As an immigration lawyer, I frequently come across cases that highlight the importance of due diligence in the immigration process. This morning, I was interviewed by Rishi Nagar of RedFM Calgary about the recent media articles regarding the deportation of hundreds of Indian international students.
It should be noted that the number used (700) is not independently verified.
The students are facing deportation from Canada due to fake admission letters. These students used the services of overseas educational consultants or most likely “ghost consultants” to prepare the study permit package and supporting documents (proof of language proficiency, proof of admission to a recognized DLI, proof of finances/financial support). From what I’ve seen, the applicants pay an inordinate amount of money to the agent, around the 20 lakh figure. This figure is apparently inclusive of the tuition fees but it’s strange that the fees are not paid directly to the DLI. Those caught up all pay a massive amount of money to an unregistered individual and all proclaim their trust and (over) reliance on his services.
Once here, they may flip to another DLI and even graduate and apply for PR under an economic class; they may flip or attempt to flip to a LMIA based work permit; they may try the refugee process and/or marry a Canadian sponsor.
CBSA, from what I understand, is investigating 1200 students. I have little doubt that a significant number or percentage of this are Indian (and out of that, Punjab and Haryana likely disproportionate).
The long arms of CBSA can reach forth and devastate the Canadian dreams of foreign nationals and PRs alike. Non-PRs face an admissibility hearing at the Immigration Division; PRs get a right of appeal to the IAD; such a removal order results in ineligibility under the in Canada Spousal/Common-law Sponsorship Class (or the SCLP).
While the media coverage portrays these students as innocent victims (and some few may well be), I believe it is essential to consider the other side of the story and emphasize the significance of due diligence in such situations. Indeed, a number of Indian nationals (that entered as students using false documents) have even been convicted on the far higher standard of criminal liability. Such a conviction leads to about 4 months in custody. Such a criminal conviction can also be grounds for deportation (s.36(1)(a) of the IRPA).
It’s important for applicants to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to thoroughly review the applications they sign and understand that they are responsible for the actions of their agent or consultant. In this case, the affected students may not be dupes, but rather complicit or at least willfully blind (in one case that I dealt with, a student from Haryana with an arts background and sub par IELTS entered Canada with a letter of admission to Waterloo University for a Master’s in Chemical Engineering).
Relying on an agent or consultant without performing due diligence can lead to serious consequences, including deportation (on the basis of misrepresentation or criminal conviction for fraud), even after securing permanent residence in Canada.
One important aspect of due diligence is confirming the particulars of admission; in the case of the Indian students facing deportation, it appears that they failed to contact the institution they were to attend either before coming to Canada or afterward. This lack of communication may raise questions about their level of responsibility and involvement in the fraud.
It's true that the documents escaped the notice of overseas immigration officers. But that is no defence. It would be odd for the students to benefit from the fact that immigration officers failed to detect the fraudulent offers of admission. Again, applicants must take responsibility for their own applications and exercise caution throughout the process.
Interdiction can occur before entry; upon entry; and afterwards.
This situation serves as a reminder for international students and immigration applicants to be proactive in ensuring the legitimacy of their own applications. This includes:
- Thoroughly reviewing documents: Make sure to read and understand every document you sign, as you are ultimately responsible for the information submitted in your application.
- Understanding the application process: Familiarize yourself with the immigration process, requirements, and potential consequences of providing false information or documents.
- Verifying information provided by agents or consultants: Always double-check information, and contact the relevant institutions, authorities, or organizations to confirm the authenticity of documents or information provided by agents or consultants.
Indian students account for a significant percentage of total international students but the deportation of hundreds of Indian international students is a cautionary tale for all immigration applicants. It highlights the importance of due diligence and taking responsibility for one's own application to avoid potentially life-altering consequences. As an immigration lawyer, I encourage all applicants to exercise caution, verify the authenticity of their documents, and be aware of the potential repercussions of fraudulent submissions. I have of course a great deal of sympathy for those affected; I have even succeeded in defending my clients against this very allegation. That being said, misrepresentation is broadly interpreted and the defence that these individuals seek to advance (the “innocent” misrepresentation exemption) is rarely successful.