The news comes as Colleges Ontario, the sector association representing public colleges, finally cracked down on unscrupulous agents and offered more support to international students.
Students caught cheating could be deported from Canada or face criminal charges, said Rebecca Purdy, the agency’s chief spokeswoman.
“There are a number of active misinformation investigations”
“The Canada Border Services Agency can confirm that there are a number of active investigations under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act into cases of misrepresentation, including those involving study permits,” she said.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
It is not clear how many Indian students are involved in the scam. CBC News said there were “dozens” of students, while one news site in India said there were 700. Neither gave a source for the statements.
In the scheme, an agent in India would create a fake acceptance letter to public colleges in Ontario, including Loyalist College in Belleville and Lambton College in Sarnia. Students would use fake letters to obtain study permits and enter the country.
However, they could not study at the college listed on their study permit because the school had no record of their application. Instead, the agent directed them to a private college such as Alpha College of Business and Technology in Toronto upon their arrival in Canada.
The CBC, which has previously investigated unethical international student recruitment practices, interviewed students for the Fifth Estate who said they believed the acceptance letters were legitimate and blamed the mess solely on their agent.
One such student is Karanveer Singh. He told the CBC that his disabled father sold his farm to raise $25,000 to pay for his education in Canada. Singh’s agent gave him an acceptance letter to Loyalist College. However, when he arrived in Canada, an agent told him he would have to transfer to the private Canada College in Montreal. He completed a two-year business course in 2021.
“I did not know that a false document was used in my student visa application”
However, when he applied for a postgraduate work permit, the CBSA said the Loyalist acceptance letter was fraudulent.
“I was unaware that a false document had been used in my student visa application,” he told the CBC. “It wasn’t until I got that letter from the CBSA that I found out that the letter was fraudulent.
Last week, Colleges Ontario, which represents the province’s 23 public universities, finally announced the standards after international student outcry about sketchy agent practices, housing shortages and a lack of student support services.
Colleges Ontario says it is implementing agent standards that are consistent with similar ones in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The new rules require agents to complete a recognized agent training program. It also states that colleges will provide assistance to international students to support their mental health and to find affordable housing and employment.