Hundreds of Indian students in Canada have hit the streets in protest against the possibility of deportation. The students, mostly from Punjab, allege that Canadian authorities have accused them of obtaining their visas on the basis of fraudulent admission letters for Canadian universities.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has recently issued deportation letters to as many as 700 Indian students. The letters were issued after the CBSA found that the students’ admission offer letters were fake.
Many protesting students claim that they arrived in Canada in 2018, but the fake letters only came to light now, five years later, when they applied for permanent residency.
“When we arrived in Canada our agent told us that the seats were full in the colleges which we had received admission letters for. He told us that universities were overbooking so he can transfer us to another college. Since we did not want to lose a year, we agreed.” said Chamandeep Singh, a protesting student, in an exclusive interview with NDTV.
“We changed college and finished our studies but three-four years later, we were told by the CBSA that the admission letter on the basis of which we had received our visas was fraudulent,” he added.
🇨🇦International students handing over demand letter to CBSA @CanBorder personnel#stopdeportation#stopthedeportations@CitImmCanada@SeanFraserMP@JustinTrudeau@marcomendicinohttps://t.co/I2CcD6MDf4pic.twitter.com/JHESx5HZwS
— INC – Immigration News Canada (@CanadaImmigra20) June 2, 2023
Lovepreet Singh, another protesting student, claimed that fears of deportation have taken a toll on the mental health of the students, with many even contemplating suicide as a result.
“We request the Indian government to raise this issue with the Canadian government. We are innocent and have been scammed. Our lives are at stake, many are even suicidal due to this. 700 is an estimate, the real number of affected students is higher as many are suffering in silence and not coming forward. I got a deportation notice for June 30. We put our lives’ savings to come to Canada and now we have been asked to go back,” Lovepreet said.
Speaking exclusively with NDTV, Punjab’s NRI Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal termed the fraudulence as one of the biggest immigration scams in recent history.
“Students have spent a lot of money to go to Canada. Some families even sold their land to send their children abroad,” Mr Dhaliwal said.
The Punjab NRI Affairs Minister has sought the intervention of External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar.
“These (700) students are innocent and have been cheated by the clique of fraudsters. I shall be highly grateful if you again look into the matter personally and take up the matter with concerned agencies including the High Commission of Canada and the government of Canada so that these students can be saved from being deported,” reads a letter from Mr Dhaliwal to Mr Jaishankar.
As the students continued their protests on the streets, the issue reached the Canadian parliament where New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he will stay the deportation of these students.
‘Our focus is on identifying the culprits, not penalising the victims,” said Prime Minister Trudeau in response. “Victims of this fraud will have an opportunity to demonstrate and present evidence for their case. We recognise the immense contributions that the international students bring to our country.”
The Punjab government has also reached out to Centre for its intervention in the matter.