to be the "world's largest immigration group", the multi-billion
rupee WorldWide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) here is
under the police scanner after it was found the firm was dealing
in work permit visas without having a licence for it.
Chandigarh police, which have a special investigation team (SIT)
to probe the immigration fraud being played on youth by
immigration firms in and around this city, have conducted raids on
the sprawling headquarters of the WWICS in Mohali near here and
other offices of the firm in recent days.
Police claim to have found that WWICS had been running its
business 'illegally' since it had no licence from the Protector of
Emigrants (POE) since 2008.
But a WWICS spokesman said: "The services provided by WWICS are
not under the ambit and not amenable to the provisions of The
Emigration Act, 1983. We are working in a transparent manner since
1993 and have built the trust and confidence of the people."
The first raid on WWICS was at its office here in Sector 22 on Feb
2 along with 19 other immigration firms in the city. The offices
of all firms were sealed by police and documents and records taken
away for investigations.
"WWICS is a big name in this field. We did our complete homework
before raiding their premises. Serious anomalies in their business
were found during investigations. They have been fooling people
for a long time. Investigations are still being made from their
records and the people they have sent abroad without having the
licence to do so," SIT head Anil Joshi said here.
As per the WWICS website, "established in 1993, the WorldWide
Immigration Consultancy Services is the world leader in providing
Global Resettlement Solutions, which is vouched by more than
80,000 people who have happily settled in their dream destinations
like Canada, USA, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand".
WWICS is a family-run company, owned by B.S. Sandhu, a retired
army officer who had himself migrated to Canada before coming back
to India to start the immigration business here. His two sons,
Devinder Sandhu and Parvinder Sandhu, are directors in the
WWICS and its promoters have been in controversies earlier over
immigration cases and land dealings. A golf resort set up by the
company in a forested area near Chandigarh was declared illegal by
the Supreme Court a few years ago. The company is now into
education and real estate as well.
WWICS chairman and managing director B.S. Sandhu said earlier in a
statement: "WWICS India does not deal in work permits for any
country at all and thus does not fall under the purview of labour
licence requirement under the Act. The same details have been
submitted to the senior superintendent of police, Chandigarh."
Hundreds of people, especially youth, from Punjab, Haryana and
Chandigarh seek immigration to other countries, especially the US,
Canada, Britain, Australia and others, every year.
Scores of immigration firms and agents operate across Punjab and
Chandigarh to cater to the immigration demand, both legal and
illegal, from the region.
Joshi claimed that the SIT had found "incriminating" evidence
against the activities of WWICS in sending youth abroad. "They do
not possess any licence and it is in direct contravention of the
provisions of the Emigration Act 1983," Joshi claimed.
WWICS had initially 'objected' to the police raids on their
offices, saying their activities and business were "legal". The
firm, which has scores of staffers, had failed to provide any
licence to the police.
The Chandigarh-based POE, which is under the Ministry of Overseas
Indian Affairs, has pointed out that immigration companies prefer
to have their offices in Chandigarh.
"The agents are very clever. Using fancy names they open their
offices in Chandigarh to lure immigration seekers. Many people
think that an immigration company having its office in Chandigarh
should be genuine," POE Paresh Malakar said.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)