John McCallum promises probe into immigration consultants’ fees for Syrian refugees

April 19, 2016

By CBC News |

Immigration Minister John McCallum says he has ordered a three-part investigation into the practice of immigration consultants charging Syrian refugees thousands of dollars to process applications and possibly violating federal rules on private sponsorship by asking them to pay resettlement costs that should be paid by their sponsors.

“We are very concerned about this, and we want to explore all avenues as to possible wrongdoing,” McCallum told Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics Tuesday.

The minister was responding to a CBC News investigation that found that some immigration consultants are charging Syrians who want to come to Canada under the private sponsorship program between $3,000 to $6,400 per person to process their applications.

Syrian Refugees 20160228
The Ayash family from Syria pose at the airport in Halifax in February. The family is being sponsored by a community group in Lunenburg, N.S. Communities across Canada have been raising money to privately sponsor refugees, but a CBC investigation found that some immigration consultants are asking Syrians form Gulf states to pay settlement funds that are supposed to be paid by their sponsors. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The investigation also found that some consultants are asking refugees to pay the cost of their resettlement in Canada up front before even arriving in the country. Under federal rules, these costs are supposed to be covered by private sponsors, not refugees, for a full year. Refugees can contribute to their settlement costs once they arrive in Canada but cannot be made to prepay or repay them, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

McCallum said he has asked for investigations on three fronts:

  • Law-enforcement agencies will determine whether any laws have been broken.
  • The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), which oversees immigration consultants in Canada, will determine whether any of its rules have been broken.
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will determine whether any sponsorship agreement holders have violated federal rules. If they did, those agreements could be nullified.

Read more