All he wanted was to change jobs. His move was supported by his previous employer, and he found a new job in no time. Yet he landed in jail. - together with the PRO of his new company.
It has been six weeks now. The Filipino resident of Fujairah would not like to be named, as he does not feel secure about anything right now. His friend and former colleague, M., tells us the story.
“We both resigned at the same time from our previous workplace. It was not a problem at all; the employer permitted us to do so, but encouraged us to find a new job within a month in order to retain the residence visa.”
Both M. and her imprisoned friend managed to find a new job within a month. But M has begun work and the Filipino man is lurking behind bars.
“He told his new employer about his previous employer, and the PRO assured him that it would all work out. The application for the new visa was already in process.”
However, the weeks passed and no visa was granted. “He signed a contract stating that he worked for them, but after five weeks there was still no visa. He told the PRO that he would be in trouble, but he was told that it was all taken care of.”
Reality, however, was bitter for the man. Because the previous employer could no longer sponsor his residence visa, a case of absconding was filed, and the man was taken to prison.
“Once my friend was in prison, we did not hear from the PRO. He even declined to come for the first hearing. He pretended not to have anything to do with my friend!”
Since the PRO declined to attend the hearing, he was arrested as well.
“It is really ridiculous. We were told that the only thing we could do is ask the previous employer to lift the case against my friend, but they refused to do so. Meanwhile, the PRO of the new company denies that there is any contractual agreement between his company and my friend. My friend is in prison, and we have no idea what to do.”
Although the PRO has been released, there is little clarity on the case. “We were told a lawyer is not needed, because the case is very straightforward. The hearing has been postponed, and we do not know what is coming next. My friend might need to pay the fine for overstaying, and might lose his visa. He might even be banned from entering the UAE again. All this chais because he did not get his visa on time. All he wants to do now is find a new job in the UAE or outside the country.”
Immigrant aspirants in Dubai feel cheated
People insecure of how to go about the big move to another country often choose to adopt the services of an ‘immigration consultant’, who facilitates the process from assessment to settlement. However, many of the immigrants end up feeling cheated and disappointed with what they get in return for the large sums of money they paid, the effort they made and the time it took.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in 2009 conducted a research to find out which methods people used most when they migrate to Canada, one of the most popular immigration destinations in the world and in the UAE in particular. Results of the research indicated that 50 per cent of the respondents had used help, and of this group 51 per cent had opted for an immigration consultant or lawyer to facilitate the process rather than family or friends.
Immigration consultants are a much preferred option for people migrating. According to the research results, most people who had done so, wanted help with the cumbersome immigration process because it was difficult to understand or complete the paperwork. A large number of people thought that professional assistance would increase their chances of success and a few believed (mistakenly) that they needed to hire a representative in order to migrate.
“I would definitely recommend people to ask the help of an immigration consultant,” says Felix Roy Tom, Canada immigration consultant at Vision Dubai. “The paperwork can be really complicated and a small mistake could affect your chance of success. However, we are here only to help and we do not affect the outcome of the application.”
Resorting to an immigration consultant does not come without a price. In the UAE, it costs between Dh10,000 and Dh15,000, which people are willing to pay to make a life change.
However, satisfaction with the services paid for is often low. According to the research done by CIC, one-third of the respondents had a negative experience with the consultant they had dealt with. Judging by the numerous complaints on forums discussing migration consultancy offices, negative experiences are still common into 2012.
“It is very unfortunate, but there are a lot of consultancies that require people to pay before anything is done,” acknowledges Felix.
Contrary to the genuine approach towards a successful application, many people say they feel that they were ‘tricked’ into signing a contract regardless the potential of a successful application. “I can't understand what really happened, it's like they are using ‘black magic’ there,” says Emma, a UAE resident who tried to migrate to Canada through a consultancy company in Dubai. “The pen was ready for me to sign and the consultant was in a hurry to get my credit card to do the transaction. I don’t know how they tricked me into signing, I am usually very careful of signing papers.”
Another person who tried to migrate to Canada writes on a forum that he was told he would be assessed with 71 points, enough to be eligible for application. Once he had signed the contract and paid Dh12,000, his assessment turned out to be 61 points and application was impossible.
Once the contract is signed between a customer and an immigration consultant, the customer is bound to pay, and disappointed people describe how there is a ‘before signing’ and ‘after signing’ treatment. The latter is often characterised by rudeness and inattention. On a forum discussing immigration consultants in Dubai, a UAE residents describes how she filed her application in 2009 and paid Dh11,000, after which she never heard from them again, despite her trying to contact their office.
According to Emma, the problem is that, on paper, the company is doing nothing wrong. “They clearly state that once the contract is signed, one must pay the full amount, which cannot be refunded.” However, what consultants say before the customer signs might be a complete different story.
“The consultant told me that if ever I or my husband would be declined, we could get a 100 per cent refund of what we paid to them… even if we would not be satisfied with the development of our application and wish to cancel it.”
In the research by CIC, the most common complaint of respondents having a negative experience with an immigration consultant was that the information given by the consultant later turned out to be wrong. Other complaints included being promised a job in Canada that did not exist, being asked to pay for placement for a job, being asked to pay for papers that were usually free or being guaranteed a visa.
Complaints and negative experience are shared openly on public forums and people seek advice from others in selecting the right consultancy agency. However, the agencies discussed are in thriving business. “Seeing their too-large ads in newspaper really still makes me feel bad,” says Emma, who finally decided not to complete her application with the agency she had signed with and paid.
What to watch-out for:
• Do thorough research on the company you are about to deal with.
• Do not pay for assessments before all necessary documents are delivered.
• Read the contract you sign carefully.
• Information regarding visa application procedures, assessments, labour categories or current status of available applications can often be found on the official immigration website of the country you wish to immigrate to.