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Canada: int’l students at private colleges claim they were ‘duped’ by agents

Large numbers of international students in Canada claim to have been duped by unscrupulous agents into parting with thousands of dollars in tuition for them to arrange jobs or placements at private colleges as an ‘easy’ way to work toward becoming a permanent resident, an investigation by the Globe and Mail has revealed.

The investigation spoke to several former and current international students in British Columbia and Ontario who said they felt “disillusioned” by their overall experience. Photo: Scott Webb/ Pexels

Canada's immigration rules currently allow international students to work just 20 hours per week

According to the investigation, in some cases, students recruited by agents working with private colleges signed up for courses they “weren’t interested in” or didn’t plan to attend in order to qualify for a student work permit so they could get a job as soon as they arrived.

Instead, the students said they worked more hours than legally allowed while trying to get a Canadian employer to sponsor them, meaning they had to apply for a full-time work permit and pay fees to immigration consultants to do the paperwork.

“The [recruiters] make us fake promises like… you can get your work permit”

Canada’s immigration rules currently allow international students to work just 20 hours per week while studying and provide limited opportunities to stay in the country after graduation unless they meet certain requirements and find a sponsor.

However, advocates have called for international students in Canada to be able to work more hours after an Indian student was arrested for working full-time.

A CBIE spokesperson told The PIE News that working during studies is very important for visiting students.

“We know from our latest International Student Survey that the opportunity to work while studying is a key driver for the majority (62%) of students who choose Canada,” they explained.

As part of its investigation, The Globe interviewed more than two dozen former and current international students in British Columbia and Ontario who said they felt “disillusioned” by their overall experience.

Several students said they had hoped their courses would lead to good jobs, but ended up being a waste of time and money because no Canadian employers in their fields of study were willing to hire them afterwards.

One student from India said he had paid CAD$32,500 for courses to maintain his student work permit while trying to persuade his employer to sponsor him.

“The [recruiters] make us fake promises like… you can get your work permit,” he told The Globe.

Another student who was charged $25,000 to enrol in a college in BC said she spent only a few days at her college after an immigration consultant falsely told her she didn’t have to attend her course and is now facing expulsion from Canada.

In response to the investigation, the CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges Denis Sabourin told The PIE that as an institution that represents more than 500 career colleges across Canada, NACC strongly condemns the actions of these immigration consultants.

“Our members have an unwavering commitment to quality education… and we are deeply troubled by the insinuation that this is a widespread issue against regulated career colleges or that it’s an exclusive issue affecting Canada’s private institutions,” he said.

“We are deeply troubled by the insinuation that this is a widespread issue against regulated career colleges”

“The experiences of the students brought forth in the report are not representative of the over 160,000 career college students across Canada. Unfortunately, we were not given the opportunity to provide fair comment on this matter.”

Sabourin added that implicating the hundreds of career colleges across the country with such actions does tremendous harm to the students and communities they serve.

“Our members…are aware of their obligation to maintain constant communication with immigration consultants to ensure prospective students are aware of their opportunities once they come to Canada,” he said.

However, immigration consultant Dave Sage told The PIE that a lot of students who apply to Canada’s post-secondary institutions are determined to work rather than study.

“I am hearing from a lot of institutions, private and public, that their schools are getting duped by non-bonafide students, and this clearly creates operational, financial, and reputation risk. One of the most common examples is students seeking refunds quickly after arrival or asking to condense their studies or study online,” he said.

Additionally, Sage said, the “thousands” of unlicensed overseas immigration consultants are perpetuating the problem.

“In our industry, we call them ghost consultants”

“In our industry, we call them ghost consultants because in order to operate they leave themselves off the forms they complete on behalf of the students,” he added.

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8 Responses to Canada: int’l students at private colleges claim they were ‘duped’ by agents

  1. As a former journalist and now an international student recruiter in various parts of the world, I am ashamed of the lack of perspectives of the different parties in the “investigation.” Giving international students a work permit is a privilege so that they can get work experience. It is not a right. Remember, that these international students are competing with domestic students, a group that suffers higher unemployment.
    There are many other reasons why international students should not be given more hours. If working, when will they have time to study? Or, they never had the intention to study when they applied for a study permit. It was an “easy” work permit.

  2. Ideally the work permit should be cut down to 10 hrs per week. This will create seriousness towards academics and the 10 hours should be applicable work only for weekends Saturday and Sunday and not on weekdays.
    I am an international student recruiter for Canada and I speak to students day in day out on their aspirations and excitement to get a degree/diploma and subsequently PGWP followed by PR. Most of the students do not go for studies, they want the work permit and try to get a PR later on.
    This also means that the student is not focused, properly guided or do not have clear goals. The tension lies on both the sides, the consultant most of the time is worried about students future and the same amount of efforts that the student is going to put in too. Having said this, the percentage of students getting duped by agents is also very very less and most the times the ending is a happy ending, if you look at the statistics.

  3. First of all, we have to think why such agents are exists. Coz parents and students both are greedy to earn at earliest what they have spent on their so called study. These students have poor academic, poor IELTS score and no genuine intension to study. These are the people who want to land in Canada to show their friends and relatives that even with poor academic background, we can come in Canada.

    This trend is really shocking and I don’t know why Canada govt still sleeping and not taking any action against such schools. Most of the schools are interested how much they can collect fee as much as possible in a year and so they have gang of such agents who paid with good commission and other benefits.

    Such incidences are common and have been seen in UK, NZ, Australia and even USA.

    I have seen such students who come to me and ask how he/she can get an admission and visa for Canada or above mentioned countries with their poor academic background. Mostly, I don’t entertain but others take this opportunity and land them easily in respective country.

    Only govt can do strong action, else everybody in this industry are there for earning and not for giving genuine advice.

    • Sir you can’t say in this way.Everyone has some dream.Poor academic result doesn’t mean that the dreams need to be shattered.But right track is needed to show these student a good way to establish themselves in excellent level..Help is must to shine

  4. When Canada is giving opportunity to so many immigrants why not give permanent resident visa to those studying and working there whydeny them the right to work and live a decent life there

  5. It is devastating to note that even students can be scammed in such manner and form. Canada is noted for its high reputation and such could see it lacks credibility.

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