollars in the scam. They both had phony job interviews on a video app and were promised jobs that never materialized in Vancouver.

Since I called them out on my website, pointing out that the operation is a scam, I have had no further calls. Prior to that, I contacted the RCMP, Canada Border Services, and our former regulatory body — all to no avail. 

When I alerted others on the CAPIC forum about what happened to me, I was surprised to hear the many respondents who said it has happened to them too. 

The lawyers I have named in this article understand there is lots of immigration work to go around and RCICs are no threat to their livelihoods. They know RCICs cannot represent clients in court and they have that field to themselves.

The vocal minority of lawyers apparently wants to continue their fight. But no one is listening.

Source: https://newcanadianmedia.ca/sorry-lawyers-that-ship-has-sailed/?utm_source=NCM+-+General+Audience&utm_campaign=429b3e3fdf-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_11_26_06_42_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8748041f15-429b3e3fdf-181639253

Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act Comes Into Force

Good overview by one of the immigration law firms:

We will see how well the new regime works and whether it results in better practices and more professional immigration consultants:

Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act has come into force, representing another step on the way to forming a new self-regulating body for immigration consultants. 

The act provides the framework for the creation of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), the body replacing the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

The act, which came into force on Thursday, November 26, 2020, but was first tabled in 2019, will see the introduction of a new licensing regime and a new code of professional conduct for immigration consultants.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says the CICC will be subject to ‘significant government oversight’.

The government will establish the code of conduct, set the composition of the College Board of Directors, and appoint up to a majority of directors, IRCC says.

“We’re taking decisive action to hold immigration and citizenship consultants to account by improving oversight and increasing accountability to protect both the public and consultants in good standing from dishonest consultants who are taking advantage of vulnerable people,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.


College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act

1.  Creates a licensing regime for immigration and citizenship consultants and requires that licensees comply with a code of professional conduct established by the minister, through regulations to be tabled by the government.

2. Authorizes the College’s Complaints Committee to conduct investigations into a licensee’s conduct and activities.

3. Authorizes the College’s Discipline Committee to take or require action if it determines that a licensee has committed professional misconduct or was incompetent.

4. Prohibits persons who are not licensees from using certain titles and representing themselves to be licensees and provides that the College may seek an injunction for the contravention of those prohibitions.

5. Gives the immigration minister the authority to determine the number of directors on the board of directors and to require the Board to do anything that is advisable to carry out the purposes of that Act.

6. Gives the new regulatory body to hear complaints regarding licensed members under the former regulatory body (ICCRC).

7. Fines doubled for consultants found to be violating rules.


In reality, the formation of the CICC represents a missed opportunity for the federal government to bring the regulation of immigration consultants directly under its remit. Self-regulatory bodies like the ICCRC and its predecessors have failed to the required job.

Ottawa should follow the example of Quebec, which regulates immigration consultants within the provincial government Ministry of Immigration. There is an established infrastructure that successfully regulates immigration consultants, without the repetitive problems faced by ICCRC and its predecessor.

The new act comes after years of investigations and reports citing abuse and violations by licensed and unlicensed consultants in the Canadian immigration industry.

The regulation of the immigration consultancy industry has long been a source of controversy, even before a Standing Committee report in 2017.

That report called for action in three main areas:

  1. The legislative framework for the body responsible for governing immigration and citizenship consultants.
  2. Investigations and enforcement concerning the offense of practicing while not authorized and other offences.
  3. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada procedures for processing applications and for communicating with clients and with prospective applicants.

Previously there have been a number of damning reports into the conduct of the existing ICCRC, exposing an unprofessional organization beset with infighting and poor practices.

An overwhelming concern is that unregulated ‘ghost’ consultants who operate in Canada and overseas without sanction.

The previous legal framework did not enable ICCRC to police unlicensed consultants inside Canada or abroad.  

This left the task for CBSA and RCMP, as well as the federal government, to try and address this problem. A number of high-profile fraud cases have thus made their way into the Canadian legal system.

The advice for immigration candidates is to exercise caution when hiring an immigration consultant.

Candidates who wish to receive representation are encouraged to hire a qualified immigration lawyer, monitored by a provincial law society.

Source: Canada’s College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act Comes Into Force

Queen’s launching new program to train immigration and citizenship consultants

Interesting back and forth between the lawyers and academics quoted. Although I am not a great fan of consultants compared to lawyers, given the history of poor and, in some cases, fraudulent representation, the program is professionally designed given the people involved:

On Aug. 1, Queen’s University will launch a graduate diploma in immigration and citizenship law. The program will be the only English-language educational pathway to becoming a regulated immigration consultant.

Queen’s developed the program and won a competitive bid with immigration consulting’s national regulator and will be the sole accredited English provider of the program.

Ravi Jain, national chair of the Canadian Bar Association Immigration Law Section, says the program should not exist, arguing it lends credibility to an industry that has been marred by incompetence and misconduct since its inception.

“By continuing to facilitate immigration consultants to be engaged in the practice of immigration law, it does it does actual Queen’s law JD students a disservice,” says Jain, who is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in immigration law and is partner at Green and Spiegel LLP, in Toronto.

“This program is a terrible idea. Graduates will claim that they have ‘gone to law school.’ The public will be even further confused. Most think that they are hiring lawyers when they hire immigration consultants,” says Jain. “Immigration consultants have a horrific history in Canada.”

Queen’s Law Dean Mark Walters says the problems known in the industry is one of the reasons his school launched the program.

“We all appreciate that at present, the profession of immigration consultant is not well regulated, and that there have been abuses in the system and concerns legitimately raised. And that’s, in fact, why we’re involved,” Walters says.

Associate Professor at Queen’s Law and expert in immigration and refugee law Sharry Aiken says the federal government decided long ago that there was a place in the immigration administrative process for consultants.

“It’s a profession that’s here to stay. And the key is to ensure that it’s properly regulated and that the people in that profession are professionals and trained as such,” she says. “It’s a massive system and non-lawyers can perform a really important role to ensuring that vulnerable people get proper advice and assistance as they work their way through elaborate administrative system.”

The program at Queen’s comes after the regulation of immigration consultants has gone through three different stages. In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada case Law Society of British Columbia v. Mangat ruled it was not a breach of the Legal Profession Act for non-lawyer consultants to represent people in immigration hearings in B.C. Since then, the door has been open for the non-lawyer consultants to serve clients looking to relocate to Canada.

The first governing body — the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants — eventually attracted a parliamentary review in 2010 due to lack of policing and professional and ethical standards. The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council followed but problems persisted, and another parliamentary review took place in 2017. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration produced a report: “Starting Again: Improving Government Oversight of Immigration Consultants.” The report showed misconduct was still prevalent, with international students, live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers being the most vulnerable to abuse. The committee’s witnesses repeatedly accused the ICCRC of failing to deal with unauthorized practitioners, known as ghost consultants.

The 2017 report produced the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act, which turned the ICCRC into a new self-regulatory College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants — instituting a licensing regime, code of conduct, complaints and discipline committees and putting the board of directors under the guidance of the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

While the argument in favour of including consultants in the immigration system involves the need to increase access to justice, Jain says that the immigration bar is uniquely accessible to the public they serve. Jain calls the access to justice argument “absolutely ridiculous.”

“I would ask the dean and others to point me to evidence that there are problems with respect to immigrants and refugees retaining lawyers,” Jain says. “The average income of an immigration lawyer is about $75,000. People go into it out of humanitarian instinct and there’s lots of pro bono work and low-bono work where there are very low fees. So, there’s no evidence of an access problem. None, whatsoever.”

He adds that the issue raises the question of why society deems immigrants and refugees, who are particularly vulnerable, to not need the help of a trained lawyer.

“Why should immigrants and refugees be told that they don’t need a proper lawyer? It’s only the marginalized and the racialized that are told that, in our society. It’s never the other areas of law. And so, I just find that argument to be highly problematic.”

Aiken says that many other areas of law also use paralegals and consultants play “a very important role in access to justice for vulnerable communities.” She adds that the new iteration of the regulatory body, past forms of which have been “plagued with structural deficits” has made positive changes, including an expanded regulatory authority to discipline members and other new enforcement powers.

Before setting up the Queen’s program, Aiken established a National Advisory Committee, which included members of the immigration bar including past chair of the Canadian Bar Association national section for Citizenship and Immigration Robin Seligman and Lobat Sadrehashemi past president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.

Source: Queen’s launching new program to train immigration and citizenship consultants

Arrest of immigration consultant sparks questions about why regulator didn’t act sooner

Valid questions and it remains to be seen whether the reforms to the ICCRC will prove effective or not:

Artem Djukic’s paralegal licence was revoked in April 2016 when he admitted to “misappropriating” $900,000 from two former clients of his immigration consulting business.

At the time, Djukic, 55, was facing 10 outstanding complaints related to his work as an immigration consultant and was barred from representing asylum seekers at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)

But four months later, without resolving the complaints, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) said Djukic could continue working as a consultant so long as he complied with a strict supervisory system.

According to the IRB, this was to include financial audits, monthly reporting requirements and open access to his books.

Based on these assurances, the IRB lifted its restrictions against Djukic and allowed him to again represent claimants at the board.

But ICCRC now tells Global News it did not have the authority it needed to properly monitor and investigate Djukic during this supervisory period.

It also alleges that over the past decade, Djukic, while running Soko Immigration Consulting Service, improperly took roughly $155,000 from six clients, encouraged dishonest and illegal conduct, and, in at least one case, provided advice that led to a client being deported.

And much of this alleged misconduct occurred while he was under the regulator’s supervision, according to a January decision from ICCRC that revoked Djukic’s licence to practice as a consultant,

Now, lawyers such as Darcy Merkur and Ravi Jain, chair of the immigration law section of the Canadian Bar Association, are asking whether the council shares any responsibility for Djukic’s alleged wrongdoing while under its supervision.

“I’m not impressed with their replies around how they supervised him,” Jain said. “I don’t think they did anything at all.”

Djukic arrested, charged with fraud

Djukic was arrested in January by Peel Regional Police and charged with defrauding the public in connection with an alleged $95,000 immigration scam.

The council denies it shares any blame for Djukic’s alleged actions, including while he was under its supervision, adding that recent decisions made against him show he is “ungovernable.”

They also say revoking Djukic’s licence in January and ordering him to repay the money he allegedly took is proof that changes to its complaints process over the past two years have worked. These include going from four to 23 full-time complaints investigators, hiring more experienced senior staff and prioritizing the most serious cases.

Djukic did not appear at the hearing when his licence was revoked and did not provide a defence against any of the allegations.

“Responsibility for his egregious behaviour and unprofessional conduct is his alone,” said ICCRC spokesperson Christopher May.

John Murray, ICCRC’s president and CEO, also says the regulator did its best to discipline Djukic in the past based on the information it had at the time.

But he acknowledged that, until very recently, the council’s discipline committee lacked the training and expertise it needed to deal with complex cases, adding that if the past complaints against Djukic were made today, they would be handled quicker and more effectively.

Murray also thinks the regulator was “set up to fail” by the government because it wasn’t given the same powers to investigate and monitor its members that other regulators were given, such as provincial law societies or colleges of physicians.

This lack of authority, Murray said, made it impossible for the council to protect the public and go after individuals such as Djukic.

“It’s fair to say that prior to 2018, the council did not have an efficient complaints and discipline process,” Murray said.

But ICCRC has always had the power to suspend or revoke a consultant’s licence due to misconduct.

Still, in 2017, when Djukic was found to have committed eight breaches of the council’s code of conduct, its discipline committee decided to keep him under supervision rather than revoke or suspend his licence.

Neither May nor Murray would explain why ICCRC decided to keep Djukic under supervision in 2017, although the ruling said he agreed to pay back the money he’d improperly taken.

This decision was made less than a year after the Law Society of Ontario revoked Djukic’s paralegal licence for admitting to “misappropriating” roughly $900,000 from two former immigration clients and using the funds for his own personal gain.

The law society ruling said Djukic showed no remorse for his “devastating” actions.

Refugee claimant felt ‘used’

Mirela Todorovic, her husband and two children hired Djukic in 2014.

Todorovic says Djukic guaranteed their refugee claim — based on fears of persecution for their Roma heritage — would be successful because he had “connections” and because he knew all the adjudicators at the IRB.

Djukic encouraged them to pay cash and didn’t provide a receipt, she said. The family says they agreed to pay Djukic $6,000 for his services, including representing them at the IRB, translating documents and preparing them for their hearing.

But other than processing their work and study permits, he did nothing for their asylum case, she said.

Todorovic wonders why ICCRC — knowing what it knew about Djukic’s past behavior and given his long history of complaints — didn’t revoke his licence sooner.

“Half of it was their fault,” Todorovic said. “Why didn’t they stop him?”

Pending changes to regulator

Djukic was the subject of at least 30 complaints between 2011 and 2018 while working as an immigration consultant. Sixteen of these complaints, including the six that led to his licence being revoked, resulted in disciplinary action, May said.

May did not provide information on the number of complaints made against Djukic in the 19 years he claims to have worked as a consultant before the council was created in 2011.

ICCRC says one of the reasons Djukic was able to engage in alleged wrongdoing while under its supervision is because it lacked the authority to properly investigate consultants.

But this will soon change, Murray said.

Legislation passed by the government last April — which will see ICCRC transition to a self-governing “college” similar to provincial law societies — provides enhanced protections for the public.

The legislation will give the college greater investigatory powers, such as the ability to compel consultants to provide testimony and evidence, as well as the legal authority to enter and search immigration consulting offices without obtaining a warrant.

It will also allow investigators to take action against former consultants and to work with law enforcement officials from other countries to go after alleged wrongdoing abroad.

But Jain says it’s not only about complaints. He thinks the requirements for becoming a consultant are insufficient to practice law, especially when appearing before the IRB..

The solution is for the government to require all immigration consultants to work under the supervision of a lawyer, Jain said, such as in the United States, where the practice of law is limited to lawyers.

“Criminal lawyers would be shocked if all of a sudden we said, look, you don’t need a law degree to practice criminal law,” Jain said.

The IRB, meanwhile, has called refugee and immigration law one of the most complicated areas of law.

Paul Aterman, a former head of the board’s immigration division, testified before Parliament in 2017 saying there’s a “big distinction” between the type of work done at the IRB — where representatives must examine and cross-examine witnesses, develop complex legal strategies and argue cases persuasively — versus helping would-be immigrants fill out forms.

But May believes consultants are qualified to appear before the board and that it’s unnecessary for them to be supervised by lawyers, adding that the government agrees with both of these points or it would have changed the rules when it passed its new legislation last year.

May also says the vast majority of consultants conduct themselves professionally, that most complaints the council receives are targeted toward a small group of problematic consultants and that once the new rules are in place, ICCRC will be able to go after these cases more aggressively.

The council is also strengthening its educational requirements by developing a post-graduate program for certification, creating a compensation fund for victimized clients and developing more stringent standards for consultants who appear before the IRB.

Source: http://globalnews.ca/news/6588042/immigration-consultant-arrest-regulator-supervision/

Up to a quarter of Russian immigrants to Israel may have left after receiving passports

“Citizens of convenience:”

Thousands of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union may have come only to receive an Israeli passport before moving back abroad.

The Hebrew weekly Makor Rishon reported that a cottage industry of companies promising expedited Israeli citizenship, and the passport that comes with it, have sprung up in Russia since the passage of a law allowing new immigrants to receive the travel document within the first three months of their aliyah.

For many in the post-Soviet world, an Israeli passport is considered as desirable as a European Union passport is to Israelis. Russian fixers have started advertising that they can help prospective “olim” obtain “Israeli citizenship within two days” for a cost of thousands of euros.

Under certain circumstances, the paper reported, the three-month period can be shortened to as little as a day, and some immigrants have even been able to receive their passports without having to leave Ben Gurion International Airport.

Based on data from Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Makor Rishon estimated that approximately 8,500 emigres from the former FSU have come just for the passport before immediately leaving the country. One Jewish Agency official estimated that about 25 percent of the immigrants came for a passport and “left the country immediately after receiving it.”

Approximately 10,500 Russians and 6,400 Ukrainians made aliyah in 2018, which was the first year that the majority of new immigrants were not considered Jewish under halacha, or Jewish religious law.

Source: Up to a quarter of Russian immigrants to Israel may have left after receiving passports

Immigration consultant regulator to turn into new body under budget bill

Not convinced that this will address all the problems with the previous body:

The head of Canada’s current regulator for immigration consultants says his organization is set to reform as a new, industry-managed oversight body now being proposed by the Liberal government.

“That’s our intention,” John Murray, president and CEO of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), told iPolitics. “Our preliminary view at this point is, of course, we would.”

The decision to transition will have to come up for a vote among ICCRC’s members. Murray said anecdotally, he’s heard licensed immigration consultants would be in favour of the new college.

As a way to crack down on unscrupulous immigration consultants, the Liberals proposed in its budget bill tabled on April 8 to create the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants, which will bring regulation of the practice in similar line with other professions including accountants.

The ICCRC, which has long been criticized as ineffective in tackling unethical consultants that exploit new immigrants, will be able to transition to the college under the new rules. The bill also states if that doesn’t occur, the proposed college will be established as a new corporation.

The legislative changes will also provide the college injunction power to go after unlicensed practitioners, often known as “ghost” consultants, for violations. The new rules will also require licensees to comply with a code of professional conduct established by the federal immigration minister.

Murray said he supports the Liberal government’s move for statutory authority to regulate immigration consultants, which he believes will be able to resolve some of the problems that have long plagued his organization.

“Right now, our bylaws give us authority to investigate our members and compel them to appear before tribunals,” he said. “But we don’t have the authority to bring in witnesses who are not members or obtain documents and other information from third parties who are not members.”

He said the proposed powers would allow for more authority to compel violators to pay fines.

“It’s one thing to make a decision that involves a financial penalty. It’s quite another to try to collect that when they’re no longer a member,” he said.

But critics say regulation should be handled directly by the government given the precarious status of many victims of bad consultants.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan told iPolitics earlier this month that the new college amounted to little more than a name change, and lacked provisions effectively protecting victims who risk being deported if they come forward with a complaint.

“They need some sort of protection for them to speak out and that the process won’t be turned around and used against them when seeking permanent resident status,” she said.

Murray said an issue right now is when ghost consultants are identified by ICCRC, they are referred to the Canadian Border Services Agency, the body tasked with deporting people without status.

But he said since the new regulatory body will be able to investigate unlicensed consultants, the process would not have to involve the CBSA.

Murray said ICCRC will have to work with the government going ahead to hammer out the details of what new regulations would look like.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Shannon Ker said Ottawa will be working closely with ICCRC on transition plans while limiting disruption to licensed consultants and their clients.

She said whether ICCRC transitions into the new college, existing members will become members of the new regulatory body. She noted transitional provisions are found in the budget bill, including the continuance of the disciplinary committee.

“For both scenarios, there are provisions to ensure that the regulation of the profession is as seamless as possible,” Ker wrote by email.

She also said the $52 million found in the budget to increase protection of immigration won’t go to the new college, which will be self-funded through membership fees.

Murray said he hopes the budget bill can be tweaked to allow the new college power to take over abandoned or closed down consultancy practices, as well as to allow its own disciplinary committee to set its own fines.

Source: Immigration consultant regulator to turn into new body under budget bill

Douglas Todd: Would-be immigrants to Canada being sold ‘false dreams’

Yet another story on immigration fraud with some examples of more reputable consultants:

The migration agents confronted Vancouver’s Laleh Sahba as she walked on the sidewalk last month near the Canadian embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

The street hawkers told her that, for $25,000 or more, they would get her to an immigration professional who would be sure to hand her a visitor or student visa so she could be well on her way to obtaining a Canada passport.

The sidewalk agents mistook Sahba for another near-desperate Middle Eastern person who would spend almost everything she had for the dream of becoming a permanent resident in Canada, land of promise.

But Sahba — an Iranian-Canadian and a regulated Canadian immigration consultant — says her encounter with Turkey’s street agents was just another reminder how easy it is for people abroad and in Canada to claim to be immigration experts to take vulnerable people for a nasty ride.

“They are selling wrong information. They are making up false dreams,” Sahba said at her downtown Vancouver office. “This is a huge business. And what disturbs me is that many are in it for the money in Canada. They’re playing with people’s lives.”

Sahba, who works with professional immigration partners in the Middle East, is among a small number of Canadian immigration consultants and lawyers who are coming forward to describe the wide range of misinformation, misdeeds and scams being foisted on would-be immigrants.

Some of those posing as immigration specialists are telling anxious people they will eventually get a Canadian passport if they pay large sums, in the tens of thousands of dollars, just to obtain a study or visitor’s visa, which have limited use. Some are also falsely telling clients they can finagle them status as a refugee.

The immigration fantasies of foreign nationals often end in tatters, says Sahba, 40, who came to Canada from Iran two decades ago and has been a consultant for 15 years. Many immigration specialists are making promises they can’t deliver on. By the time most would-be immigrants come to her to find a way out of their migration problems “they are absolutely screwed. We can’t help them.”

Much more must be done, Sahba says, to clean up the fast-growing immigration-advice industry, which in Canada includes 5,400 regulated immigration consultants and 1,000 immigration lawyers, but also an untold number of unlicensed agents.

Marina Sedai, a Surrey immigration lawyer, tends to agree. She told a Conference Board of Canada workshop in Vancouver last month that there is “rampant immigration fraud” being perpetrated by some consultants and agents.

Sedai said she is constantly hearing from troubled clients about how they’ve being misled or defrauded by self-professed experts who demand large fees to guide foreign nationals through Canada’s intricate immigration system.

As national chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration section, Sedai highlighted how her organization has told federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen the system Ottawa has set up to regulate immigration consultants, who have less formal training than lawyers, is not working.  “There are good reasons,” the society said in 2017, “to limit the practice of immigration law to lawyers and Quebec notaries,” with immigration consultants working under the supervision of lawyers.

Many wives are being advised by immigration specialists to get a study visa so their husbands can come to Canada and work and their children can attend school, says Laleh Sahba. The trouble is many wives “don’t really want to study” and end up failing. It leads to big problems for the family.

Sahba, however, believes the majority of regulated immigration consultants do excellent work. Still, she hears at least five times a month from foreign nationals who have become embroiled in shady agreements that involve both Canadian immigration advisers and lawyers.

While Sahba generally supports Ottawa’s aim to make it simpler for some of the more than 500,000 foreign students in Canada to become permanent residents, for instance, she said some advisers are increasingly misrepresenting the study visa program as the backdoor immigration ticket for entire families.

Many wives in their 40s and 50s are being advised, she said, to apply for a study visa so that their husband can come to Canada on a spousal work visa and their children can attend schools in Toronto, Metro Vancouver and elsewhere.

The trouble, Sahba said, is many of the wives are unable to pass English-language exams and “don’t really want to study in the first place.” They begin failing courses and can’t get into postgraduate school, which means they and their husbands and children are expected to return home.

“It’s all over for them. They’ve wasted their time and huge amounts of money. And their kids have in the meantime become used to Canadian society. This is where my heart bleeds.”

In addition to describing scams in which so-called immigration specialists have charged clients many thousands of dollars just for a visitor’s visa, Sahba said other illicit schemes involve provincial immigrant entrepreneur programs, including those operated by Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba.

Since a large number of so-called immigration specialists also have real-estate licences, Sahba says, some become embroiled in housing deals with rich prospective newcomers.

Other advisers direct so-called entrepreneurs to make “passive investments” in Canadian properties or businesses, which often involve nothing more than appearing to transfer money between relatives’ bank accounts.

In one extreme case, Sahba worked with two sisters from Pakistan who transferred more than $170,000 to immigration agents in Canada who said they were arranging the purchases of a gift shop and pet store in Vancouver. The entire process, which involved transferring photos and signatures via Skype, was fake. The culprits couldn’t be tracked.

The Canadian Bar Association, in its attempts to target “incompetent and unscrupulous” immigration advisers, told Canada’s immigration minister in 2017 there had been an “astonishing” 1,470 complaints against the regulated members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) since it began in 2011, plus 1,115 more against non-members.

That regulatory council posts some of the online allegations against its licensed Canadian immigration consultants, with one ICCRC page describing disciplinary investigations against almost 50 named members, who regularly charged clients $10,000 to $30,000 for relatively small tasks. Many of the consultants are accused of misdeeds such as: “Deceiving client,” “misleading client,” “falsely advising client,” “failing to notify client,” “charging client exorbitant fee” and of “misrepresenting” themselves in a variety of ways, including as border officials.

Sedai said some immigration advisers have even become involved in presenting false job offers to would-be immigrants — an activity she says she has run into in Surrey. Burnaby immigration lawyer George Lee is among those who has tried to expose the widespread jobs deception.  

Although the clients of people who make a living in the immigration industry continue to take part in illicit schemes based on bad advice, Sabha wants to make clear some clients have not been innocent in the process. “They’ve got dirty hands, too.”

And the chances for all concerned of getting caught are increasing.

“The immigration officers are also not stupid anymore, not like in the old days,” Sahba says, chuckling. “They’re smart. And they’re looking at all aspects of every immigration application.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Would-be immigrants to Canada being sold ‘false dreams’

‘He was supposed to help us’: Chinese immigrants out thousands after immigration agent disappears

It would be a lot simpler just to ban consultants and only advise applicants to use lawyers. And hard to understand why people would trust a 24-year-old with that kind of money (no, lawyers have a few bad apples too, but there are meaningful codes of conduct and enforcement):

A Winnipeg immigration agent has allegedly skipped town, leaving a group of Chinese immigrants in the lurch and out thousands of dollars.

Jiatoo Immigration Consulting Inc., run by 24-year-old Zhihao Jia, quietly shut the doors at its Pembina Highway office in early March, clearing out furniture in a seemingly overnight move with no notice given to its landlord or clients.

“He was supposed to help us — but he didn’t help, but hurt us,” said Julie, a client of Jia’s, who the CBC has agreed not to identify.

Julie said she gave Jia $10,000 on March 1, 2019, to help her apply for a post-graduate work permit and eventually help her get permanent residency in Canada.

Instead, less than two weeks later, she was left scrambling to find Jia after he stopped returning her calls or texts.

‘No people, no furniture, nothing’

When Julie went to Jia’s office on March 11, she knew there was a problem.

“We found his office was totally vacant. Nobody was there. They were all gone. No people, no furniture, nothing,” she said.

The CBC has agreed not to name the woman we are calling Julie, as she is afraid that speaking out could impact her future immigration applications.

She is one of at least 13 Chinese immigrants who claim they were affected by Jia’s disappearance, according to licensed immigration consultant Yu Xiang, who is working with Julie and a few other clients left in the lurch.

One person gave Jia over $20,000 and only received partial services before the immigration agent packed up and left, Xiang said.

“The severity of harm done to them [varies],” person to person, he said.

Some clients paid and got nothing, he said, while others got partial help and some received full service. But Xiang questions the legitimacy of their applications, because Jia was not licensed to fill them out.

CBC has not been able to speak with Xiang’s clients to independently verify this claim.

Julie said she felt she could trust Jia after seeing online advertisements for his company, and a website saying it was nominated for a 2017 “new emerging Chinese company” award at the Manitoba Chinese Business Gala.

When she went to the company, Julie had just graduated college and needed to get a job in order to obtain a work permit and stay in Canada.

She agreed to pay Jiatoo Immigration Consulting $15,000 for help to find a job and eventually receive assistance with her application for permanent residency in Canada, according to the retainer agreement signed by the client and the company.

Julie paid Jia $10,000 up front, and was to pay the remaining $5,000 at a later date.

“We are newcomers. We are not familiar with the immigration service or the working environment here in Canada,” she said when asked why people pay for immigration services.

“We need help. We need guidance and instruction. We need to consult people who know how to help us.”

Jiatoo owed 2 months’ rent

The landlord at 675 Pembina Highway got a call from an employee of Jiatoo Immigration on March 5, saying the office was empty.

“She said the place was cleaned out,” said property manager Eileen Gaynor.

CBC has not been able to reach Jia for comment. Texts and phone calls to the cellphone number he provided to clients, and which is listed on Jiatoo’s website, went unanswered.

CBC reporters also visited two properties associated with Jia through land titles. Both were abandoned. Stacks of newspapers were piled up outside the front door of one of the properties.

Gaynor said Jia still owed rent for February when he vanished. He had given her a cheque but it bounced. By March, he had closed his bank account so she could no longer collect on his debt.

Jia moved into the strip mall in April 2018, according to Gaynor. Company records show he is the director of Jiatoo Education Service Inc and also the president of Club Royale Immigration Inc.

Winnipeg police investigating

Julie said despite paying Jia, she got nothing in return. At first she wasn’t sure what to think, but after telling police what happened, the woman is confident she’s been duped.

“It’s official now, so we aren’t suspicious anymore. We are pretty sure that he’s a fraud,” she said.

For weeks, the woman kept trying to get ahold of Jia. He eventually phoned her husband, telling the couple to stop looking for him — or else.

“He said he knew us. He has got our information, and he [said] if we called police, it will have a bad influence on our immigration process,” Julie said.

After reporting Jia to police, Julie called the Canada Border Services Agency and Winnipeg-based immigration consultant Yu Wang — the licensed immigration consultant Jia worked under as an agent. Company records show that Wang is the director of Internationalized View Investments Consulting Ld.

In Canada, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, advice or representation for immigration applications can only be provided by either a person licensed through the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) — the regulatory body for immigration consultants — or a lawyer in good standing (or in Quebec, a member in good standing with the Chambredesnotaires du Québec).

Winnipeg police confirmed that they received a report from the client and are investigating. The CBSA said it is not their practice to confirm or deny whether they have launched an investigation.

At this time no charges have been laid.

Not allowed to give immigration advice: ICCRC

Jia was not licensed to do immigration work, but had been hired to recruit clients for Wang.

Jia is not a member of the ICCRC, but was registered as an agent of Wang’s.

Agents are not allowed to provide any advice for immigration under the current ICCRC regulations, but those rules are frequently skirted, explained Xiang, who is a licensed consultant under the regulatory council.

Wang told CBC News he had no idea Jia was taking money from clients until a woman called him mid-March to allege the agent stole her money.

“He’s supposed to [be] recruiting clients for me,” Wang said. “I prepare the application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.”

Wang said Jia informed him earlier this month he was moving to Vancouver, so Wang cancelled his agency agreement with him. The ICCRC confirmed the agreement was cancelled on March 15.

He says he has no idea where any money Jia collected would be and he does not have access to a client list. He said repeated messages to Jia about the money have gone unanswered.

“I didn’t see the money at all,” he told CBC.

Xiang said the likely reason more people have not reached out to Wang is because they do not understand that he is the consultant Jia worked under.

Julie said at first, she was afraid to speak out, but decided she couldn’t stay quiet and allow other people to be victimized.

“We trusted him,” she said.

“We want people [to know] what kind of a company Jiatoo is, and we want people to know what kind of person Zhihao Jia is — and to me personally, I want my money back.”

Julie said Jia came to Canada as a student in 2012, and took the same path as she did which makes his actions even more egregious.

“He studied here and graduated and [worked] here. So I think he should know what we think. He should know what we feel — what we feel as a newcomer here.”

200 cases reported each year: CBSA

The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council cannot legally prosecute or investigate allegations of fraud. It can discipline a consultant if an agent of a member acts unethically.

On first offence, the council member receives a written warning.

On second offence, the member is fined $100.

The CBC requested an interview with the ICCRC, which could not be accommodated in the time frame requested.

In a prepared statement, the regulatory council said it could not disclose information on any investigations that are currently underway.

But Xiang says he’s heard stories like Julie’s too many times.

“It has a very huge impact on the reputation of Canada’s immigration system,” he said.

“And there’s lack of trust between these newcomers and the various service providers in Canada.”

Almost 180 cases of suspected immigration-consultant offences are brought to the attention of the Canada Border Services Agency each year, according to data provided by the agency.

About 120 of those complaints involve unlicensed consultants.

Xiang says those cases aren’t just about money. A late application form or forms with missing errors can mean the applicant is denied a work permit or permanent residency, and the consequences can be deportation.

“We’re talking about people’s lives here,” he said.

Source: ‘He was supposed to help us’: Chinese immigrants out thousands after immigration agent disappears