The status of 1,600 Canadian immigrants is under threat because of a large-scale fraud orchestrated by an immigration consultant in British Columbia.
The Canada Border Services Agency has been sifting through the client list of Xun ‘Sunny’ Wang ever since his 2015 conviction, with 320 cases of misrepresentation already identified, and 500 cases still being investigated.
Those on Wang’s client list of 1,600 will be waiting anxiously to find out if they face having their status revoked because of the fraud. More than 100 have chosen to give up their status, aware they had gained entry to Canada fraudulently.
Others are fighting their cases, claiming a right to stay on humanitarian grounds because they had no knowledge of the fraud.
What is the difference between hiring a lawyer and hiring a licensed consultant?
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A consultant is any person called on to give advice. A lawyer (attorney, barrister or solicitor) is licensed to perform legal functions. These may include:
- Drafting documents,
- Interpreting and applying laws,
- Giving legal advice,
- Representing clients in court.
The practice of law is regulated by each of the provinces. A lawyer must have the following credentials:
- Bachelor of law degree from recognized university,
- Law admission examinations,
- Training under practicing lawyer.
The conduct of lawyers in Canada is regulated by the Professional Order of Lawyers (POL).
POL rules cover areas including:
- Separate trust bank accounts for client fees,
- Obligations of lawyers towards clients,
- Performance of mandates.
Breaking these rules can result in the loss or suspension of a lawyer’s license.
Anyone charging a fee to give advice on immigration must be a member of one of the following:
- Provincial or territorial law society
- Chambre des notariés du Québec
- Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), which replaced the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) in 2011.
The admission process for licensed immigration consultants in Canada is far less rigorous. Immigration consultants do not need the same education, nor are they scrutinized to the same standards.
A client not happy with a lawyer can raise a formal complaint with the POL, which has a fund to provide compensation for irregularities.
Some 43 permanent residents from Wang’s client list have already had exclusion orders issued against them by the Immigration and Refugee Board. The order bans them from the country for five years.
Appeals and counter-appeals mean the cases are likely to be ongoing for months, possibly years.
Wang’s company, New Can Consultants, sent passports to China to have fake entry and exit stamps added to create the illusion clients had been in the Canada longer. His company also created false addresses in Canada for clients to use on their application forms.
He also set up a series of companies that issued fake letters of employment to his clients in a wide-ranging and callous fraud that made him at least $10 million. He was jailed for seven years and fined $900,000 in October 2015.
Some of his clients have gone on to achieve Canadian citizenship, meaning their cases come before Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada instead of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Lawyers representing Wang’s clients argue they trusted the consultant to represent them, with no knowledge of his illegal methods. However, this defence is highly questionable. Applicants must answer specific questions about where they reside and work in Canada in order to secure a residence card or apply for citizenship. They are solely accountable for the information which they authenticate in such applications. An argument which faults the work of a convicted felon, is dubious at best.
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