Swindled Indian Students a Cautionary Tale as Canada Targets Immigration Consultant Fraud

By the South Asian Post in Vancouver, BC

Three youths from the northern India state of Punjab claim that an immigration consultant in Saskatchewan lured them with fraudulent job offers that turned their dreams of attending college in Ottawa into a nightmare that left them back on an airplane and suddenly inadmissible to Canada for five years.

The students, Kamalpreet Singh, Amrit Gill and Gurjit Gill, arrived in Canada earlier this year on student visas and enrolled at a college in Ottawa. They each paid $39,000 to an immigration consultant for help securing jobs that would allow them to stay as permanent residents in Canada. They allege that the identity of the consultant is Karnail Singh Ghadial.

The consultant apparently arranged offers for the men at a Howard Johnson hotel in Yorkton, Sask., that purportedly paid $18.48 per hour.

But Immigration Canada said the job offers were fraudulent. And not only that – the agency rejected the applications from the men and ruled them “inadmissible to Canada” for five years.

All of them are now back in India.

They are but just one case in the increasing number of fraudsters preying on Indians wanting to study or seek a new life in Canada.

Last year, Canada welcomed 297,000 visitors from India. As this number continues to grow, it is critical that applicants get the true facts on applying for a visa. Credit: []
According to the data released by the Punjab Police on Twitter, 900 cheating and fraud cases were registered against travel agents in Punjab between Jan. 1, 2017, and Mar. 15, 2018, with 137 cases (or 15%) reported in Mohali city. Police in Mohali registered 190 cases of visa fraud in 2018, receiving an average of five complaints a day.Punjab is also the state which has the most number of illegal immigration consultants, with only 2,880 registered, while over 6,000 firms were found to be operating without a license.A CARIM-India paper on irregular migration to the European Union found that irregular migrants from Punjab constituted 72% of the cases between 2012 and 2018.The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), one of Punjab’s major political parties, last week put pressure on the ruling Congress government in the state and demanded they take action to stop unscrupulous travel agents from defrauding people.

“This has become a serious issue. The Congress government should take immediate steps to check frauds being committed in the name of sending youths abroad,” said SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia.

Canada has just launched an information campaign in India to help temporary resident visa applicants save time and money, avoid falling victim to fraud and immigration scams, and inform them about the best channel to use when applying for a Canadian visa.

Last year, Canada welcomed 297,000 visitors from India. As this number continues to grow, it is critical that applicants get the true facts on applying for a visa.

“Canada continues to welcome visitors from India. This campaign will help applicants in India and their friends and family members here in Canada better understand and navigate the visa application system,” said Ahmed Hussein, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The campaign is designed to make visa applicants aware of important facts.

Canada wants all visa applicants to know:
  • Applying online will save time and money.
  • They don’t need to spend extra money on an immigration consultant to apply.
  • They can apply online from the comfort of their own home, and save an extra trip to the visa application centre.
  • They can apply on their own, or if they need help, have a trusted friend or family member apply for them.
  • A visitor visa application costs $100 CAD, which is a lot cheaper than applying with a consultant.
  • There is no advantage to applying using a paper form or with a consultant. The same immigration officers make decisions on both online and paper visa applications.
Do not use an unauthorized immigration consultant:
  • According to Immigration Canada, many individuals who claim to be immigration consultants are not authorized to charge money for immigration advice and take advantage of people by charging excessive fees.
  • If an applicant needs a consultant’s help to apply for a visa, they should make sure that the consultant is authorized in Canada by checking if the consultant is registered with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
  • No consultant can guarantee a visa to Canada. Those who claim they can are not telling the truth and just want to take people’s money.
  • Be aware of fraudulent consultants and common immigration scams.

The new information campaign will include newspapers, radio, Facebook, and Google. Ads will be available in English, French, Punjabi, and Hindi, and will run during June 2019.

The people in the state of Punjab — keen on travel to countries like Canada — which has a large immigrant Sikh population, are one of the biggest victims of immigration and visa fraud.

In November 2018, alarmed by the increasing number of immigration fraud cases, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had asked the police in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh, to verify whether all such agencies were registered.

Published by arrangement with the South Asian Post. The original article can be found here.