End fraudulent consultant practices targeting international students

  • November 28, 2023

The Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, in a letter to Immigration Minister Marc Miller, proposes permanent solutions to fraudulent immigration consultant practices targeting international students.

The problem is not new, but many Canadians aren’t aware of it unless, like earlier this year, there are news stories highlighting specific problems such as hundreds of students from India facing deportation after relying on letters of acceptance that were forged.

Those 700 international students came to Canada from India between 2017 and 2019 and hoped to become permanent residents after completing their studies. Many of them hired what is commonly known as ghost or unlicensed consultants, who charged exorbitant fees for unqualified advice and forged documents that left applicants facing severe consequences.

The CBA Section offers several recommendations designed to put an end to those fraudulent practices permanently. They are summarized here.

The first one is for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, to use its Designated Learning Institution portal, or DLI, to issue all acceptance letters directly instead of leaving that task to individual institutions.

“The portal is well established and has been used to submit reports twice a year since 2016,” the letter reads. “Mandating that institutions issue all acceptance letters through the portal would allow incoming students to verify the authenticity of their letters before coming to Canada.”

IRCC could also create a framework similar to the one developed for the Employer Portal, used by employers hiring temporary workers through the International Mobility Program. That portal works with a 7-digit code which ensures employers and workers have their applications securely matched to each other. This, the CBA letter suggests, “would protect international students from coming to Canada using falsified letters of admission.”

Another recommendation is to bring in better reporting requirements for school recruiters, who often are immigration consultants who earn income from each student they enroll. “Increasing transparency and communications on the expected conduct and business practices of consultants would enable international students to identify early signs of unscrupulous or fraudulent practices,” the letter reads. In addition, registered consultants should provide proof of valid Canadian status to ensure they can be prosecuted if they engage in fraudulent activity.

The CBA Section also recommends eliminating visas for educational programs that do not lead to Post-Graduation Work Permits.

Following the Section’s letter, the government announced some changes to the International Student Program, aimed to better protect students.