Refugee claimants suckered at border
By TOM GODFREY
Last Updated: 23rd August 2009, 3:48am
TORONTO — Unscrupulous immigration consultants at the U.S. border are preying on asylum seekers heading to Canada by selling them bogus application forms for use in making refugee claims, officials say.
Refugee groups in both countries warn claimants they are not required to purchase or bring application forms when they show up at border crossings to file a claim.
All documents are provided free by immigration officers and bear a Government of Canada logo, officers said.
“You do not need to buy any forms to claim refugee status in Canada,” warned the Canadian Council for Refugees in a posting on their website.
“Some organizations and 'immigration consultants' have produced their own forms and are charging people money to buy these forms or to fill them out.”
Officials said the forms can sell for $200 and more, a considerable amount of money for a refugee.
The “homemade” forms are useless and will not help with Canadian immigration authorities, the group said.
Some “immigration consultants” and “pastors” claim they have special arrangements to work with different (refugee) groups and may try to charge money for services, the website said.
“This is completely dishonest,” the group said. “Some may even try to charge you money to obtain the groups' services.”
Claimants are also told they cannot “exchange” U.S. documents for a Canadian “permit” and should check to find out if they'll be allowed in Canada or they can be returned to the U.S. and possibly detained.
Patrizia Giolti, of the Canada Border Services Agency, said her officials are looking into the reports.