More than 700 Indian students are facing deportation from Canada after finding that their educational institution’s admission offer letters were fake. The fraud was discovered when the students applied for permanent residency in Canada. The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) examined the documents based on which their visas were issued and found that these letters were fake.
Most of the students had come to Canada to study in 2018 and 2019. In addition, many of them had already completed their studies, got work permits and gained work experience in Canada.
According to the Toronto Star, the students had applied for study visas via Education Migration Services located in Jalandhar. The consulting firm was headed by Brijesh Mishra, who charged students thousands of dollars to cover the fees related to handling the college and visa application, as well as tuition fees. The company’s office in Jalandhar has been closed and Mishra “has vanished”.
Only licensed lawyers and consultants registered with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultant (CICC) can legally offer immigration advice and services for a fee. Education agents must also be licensed with the CICC.
Unfortunately, there are education agents that take advantage of students eager to study and work in Canada for a chance at permanent residency. These agents are not licensed, they do not sign a contract and they take the fees in cash.
“Every once in a while, you do see bad actors, particularly from other parts of the world, who are difficult to police from Canada, who seek to take advantage of international students. It’s disgusting to see the behaviour of some of the promoters around the world” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser to a community radio program.
Common scams for international students
The Indian students were the victim of what is commonly called a “ghost consultant.” Ghost consultants are unlicensed immigration representatives or people who pose as representatives from an educational institution.
They offer services to international students (in this instance) in exchange for a fee and then vanish, or “ghost”, the victim once they get their money. This type of fraud can happen to those looking for work permits, study permits or permanent resident status.
Students should also be wary of phishing scams. They often take place in the form of an email or a text message that solicits sensitive personal information. They may also receive an automated call that threatens legal action regarding their immigration status.
It is common for students to receive fake job offers. Scammers know that international students often need to find part-time work to help fund their studies and they take advantage this. Students may receive offers for jobs they didn’t apply for, or the services of a recruiter in exchange for fees or personal information.
Finally, there are scammers who prey on international students’ need for housing. They reach out to international students before they arrive in Canada, offer fake accommodation for an up-front fee and then disappear, leaving students homeless or in extremely poor accommodation.
Avoiding scams as an international student
A general rule to follow is to second-guess anything that might be “too good to be true.” For example, a high paying job offer that you did not apply for is likely a scam.
If in doubt about an automated call, email or text that sounds threatening, it is best to hang up, find the contact information for the organization and call them directly to verify.
Social media is not considered a reputable source for finding immigration consultants and representatives. Scammers often impersonate immigration service providers or government agencies on social media platforms because it is more difficult to verify their identities.
International students who are looking to come to Canada to study or who are facing challenges regarding their study permits should contact a certified Canadian immigration lawyer. An experienced immigration lawyer can help international students properly complete applications, communicate with the Canadian government on behalf of the applicant and make sure the applicant avoids any mistakes during the immigration process.