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Canada says it won't deport international students who are victims of immigration fraud


Dozens of international students from India who unknowingly came to Canada under phony admission letters will be spared deportation, says Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC).

Today, Sean Fraser announced that victims of immigration fraud who are facing removal from the country would be offered a temporary resident permit, if required, to ensure they can remain in Canada and won’t be subject to the five-year ban in place that usually follows cases of misrepresentation.

Advocates say roughly 700 Indian students and graduates, most of whom hail from Punjab state, are presently facing deportation in connection with international study permit application scams. In many cases, the fraud was discovered and deportation orders were issued when those affected applied for permanent residency.

Hundreds of those students and their supporters have hosted and attended rallies in the last six or so months near Pearson Airport and other locations in the Greater Toronto Area. Many have also taken part in a two-week-long “sit-in” protest in the parking lot outside Canada Border Service Agency’s headquarters at 6900 Airport Rd. in Mississauga.

For several months, Naujawan Support Network (NSN) has helped raise awareness and advocate for international students in Peel Region and surrounding area who are facing removal from Canada.

“Today is a little bit of relief, a bit of a victory. … This news give us hope, but the fight is not 100 per cent over,” member Bikram Kullewal said on Wednesday afternoon, adding concerns still remain about how exactly the government’s process to identify victims will be carried out and how long that will take to do.

Kullewal also said in some cases fraudulent immigration agents gave their victims bad advice, which may result in a poor record when the government tries to determine if those facing deportation are genuinely in Canada to study.

He also pointed to some potential financial challenges victims may now face as their applications for work permits could also be put on hold.

Kullewal said the Brampton-based group, which works to support international students and workers in the region, is hoping to meet with government leaders to get more details about travel documents, work permits, and the kind of proof it will want and use to determine who is a victim of immigration fraud.

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, which also supports migrants to stand up against bad bosses and address immigration problems, has also been assisting the international students during their struggle as well as managing a petition on their behalf.

Like NSN, organizer Sarah Rho said today’s announcement “seems like a temporary step in the right direction,” adding what is urgently needed is a “permanent solution through regularization of these students and all undocumented people who through no fault of their own have been deprived of their rights."

The group said it is also waiting for more specifics on how this process will be carried out.

Dozens of international students and their supporters take part in a protest outside the Canada Border Service Agency office at 6900 Airport Rd. in Mississauga. They are demanding the stop of deportations of international students who were victimized by fraudulent immigration consultants. (Naujawan Support Network photo)

“I understand that this situation is distressing for those affected by unscrupulous actors, and I want to assure them that their well-being is of paramount importance,” Fraser said in a statement.

“I want to make it clear that international students who are not found to be involved in fraud will not face deportation.”

Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon in Ottawa, he said a taskforce made up of senior officials from IRCC and Canada Border Services Agency has already been struck to identify foreign nationals facing removal from the country who genuinely came to here to study and did just that. Each case will be evaluated independently, he noted.

Fraser also said he’s taking steps to “better detect and combat fraud, and uphold the integrity of our immigration programs.”

“We are taking every opportunity to crack down on dishonest and fraudulent consultants who seek to abuse Canada’s immigration system and take advantage of those those seeking to visit, work, study or settle here in Canada,” he said. “We recognize the immense contributions that international students make to our country, and we are committed to providing a path to Canada that is honest and transparent.”

Fraser reminded would-be international students that they must do their research and have an acceptance letter from a DLI before applying for a permit to study in the country.

He also said that there are some foreign nationals who came to Canada under fraudulent means, claiming to be here to study, but instead taking advantage of the country’s immigration system. Top Stories

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