OTTAWA, June 8 (UPI) -- Canada is considering laws to crack down on crooked "immigration consultants" who defraud unsuspecting immigrants of thousands of dollars, officials say.
Under a bill introduced by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, only authorized consultants, lawyers and notaries could charge fees, Canwest News Service reported Tuesday.
The government wants crimes of so-called "ghost" consultants punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $50,000, Canwest said.
Such consultants operate in Canada and abroad, and often charge prospective immigrants thousands of dollars to fill out applications that are never submitted, the government says.
"The unfortunate reality is that many consultants are working dishonestly or even illegally," Kenney said, "to profit from people's dream of coming here."
The government says it also wants to establish a governing body to regulate immigration consultants and improve government oversight, Canwest reported.