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Immigration offices lure Jordanians to elusive promised lands

Immigration offices lure Jordanians to elusive promised lands

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Life Arab Migrants

Wednesday 4 January 202306:38 pm
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مكاتب الهجرة في الأردن... أحلام معلّقة تداعب الشباب الأردني حتى إشعار آخر

Jordanians think of emigrating abroad the most out of all Arabs, due to the deteriorating economic situation in the country. This statement is confirmed by a research done by Arab Barometer on immigration in the countries of the Middle East. The report concludes that the percentage of Jordanians who consider leaving the country reaches up to 48 percent.

In light of the deteriorating economic situation and the increasing unemployment rate in Jordan, many Jordanian young men and women have resorted to looking for ways to emigrate and work abroad. One such way is through immigration offices and agencies that provide labor facilitation services, but these offices are only selling illusions. Their biggest concern is to waste Jordanians' money in the name of facilitating their immigration, but in reality they are merely commercial and profit-driven offices.

Their stories detail the reality of Jordanian youth who sought refuge in these offices and got stuck in their webs of illusions, paying sums of money ranging from 150 to 1,000 dinars, fueled by dreams of immigration and visa facilitation, but in the end their requests were met with either rejection or dismissal.

Immigration and travel facilitation

One can find dozens of ads on social media from offices and institutions under different names, but with the same content. They confirm that they can facilitate immigration and travel to Canada for those who wish to move and live there, through a skilled labor program or through a migration program.

Considering the degenerating economic and social conditions in Jordan, the desire of Jordanians to emigrate abroad, especially among younger people, has been increasing; especially since the Jordanian government has been incapable of providing jobs for the huge number of graduates every year.

Raseef22 was able to communicate with two of these offices, whose directors confirmed their ability to provide job opportunities for Jordanian youth abroad, specifically in the field of restaurant and hotel management, and with specific contracts that are renewable based on academic competence. They also said that experience and language are not conditions for obtaining these jobs there.

An advertisement on the OpenSooq website registered in the field of "Hotels and Restaurants" under the job title: “Employees needed to serve food and beverages”, lists that they are “needed to work abroad, specifically in Canada, Qatar, and the UAE”.

The ad also claims that: "We do not charge any fees according to the law until after employment, so those who find themselves compliant with the conditions must contact the company or visit the office."

Stories & experiences

Ali Zeidan, 29, had contacted the advertiser company to travel to Canada for work, confirming in his interview with Raseef22 that after contacting them, he asked them about the nature of the advertisement listed on the "OpenSooq" portal, but they asked him in turn about his educational qualifications, and whether he is able to speak English well.

At first, the office did not ask for any fees or financial costs. They only informed him that they needed a fee of 150 Jordanian dinars from him for the translation of his papers and application fees. They stipulated that if he ends up getting a job through the office, he then must pay them his first salary, which may reach up to 5,000 Canadian dollars. Zeidan indeed submitted the papers required by the intermediary office, after which he was called on for an interview with the employer in Canada, according to the office. Two weeks later, Zeidan was surprised with the news that his application was rejected by the employer, and not the embassy, according to what the office claimed.

Hussein Qajaa, a 43-year-old Syrian, emigrated from Syria with his family to live in Jordan in search of a stable life, after they were stranded following the war in Syria. As a result, they had to leave their hometown in the countryside of Homs, but they did not find any sense of stability there. Hussein continued to struggle in search of a better future, but he never found what he was looking for in Jordan due to the deteriorating economic conditions and its decline day after day for the Jordanian citizens themselves, let alone those who aren’t from the country. The Jordanians themselves have no opportunities, and see that they have no choice but to emigrate.

Speaking to Raseef22, Qajaa said he had heard about immigration offices and services that facilitate the way for those wishing to travel and emigrate from Jordan. They promise that they are capable of providing jobs in many countries, including Canada, the "land of dreams", which is indeed the dream of every Arab citizen. Soon enough, he fell into the trap of those offices that deluded him into believing they could achieve the dream that he had for years. After letting him know that he was very close to emigration, he was surprised to find out that he had fallen hostage to illusions that cannot be farther from reality.

Qajaa recounts his experience, “The mediation office asked me for 1,000 dinars to open a file at the department of ‘Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada’, and to translate my papers. Things were done in stages. Some of these stages included sending more than one mail to Canada and translating the responses received. The office also claimed that the department of ‘Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship’ requested more information about me, and that it must be sent as soon as possible. Here, they asked me for another amount; 120 dinars in exchange for translating the information and sending it again. I felt stuck in a never-ending spiral which stayed that way for more than six months. That's when I realized I had been scammed. Then my suspicions were confirmed after they contacted me to state that my application had been rejected by the department ‘Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada’.”

In light of the deteriorating economic situation in Jordan, many younger people have resorted to looking for ways to emigrate through offices that merely sell them illusions

A field tour and investigation

Raseef22 contacted the manager of one of these offices in the Jordanian capital, Amman, who confirmed that he guarantees the immigration of any customer to Canada by providing the work contract of a "driver" in one of the companies there. He stressed that there’s an interview that will be held by the company in Amman and in which a number of people will be interviewed in order to ensure the person's ability to work. Among the conditions is the possession of a driver's license, without the need for scholastic certificates or any other experience. When we asked him, "I have an expired driver's license, would it work?" The person responsible for the affairs of the office, S. A., replied that it could suffice, and that it's sufficient to prove the ability that the person in question can drive a car. He assured us that this method is the best and most appropriate way to ensure immigration to Canada, as he described, which made us question the credibility of the office, especially since the job of a "driver" in the foreign country can be given to people from Canada itself, without the need for the transport company in Canada to recruit foreign workers and bring them there.

After Raseef22 contacted another immigration office in the Jordanian capital, they assured us that they can provide employment contracts to Canada in particular. They claimed that they do not operate using the skilled migration program, but rather provide jobs in professions, including driving professions of all types (taxis, buses, etc.), in addition to professions in security and protection, and those in the field of restaurants, such as the profession of catering. They explained that the skilled migration program is difficult and is not guaranteed as it requires complex procedures.

When we asked them about how the clients of their office would be able to travel, the employee working in the office confirmed to us that they rely on a work invitation by companies and institutions that want to bring workers from abroad, through their office, noting that the duration of the contract is two years and can be renewable, while the duration of the visa extracted from the embassy, which the person will obtain, is three years. The office will play the role of mediator between employers and employees by holding interviews between them. She stressed that the office guarantees the employment contract, but the visa remains pending in the hands of the Canadian embassy, and the office cannot intervene to obtain approval.

Weak oversight by official authorities

Since the licenses from employment and immigration services offices are issued by more than one official authority, including the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), Raseef22, in turn, contacted the Ministry of Industry and Trade through its official spokesperson, Yanaal al-Baramawy, who confirmed that the ministry is not responsible for licensing such offices, and that it is the concern of other official bodies. This prompted us to ask the Greater Amman Municipality, specifically the head of the studies department at the Media Center of the Greater Amman Municipality, Mousa al-Zyoud, who told us that licensing this type of offices falls within the specialty of the Department of Vocational and Advertising Licenses in the Greater Amman Municipality, which works to organize and license such type of offices and regulate this sector. He assured that when it's proven that they have violated regulations and instructions, their file would then be transferred to the governorate or district to which their area or department of work is subjected to. They would be the ones who, in turn, take measures and begin procedures against them.

We had asked al-Zyoud for more details on how licenses are granted to such offices and about procedures that would reduce such a phenomenon, which is spreading deluded promises and dreams on social media. He assured us that he would present these questions to the relevant department. We tried to contact him more than once afterwards, but he didn't answer, which raises further questions about the real reason why there’s no clear answer.

Slow and stumbling steps in realizing the dream of travel

Majid Farah al-Shudeifat, from Mafraq Governorate, confirms that immigration and employment offices in Jordan are generally offices for great financial and psychological exploitation, pointing out that they share the people’s fees from their jobs. They sometimes even ask for two or three months' salary, which they guarantee through a signed contract. This all comes aside from the expenses the applicant has to pay while applying for employment through them, thus burdening applicants with very high expenses.

As for the immigration offices, the same principle applies to them, but they are less credible and many of them claim that they provide lawyers abroad to proceed with the immigration process. Al-Shudeifat says that the victim pays a cost of up to 5,000 dollars, for consultations called "legal advice", but in reality it’s all just a big scam. He adds that he had applied to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program before an office from America owned by Arabs contacted him, and asked him for 4,000 dollars in order to submit his lottery papers, despite the service being provided by the US government for free.

Al-Shudeifat recounts his story and experience with these offices in his interview with Raseef22. He says, "I applied for a job in one of the recruitment companies. The cost of obtaining a contract through one of the offices was 170 dinars. I had applied for several jobs, including the position of financial manager and senior accountant, and I had conditions that were mentioned during the interview with the employer. Some of the conditions were housing, the salary, and flight tickets. The company expressed its approval through its representative in Jordan, who had come to conduct interviews. But after a few days, I received an apology because my requests were too many. I went back to the company to be surprised that there were other people who had applied in my stead asking for lower salaries. I still had to pay the interview fees at the headquarters of the intermediary company, which was 20 dinars, in addition to the costs of the official papers and other fees which were 50 dinars. After this situation, I decided not to ever reconsider living abroad, especially since my children have already grown up.”

Al-Shudeifat adds, "After the interview took place with the employer, and we agreed on the salary and additional privileges such as housing, tickets, health insurance, and a private car, as the job had to do with accounting in the field of taxes, I was surprised by the recruitment company intervening in order to prove to the client that it is providing him with a distinguished service by obtaining a distinguished employee at a lower cost, only for that company to go back to dealing with them to bring in cheap labor. This is because these offices also take commissions from the employer, other than the commissions paid by the person who gets a job through them, which is the payment of two or three salaries, depending on what the person agrees on with the recruitment company.”

Jordanian procedures and legislation lack transparency and clarity in the accounting and monitoring of immigration and travel offices

Systems that lack transparency

It seems that Jordanian procedures, regulations, and legislation lack transparency and clarity in monitoring and pursuing this type of offices and holding them accountable. Commenting on this matter in an exclusive statement to Raseef22, Jordanian lawyer and legal expert Mohammad al-Rousan says that they are fraudulent offices and that the problem is of two parts; the first is with the government, and the second is with Jordanian citizens themselves, who are not learning from the previous experiences of many, but insist on making themselves subject to experiments, and end up having to pay sums of up to 2,000 Jordanian dinars. Then they’re surprised to find out they have been subjected to fraud and been scammed. After that they’re forced to go to court to sue the party they’ve pinned their hopes on to emigrate abroad, but to no avail, especially since these offices are officially licensed by the official authorities according to laws and regulations.

Al-Rousan further stresses that immigration offices, in most cases, argue that they do not guarantee the success and acceptance of the files submitted to them, because they are not a party that ultimately decides to approve immigration applications, but rather they seek and try to make the files that were submitted through them, legal and complete when they are submitted to the official departments, including immigration departments and foreign embassies. He says that holding these offices accountable has no legal feasibility, and that any lawsuit of this kind is ultimately, after a series of sessions, considered and ruled under the clause of “non-responsibility”, which means neither proof of innocence nor conviction. Therefore, the person who has been subjected to fraud gets exposed to a new loss represented in the fees and costs of legal fees, indicating that the problem lies in the citizen in the first place who insists on walking up to the chopping block on his own feet.

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