Securing an eligible full-time job after graduation is crucial to international graduates’ successful path to permanent residence in Canada. However, fake jobs and fake job offers, which offer plausible, attractive shortcuts to permanent residency, may rob them of their legal status in Canada.
In recent years, Canada’s immigration policies have favoured international graduates, as both the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) accommodate international graduates. Nonetheless, one year of full-time Canadian experience in an eligible NOC is required by the CEC, and most PNP international graduate streams require a job offer from an eligible employer.
Some streams go even further than this, setting a period of previous local work experience or work for the employer as a mandatory criterion. Since some international graduates are so eager to remain in Canada permanently, possessing little knowledge of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), fraudsters who sell fake jobs or job offers are thriving.
This article aims to raise awareness of such offers to help international graduates protect their interests.
The Booming Black Market
Fake jobs and job offers related to immigration are neither new nor uncommon. And while fake job offers exist only on paper, fake jobs can take many forms. One example is that applicants may end up doing the work involved, but they would pay their own wages rather than the employer doing so. Though we hear about these scams in the news from time to time, some hopefuls will always maintain the distorted perception that it could never happen to them—but would these individuals be equipped to recognize such offers for what they really are?
In mid-2018, during a business trip back to China, I had a meeting with a client of my law firm in China. I knew that his daughter was an international student studying in Ontario. I had heard that some immigration companies in China were selling certain PNP employer-driven streams at a staggeringly high price because their services were “all-inclusive,” so I asked him if he would pay a Canadian employer to offer his daughter a job to facilitate her immigration to Canada. He said yes without thinking. Then I asked him how much he would pay. After thinking for a while, he replied, “100,000 Canadian dollars.” When I asked why, he answered, “Because they have their expenses. They do something for her, so I pay them.” When I asked him whether he knew that this would contravene IRPA, he was quite surprised, for he did not understand how a reciprocal agreement could qualify as illegal; this sort of immigration business arrangement sounded reasonable to him. I explained the relevant section on misrepresentation from IRPA and advised him always to comply with the law.
His answer showed that he probably had some knowledge of the practice, since the supposed price for a PNP nomination through some skills streams, sold in major Chinese cities by unauthorized representatives, is around $100,000 to $150,000. Unfortunately, here in the lower mainland of B.C., this trick exists as well. The black market is booming at the expense of the integrity of Canadian immigration and the future of the applicants. It brings greater harm to international students than to overseas applicants, as the former already have something to lose on misrepresentation grounds: a life in Canada.
The Pitfalls of Misrepresentation
Section 40 (1)(a) of IRPA states: “A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act.” Inadmissible means that such individuals are not allowed to enter and remain in Canada. Inadmissibility on misrepresentation grounds bars these individuals’ entrance to Canada for five years, according to section 225 (3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
The following factors determine whether misrepresentation has occurred:
- Did the person in question directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold material facts?
- Is the misrepresented or withheld fact material that induces or could induce an error in immigration assessment?
- Was the misrepresentation based on an honest and reasonable belief that it does not fall within the interpretation of section 40 (1)(a)?
While direct misrepresentation is relatively straightforward, indirect misrepresentation is not. The most common argument adopted by applicants in such cases is that they were unaware of their representative’s actions. For instance, most of the clients of the unauthorized immigration practitioner Sunny Wang applied this argument as their defense, in vain. In Wang v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), the Federal Court set a judicial precedent that clearly interprets the application of section 40 (1)(a). Pursuant to it, section 40(1)(a) applies to parties without knowledge of the misrepresentation made by other people.
Regarding the second factor in determining misrepresentation, the situation is no less forgiving than the first. The wording of section 40(1)(a)—“induces or could induce”—means that the possibility of inducing an error in immigration administration counts. The genuineness of a job, job offer, and/or work experience are crucial in deciding the eligibility of an applicant and/or whether an application should be approved or refused. Therefore, fake information with respect to any of these can affect this factor.
The last factor, “honest and reasonable belief,” means the applicant has tried his or her best to provide immigration authorities with accurate and complete requested information, but it turns out to be inaccurate or incomplete. This exception for misrepresentation is rarely granted, for the Federal Court holds the exception narrowly. In the situation of a fake job and/or fake job offer, the former is easy to detect, for it is unreasonable that a person would be duped by a fraudulent occupation they presumably know very well. Consequently, a fake job allows no room for consideration of this factor. And while accepting a fake job offer without being aware of its authenticity might genuinely stem from “honest and reasonable belief,” buying a job offer can logically never fit such a description.
To avoid the pitfalls of misrepresentation caused by fake jobs and fake job offers, international graduates should be fully aware of this type of illegal practice, which is all too common. Canada accommodates international graduates in many ways: full-time students of designated learning institutions (DLIs) can work without a work permit both on- and off-campus; graduates of certain DLIs are eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit, which allows them to legally work in Canada after graduation; all PNPs possess an international graduate stream to welcome members of this group, and the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of Express Entry (EE) awards 15 to 30 points to candidates based on how long they have engaged in full-time, post-secondary study in Canada.
These factors give international graduates the edge when competing with those without Canadian study or work experience, so it is reasonable to conclude that Canada embraces genuine international students with open arms. However, international students must nevertheless study hard, plan, and remain vigilant about immigration schemes that prey on their vulnerability.
To obtain more information about the severe consequences of misrepresentation, consult the relevant provisions of IRPA and IRPR as well as the webpages of the Immigration and Refugee Board.