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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) have been advised of yet another telephone scam, this time targeting international students living in Canada.
International students across Canada have reported that people claiming to be employees of IRCC have called to threaten them with arrest or deportation if the students do not obtain an immigration lawyer and, in some cases, transfer money to the callers. The caller tells the student that there is an immigration or arrest warrant against them and that the student could be removed from Canada if they do not comply with the caller’s request. IRCC has reported that some students have transferred thousands of dollars because they believed that they were following IRCC’s instructions or retaining an immigration lawyer who would ensure that they would not be deported from Canada.
These calls can be frightening and it is important to remain calm if you are contacted by an individual claiming to be from IRCC and requesting you to pay money or hire a particular lawyer to avoid deportation. Do not respond to these requests, give the caller any personal information, or transfer any funds to them.
An IRCC employee, officer or legitimate lawyer or legal representative will never make a phone call of this nature. Further, no IRCC officer or lawyer would ever request you to transfer the money as a guarantee to avoid deportation or the revocation of your study permit or another immigration status.
IRCC has issued an alert on its website confirming that it never contacts individuals over the phone, in person or online asking for fees or fines related to preventing deportation proceedings or avoiding revocation of immigration status. IRCC will never ask applicants to deposit money into a bank account, send an email money transfer or deposit money through a private money transfer service (e.g. Western Union).
Also, if you receive an email from an individual claiming to be from IRCC, check the sender’s email address. Government employees will never contact you from a Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, or other free email service account and will have an email that contains “@gc.ca” or another government identifier.
Choosing a Legal Representative
It is also important to understand who is legally authorized to provide immigration advice and help you with an application. Authorized professionals are lawyers or paralegals in good standing with a Canadian law society, immigration consultants who are members in good standing with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, or notaries who are in good standing with the Chambre des notaires du Québec. No other individual or company is legally allowed to charge a fee for immigration advice.
You can confirm the identity of a potential legal representative by asking them for their professional registration information and checking with their licensing organization over the phone, or online. If they are not registered as a professional in one of the official organizations listed above, then they are not legally authorized to give you advice.
If you are contacted by an individual who claims to be an immigration lawyer or consultant and they tell you that you must transfer them money so they can keep you in Canada, you should report them to Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre or the Border Watch Tip Line.
How to Report Immigration Fraud
If you suspect that you have been contacted by a fraudulent individual or company, do not engage with them or give them any personal information. You should immediately report the activity to IRCC by calling the Border Watch Tip Line (Toll-Free): 1-888-502-9060 or Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501. All information you provide will be kept confidential and can help prevent others from being targeted. Law enforcement authorities would be happy to receive relevant information so that they can investigate and arrest the scammers involved.