700 international students, some victims of fraud
by Michael Scott
It is not often that the immigration Minister Sean Fraser makes a public statement about the ongoing business of his department. He made a public announcement about the rumours of the mass deportation of overseas foreign students from India.
Yes, it is true that over 700 foreign students are facing misrepresentation charges over a scheme involving fraudulent admission letters from Canadian schools. But it is equally true that many of them are victims of fraud. The sheer number of cases suggest that there is more to this story than just individuals submitting fraudulent documents. It would appear that an unscrupulous representative in India was at the centre of a false college enrolment scam of both fooling the applicants and mispresenting their qualifications to Canadian officials.
The immigration authorities work closely with Canada’s colleges and universities to detect and combat fraud and, in this case, to crack down on dishonest consultants who seek to abuse Canada’s immigration system and take advantage of those seeking to study and settle here in Canada. In this case, we should be comforted by the detection of the fraud and its prosecution.
The words of the Minister are welcome to allay fears of the extent of the abuse and rumours of mass deportation of the students involved. Rather than moving swiftly to remove the offenders, he spoke about procedural fairness and efforts of his department to separate those students who were complicit in the submissions of false documents and reports and those who were themselves victims.
“I understand that this situation is distressing for those affected by unscrupulous actors,” Minister Fraser declared, “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.”
The Minister is correct in stating that the Act provides him with discretionary authority to treat the students victimized by the fraud differently from those knowingly participating in the submitting of false information in support of their applications. He is distinguishing between deliberate misrepresentation and innocent misrepresentation. The Minister, to his credit, is concerned about student victims of the fraud, who came to Canada with a genuine intent to study and without knowledge of the use of fraudulent documentation. He explained in his news release that his department does investigate potential fraud and offers a procedural fairness review to all in order to separate offenders from victims. His immediate solution to victims is to have his officers issue such students “Temporary Resident Permits” to ensure that they would not be removed from the country and could continue to stay pending an investigation into their individual cases.
Minister Fraser’s public statement show that his department is serious about working to protect the integrity of foreign student programs and to crack down on dishonest and fraudulent representatives who abuse Canada’s immigration system and take advantage of those seeking to visit, work, or study 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.”
Minister Fraser’s actions are welcome in this regard. He encourages interested parties abroad to do their research and ensure that they obtain admissions from schools on the Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) list in Canada before applying for a study permit. Ensure that they take their guide from official websites and follow the step in the Student Direct Stream, available from selected countries, including the Philippines. If you think that you have been deceived by an unscrupulous representative, you can come forward and report the fraud to the government department.
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.