Up to 700 Indian students face deportation from Canada after authorities discovered that the documentation used by the students to obtain study visas for Canada were fake.

In some cases the fraud has come to light years after students have graduated when later applying for permanent residency in Canada. Many of the students have said that their initial student visa applications were handled by an education agent in India, and that they were unaware that fraudulent admission letters had been used in their initial visa applications.

The majority of cases appear to be linked to one immigration consultant in India who handled the students’ visa applications and falsified admission letters. Students have told authorities that they left India believing they had been accepted to a particular course. However, on arrival in Canada the immigration consultant told students that their course was full and that they needed to enrol at other colleges.

The case highlights the vulnerability of international students when making their arrangements to study abroad. One student, facing deportation from Canada, has told authorities how his education agent convinced him to apply to study business in spite of the student having no interest in the field, telling the student that it would give him a better chance of obtaining a visa and that the student could switch courses on arrival. The Niagara Falls Review reported that the student had paid the agent approximately $27,000 for application, visa, and first-semester tuition fees.

A group of students facing deportation held a protest last Saturday, asking the Canadian government to reverse its decision given that the students were victims of a scam and had no personal knowledge of the fake documents.

The scam has only come to light as students have applied for permanent residency, a process that involves higher levels of scrutiny than the study visa application process. Although the study visa process is less rigorous than a permanent residency visa process, many in the industry are baffled at how such a large number of falsified applications could pass scrutiny.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Canada hosted 807,750 international students in 2022. India is the largest sending market, accounting for 40 percent of international students. While Canada has tightened requirements for those applying for post-study work visas in Canada in response to the findings of the initial investigation of the scam, an Indian education agent has told the Times of India that the case is not expected to impact Canada’s reputation as a welcoming destination for Indian students.