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NDP critic calls for crackdown on 'ghost' immigration swindlers

The federal Opposition Critic for Employment and Social Development says more policing of immigration consultants is needed after a Tyee series on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program exposed abuse of would-be immigrants by such organizations. 

Part of the series detailed how so-called ghost consultants, who aren't registered with the body overseeing the industry, are able to swindle those outside the country into paying big bucks for immigration services. 

Often the applicants aren't even admitted to Canada and aren't refunded money. 

Jinny Sims said lax enforcement of the immigration system and a lack of transparency from the federal government have lead to massive abuse and exploitation of people wanting to come to Canada. 

"A lot of the consultants are supposed to be regulated," Sims said. "People need to follow the rules."

She said such consultants are rampant in places like Vancouver and many run advertisements on ethnic radio stations promising services, such as helping family immigrate, that they cannot fulfill -- and there are far more victims than the public realizes. 

"They're paying huge sums to bring family members here," Sims said, pointing out many worry making a scene will hurt their chances. "Fear is suppressing people from going public."

The Canada Border Services Agency told The Tyee it cannot investigate recruiters based in other nations, but research found many such companies at least claim to be based in Canada. 

Sims said among other fixes, the federal government must begin working with foreign governments to keep tabs on Canada-based consultants with offices in other countries. 

Jeremy Nuttall received a Tyee Fellowship for Investigative Reporting, a $5,000 bursary funded by Tyee readers to pursue a major journalism project in the public interest for British Columbians. Nuttall is a senior reporter at 24 hours Vancouver and a Tyee contributor.

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