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Kingpin of fake student immigration scandal nabbed in Canada

Brijesh Mishra, kingpin of fake student immigration scandal nabbed in Canada. (Photo: Twitter)

In a major breakthrough in fraudulent immigration of around 700 students to Canada, Canadian law enforcement agencies have arrested the Indian education agent alleged to be the mastermind of the scam.

Identified as Brijesh Mishra, the accused has been arrested by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and is now facing criminal charges there. He is charged with offering immigration advice without a licence and counselling a person to directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold information from authorities. Mishra was allegedly pivotal in issuing fake Canadian college admission letters to these students for visas. He was arrested when trying to enter Canada and was found to be inadmissible by border agents.

“Following information provided to the CBSA concerning Mishra’s status in Canada, as well his alleged involvement in activities related to counselling misrepresentation, the agency launched an investigation. On June 23, 2023, the CBSA Criminal Investigations Section laid charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) based on the evidence collected during the criminal investigation,” read an official statement issued by the agency.

“The charges announced today by the CBSA’s Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section reflect our commitment to maintaining the integrity of Canada’s immigration system. Our officers worked diligently to investigate these offences and we will continue to do our best to ensure those who break our laws are held accountable,” added Nina Patel, Regional Director General, Pacific Region, CBSA.

The charges against Mishra come in the wake of an international education scandal that has made headlines in Canada and India after a group of international students was flagged for deportation for allegedly using doctored admission letters to obtain their study permits.

The 700 students claimed to be victims of scam saying they were unaware that the admission letters given to them were doctored, and say they only became aware of the issue when they were flagged by border officials after they had finished their courses and applied for postgraduate work permits. This led to a major uproar both in Canada and India and following aggressive protest by students the immigration department stopped the pending deportations of the Indian international students who claimed they were duped by Mishra and other unscrupulous agents. “Our government is taking action against those who are responsible for fraud, while protecting those who’ve come here to pursue their studies,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said. The modus operandi was same for all students which started with applying for student visas through a consultant; being told upon arrival their enrolled program was no longer available and then being advised to delay their studies or go to another school and ending up enrolling in and completing their studies at a college different from the one for which their study permit was issued.

The Canadian agencies have announced that a new task force has been established by senior immigration and border enforcement officials to examine the specifics of each case to decide whether individual students were complicit in defrauding the system.

Some of the students and their supporters had camped outside the CBSA office on Airport road in Toronto for weeks, and the parliamentary immigration committee has launched its own study, demanding answers from immigration and border officials on this matter. Supporters have said that the students were victims and should not be penalized, and questioned why the fraudulent documents weren’t detected until years later, after many of the students had already graduated from other schools, had jobs and gotten established.

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