Canada announces new student visa rule, mandates education institutions to confirm letters of acceptance


OCTOBER 28, 2023

With an aim to prevent student visa frauds, like the one that came to light in June this year involving 700 Indian students, Canada has now come up with a new verification process.

Even as Canada says it is not going to cap the number of international students, they are rolling out a scheme to verify their letters of acceptance, which are a prerequisite to obtain a study permit.

This was announced by Canada’s immigration minister Marc Miller Friday. Miller also stressed that “they are not in favour of imposing a cap on new international student arrivals”.

The new rule will come into effect from December 1 this year.

Now, institutions will be required to confirm every applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada).

“This enhanced verification will protect students from letter of acceptance fraud and to help them avoid similar problems that some students faced earlier this year as a result of fraud investigations,” Miller said.

“It will also ensure that study permits are issued based only on genuine letters of acceptance,” he added.

More than 700 college students from India are currently facing deportation from Canada after their college acceptance letters — which were used to apply for Canadian study visas almost four years ago — were found to be fake.

The issue first came to light in March after several students in Canada applied for permanent residency after completing their studies and the Canadian border agency discovered that their documents were fake. After New Delhi raised the issue with Ottawa, the Canadian government put their deportations on hold.

In June, following investigations into fraudulent admissions letters, an IRCC taskforce was formed to work with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to review the cases of affected students and graduates.

Consequently, the CBSA charged Indian citizen Brijesh Mishra for immigration-related offences, who was identified by the victims as one of the central figures involved in defrauding students.

Earlier this month, the CBSA reviewed 103 cases, of which only 63 were found to be genuine.

This comes as a relief in the wake of India’s recent diplomatic spat with Canada over the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, wherein Canada had withdrawn visa and consular services from Chandigarh, Mumbai and Bengaluru, posing a significant hurdle for students getting ready to enrol in universities for the winter session starting January next year.

Subsequently, Canada has also put on record that with respect to the 38,000 visas that the IRCC was expecting to process by December, the department will only be able to process 20,000.

Earlier this week, Delhi had also moved to reduce tensions between the two countries by restoring visa services in some categories — Entry visa, Business visa, Medical visa and Conference visa.

Indian students now study in 240 countries, according to a Ministry of External Affairs data. However, Canada, Australia, the UK and the US remain the top choices.

Ahead of the fall 2024 semester, the IRCC will also adopt a “recognized institution” framework to enable priority processing of study permits for applicants who plan to attend their school.

Canada will also conduct a review of the popular Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), for the first time in 10 years, and announce reforms in the coming months.

Miller said the goal is to calibrate the PGWP to address Canada’s labour shortages in areas of the economy with a greater need, as well as their regional immigration goals.

Canada said the goal of their latest move is to prevent genuine students from facing deportation. “We will be able to better select and retain those students that are best suited to meet the needs of Canada’s economy and immigration goals,” Miller said.

Canada’s economic activities in terms of international education

International education accounts for more than $22 billion annually in economic activities in Canada, greater than its exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft, and supports more than 2,00,000 jobs in Canada, as per a statistics given by the IRCC. The temporary drop in international students in 2020 resulted in a loss of more than $7 billion for Canada’s gross domestic product that year, it added.

Courtesy:  Indian Express / PTI