Hundreds of International Students Defrauded and to be Deported

Hundreds of International Students Defrauded and to be Deported

Canada is in search of individuals with great Canadian potential, and one of the best places for us to identify and seek out new Canadians is through our post-secondary school system, but the recent uncovering of how “consultants” are getting international students into Canada threatens to shatter the lives of hundreds of international students by seeing them get deported.  As great as it is to welcome international students to Canada and for them to experience learning in Canada, the international student visa program has long been plagued by loopholes that individuals who have worked for Immigration Canada have been able to identify, and the information that they have disclosed to others has resulted in the monetization of these loopholes at the expense of international students.  At a time when we should be looking to secure our people power by identifying and welcoming individuals with great Canadian potential, we are about to deport hundreds of should-be Canadians and send them back to nothing.

The story of Karamjeet Kaur and Canada’s Immigration System

Karamjeet Kaur, a 25-year-old should-be Canadian and college graduate, is about to have her whole life upended for absolutely no fault of her own, but none of that seems to matter.  Kaur is scheduled to be deported back to India by the end of May, after a “surprise” was uncovered during the last stage of her application for permanent residency in 2021, where the Canada Border Services Agency informed her that the admission letter which helped her secure her student visa was fake.  Kaur had no idea that the letter was a fake nor about many of the other aspects of the application process to study in Canada, which is why her family spent their life savings to retain an “immigration consultant” to handle the process. But none of that seems to matter to our Federal Courts.

Kaur’s family live around the poverty line in rural India, and they spent their life savings so that she could have a chance at a better life with the opportunities that would be provided to her by studying and working in Canada.  Instead of celebrating her would-be permanent residency status, along with her other accomplishments, including graduating from college, getting promoted to a supervisory role at work, and being married to a Canadian citizen, Kaur must worry about being deported from Canada and banned from re-entry into Canada for the next five years.

Think about that for a second; a 20-year-old girl comes to Canada and spends the next five years of her life contributing to our society by graduating from college, getting promoted at work and volunteering in the community, and getting married, and instead of championing her story we are threatening to deport her to spite the ‘consultants’ who managed to outsmart Immigration Canada and game our international student visa program.

What makes this situation worse is that there may be as many as 700 international students who might also face deportation because they used the same ‘consultant’ to obtain their international student visa.  Although this is not the first time an international student has been defrauded at their own expense and being shown a complete disregard for their life by us by deporting them—sending them back to nothing—the large number of students that are implicated and potentially risk deportation is a first.

In Kaur’s situation, the immigration consultant her family hired created a fake university admission letter which was used to get her student visa. Once she arrived, she was told by the consultant that her spot in the college had fallen through, and she was left to her own devices.  Immigration Canada’s Immigration Division (ID) seemed to overlook the issue of the fake admission letter when she applied and obtained a Post-Graduation Work Permit, two years after arriving to Canada and after having completed her studies as a tax-paying person.  It was only after getting to the final stages of the permanent residency process that the issue of the letter arose, and Kaur was found inadmissible to Canada for misrepresentation of a material fact.

The ruling judge stated that the ID had accepted that Kaur had believed she had been admitted to Seneca College, and understood that the letter was “sophisticated and meant to deceive”, but that there was no reason that Kaur was unable to phone or email Seneca College to confirm her enrollment.  During the case, the judge removed the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, while keeping the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, claiming them to be the sole proper Respondent.

The summary of findings is filled with references to past cases and outcomes regarding Applicants who had placed their trust in proven “immigration consultants” and who were deceived, and how it was determined that they were not absolved from the consequences of the misrepresentation.  There are passages from the ID’s written report that are highlighted, albeit with terrible grammar and full of mistakes, and the ID goes on to make conclusions about Kaur.  One of those conclusions is that Kaur should have still checked-in with Seneca College after the ‘consultant’ had informed her about her admission and showed her the admission letter.

It seems the ID ignored the different culture dynamics like the impact of word of mouth advertising and assumed that the family should have known this person might be a criminal so ignore the fact that hundreds of other families had used them as well.  Another conclusion, just as outrageous, calls into question Kaur’s claim of disability for chronic fatigue syndrome and states that her ability travel from India to Toronto, then from Toronto to Edmonton, was indicative of someone who had a degree of mobility.  But it seems to me that being stationary in a moving vehicle has very little to do with chronic fatigue syndrome, yet that does not stop the ID from making outlandish medical connections, with the judge seemingly buying into it all.

Near the end of the judge’s summary of facts, they use some choice words, somewhat echoing the ID, and make a rather bold assumption by stating, “while the Applicant portrays herself as vulnerable and lacking access to resources, her post-secondary education experience in India calls this submission into question.  This is particularly so considering that her previous diploma was in computer science.” However, Kaur is on record saying that it was a bachelor of science she had been pursuing, which the ‘consultant’ seemed to have embellished. That Kaur treated her studies as if they were a life-or-death situation because schooling is her only chance at a better life does not indicate that Kaur was of perfect health or that her family had sufficient “resources” while she pursued her studies in India.

When it comes to conclusions like the ones made about Kaur by the ID and the judge, that is precisely why expert witnesses are so important during trials, and just how bad things can turn out when people with decision-making powers reference their own opinions as justification for their decisions.  When it comes to matters like medicine and health, they require formal training for someone to be able to diagnose others, and IDs and judges should not be playing doctor and using their playtime as a doctor to justify as to why should-be Canadians are pieces of thread that need to be ripped out of this unified fabric called Canada.

Does common sense exist at Immigration Canada, in our Federal Courts, and in the House of Commons?

What makes Immigration Canada a unique workplace is that once an immigration file is assigned to a case worker, the entire discretion behind the decision to accept or decline a student visa rests with that case worker.  While the assignment of case files is done randomly, it is possible to track the immigration file within Immigration Canada’s internal system and staff can connect with each other to discuss files, even though it is strongly discouraged.  If a case worker chooses to reject a person’s student visa application, even when they meet all the official criteria, that decision is final and can only be reversed by the case worker and nobody else.  Although it is strongly discouraged, there have been instances where other Federal employees have reached out to case workers to discuss specific case files and where the case workers have refused to budge, while others may have reconsidered their decision to “reject” and application for a student visa.  It is also the reason I know that Immigration Canada is not as “set in stone” with their policies as people may be led to believe—unless the applicants are unlucky enough to not know anyone that has any connection to that branch of government.

Compared to the rest of the world, our Federal Courts have a fair track record of upholding the law, but they are not incapable of getting things wrong or getting persuaded to show lenience, even though there should be no discretion towards the application of the law, except there is and always has been.  There are, however, two constants when it comes to the application of discretion inside Canada’s court, whether they be Federal Courts or Provincial Courts, and it has to do with money and family connections.  With respect to the Federal Courts ruling on Kaur, two things are catastrophically wrong.

Firstly, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should not have been removed as a Respondent from this case given that there are potentially hundreds of should-be Canadians in the same predicament as Kaur, for an issue that Immigration Canada failed to detect, many hundreds of times.  By having the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration as a Respondent in the proceedings, it would give the judge an opportunity to inquire about Immigration Canada’s broken student visa program that seems to relish in enabling the defrauding of international students who are the victims of it.  It is well within the courts’ ability to make recommendations regarding different government programs and to order that the court be updated on the progress of improvements.  It is just as possible that the judge involved with Kaur’s case could have recognized the exceptional circumstances and the scope of the issue, thus ruling against the deportation and ordering that Immigration Canada review their student visa program that seems to have given rise to an illegal economy.  At the end of the day, that is what the Federal Courts are there for, but for that to happen it would require those with decision-making authority to work and to think beyond the immediate.

Secondly, the judge mentioned that to be certified for appeal under Canada’s Immigration Laws, a proposed question must be a “serious question” that (i) is dispositive of the appeal, (ii) transcends the interests of the parties, and (iii) raises an issue of broad significance or general importance.  Well, if the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration were a Respondent in Kaur’s proceedings, then perhaps by identifying the issue of a broken student visa program, combined with how up to 700 should-be Canadians may be affected by this and the fact that Canada is in desperate need of talent, it seems to me that it would both transcend the interests of the parties and raise an issue of broad significance or general importance.  As a result, a special exemption could then be granted against the deportation of all 700 of these should-be Canadians, but that might open a can of worms that those with decision-making authority would prefer to stay closed: the question, “What happens to all the previous international students who were deported for the exact same situation?”.

Problems we have been previously unwilling to acknowledge.

How many instances are there of international students that were defrauded and who are victims of our broken student visa program, and who were deported and sent back to nothing?  How many times have overzealous IDs and judges locked away the potential, dreams, and imagined ideas that were waiting to be unleashed for the benefit of all Canadians?

The ugly truth about Canada’s student visa program is that our loopholes have likely contributed to the rise of an illegal economy that runs on defrauded international students who become victims of Canada’s broken student visa program.  This dirty big secret has been kept hush hush for decades and very little has been done to address the challenges and to explore the creation of a centralized application and processing system that would end the need for “immigration consultants”.  Our ugly past of deporting international students and sending them back to nothing we must recognize as our role in enabling the victimization of international students and how it seems that they have been dehumanized and are only viewed as lucrative ways for our post-secondary institutions to bring in money.  This troubling situation is something we need to face up to in order to shape a more honorable future.

Canadians deserve to have government and institutions that are as good as our people, and countless numbers of international students deserve better than what we have showed them, actions that are far beneath our shared values.  As a country that values its immigrant past and celebrates an immigrant future, wee must value people for who they are and all that they can be, and precisely because of what Karamjeet Kaur has shown us, she is already Canadian.

Kaur v Canada (2022). CanLII. Retrieved from: 2022 CanLII 128894 (CA IRB) | Kaur v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) | CanLII
Kaur v. Canada. (2023). CanLII. Retrieved from: 2023 FC 87 (CanLII) | Kaur v.  Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) | CanLII
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