Canada’s immigration minister Marc Miller, this Friday, unveiled a set of reforms aimed at strengthening Canada’s International Student Program and at better protecting genuine students from fraud.
Starting December 1, 2023, post-secondary designated learning institutions (DLI) will be required to confirm every applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with IRCC. This new, enhanced verification process aims to protect prospective students from letterofacceptance fraud and to help them avoid similar problems that some students faced earlier this year as a result of fraud investigations. It will also ensure that study permits are issued based only on genuine letters of acceptance.
In time for the fall 2024 semester, IRCC will adopt a “recognized institution” framework to benefit post-secondary DLIs that set a higher standard for services, support and outcomes for international students. These DLIs will benefit, for example, from the priority processing of study permits for applicants who plan to attend their school.
In the coming months, IRCC will complete an assessment of Post-Graduation Work Permit Program criteria and begin introducing reforms to better calibrate it to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market, as well as regional and Francophone immigration goals.
“Through these measures, we are taking action against nefarious actors who have preyed on genuine students for financial gain by identifying every fraudulent letter of acceptance soon after it is submitted. Institutions that demonstrate strong support for international students will be recognized and their applicants will move to the front of the line for processing, and 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,” said Miller.
These important reforms mark the initial changes identified through the review of the International Student Program, as well as the broader engagement initiative, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future.
This includes our ongoing work with institutions, provinces and territories, and organizations representing Canada’s colleges and universities to better detect fraud and uphold the integrity of our immigration programs.
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. The goal of this work was to prevent genuine students from facing removal from Canada. Of the 103 cases reviewed by October 12, 2023, 63 were found to be genuine students and 40 were not. The Genuine Students Impacted by Fraud Taskforce is aware of additional cases that have not yet been reviewed, as individuals are still awaiting decisions from the Immigration and Refugee Board. If an exclusion order is issued in these cases, the cases may be reviewed by the taskforce in the future.
On June 23, 2023, CBSA announced that charges had been laid against Brijesh Mishra for immigration-related offences. Mr. Mishra was identified by victims as one of the central figures involved in defrauding students. IRCC will continue to work diligently with the CBSA to identify and act against unscrupulous actors who take advantage of genuine students.
International education accounts for more than $22 billion in economic activity annually, greater than Canada’s exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft, and supports more than 200,000 jobs in Canada. 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.