By: Surjit Singh Flora
There have been recent reports of international students and graduates facing removal from Canada, after letters of acceptance submitted as part of their study permit application were determined to be fraudulent. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has promised a “fair outcome” for over 700 Indian overseas students facing deportation as a result of a fraudulent college enrollment scheme.
Many of these international students sincerely came to Canada to pursue their studies at some of our world-class institutions and were duped by bad actors who claimed to be helping them in their immigration application process. Other foreign nationals had no intent of pursuing higher education, and used fraudulent acceptance letters to take advantage of Canada’s immigration system. Within this cohort of individuals, some have been involved in organized crime.
“I understand that this situation is distressing for those affected by unscrupulous actors, and I want to assure them that their well-being is of paramount importance. As a result, I have already struck a taskforce of my officials and have asked them to work closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to identify the victims of fraud; that is, those students who came to study here in Canada and did exactly that.
“I want to make it clear that international students who are not found to be involved in fraud will not face deportation. The Immigration Refugee Protection Act offers me discretionary authority which I believe should be exercised in the present context. Therefore, if the facts of an individual case are clear that an international student came to Canada with a genuine intent to study, and without knowledge of the use of fraudulent documentation, I have provided instructions for officers to issue a Temporary Resident Permit to that individual. This will ensure that these well-intentioned students and graduates can remain in Canada, and ensure that they are not subject to the 5-year ban from re-entering Canada that normally follows in cases of misrepresentation. While this process runs its course, preliminary Temporary Resident Permits will be issued if they are required in order to prevent an imminent deportation for anyone under review.
“Further to my instructions to officials, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been working even closer with Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), provinces and territories, and organizations representing Canada’s colleges and universities to better detect and combat fraud, and uphold the integrity of our immigration programs. We are taking every opportunity to crack down on dishonest and fraudulent consultants who seek to abuse Canada’s immigration system and take advantage of those seeking to visit, work, study or settle here in Canada.
“The Government of Canada’s focus is on identifying those who are responsible for the fraudulent activity and not on penalizing those who may have been affected by fraud.
“We recognize the immense contributions that international students make to our country, and we are committed to providing a path to Canada that is honest and transparent. All applicants must continue to ensure that, before applying for a study permit, they do their research, have an acceptance letter from a DLI, and refer to the official website to get information about our programs. If you believe you have been deceived by an unscrupulous consultant, we urge you to come forward and report fraud.”
While MP from Brampton South Sonia Sidhu said, “ I’ve been hearing from international students facing removal from Canada due to fraudulent acceptance letters and worked to take action.
That’s why a dedicated task force has been mobilized to identify victims and ensure their well-being. Those not found to be involved in fraud will not face deportation. Innocent students will maintain their path to permanent status.
This is a serious and compassionate response.