Lack of work permits scuppers Canada migration seminars
Stabroek News
May 28, 2004

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A lack of work permits has brought a premature end to the 'migration to Canada' free seminars, which were advertised in the local media and the first of which saw droves of Guyanese attending on Wednesday.

The two representatives from the IPACS Law Office in Canada who were here to conduct the seminars are to leave shortly. The two, Eduardo Furtado, immigration consultant for the firm, and its legal adviser Guyana-born Canadian Doug Maloney, were escorted from the Guyana Public Service Union hall by immigration officials on Wednesday, where they had convened the first of their seminars.

Hundreds of Guyanese had turned up at that location and the officials had just started distributing forms when the officers arrived and invited them to a meeting.

Yesterday Furtado told Stabroek News that he and Maloney met Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj and were told that they needed work permits to conduct the seminars.

According to him, Maloney spoke to the Guyana Consulate in Toronto, Canada and was advised that they did not need work permits to conduct the seminars, as they were not receiving any payments from the persons interested in migrating. Furtado said they also spoke to persons locally and were given the same advice.

It was argued that Maloney is a Guyanese and does not need a work permit to work in his own country. However, he is a naturalised Canadian who travels on that country's passport. Gajraj informed him yesterday that he would require such a permit before working in Guyana.

Furtado said they wanted to abide by the rules and regulations of the country, even though he pointed out that they have held similar seminars in other countries where the firm has offices and were never required to have work permits. The firm has offices in Europe and focuses on South America, thus their travel to this country.

"They told us that it was a breach of the laws to work in Guyana without a work permit. But we thought we were not working; we were simply giving out information," Furtado said.

He added that Maloney was the one who invited him to Guyana to see his beautiful country and he is really here as a tourist.

He said although the officials did not tell them that they had to leave they have decided that it is better to do so. Furtado is here with his wife.

He said they would take the forms that have already been filled out to Canada and have lawyers look at them and get back to the applicants. The forms were expected to be returned to the GPSU building yesterday morning. He said they are hoping to find a place in Guyana from where people can pick up the forms, but they would not be involved in the process. After filling up the forms applicants can mail them to the law firm in Canada.

While the law firm is offering free advice, eligible applicants who decide to use the firm to process their papers, would have to pay the firm a fee. Furtado said the firm does not believe people should pay money just to learn that they are ineligible. He also said that people who are declared eligible and pay to have their papers processed will be refunded if they do not get through because of a misunderstanding on the firm's part.

Furtado apologised to the government for any breach he might have committed.

He commented that he is not here to criticise the government or the rules of the country, but added that he is sorry that people would be disappointed.

"Nobody mistreated us, Guyanese are very nice people. It is just sad that the authorities thought we were working.

But this is your country and I have to abide by the rules and regulations."

Furtado and Maloney have made a commitment that they would not make any further presentation in relation to the advice they were here to give to Guyanese.

Forms can be downloaded from the website, and emails can be sent to Furtado if any further assistance is required.