MUMBAI: Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration for Canada, has just announced a series of measures to protect international students and strengthen the integrity of the international student program.
The announcements come in the backdrop of fraud unearthed by Canadian authorities that had impacted hundreds of Indian students.
To begin with, a new scheme will be introduced shortly, to verify the ‘letters of acceptance’ from educational institutions, that prospective international students need to apply for a study permit in Canada.Study permits will be issued only against genuine acceptance letters.Later, in time for the fall 2024 semester, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) , the country’s immigration unit, will adopt a ‘recognized institution’ framework to benefit post-secondary Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs). The framework will set a higher standard for services, support, and outcomes for international students. These DLIs will in turn benefit, from the priority processing of study permits for applicants who plan to attend their school.
Canada attracts many international students, with 5.5 lakh new students from 184 countries being admitted during 2022. India was by far the most significant source country, with 2.2 lakh new students, followed by China with 52,000 odd new students.

At times, education agents hustle international students towards an educational program that is not eligible for a post graduate work permit, which adversely impairs the student’s prospects of working in Canada and his/her plans of becoming a permanent resident with a path towards Canadian citizenship. IRCC will in the coming months complete an assessment of ‘Post-Graduation Work Permit Program’ criteria and begin introducing reforms to better calibrate it to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market, as well as regional and Francophone immigration goals.
The Minister stated, “International students are talented, bright, and deserving of a positive experience as they pursue their studies in Canada. We will continue to improve Canada’s International Student Program by protecting students and weeding out those who try to take advantage of them. Whether an international student stays and works after graduation or returns home, we want their time as a student in Canada to have been beneficial to their growth and aspirations.”
These announcements come in the wake of the wide-spread letter-of-acceptance fraud that initially saw hundreds of students, largely from Punjab being threatened with deportation. It was later announced that those who were victims and had not colluded in the fraud would not be deported.
Most of the affected students were represented by Brijesh Mishra, a Jalandhar based agent, who has been charged by the Canadian authorities for immigration fraud. The Canadian Border Services Agency during its investigation detected that the letters of offer of admission to a Canadian higher education institution, that was required for a study permit in Canada, were fake. On arrival in Canada, these students were asked to shift to another college and not the one on the basis of which they had got the study permit and gained entry into Canada. The irregularities largely came to light when the students tried to gain permanent residency.
IRCC explains that starting December 1, 2023, post-secondary DLIs will be required to confirm every applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with IRCC. This new, enhanced verification process aims to protect prospective students. It will also ensure that study permits are issued based only on genuine letters of acceptance.
IRCC also threw light on the on-going investigation developments. An IRCC task force has worked with the border security agency to review the cases of affected students and graduates, and to protect genuine students from being deported. Of the 103 cases reviewed by October 12, 2023, as many as 63 were found to be genuine students and 40 were not.

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