International students end Canadian airport protest over admissions scam, fears linger

Click to play video: 'Canada freezes deportation of students scammed through fraudulent university letters: Fraser'
Canada freezes deportation of students scammed through fraudulent university letters: Fraser
Canada's Immigration Minister Sean Fraser appeared at the immigration committee on Wednesday, speaking about the exploitation scheme targeting certain international students. He noted that students who were unaware of the fraudulent university letters, and fell victim to the scam, would not be subject to deportation. – Jun 14, 2023

International students who had been protesting near Toronto’s Pearson International Airport since May 28 have ended their protest after Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said deportation orders linked to a fake admissions letter scam will be put on pause.

But they say they continue to have questions and concerns that the “government is placing the burden on students to prove that they were not complicit in fraud.”

On Wednesday, Fraser announced a joint task force, made up of senior immigration and border security officials, will probe individual cases of international students who fell victim to a fraudulent acceptance letters scam.

Advocates for the students suggested Thursday that they worry the process “presumes students are guilty unless they prove otherwise, which is the opposite of how the legal system normally works.”

The students are not being charged or accused of crimes.

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Under Canadian immigration rules, “the burden of proof that all requirements are met rests with the applicant. The applicant is required to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the decision maker that the requirements for the application have been met.”

According to the protesting students, those facing deportation orders came to Canada in 2017 and 2018 on student permits after they were issued “fake college admission letters drafted by their immigration consultants, namely a Jalandhar-based consultant named Brijesh Mishra.”

“After landing in Canada, the consultants told students that they could not enroll in that particular college for various reasons, such as deferral or unavailability of seats. The students were told to change colleges, which they did in order to begin their studies,” the protesting students said in a press release last week.

“Over the last five to six years, most of the students have completed their studies, entered the workforce, started families and have applied for permanent residency (PR). They were unaware of the fake offer letters until they began applying for PR.”

Any pending removal orders against students will be halted while individual cases are examined.

Click to play video: 'International students knowingly involved in acceptance letter scam subject to removal order'
International students knowingly involved in acceptance letter scam subject to removal order


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Speaking to reporters at Parliament Hill ahead of question period on Wednesday, Fraser said the officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will be “likely at the ADM (assistant deputy minister) level.”

Members of both agencies will have their work cut out for them, with reports of potentially hundreds of international students impacted and needing their cases reviewed.

Fraser said CBSA will identify the individuals who have removal orders against them for entering Canada on fake admission letters, said to have been fraudulently supplied without their knowledge by an immigration consultant in India.

IRCC members will dig into their files to determine whether they are victims or accomplices in the scam.

“This task force will be required to carry out a case-by-case analysis of every individual case that is the subject of a removal order on the basis of fraudulent letters of acceptance,” Fraser said.

“In the interim, and this is particularly important for students who find themselves in this position, any pending removals will be halted and there will be a temporary permission to stay over the course of this period of consideration.”

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