New Delhi, Jun 15 (EFE).– Hundreds of Indian students in Canada found themselves in legal limbo after fraudulent paperwork was discovered in their visa process.
The students, supposedly victims of a scam, face possible deportation with looming uncertainty regarding their academic future.
Indian authorities on Thursday informed EFE of an investigation into major suspects in the alleged fraud scheme, among them Brijesh Mishra, an agent of a company that charged thousands of dollars for providing falsified educational migration documents.
“We have registered charges against Brijesh Mishra after receiving complaints of taking money and not sending abroad,” Kuldeep Singh Chahal, police commissioner of the northern Punjab state – from where the accused operated -, told EFE.
Indian authorities estimate that about 700 students were scammed by several immigration consultation agencies that offered services to process admission to educational institutions to file with immigration authorities to study in Canada.
Most of these companies issued documents from prestigious universities in Canada and then, once in the country, asked students to change centers citing multiple reasons.
According to Chahal, Mishra, who is now a fugitive from justice, faces charges of cheating or fraud.
“He is not in India at present, he absconded to the US,” he said.
The alleged scam came to light in March, when some students began receiving reports from the Canadian government informing them of their deportation, according to Indian media reports.
On Wednesday, the Canadian authorities announced their decision to suspend the deportations and begin an investigation to verify the claim that the students did not know their documents were fake, and get clarity on the matter.
If the investigation reveals that “an international student came to Canada with a genuine intent to study, and without knowledge of the use of fraudulent documentation, I have provided instructions for officers to issue a Temporary Resident Permit to that individual,” Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in a statement on Wednesday.
On the other hand, if they are found to have taken advantage of the fraudulent letters to benefit from the Canadian immigration system, they not only face deportation but also a ban on entering the country for five years, the statement added.
“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 seeking to visit, work, study or settle here in Canada,” said Fraser.
For its part, the Punjab government’s Department of NRI (Non-Resident Indian) Affairs has offered free legal assistance to the affected students in case they face deportation.
In recent weeks, dozens of students held protests in front of the headquarters of a Canadian immigration agency to ask the authorities to suspend the deportations.
Canada is one of the main migration destinations for Indians, especially those in search of better opportunities.
According to Canadian government data, India accounts for the largest number of international university students (30 percent) applying each year for a visa to study in Canada. EFE