The ‘ghost consultant’ risk
nternational students from India are making news in Canada and in India. More than 700 such students are currently facing deportation from Canada after Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) discovered that Letters of Admission from their education institutions were counterfeit. Close examination of Letters of Admission supposedly issued by Canadian academic institutions to foreign nationals wishing to come to Canada as international students, revealed that the documents were not bona fide. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) found that Letters of Admission that were issued in 2018 and 2019 by various institutions were fake. These documents were submitted as evidence in study permit applications by those students.
The lives of these international students, several of whom had already completed their academic studies, had completed work stints and were in the process of obtaining permanent residence in Canada, began to unravel. Some were in the process of applying to come to Canada as international students, while others were still enrolled in their programs in Canada.
At the centre of this racket is an ‘agency’ called Education Migration Services operating out of Jalandhar, India. Owned and operated by an Indian national who has since closed the office in Jalandhar and disappeared, this ghost consultant had been charging aspiring international students thousands of dollars to assist in the process of obtaining admission into colleges in Canada, and to apply for study permits. The students (and their parents) all claim to have been innocently duped by the “ghost” consultant who has now ghosted them.
The students, in addition to being deported from Canada for misrepresentation, also face a ban from applying to IRCC for at least five years. Those students caught in this fraud are living a nightmare. They were swindled, scammed, cheated, and lied to by a fraudster. Many claim that this situation will have caused shame and embarrassment, not to mention financial ruin to their families in India. They say that returning to their homes in India is not viable.
Lessons to learn
This story is a cautionary tale to aspiring immigrants to Canada everywhere. Where did they go wrong?
- They dealt with a non-registered, unlicensed individual;
- They paid cash to the “agent;”
- They did not have a service agreement that protected them from being scammed;
- They were ignorant of the rules and regulations regarding Canadian immigration representation.
Anyone, inside or outside Canada who charges a fee for rendering Canadian immigration services must be a consultant or lawyer who is registered with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants of Canada (CICC) or the provincial authority for lawyers and para-legal practitioners.
The great irony – and tragedy – for these Indian students is that it would have been quicker, and far less expensive, to deal with a legitimate and registered immigration consultant than with a ghost consultant who vanished with their money, leaving them no alternative but to start over again. The lesson: there are no shortcuts.
What should you do?
If you are interested in coming to Canada to study, contact a regulated consultant or a licensed lawyer. Do not rely on social media to source a representative. Scammers often use such platforms to reach unsuspecting victims. Before you retain the services of any individual, check the CICC registry to see if your potential representative is listed as a member and then visit the company’s website.
Nobody can ‘guarantee’ you admission to Canada. Anybody that says otherwise is misrepresenting to you. Like investing, any story that sounds too good to be true probably is not true. Changing your life by changing the continent on which you live is a once-in-a-lifetime project. Deal with reputable people, and do it right the first time.
Protect yourself by ensuring that your representative is registered with the appropriate authority. For links and more information, see the footer on this page. Education advisors must also be registered with the CCIC. Ensure that you have an effective service agreement in place, and that there is an opportunity for you to review and approve all information that will be submitted to IRCC on your behalf. An experienced and knowledgeable Canadian immigration consultant will provide reassurance to international students, submit well prepared applications on their behalf, and represent them in the immigration proceeding before IRCC.