Immigration Consultant Repays Clients

Immigration consultant repays clients
She was found guilty after 24 Korean truck drivers told they had jobs waiting in Canada

Nov 01, 2008 04:30 AM
Nicholas Keung
Immigration/Diversity Reporter

Two years after they were brought here by an immigration consultant for jobs that didn't materialize, five of 24 Korean truck drivers have been compensated for damages. The five drivers who reportedly each paid between $7,000 and $13,400 to an unregulated recruiter in Seoul for his services and the cost of language and skills training all together received $5,000 this week from Yolanda Simao, the Toronto consultant who in March was found guilty of professional misconduct by the industry's self-regulator, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.

It is the first time a complainant has been awarded compensation by the body in its four-year history. Simao, who argued her only client was the overseas recruiter, was also fined an additional $3,000 to cover administrative costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

In their complaints, the drivers said they were told they would earn $60,000 a year and could expect permanent residency in Canada after obtaining a work permit. However, the jobs evaporated because their English was not up to par.

Their story was one of many profiled in the Star's award-winning investigative series into the immigration consulting industry, which prompted the parliamentary Citizenship and Immigration standing committee to recommend an overhaul of the regulatory regime.

Complainant Byoung Ho Cho said the remedies have come too late and are too little. Seven drivers have left Canada; six found jobs as truck drivers on their own. Some filed refugee claims while others remain here illegally.

“I feel so badly because we paid so much money and now we're getting back only $1,000,” said Cho, as he picked up his cheque yesterday.

John Ryan, chair of the regulator, apologized to the drivers and recommended they file claims under the consultants' mandated insurance policy.

“We cannot compensate for the trouble and frustration you've gone through,” Ryan said, but added he hoped their experience would set an example for others when dealing with a consultant.

As part of the penalty, Simao was required to take a course on ethics and her practice is being monitored. Ryan said the remaining drivers can still pursue their complaints with the regulator and all have the option of filing a civil claim against Simao.