Task force to investigate and help Indian student victims of fraud: Canada immigration minister

Canadian authorities have decided not to immediately deport the Indian students who were trapped in an alleged immigration scam and had reached the country with fake university admission letters.

 immigration minister, Sean Fraser
Canadian immigration minister Sean Fraser (centre) announcing the formation of a task force to investigate immigration fraud. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SeanFraserMP

A task force has been formed to look into each case and help the victims of the fraud, announced the country's immigration minister, Sean Fraser.

"International students, who are genuine applicants who came to Canada to study and were victimised by fraudsters, will be given permission to remain in Canada. Those who are complicit in a fraudulent scheme will bear the full consequences under Canadian law," he said.

Imminent deportations have been halted during this review process, Fraser added.

The Canadian government had last week put on hold the deportation of the students,

days after they hit the streets against the possibility of their forced departure to their own countries. However, it was not known what the next move was and how long the relief would last.

The Canada Border Services Agency had recently issued deportation letters to around 700 Indian students, mostly from Punjab, after it found their admission letters to Canadian universities to be fake.

Most of these students arrived in Canada in 2018, but claimed the issue of fake letters surfaced only after five years when they applied for permanent residency.

The issue reverberated in the Canadian parliament where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his focus was on "identifying the culprits and not penalising the victims."

"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," Trudeau had said.

Indian Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishankar had earlier said that the government has taken up the issue with Canadian authorities. He had said the Canadians agreed that it would be unfair (to deport) if the students had not done anything wrong.