Indian education agent arrested in Canada in connection with fake college admission letters scandal
Canadian authorities have arrested Brijesh Mishra, an Indian education agent allegedly involved in a scandal concerning counterfeit Canadian college admission letters.
Mishra, who was attempting to enter Canada, was found inadmissible by border agents and subsequently taken into custody. On Friday, the Canada Border Services Agency charged him with offering immigration advice without a license and counselling individuals to misrepresent or withhold information from authorities, reported Toronto Star.
Only licensed lawyers and consultants registered with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants are authorised to provide immigration advice and services for a fee. Neither the Law Society of Ontario nor the consultants' college have any records indicating Mishra's membership, as education agents are not regulated in Canada.
Mishra's alleged role in issuing fraudulent college acceptance letters
Mishra's arrest and charges follow an international education scandal that garnered attention in Canada and India. A group of international students faced deportation after using manipulated admission letters to secure study permits. Mishra is accused of issuing fraudulent letters of acceptance to Canadian post-secondary institutions for prospective Indian students.
Students unaware of doctored letters, seek protection
The affected students, numbering in the hundreds, claim ignorance of the forged admission letters and only discovered the issue when they faced scrutiny from border officials during their postgraduate work permit applications or permanent residence application processes. They contend that they were victims of Mishra and other unscrupulous agents.
In response to the scandal, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced the suspension of pending deportations for the impacted Indian international students who alleged deception by Mishra and other fraudulent agents. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino commended the Canada Border Services Agency's criminal investigators for their efforts in combating fraud while protecting legitimate students pursuing their studies.
The charges against Mishra were filed by the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section of the Canada Border Services Agency. Regional Director General Nina Patel expressed appreciation for her officers' diligent investigation and emphasised the agency's commitment to holding lawbreakers accountable.
To address the complex circumstances surrounding each case, senior immigration and border enforcement officials have formed a task force responsible for examining the level of individual students' involvement in defrauding the system.
The immigration department's and border agency's handling of the scandal has come under scrutiny. Some students and their supporters staged protests outside the Canada Border Services Agency office in Toronto, demanding answers. The parliamentary immigration committee initiated its own investigation, seeking clarification from immigration and border officials regarding the delayed detection of fraudulent documents and the potential penalisation of innocent students who were unknowingly victims of the scheme.