On the internet, anyone can post information on any subject. Since studying abroad is such an important life decision, and with so many scammers in this area, this can cause a lot of anxiety for hopeful students. Here is some advice to consider.
First, you should understand the difference between these two questions:
1. Do I need an education program adviser?
2. Do I need a study permit adviser?
DO YOU NEED HELP WITH CHOOSING AN INSTITUTION or PROGRAM?
For guidance on the first question it depends upon many factors.
These are questions to consider:
(a) how well do you understand the Canadian higher education system?
(b) how confident are you that you can find a genuine, highly respected institution ?
(c) how difficult is it to determine which program or programs would suit?
(d) how difficult is it to find suitable programs?
(e) how difficult is it to evaluate your academic qualifications?
(f) how difficult is it to calculate the actual cost of the tuition and other expenses (often called "ancillary" in Canada? and, of course,
(g) can I find an education program adviser that seems competent, sophisticated and reliable?
For question (b) above, choosing an institution, also consult this CUAC blog:
DO YOU NEED HELP WITH THE PROCESS OF GETTING A STUDY PERMIT TO CANADA?
The next step is to be careful when you are gathering information about Canada, studying in Canada, and the legal process for entering Canada as a student. The main sources of information will be the following:
1. Government websites
(Canada has a national government, and governments for each of its 10 provinces and 3 territories, so 14 governments all together),
2. Immigration law firms and immigration consulting companies,
3. Education advising companies,
4. Other sources like newspapers, magazines, bloggers and so on.
1. Government websites
For government websites, the main issue is how to recognize the website is truly a government website. Some scam websites, will attempt to fool you into thinking they are official.
Canada’s most populated province, Ontario, has a website of Ontario.ca.
When you are searching, search for “official website of the government of [enter the province name].
All official Study Permit Application Forms and guides are free on the Immigration Canada websites, so if someone asking for a fee to give you the form, this should make you suspicious. Ask them for the link to the free form and see how they answer.
This is the key OFFICIAL Government of Canada website for study permit applications.
2. Canadian law firms and immigration consultants
If the website is from a Canadian law firm, find out what province or territory it is licensed under. There is no national licence for lawyers. In your first communication with a Canadian law firm, you can ask this, and ask for proof of genuine licensing.
This link further connects to all the law societies of Canadian provinces and territories. Any lawyer should promptly provide you with the reference on how to verify the lawyer is licensed. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigration-citizenship-representative/choose/authorized.html The same link also connects to a further link where you can check if the immigration consultant is a registered consultant is a regulated RCIC (Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant).
3. Education advising companies
The Canadian University Application Centre (CUAC) is an example of an education advising company. If you asked us how to know we are genuine, we would present the following reputable online confirmations like:
(a) a website of Canadian national universities body (Universities Canada) and a link to a report it made to Immigration Canada. If you read the report it mentions CUAC 20 times as a model for Canadian universities to follow in international student recruitment.
(b) A publication in the prestigious Boston College journal: International Higher Education,Issue "Canada's Egalitarian Debate". https://ejournals.bc.edu/index.php/ihe/article/view/8591/7723
(c) Media coverage interviewing one of its principals: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48288733
You should not hesitate to ask an education advising company for references from students, parents of students, or from universities or colleges.
While an education advising company may have a certificate showing it is authorized by a certain institution, just be careful in case the certificate is faked. Some universities or colleges post the names of authorized education advising companies on their websites, but a big proportion do not do this.
4. Newspapers, magazines, bloggers, etc.
Always be diligent in understanding to what extent does the source have an honourable reputation in its local market-place.
For example, Canadian newspapers like theglobeandmail.com, the star.com and the nationalpost.com are highly reputed in Canada as are television sources like ctvnews.ca, cbc.ca and globalnews.ca or magazines like macleans.ca.
Be careful as some media sources may in fact be media arms of immigration consultants or education advising companies and may provide information that could be very genuine and helpful or, on the contrary. intentionally misleading and unreliable.
For guidance on this question also consult the CUAC blog:
Conclusion: Cautions from the Canadian government
The Canadian government also advises that to avoid website scams in the following link:
Be careful if "the website offers special, too good to be true immigration deals, or guarantees entry into Canada, high-paying jobs or faster processing of your application.
Be careful if it looks like you must provide personal information, financial information or make a deposit before you even start the application process.
Be careful if "there is no padlock in the browser window or https:// at the beginning of the web address to show it is a secure site. Even if the site appears secure, be cautious.” A padlock is an image of a lock at the beginning of the weblink.
Be careful if "the website was advertised in an email from a stranger that you did not ask for."
Be careful if "you cannot reach anyone listed in the website’s contact information, or the website has no contact information."
Be careful if "the company’s or representative’s credentials cannot be found on the site. Paid representatives have to be authorized."
Do a Web search to see if anyone has reported any problems with that site. Contact the website owner by telephone or email before you do anything. Make sure your browser is up to date. Browser filters can help detect fake websites.
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