Watch Out For That (Visa) Fraud

By Maryam Azwer

The Canadian High Commission last week warned the public against possible visa fraud through misleading advertisements by agents promising visas to Canada. People were being cheated out of large sums of money, the High Commission warned, by “unscrupulous operators” who gave the public false hopes.

These visa agents, or visa consultancy agents, are everywhere. Their little boards stick out among the sea of others along the Galle Road, their advertisements flood your daily newspapers and the internet.
When The Sunday Leader probed further into the matter, it was to discover that while these agents promise to make the tedious job of applying for a visa much easier, they will charge very high fees for it, and it does not necessarily mean that you will get that visa.
No matter what they say, or how much people pay, there is no guarantee whatsoever – no matter how legitimate their operations are (or how legitimate they say they are).
Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Leader, Canadian High Commissioner Bruce Levy explained that there were a variety of ways people could be misled into believing they can be guaranteed a visa.
The three most common examples, he said, were organisations claiming to be experts on Canadian visa applications, an educational institution or someone acting on behalf of an educational agency assuring visas if their courses are taken, and agencies offering work-related training that would help secure a visa.
“All of these efforts may well be legal,” said Levy, “but what we want to warn people against is that… at the end of the day they still have to go through a process. The fact that someone has taken a course ultimately won’t influence the decision.”

So Why Do They Use Agents?

For a variety of reasons. While some believe that it gives them a greater chance of obtaining a visa, others just need some help.
According to Aruna Samarasinghe, who heads the Supreme Lanka visa consultancy firm, most clients are unsure of how to get about the process of applying for a visa. Some need help to simply fill in their applications, he says.
“We usually charge around Rs.15,000 – 20,000, for those who are reapplying after being rejected. If they are applying for the first time, we charge a maximum of Rs. 10,000 and sometimes much less if they only need help filling in their forms,” said Samarasinghe, who also claims that most other agencies charge up to Rs. 50,000, perhaps more, for their services.
In the event of a visa rejection, he said, the firm did not offer a refund because they never guaranteed a visa in the first place.
CEO of The Visa Centre, Dale Rabot, too said that his firm did not offer clients guaranteed visas to, or employment in, countries like Canada. People nevertheless required the services of his firm, he claimed, because applying for a visa “is a highly complex business.”
Taking a smoother route through this “highly complex business” however, does not come cheap.
Rabot said his firm charged a professional fee of Rs. 115,000 which was refundable if the application was rejected, and an additional fee of Rs. 48,000 to be paid upon signing of the contract which he says is to cover expenses — and is non-refundable.
He also claimed that his clients were fully aware that The Visa Centre did not “guarantee nor influence the success or processing time of the client’s application.” However, he added that not all agencies played by the same rules.
“There are so many false advertisements around, and most Sri Lankans get caught to this. They also think that the higher the price they pay, the faster they can go,” said Rabot.

Need No Middleman

Commenting on the operations of these agencies, the Canadian High Commissioner said that Canada did recognise immigration consultants, and that agents listed with the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants could be found on the website www.csis-scci.ca.
He added, however, that this did not mean the Canadian Government recommended these consultants.
“The process of applying for a visa does not require a third party to get involved,” said High Commissioner Levy.
“I do realise that sometimes paperwork and red-tape does seem daunting…[but] I would advise a person who is asked to pay a significant sum of money to look more closely. That should set off alarm bells.”
The consultants’ services, he said, may be legitimate, but “it crosses the line when they say that they can guarantee a visa, because they (applicants) cannot be guaranteed a visa.”
The issue also hurt Canada’s relationship with Sri Lanka, Levy said, when a visa was rejected.
The rejection, after all, came despite one’s belief that the agent with the attractive advertisement in the paper could actually help them, and instead left them with no visa and an empty wallet.

30 Comments for “Watch Out For That (Visa) Fraud”

  1. Dr. Ranjan de Silva

    I am surprised the Canadian High Commission is addressing this issue only now in 2011. My nephew in Colombo was taken for a ride for US Dollars $5000 by an Immigration Consultant from Toronto, Canada who guaranteed a visa to him to visit Canada and then apply for refugee status. The ‘con artist’ consultant referred my nephew to a website that showed him as a director of business council and promised the world. Later, after losing $5000 my nephew found out from a school chum that this Immigration Consultant had lost his license in 2006 and was an out and out fraudster. He still visits Colombo a few times a year and advertises in the mainstream media that he could help people to immigrate to Canada. Why did the Canadian High Commission wait almost 7 years to make this announcement now. I believe a few unscrupulous staff at the Canadian High Commission were in partnership with this Immigration Consultant. Shame on all at the loss of hard earned money by many.

    • ravi

      it is better to trust a sri lankan more then a canadian, Because we can directly meet the consultant.

    • Johan S

      Why don’t you tell us the name of this scoundrel and also his fraudulent website??? Inform the authorities too in Sri Lanka and in Canada so they can at least investigate what he is up to.

  2. bash

    Most of these staff at the Canadian High commission are very rude and is unhelpful to the visa applicant or potential applicant… this leads to middle men taking advantage of this nature….. there could be links between these middlemen and certain staff, who are being rude in order for middle men to take advantage…. the top like the High commissioners as usual get theoretical and play unawareness to these activities.

    • raymond

      bash – Don’t forget that 99% of the support staff in the Canadian High Commission, Colombo belong to a certain ethnic group and they do not care, so the rest is history!!!!! Over to Bruce Levy?

    • ravi

      The TTS service for canada is different from the canadian high commision. So what ever the TTS tells you, never trust the word what the tell you. Jusat fallow the website link or go through a good consultant.

  3. KABAB

    I am a victim of this kind and the agent is careem and company of ratmalana.

    • kudu

      careem should have been closed a long time ago yeah careem bring it on you crooks preying on innocent people and living the high life

    • ravi

      Carrem is not a proffessional company, first of all why did you trust a company like that, there are so many good consultants also.

  4. Article: Watch out for that visa fraud.
    It says that we charge high fees to fill forms. WHo said we are filling forms. why dont you check our website and write the real story. All the CSIS consultants are on crisis, they charge Rs.200,000/= for only writing a letter and doing consulting. But is sri lanka we only charge Rs.10,000/=, which is fair. Why are you sri lankan always support these canadian. there are lots of fraud firms who are doing consulting in wellawatte, without putting them, why did you put ours, we are doing genuinly for 4 years. THEn WHY ARE JAFFNA people paying millions and millions of money to some agent and going to canada, why are you not putting them. We trusted sunday leader, now you are puting all wrong information. If you need to know some fraud firms, you ask me. You are pour in investigation, pour in inteligence and wrong information.

    • kudu

      canada is a corrupt country .look at montreal . the mafia runs the province of quebec .construction contracts to the mafia ,ministers on the take . Harpers government is full of corrupt politicians . I can go on and on from the olympic stadium =drapeau to the metro contracts to the snow removal, highways etc etc
      all these hot shot jewish consultants can do Nada just suck your blood

    • ravi

      can you identify who are you please

  5. The Canadian High Commission warned Sri Lankans travelling to Canada to beware of unscrupulous individuals and institutions engaging in false or misleading advertising while many have already lost large sums of money only to find that they have failed to qualify for a visa.
    ALL the CSIC and other registered migration consultants cannot garranty the visa. they only take these licences to earn money. so it is better applicants look into something better in migration consultant then this licence

  6. kudu

    all of these cosultancy agents are crooks . charging 10,000 to fill forms
    who is this gut rabat charging 48,000 for what . all these swindling swines should be hung till their eyes pop out . oh boy where is the white van when we really need it.

    • Chamalka

      Ohh Boy some 1 is really hurt .. how much u make a month ??? try to resign and do a business of ur own without hating others …

    • ravi

      ya, 48,000/= is a big fee, not fair to take 48,000/= for a consulting fee. If its 8,000/=, then it is kind of fair.

  7. Max

    It is a well known fact that some of the local people working at the High Commission were taking bribes in return for visas.

  8. Lambert Thevarajah

    Let us applaud the Canadian High Commissioner for giving this info to the media. Sunday Leader is not my favourite paper but they have published a good story. There are at least 75,000 people who have come to Canada by means other than legal and some of the travel agents, bogus immigration consultant, High Commission staff, customs people in Lanka have made a fortune running into millions of rupees or dollars. From average wage earning people, some have become very rich as a result of the Sri Lankan exodus to Canada. This is why we do not believe the stories of Sri Lankans who are here in Canada who came here as refugees. It is not only Tamils but even Sinhalese, Muslims have weaved tall stories to justify their refugee claim. There is one travel agent who lived in a modest bungalow in Scarborough in the eighties who live in a million dollar house in North York. As for the Immigration Consultants who are from Canada but operate in Sri Lanka – I have no words but “shame” for them. We should get the Sri Lanka Army to line them up and shoot them as what happened on May 18, 2009. So, at the end of it all who is fooling whom?

    • Sudu Welikala

      Let me offer some inside information about one or two fraudulent Immigration Consultants from Toronto who operate in Colombo 4-6 times a year. One is operating from Holiday Inn and the other from Galle Face Hotel. Both are big time cheats – a female and a male. Their modus operandi is to hire a local recruit (female) equipped with a telephone number. An advertisement is then placed in local newspapers – Daily News or Island. Caption says, “Wish to Immigrate to Canada – our representative will be at Holiday Inn (Or Galle Face Hotel) on “such and such a date”. The person who works out of Galle face Hotel claims to be from the Canadian High Commission but he is a refugee from Kandy who came to Canada accompanying his sister for a global event. This man has made a lot of money but lost his reputation. The Sri Lankan community in Canada does not recognise him anymore as he does not have his license – as it was suspended in 2006. But he still comes to Colombo. The one from Holiday Inn still makes a good buck from unsuspecting Sri Lankans.

  9. Thank you for this information, but also the beginning of time everything

  10. As the Director of VIP Business Immigration , a successfull Investor Immigration firm that has an excellent reputation worldwide, I am also very disturbed by the way the Minister is attacking Certified Immigration Consultants. This is not the way to protect the public. The first priority should be of eliminating ghost agents. If the Minister is not satisfied with the work done by the CSIC, than he should do something about it , but not penalize it’s members directly like he is doing right now by sponsoring unclear adds in the media.

    Max Donzella , Director of VIP Business Immigration
    Member of the CSIC
    http://www.vipbusinessimmigration.com
    max@vipbusinessimmigration.com

  11. Madamulana

    Dr.Ranjan De Silva and Sudu Welikala are absolustely right.This guy they talk about is a liar and a big time ‘crook’.He has played out several people living in Toronto as well.His family is well reputed for these ‘conman’ things.He is also a number 1 woman. er and a notorious person in Toronto.

    Medamulana

  12. pan

    There is this conman who is originally from Kandy visiting Sri Lanka every year from Canada to ripoff unsuspecting people. He poses as an immigration layer. This guy too advertises on news papers and set up temporary offices in big hotels in CMB. Sri Lankan authorities should monitor these guys.

  13. J

    If someone is not intelligent enough to read and understand the information at Canadian Government immigration website, he or she is not good enough to migrate to Canada. All the information how to go about is given in that website. You do not need to go and pay to anyone to apply for a visa

  14. sam

    2 thumbs up J. You are absolutely right.

  15. chandani

    I WAS migrated to canada through the skilled migration process. The consultant whom i was migrated was in nagoda, kanada, sri lanka. Well i did not check whether he is registered in the CSIC or not, Bt they gave a good service for us. YAA it took time, but any way i am in canada now, thanks to that firm. I am in alberta, Canada. so there are genuine consultants too. Because thay have the CSIC, That doesnt meen thay are big shots. More then going for a CSIC member, its better you all go to consultant who as good contacts and expierieance

  16. jaz

    hey, i am in alberta to, in calgary. I know what you are talking about chandani. CAN I HAVE YOUr COntact address please, i was migrated by the same person you are talking about. The young gentlemen who never answers the phone, he promised me 4 months, but any way he migrated me to canada in 9 months. Well i did not check anything in him, whether he registered or not etc, Guess i went to the correct consultant, lucky me. Even my brother will be migrated through the same consultant in kandana.

    o.k
    ta

  17. chef

    i am a chef who migrated to alberta, but first i was also cheated by a agent in wellawatte.
    AND AFTER FEW Years my friend recommended a consultant somewhere in kandana. I was a bit scared at the initial stage. But he charged me only Rs.100,000/=, now i am successfully migrated to canada. If you want to know the consultant, please e-mail to almyana1980@yahoo.com

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