Immigration legal services can be very complex, expensive, and constantly changing. In general, immigrants are already at a disadvantage in finding legal advice and assistance because they are not familiar with the seeking country’s customs, government and laws. Despite continuous efforts, thousands of immigrants fall victim to immigration fraud every year.
How do you spot a company running an immigration fraud operation?
If they’re good at scamming people, you won’t be able to tell right away but here are several red flags for immigration fraud:
- Claiming to be affiliated with the government but their domain extension does not contain .gov. Only government websites with have .gov or .gc.ca notations. Most immigration companies will not have .gov but make sure they are not claiming to be affiliated with the government. Big red flag for fraud!
- Not having a business address in the country you are immigrating to. Remember to check and see if the law firm or company is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and by legal organizations. They should have a place of business within the country you are looking to immigrate to. Also, check the business address, contact info, or relevant accreditation’s listed on their website.
- They talk more about the price than the service. If an immigration website heavily advertises that they are the cheapest immigration service, they could be scamming you. Take the time to research their services because sometimes they actually promise very little while taking a relatively large sum of money. Good services cost a good amount of money. Make sure you know what you are getting in advance before falling for a low number without researching the actual service they are doing for you.
- They ask you to pay to access application forms and guides. Government application forms and guides are free to fill out, the charging fee is only to process your application.
- If a company contacts you on an unsolicited email or phone call it is most likely an immigration scam. If you received an email from someone claiming to be an immigration lawyer or from the government that you did not solicit, do not respond.
- No one can guarantee you a job or a visa to Canada, the process is more complex than a promise. If a company or an individual promises you a job, be very careful in speaking with them. Although an immigration law firm can have a very high success rate, they can not guarantee a visa.
- If an individual or company is asking you to make payments to a personal bank account, this is a huge red flag for fraud. No company will request for you to deposit money into a personal bank account, ask for the payment in a form of a gift card, or any other unusual way to pay your legal fees.
These are the most common immigration scams:
- Phone Scams – never give your personal information to anyone who calls you and claims to be from the government.
- Notary Scams – For any professional who you are considering hiring to help you with immigration issues, be sure to double check their credentials – especially if they are claiming to be a lawyer or attorney
- Online Scams – Never pay for forms that the government provides for free, and be suspicious of any service provider that requires you to pay fees for these otherwise free forms. Also, consider a red flag if some service is “guaranteeing” you a specific outcome to your case/situation
- Visa Lottery Scams – Never provide personal information to any entity that emails you about these visa lotteries, they are most likely a scam.
Being a victim to immigration scams are devastating to the individual and their families. Before hiring an immigration lawyer or attorney please make sure none of these possible scams jump out at you. Unfortunately, there are many people and companies that offer immigration services for a fee, then run away with their clients’ money, or use their identities for criminal activities. Double check the company’s credentials before ever giving away your information.