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Investigations could see students face deportation from Canada

The Canada Border Services Agency is investigating a scheme in which Indian agents provided students with fake college acceptance letters to obtain study permits and gain entrance to the country, a representative told The PIE News.

Stakeholders are concerned that the system is allowing students to be exploited. Photo: unsplash

Colleges Ontario says it is implementing agent standards that align with similar ones in the UK and New Zealand

The news comes as Colleges Ontario, the sector association representing public colleges, has finally moved to crack down on unscrupulous agents and offer more support for international students.

Students caught up in the fraud could be deported from Canada or face criminal charges, said Rebecca Purdy, senior spokesperson for the agency.

“There are a number of active investigations into cases of misrepresentation”

“The Canada Border Services Agency can confirm that there are a number of active Immigration and Refugee Protection Act investigations into cases of misrepresentation, including those related to study permits,” she said.

“As these are ongoing investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

It is not clear how many Indian students are involved in the fraud. CBC News is reporting that there were “dozens” of students, while one news outlet in India said there were 700. Neither provided a source for these statements.

Under the scheme, an agent in India would create a fake college admission letter to public colleges in Ontario, including Loyalist College in Belleville and Lambton College in Sarnia. The students would use the phoney letters to obtain a study permit and get into the country.

However, they could not study in the college designated on their study permit because the school had no record of their application. Instead, after their arrival in Canada the agent would redirect them to a private college, such as Alpha College of Business and Technology in Toronto.

CBC, which has previously investigated unethical international student recruitment practices, interviewed students for Fifth Estate who said they thought the admission letters were legitimate and blamed the mess entirely on their agent.

Karanveer Singh is one such student. He told the CBC that his disabled father sold his farm to generate $25,000 to pay for his education in Canada. Singh’s agent gave him a letter of acceptance to Loyalist College. However, after he arrived in Canada, the agent told him he would have to switch to Canada College, a private school in Montreal. He graduated from his two-year business course in 2021.

“I didn’t know a fake document was used in my student visa application”

However, when he applied for a post-graduate work permit, the CBSA said the letter of acceptance to Loyalist was fraudulent.

“I didn’t know a fake document was used in my student visa application,” he told CBC. “It wasn’t until I received that letter from the CBSA that I found out the letter was fraudulent.”

Last week, Colleges Ontario, which represents 23 public colleges in the province, finally announced standards after outcries by international students about sketchy agent practices, housing shortages and a lack of student support services.

Colleges Ontario says it is implementing agent standards that align with similar ones in the UK and New Zealand. The new rules require agents to complete a recognised agent-training program. It also states that colleges will provide help for international students to support their mental health and to find affordable housing and employment.

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