Outreach programs held in Punjab after 700 students forged papers to enter Canada

Outreach programs held in Punjab after 700 students forged papers to enter Canada

By Manjeet Sehgal: Outreach programs to prevent fraud during the immigration process were held in several parts of Punjab on Thursday by the Canadian government. This came after nearly 700 Indian students, most of them from the state, were found using fake college admission offer letters to study in Canada.

Naresh Sharma, the Programme Manager at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told India Today that in-person seminars on fraud prevention called ‘Ensuring Success’ have been kick-started in Punjab. “The idea behind the initiative is to make people aware about the legal immigration process and to save them from ghost agents,” said Sharma.

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The in-person seminars, according to the IRCC, were held in the Malwa, Majha and Doaba regions of Punjab besides the state capital Chandigarh.

Naresh Sharma said the IRCC had also launched a fraud prevention campaign in March through print, radio and social media channels, asking people to identify and safeguard themselves from immigration scams.

The Minister (Migration) and Area Director South Asia Bruce Grundison said students willing to study in Canada should first verify the credentials of the education agent or international student advisor. Such agents must be an authorised immigration representative, he added.

“An authorized immigration representative must be a member in good standing of the law society of a province or territory. This includes paralegals and students-at-law (if they act under the supervision of a lawyer or, in Quebec, a notary, or College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants),” Bruce Grundison said. He also advised students and parents to get in touch directly with the college or university authorities to verify the letter of acceptance.

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Bruce Grundison said the ghost agent who had cheated hundreds of Indian students in the name of admission has been arrested.

IRCC officials said students while applying for a study permit, re-entry visa, status extension or seeking advice on immigration matters should first verify the credentials of the student advisor or education agent.The students can find registered agents or lodge a complaint against an agent on the IRCC website.

It warned that fraudulent practices can lead to heavy fines, imprisonment and even deportation.

The 700 Indian students who face deportation have been given an opportunity by the Canadian government to present their case with evidence. Their removal has been halted for the time being.

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It has also been brought to the notice of the IRCC authorities that many landlords in various Canadian provinces were charging outrageous rent and at times denied amenities to international students.

The IRCC officials advised the international students to file a complaint to the concerned Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) in case they had any issue with their accommodation, or were subjected to exploitation.

IRCC data shows that the Canadian authorities rejected 7,528 study permits made on the basis of altered and forged documents from India between January 2018 to May 2023.

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