Calgary-based agency allegedly engaged in fraudulent activities from February 2016 and April 2021
The Canada Border Services Agency has charged Thaer Abuelhaija and the Canada Immigration and Education Services Inc. in connection with an alleged, sophisticated for-profit misrepresentation and immigration fraud operation in Calgary.
“Together with our partners such as Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, we investigate and prosecute unscrupulous immigration consultants and their associates who abuse Canada’s immigration system,” said Brad Wozny, regional director general for the Prairie Region at Canada Border Services Agency, in a news release.
Abuelhaija and the Canada Immigration and Education Services Inc. allegedly engaged in fraudulent activities from February 2016 and April 2021, amounting to 16 counts each of the following violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27:
- counselling misrepresentation under s. 126;
- knowingly misrepresenting or withholding material facts on relevant matters that may induce an error of the Act under s. 127 (a);
- knowingly communicating false or misleading information or declarations to either induce or deter immigration under s. 127 (b).
This case has been investigated starting in November 2017, and the agency’s Criminal Investigations Section in the Prairie Region executed warrants to obtain evidence at the relevant residence and business location in July 2018.
Wozny acknowledged in the news release the assistance of border services officers and criminal investigators in cracking down on this case.
In the news release, the agency expressed its commitment to safeguarding citizens and permanent residents from unethical immigration consultants. It seeks to identify, investigate and prosecute those involved in organized crime, human smuggling, immigration fraud, terrorism and other breaches of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or of the Customs Act. The agency accepts referrals of potential violations through the public via the Border Watch Line, through partner organizations and other government departments.
Another way that the federal government is working to combat immigration fraud is through the planned launch of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants on Nov. 23, as announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This new official regulator will be equipped with the powers and tools to take disciplinary action against the professional misconduct of licensees.
“Those who wish to come to Canada deserve honest, professional and ethical advice — and we have a responsibility to ensure they’re getting it,” said Marco Mendicino, federal immigration, refugees and citizenship minister, in a news release.
The new institution, which is subject to government oversight, will regulate the profession under the statutory framework imposed by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act, which came into force on Dec. 9, 2020. It will aim to safeguard the public and consultants in good standing from those trying to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. A professional conduct code is also being developed to help set strong ethical and professional standards for licensees.