In a plea to the Indian Central government, the Punjab government has requested intervention in the case of 700 Indian students who are facing the imminent risk of deportation from Canada. Canadian authorities have alleged that these students, predominantly hailing from Punjab, obtained their initial visas through fraudulent means.
Protesting against the potential deportation, Indian students residing in Canada have taken to the streets. They assert that they too fell victim to the fraudulent scheme, as they arrived in Canada back in 2018, only to discover the existence of fake letters five years later when they applied for permanent residency.
Addressing the issue, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar, announced today that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian high commission are actively working towards resolving the matter.
Jaishankar remarked, “From the very start, the MEA, and the high commission have taken up their case. The culpable parties should be punished. The latest report is that Canadians accept that it would be unfair if the student has done no wrong, they accept the idea that they have to find a solution to it. I feel the Canadian system is fair in that regard.”
During a session in the Canadian parliament, New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh raised the matter and posed a question to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding his stance on halting the deportation of the affected students.
In response, Prime Minister Trudeau stated, “Our focus is on identifying the culprits, not penalising the victims. Victims of this fraud will have an opportunity to demonstrate and present evidence for their case. We recognise the immense contributions that the international students bring to our country.”
Punjab’s NRI Affairs Minister, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, addressed the media, labelling the situation as the largest immigration scam in the history of the state. Dhaliwal revealed that he had already informed External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. S Jaishankar about the issue and requested an appointment to discuss it further.
According to Dhaliwal, the scam involves a network of fraudulent individuals, including travel agents, officials from the Canadian embassy in India, and other agencies operating in Canada.
Expressing his viewpoint, Dhaliwal asserted that these students should not be deported but rather granted work permits, taking into account the validity of their visas. Dhaliwal also urged aspiring students from Punjab who plan to study abroad to thoroughly verify the credentials of educational institutions and the track record of their chosen travel agents.
The matter first came to light in March 2023 when these students applied for permanent residency in Canada. Upon examination, authorities discovered that the “admission offer letters” presented by the students, which were used as the basis for their visa issuance, were fraudulent. As a result, the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) proceeded to send deportation notices to the affected individuals.
As reported by the media, it has been revealed that the students in question had applied for study visas through Education Migration Services, a Jalandhar-based organisation led by Brijesh Mishra.
It is alleged that Mishra had charged each student more than INR 16 lakh to cover various expenses, including admission fees for enrolment at Humber College. Despite attempts to contact him for information regarding the matter, Mishra has remained unresponsive. Furthermore, it has been noted that Mishra has been absent from his office for several months, and the website of Education Migration Services has been taken offline.
Andrew Leopold, the Head of Communications at Humber College, has issued a statement in response to the media coverage surrounding the mentioned agency and agent. According to Leopold, Humber College has no knowledge of or association with the agency and agent mentioned in the media reports. Furthermore, the college has not received any inquiries from students regarding the situation, nor have any students sought admission to Humber without the college’s knowledge.
Leopold emphasised that as part of their collaboration with Canada Border Services, the agency possesses authentic copies of Humber’s admission letters, which can be used for verification purposes when students enter the country. The statement concluded by affirming that any suspicious documentation that comes to Humber’s attention is promptly reported to Canada Border Services.
International students have united to protest outside the CBSA office in Mississauga, advocating against deportations in the case of fraudulent offer letters. Starting from May 29, 2023, students have gathered near 6900 Airport Road, maintaining a continuous protest day and night.
On June 2, 2023, international students facing deportation engaged in discussions with CBSA officials, outlining their demands. On June 7, 2023, an all-party committee on immigration unanimously passed a vote, urging the CBSA to exempt individuals involved in fake offer letter cases from inadmissibility. Moreover, the committee voted in favour of establishing an alternative pathway to permanent residency through a regularisation program or on humanitarian grounds.
During a press conference held on June 6, 2023, the Canadian Minister of Immigration announced the implementation of a procedure that would allow students to prove their innocence in cases of exploitation.