In a significant move to fortify the integrity of Canada’s International Student Program, MARC Miller, the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, unveiled a series of measures aimed at shielding genuine students from fraud while enhancing the program’s efficacy.
The proposed initiatives, disclosed on Friday, encompass several pivotal steps:
Starting from December 1, designated learning institutions (DLIs) in the post-secondary sector will be mandated to validate each applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This stringent verification process aims to thwart letter-of-acceptance fraud, providing aspiring students with protection from deceitful practices that some encountered earlier in the year due to fraud investigations. Its primary objective is to ensure that study permits are exclusively issued based on authentic letters of acceptance.
IRCC is set to introduce a “recognized institution” framework by the fall semester of 2024, favoring post-secondary DLIs that adhere to higher standards in providing services, support, and outcomes for international students. Such institutions will benefit from expedited processing of study permits for their prospective students.
Further reforms, to be implemented in the forthcoming months, will revamp the criteria of the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. The objective is to align it more effectively with the demands of the Canadian job market, regional requirements, and Francophone immigration objectives.
Miller emphasized the immense social, cultural, and economic contributions that international students bring to Canada. Acknowledging the need to preserve these benefits, the government is proactively addressing challenges to safeguard the program’s integrity.
The reforms are geared towards thwarting unscrupulous individuals who exploit genuine students for financial gains by promptly identifying fraudulent letters of acceptance upon submission. Notably, institutions displaying robust support for international students will receive recognition and prioritize their applicants in the processing queue.
These pivotal changes mark the initial steps outlined through the review of the International Student Program and align with the broader engagement initiative, “An Immigration System for Canada’s Future.” The government remains committed to collaborating with institutions, provinces, territories, and educational organizations to combat fraud and ensure the program’s integrity.
International education significantly contributes over $22 billion to Canada’s economy annually and supports more than 200,000 jobs. The 2020 decline in international students resulted in a staggering loss of over $7 billion for Canada’s GDP.
Following investigations into fraudulent admissions letters, an IRCC task force in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reviewed cases of affected students. Of the 103 cases reviewed by October 12, 2023, 63 were confirmed as genuine students, underscoring the imperative need to prevent such individuals from facing deportation.
Among the pursued cases, charges were laid against Brijesh Mishra for immigration-related offences in June 2023. Mishra, identified as a central figure in defrauding students, signifies the government’s relentless commitment to eradicate such fraudulent activities.
Miller reiterated the government’s dedication to improving the International Student Program, ensuring that the time international students spend in Canada, whether for studies or post-graduation work, remains enriching and beneficial to their growth and aspirations.