Photo by: Sangga Rima Roman Selia on Unsplash
Over 700 Indian international students studying in Canada are facing the risk of deportation following the discovery of fake admissions offers.
Years after numerous Indian students arrived in Canada for their studies, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada discovered the existence of fraudulent admission letters from post-secondary institutions. This discovery takes place years after some students have already graduated, and it is only as they have begun to apply for work permits or permanent residence that the reality behind their status has reached the surface.
Though many students have claimed to have been given false admission letters from an immigration consultant in India who handled their visa applications, the students have nonetheless faced extreme backlash. Many have been accused of lying about their status and intentions during their original application, resulting in these students facing deportation.
The company accused of having released these fraudulent admissions is an immigration consulting company based in Jalandhar, where many students applied for their visas. The company has since been shut down.
Those who the company misled have since arrived in Canada, only for the consultant to inform them that the courses they believed they were enrolled in were in fact full and that they must enroll at a different college. This has resulted in many students enrolling in courses and completing their studies while completely unaware that their visa applications were based on fake admission letters.
According to Sarom Rho of Migrant Students United, many students have already begun filing judicial reviews with the federal court to have their deportation orders revoked.
“International students are the ones being punished for reasons that are totally out of their control,” said Rho in an article by the Toronto Star.
Although most of the students currently at risk have long since completed their studies and have begun and gained work experience, their applications for permanent residence has resulted in the possibility of them losing everything as they face deportation.
The two-stage migration process in Canada comes with some faults of its own. The number of permits issued to international students through the International Mobility Program has increased since weekly limits on work hours were lifted, with speculation that the raise in issued permits derives from the program allowing foreign workers to be exempt from completing a Labour Market Impact Assessment.
In doing so, the program allows many international students the ability to work while continuing to live in Canada. This opportunity follows Canada’s need for international student labour during the post-pandemic recovery, resulting in many employers and landlords benefiting off international students.
Programs such as these, as well as the fraudulent immigration consultants who initially sent these students to the country, take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of international students who rely on completing their studies in Canada.
In 2022, for instance, 807,750 international students were living in Canada. Of these students, roughly 40 per cent were from India.
Of this sum, many students rely on immigration consultants due to living in villages or remote areas which lack access to information regarding international travel. Of those who were forced to rely on these consultants, 20 per cent reported having been deceived by them.
In addition to the experiences many face from fraudulent immigration consultants, international students face various discrimination abroad, such as forms of sexual harassment, labour exploitation and wage theft.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser acknowledged the wrongdoings of the third-party systems which falsely promote Canada’s immigration program.
“People who not only exploit the system, but exploit the students who find themselves in Canada, deserve no place in Canada’s immigration system,” said Fraser in an article by CBC News. “I have more faith today than I would have several years ago that we would be able to police against that kind of abuse in the system.”
Canada has not yet released information regarding next steps in correcting the issue at hand.