Unfortunately, as I have blogged and written about on numerous occasions, there are way too many cheaters currently operating in the global world of Canadian immigration consulting, recruiting, and employment of foreign employees. There’s a whole other issue of incompetent practitioners, but in this post I want to tackle those who purposely are operating fraudulent schemes.
I feel for the victims. Being cheated on is absolutely devastating, regardless of what context. Immigration cheating is another level – individuals quit their jobs, take their kids out of school, and prepare several steps in order to begin what is expected to be a hopeful journey to Canada. All of this to find out there is no job, no position, no work authorization, and no prospects of anything other than heartbreak and financial loss.
This blog post is not a panacea to those challenges. Excellent, well-operated schemes may require competent legal experts to untangle. However, a majority of schemes are so bad and so illegal that a few steps should be able to get to the bottom of it.
So here goes….
1) Read the Contract and Research the Company (Get Advice if Necessary) – In many countries, contracts don’t carry that much legal weight. They carry a lot of weight in Canada. They especially do in the Employment Context.Fraudsters try and put together something fancy looking and expect that you will sign it without reading because it “looks official” and “Canadian.” Especially for non-English speakers, a fancy seal or clauses may immediately give you a false sense of trust. Every clause needs to be read and advice sought on every clause that smells fishy.
Prior to signing your name, consider some of the following (basic W’s)
- Who are you contracting with? An employer or an agent? What is there name? Do you have any independent proof they exist?
- What is the content of your contract? Many of these fake contracts are doctored up by individuals with no legal or business experience. Are the terms of the contract even feasible? For example I’d be very concerned if a contract contained clauses that didn’t clearly set out a salary, a location of employment, or necessary immigration steps that needed to be taken prior to effecting the contract.
- Where is the contracting party located? Start with a basic google/baidu/whatever your country uses search? Where are their offices located? Do they have any other employees? Are they listed in local business guides? Have you performed a Linkedin search? Is the same contracting party the one hiring you? A related issue is whether your work is to be performed at a specific “location”, but that will be a topic of a whole separate future post.
- When are you expected to start? Begin your immigration process? Hiring a foreign worker is not easy. Any job that states you can come next week with a simple “visa” or “work visa” should raise red flags. Any company that asks you to pass over money to assist in your own hiring is an absolute red flag! There are strict rules against employees paying for their own Labour Market Impact Assessment fees. Companies that ask you to pay a “lump sum” to the company for your own work permit or visa processing fees in the contract should be viewed with some suspicion.
- Are there third-party agents involved? This should be an immediate red flag, particularly if the agents are from a foreign country and not located in the country you are getting your job in. Recruitment agencies are regulated (although not enough) in Canada, but arguably roam free globally. Be very careful when dealing with them and their purported job offers.
- How are the companies aesthetics? Do they have a reputable website? Are there pictures of corporate executives/employees listed? Does the contract have a corporate letterhead? Is the signatory page properly effected?
2) Key = Find a Local Canadian Liaison
You don’t necessarily need a lawyer but you need someone knowledgeable and trustworthy on the ground who can make inquiries. At the very least, they need to be able to go to the company that offered you the job, knock on the door, and confirm that the company exists and that you are indeed the chosen candidate of the company.
I would not sign a contract until I have at least that personal knowledge or knowledge of a trustworthy individual.
3) Watch Your/The Communication
As giddy as you may be to get an awesome job offer from a company, make sure to protect your own personal identity. Don’t send information to anyone, definitely without solicitation and always cautiously when solicited. My general rule is I want at least a phone call or a Skype meeting with an individual before I sent personal information outside of my email signature.
Carefully track the communication – who is responding to the emails? Are they professional (do you know their name?)? Are they asking for reasonable requests?
If you have any doubts, remember a simple Google search is your friend (although not always a perfect one). If it is indeed a fraud or a scam there are likely other experiences. If the individual has provided fake contact information, it will likely come up as spam in a Google search. Several consumer protection sites exist that also look at the roots of domains. If a website purported to be a well-established Canadian business is showing up as a recently created site from the United States, red flags should definitely be raised!
Here’s to a fraud-free Canadian immigration system 🙂