Canadian immigration officials are warning members of Montreal’s Haitian community to be wary of companies promising to help accelerate the immigration process for their loved ones affected by last week’s earthquake.
For a second day in a row, hundreds of Montrealers have queued in front of the Montreal offices of immigration consulting firm Immigration International 911 Inc.
The law firm has offered its assistance, purportedly free of charge, to those hoping to help family members come to Canada. The group has even advertised on a local Haitian radio station touting its services.
Style Léon was among those who had been waiting in the lineup which began forming around 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
Léon wants to sponsor her husband and mother-in-law who are in the area affected by the earthquake.
“They have nowhere to go,” Léon said. “They’re on the street, and … [she] is diabetic.
“There is no food, there is no water, there is nothing,” Léon said.
The federal government has promised to accelerate the process for those seeking to sponsor family members but the process is confusing, Léon said.
“Everybody’s telling different things, different papers, different documents. But we don’t really know what’s going on.”
Officials asked to intervene
Montreal-based immigrant and refugee groups said they hoped the authorities would intervene to protect any potential victims of fraud.
“In these times there are unfortunately always certain individuals … who try to take advantage of the situation,” said Rivka Augenfeld, the head of a Quebec coalition of refugee and immigrant groups.
Augenfeld said she could not comment on the specific case of Immigration International 911 Inc., except to say what she saw “is to be deplored.”
“We don’t know who it is because if you go on their website there is not one name to be read,” Augenfeld said.
No one from Immigration International 911 Inc. was available to comment Tuesday.
Immigration officials have previous knowledge of the company, said Albert Deschamps, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s regional director general for Quebec.
“We’re quite concerned with the way people have been showing up at this consultant,” Deschamps said. “We’re hoping that they are not hearing from this firm that [the firm] can actually accelerate the process of immigration applications because that is not the case.”
Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said the government will speed up the process for immigrants from Haiti, but immigration consultants cannot push the process along any faster, Deschamps says.
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