Over the recent years, Canada has emerged as one of the most preferred destinations for international students. An approximate figure of 280,000 new study permits were issued to international students looking to study abroad in Canada. In a recent turn of events, the number of student visa fraud and fake university letters has increased.
Canada’s response to adversity
To resolve the circling issue, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, announced several measures to overcome the adverse conditions affecting international students. The measures will aim at safeguarding valid students from fraud and strengthen the country’s International Student Program.
The plight of international students
These announcements come against the backdrop of the increasing visa and letter of acceptance scams. This issue has affected many international students, among which Indian students take the highest percentage. Earlier this year, a few students from Punjab faced deportation from Canada as forged documents were used to enter the country.
Agents in India used deceptive techniques to forge documents and create study permits for aspiring students. On arrival in Canada, the students were asked to move to another college and not the one they received acceptance from. Fake letter of acceptance by agents in India are the primary cause of these situations. A high proportion of students affected by this issue was represented by an agent called Brijesh Mishra. The Canadian authorities have charged the Jalandhar-based agent for immigration fraud.
A new framework for better standards
The new measures will become effective from December 1, 2023. Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC) will install a ‘recognized institution’ framework to benefit post-secondary Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs). DLIs are required to confirm every student’s letter of acceptance directly with IRCC. IRCC released a statement that said that the new, enhanced verification process aims at protecting potential students from letter of acceptance fraud and helps them to steer clear of similar problems that some students faced earlier this year as a result of investigations. The process will certify that study permits are issued based only on a genuine letter of acceptance.
The DLIs expect to provide services and support for international students. The statement from IRCC also added that DLIs will benefit the priority processing of study permits for students who plan to attend their school. These actions are against the people who have had financial gain at the expense of genuine students.
International education a stronghold of Canada’s economy
The annual contribution that international education infuses into the Canadian economy is $22 billion. This surpasses the contribution of auto parts, lumber, and aircraft. The drop in international students in 2020 resulted in an astounding $7 billion loss to Canada’s gross domestic product for that year.
IRCC said that the institutions that provide strong support for international students would be recognised and that their applicants would move to the front of the line for processing. This process will allow the authorities to select and retain those students they find best suited to meet the needs of Canada’s economy and immigration goals. These reforms mark initial changes identified through the review of the International Student Program, as well as the broader engagement initiative, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future.
Minister Marc Miller said that international students are talented, bright and deserving of a positive experience during their studies in Canada. The authorities would continue to improve Canada’s International Student Program by protecting students and taking action against those who try to take advantage of the students. The Minister added that, whether an international student stays and works after graduation or returns home, Canada wants the student’s time in Canada to be beneficial for their growth and aspirations.
Key points of the new initiative
- Enhanced Verification for Letter of Acceptance
- ‘Recognized Institution’ Framework
- Refinement of Post-Graduation Work Permit Program