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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is tabling new legislation to crack down on unscrupulous consultants who exploit Canada's immigration system.

The bill targets consultants who encourage applicants to lie or make up stories about persecution in their home countries.

"While most immigration consultants working in Canada are legitimate and ethical, it is clear that immigration fraud remains a widespread threat to the integrity of Canada's immigration system," Mr. Kenney told reporters.

Mr. Kenney says the bill would make it a crime for unauthorized people to charge fees. It would also amend existing immigration and refugee law so that only authorized consultants, lawyers and notaries in good standing could charge immigrants fees.

The minister said he also wants to set up a new body to regulate immigration consultants and possibly replace the existing Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.

The bill would also close a loophole that for now prevents authorities from sharing information about immigration consultants.

"Crooked immigration consultants victimize people who dream of immigrating to Canada," Mr. Kenney said.

"Worse still, there is evidence that these individuals encourage prospective immigrants to lie on their immigration applications, to concoct bogus stories about persecution when making refugee claims, or to enter into sham marriages with Canadian citizens and permanent residents."

The government is particularly concerned about so-called "ghost" consultants who charge huge fees and deceitfully promise immigrants high-paying jobs or fast-tracked visas.

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