Top 3 indicators of immigration fraud

Scam - Free of Charge Creative Commons Wooden Tile image

Canadian immigration fraud is an unfortunately common occurrence. So much so that the Canada government routinely issues warnings and has a whole section on their website on how to avoid fraud. As this is an ongoing issue, we are sharing our top 3 indications that a job or immigration offer may be too good to be true. 

  1. A job offer or a visa application that depends on payment to be successful

Scammers are out to make money. One of the most effective strategies they deploy is to make important milestones depend on you paying money before it can move forward. Often, this is coupled with a tight deadline: “You must pay in 3 days or else you will lose the job offer or the visa application will no longer be valid.” 

Legitimate job offers in Canada never depend on payment. After all, the employer is the one looking to pay you for the skills and experience you bring to the table, not the other way around. It is actually illegal in the Province of Ontario for employers and recruiters to charge the job seeker directly. Furthermore, in Canada employers cannot collect their recruitment fees in connection with hiring international workers from the worker themselves. 

While there are legitimate fees associated with immigration and work permit applications, these are almost always due near the end of the visa application process and not at the beginning. And, if the fees are for someone helping you with your immigration application, you should check if they are a licensed representative authorized to charge such fees before paying them as lawyers and consultants must charge fees that are “fair and reasonable.” 

If the recruiter, employer or representative you’re working with is asking you for money before providing a job offer or going through a visa process – this is a big warning sign that you’re being scammed.

  1. Non-licensed individuals working on visa applications

In Canada, only licensed individuals are able to charge money for providing immigration legal advice. If someone is helping you with Canadian immigration and charging money for it, you should first make sure that they are properly licensed. Luckily, checking licensing is easy. 

If the person states that they are an immigration consultant, immigration agent, or immigration specialist, you should search for their name on this website: A properly licensed immigration consultant will appear on this website. 

If the person states that they are a lawyer, then they should be licensed in their province or territory. All law societies have a lawyers’ directory, where a properly licensed individual will appear:

If the person providing advice for money does not appear on any of these lists, then it’s a high indication that they are acting against the law and may be targeting you in a scam attempt.

  1. Unofficial-looking documents and unreasonable guarantees

Another indication that you may be a subject to a scam is that the documents you receive look unofficial. Your job offer should be on company letterhead and look professional. This means that text should look uniform and use the same font, usually in 11-14 point font size. The letter should be mostly in black and white with colour reserved for the company logo and in the header/footer (links to websites can appear in blue). 

The content of the job offer letter matters, too: If it contains unreasonable guarantees such as “no tax” or “all expenses paid,” it is worth a second look to see if the offer is legitimate. 

Further, there are never guarantees for immigration as the Canadian government is the one to make the final decisions. So, if you are promised a “guaranteed visa” that will be “100%” successful, you should take that as an obvious red flag – especially if it’s connected to a request for payment to secure that guarantee.

What do I do next?

This list is by no means exhaustive. You may be a victim of a scam or fraud even if you do not have any of the concerns listed above.

If you think you may be a target of a scam, here are a few ways to confirm your instincts:

  • Independently verify the job offer or visa details. If your job offer did not come directly from the employer, search for contact information about the employer using Google, and send a simple email asking them to confirm your job offer details.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member who is familiar with Canadian or North American style recruiting to check your job offer or other documents. 
  • Check a regulatory body. Using the links above, always check if an immigration lawyer or advisor who is charging fees is licensed to do so. 
  • Do a Google search to see if anyone has reported any problems with this company, recruiter or representative.

And, if you are a victim of fraud, you should report this to the authorities: 

At TalentLift, we work with Canadian employers who have genuine interest in hiring talent from within displaced and refugee populations. We do not charge our candidates any fees, and we are a registered Civil Society Organization licensed to provide legal services through the Law Society of Ontario.

Candidates living in refugee circumstances and seeking a job in Canada can join TalentLift. Employers seeking global talent while engaging their team in something transformative can start hiring.