Deportation of international student scam victims scrapped in favour of Temporary Resident Permits

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Published June 14, 2023 at 2:15 pm

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Housing Minister Sean Fraser has ended its housing accelerator fund deal with Oakville. CANADIAN PRESS PHOTO

International students who unknowingly came to Canada with fake acceptance letters will be given Temporary Resident Permits and won’t face deportation.

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, made the announcement in Ottawa on Wednesday, saying a task force including the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will go through each case to determine whether each individual student was aware of the scam.

Fraser says the department is aware of only a few dozen who have been ordered to leave the country, and that process will be paused “if the facts of an individual case are clear that an international student came to Canada with a genuine intent to study, and without knowledge of the use of fraudulent documentation.”

“I want to make it clear that international students who are not found to be involved in fraud will not face deportation,” Fraser said in a statement. “The Immigration Refugee Protection Act offers me discretionary authority which I believe should be exercised in the present context.”

Fraser said the decision means well-intentioned students and graduates can remain in the country and won’t be issued a five-year ban from re-entering Canada.

The move comes following the deportation orders of some 700 international students, many of which said they were unknowingly granted student visas based on fake acceptance letters to Canadian schools by a now-shuttered consulting company in India.

Some students had no idea their documents were forged until it came time for them to apply for permanent residency.

Fraser said the ministry is also working with Designated Learning Institutions, the provinces and territories, and stakeholders to better detect and combat fraud, and uphold the integrity of our immigration programs.

“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,” he said.

Protestors have been gathering in Mississauga and Brampton for weeks to speak out about the deportation, and Brampton Coun. Navjit Kaur called on Ottawa earlier this week to have schools terminate their agreements with “ghost consultants” and aggregators to safeguard students against similar scams in the future.

The Brampton Immigration Consultancy is also urging the province to address the “institutional failures” in Ontario’s legal and education systems.

And while Fraser said the government is focusing on identifying the fraudsters and not on penalizing victims, he urged all potential future international students to research schools and ensure they have a legitimate acceptance letter before applying.

“If you believe you have been deceived by an unscrupulous consultant, we urge you to come forward and report fraud.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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