Crackdown on international student fraud

By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh
Dialog Reporter

Thousands of students from all over the world come to Canada every year for higher education or to learn English or French. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), this number is close to 100,000 students per year.

It might not be the case anymore.

CIC has proposed regulatory changes which will limit study permits to international students starting January 2014. This crackdown is a result of poor quality programs running in some institutions, which allow entry of foreign nationals into Canada for purposes other than study.

Immigration fraud is rampant is Canada these days with inclusion of unlicensed agents and lawyers, who exploit students by creating a way for them to enter the country through legal means but illegal intentions.

Nikhil Gulati, International Student Representative at the Student Association said, “I encourage people who come to Canada just to work, to come as foreign workers but not as students. These student are not only affecting their future but also the future student of George Brown and other colleges and universities by taking the seat which is more deserved by other international or domestic students.”

It refers to cases where non-genuine students enter Canada into non recognized institutions with the help of fraudulent documents. This issue had been building up since 2006 when a report was released by Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) – Pacific region, stating that some of the students were linked to organized criminal activities such as drug trafficking, smuggling and prostitution. The CSBA evaluated that student related fraud is a great risk to immigration program’s integrity, public safety and national security.

Types of issues encountered by visa offices surveyed with respect to fraud (suspected or confirmed) by Citizen and Immigration Canada

Graph from the Evaluation of the International Student Program report by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/evaluation/isp/findings.asp

Currently, study permits can be issued to students attending any type of educational institution, even if it is not accredited, governed, supervised by the ministry of education or held liable to a standard body. The legal process involving the verification of students slows down processing of valid applications.

Students, who drop courses, do not register or not attend classes, can still remain legally in Canada until the expiration of their study permit. During this time they have full access to the Canadian labour market, which often results in illegal work in different locations.

According to Canada Gazette, the official newspaper of the Government of Canada, the proposed amendment places firm insistence on high-quality study permit applications and quality education. The changes include:

  • Limiting study permits to students attending school in designated learning institutions.
  • Establishing new study permits conditions requiring all students to enroll and actively pursue a course or program of study after arrival in Canada.
  • Allowing issuance of removal orders in circumstances where students are not complying with their study permit conditions.
  • Limiting access to international student work permit programs to eligible study permit holders attending a designated educational learning institution; and
  • Authorizing international students attending designated institutions to work part-time during their studies providing they hold a valid study permit and are enrolled full-time in academic, vocational, or professional training program of duration of at least six months.

These changes would bring Canada’s policies more closely in sync with those of other countries like United Kingdom, Australia and United States of America.

“Canada is on the way towards being anti-immigrants, following the countries like America and Europe where it is harder for a student to stay and work.” said Alena Khabibullina, an international student from Russia studying marketing at GBC, “We as students do want to work in the country to get some exposure by applying our knowledge which we learn in school. There is no point going back to our respective countries after finishing our studies. If a student is talented why not give them a chance to stay?”

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Crackdown on international student fraud