Upkar Dhillon: Victims Of Study Permit Fraud Still Face Deportation & Five-Year Ban
“We are not criminals, we are victims, but still, we are getting punished for being victims.”
Upkar Singh Dhillon
March 27, 2023 | 3 min. read | Original Reporting
Karanveer Singh’s Canadian dream was shattered when he got a removal letter from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Singh shared he was confused when he got the notice saying the letter of acceptance, which he used to enter Canada on a study permit, was fake. He received this letter when he applied for his post-graduation work permit.
“I reached out to my lawyer, and he said [the CBSA notice] is not a scam.”
He contacted his immigration consultant, who filed for his study permit but did not hear back.
“It was like my whole life was collapsing in front of me,” Karanveer Singh said.
Karanveer Singh is among several students accused of using forged documents and could be sent back to India.
Most of these students hired Brijesh Mishra, an immigration agent who helped them file their study permit applications.
Mishra provided them with fake college letters of acceptance, which these students were unaware of.
Jaspreet Singh, the head of the International Students Association (ISA), said that the number of students getting notices is still unknown.
“[Mishra] did something wrong and obviously he makes a big amount of money from that,” he said.
Jaspreet Singh said it is the international student suffering, many of whom have been here for the last three to four years.
“I think this is pretty heartbreaking for someone whose family already invested at least $40,000 in their studies,” said Jaspreet.
One student, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity as he faces legal repercussions, was on his work permit when he applied for his permanent residence.
He said he did not believe it when he got a letter from CBSA saying he had used a forged document for entering Canada.
“I was confused because I came here after passing the immigration process.”
He said he was called for an interview by the CBSA and was told that, in the end, he would be responsible for his application and that he would have to leave the country with an imposed five-year ban.
“It took us five years of hard work to be at this place, and now they are dragging us back to that place where we were five years ago,” he said.
He said if they committed fraud, then how could Canadian border security be unable to detect the fake document when they entered Canada?
“If they as professionals weren’t able to detect that it was a fake document, how can they expect us to know,” he said.
Minister Sean Fraser announced that immigration and border enforcement officials are increasing efforts to ensure that acceptance letters from universities are authentic.
One Voice Canada and the Khalsa aid are reaching out to the students to understand the scale of the problem.
Jatinder Singh from Khalsa Aid said that they have sent out a database trying to collect information.
“A database floating around with about 30 students, but I believe there are a lot more; over the next couple of days, we will understand the scale of the problem,” he said.
Jatinder Singh said they had had meetings with the Members of Parliament Ken Hardy and George Chahal, and they will provide this information to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
“The MPs have also talked with the Minister for Immigration, Sean Fraser, and they're working in the background to see what they can do.
Jatinder Singh shared that the IRCC realizes the seriousness of the problem because so many students have been duped.
He added that they are also providing the impacted students with a path to getting therapy, as this situation has created a mental health crisis as well.
MP Ken Hardie told Baaz that Minister Fraser’s office's senior staff are still gathering all the relevant information.
“We are working towards it right now,” he said. “Of Course, this can come in the way of the student's career and future.”
Karanveer Singh said his family back in Punjab is stressed, and it is also a tough time for them. He is hopeful that the community here in Canada will come to the aid of students.
“We are not criminals, we are victims, but we are still getting punished for being victims.”
Upkar Singh Dhillon is a Content Writer and a second-year journalism student at Humber College. He is currently based in Brampton and hails from Teja Singh Wala, a small village in Punjab. He is passionate about reporting on social issues and international news. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Since the students have been duped by immigration agent without their knowledge, I sincerely hope CBSA gives this fact a consideration and decides in students favor who already have invested their prime years to make Canada prosperous.