The Punjab government today sought the Indian Central government’s intervention in the case of 700 Indian students facing imminent deportation from Canada. Canadian authorities stated that these students, mostly from Punjab, got their initial visas through fraud.
Indian students in Canada have hit the streets in protest against the possibility of deportation. They claim that they were victims as well since they arrived in Canada in 2018, but the fake letters only came to light five years later when they applied for permanent residency.
India's External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar today said that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the high commission are working to address the matter.
Jaishankar said, "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."
The issue reached the Canadian parliament where New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he will stay the deportation of these students.
“Our focus is on identifying the culprits, not penalising the victims," said Prime Minister Trudeau in response. "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."
Speaking to the media, Punjab's NRI Affairs Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal called it the biggest immigration scam in the history of the state and said he had notified External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar of the issue. In a letter, Dhaliwal also sought an appointment to meet the minister.
Dhaliwal claimed a nexus of fraudsters, including travel agents, officials of the Canadian embassy in India and other agencies in Canada are behind the scam.
These students should not be deported and given work permits considering their visas, he said.
Dhaliwal also appealed to the people of Punjab seeking to study abroad to verify the details of the college and the record of their travel agent.
The matter came to light in March 2023 when these students applied for permanent residency in Canada. Examining authorities found that their ‘admission offer letters’ from educational institutions, on the basis of which their visas were issued, were forgeries and the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) subsequently sent deportation notices to them.
According to media reports, the students had applied for study visas via Jalandhar-based Education Migration Services headed by Brijesh Mishra, who had charged more than INR 16 lakh per student for all expenses, including admission fee to an institute known as Humber College. Mishra did not respond to requests for information about the issue.
Mishra has reportedly not been seen in his office for several months now, and the website of Education Migration Services has been taken down.
Andrew Leopold, Head of Communications at Humber, released the following statement.
“The media coverage is the first information we have seen on this matter. Humber has no knowledge, nor have we worked with the agency and agent mentioned in the media articles. Further, Humber has not received any inquiries from students about the situation, nor has any student asked for admission to Humber without our knowledge. As part of our work with Canada Border Services, the agency has copies of our authentic letters of admission to verify against any students coming into the country. Any suspicious documentation that we may find out about is immediately reported to Canada Border Services,” the statement read.