Recently, over 700 Indian students have been issued deportation notices from the Canadian authorities after it was discovered their admission offer letters were fake. The students had applied for study visas via Education Migration Services, who charged over Rs 16 lakh per student for expenses excluding air tickets and security deposits. The fraud was exposed when the students applied for permanent residency (PR) in Canada, and their admission offer letters came under scrutiny by the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA).
Most of these students had already completed their studies, obtained work permits, and gained work experience. It seems the fraudulent activities involved forged offer letters, fee payment receipts, and possibly even collusion with some Canadian colleges. Some students changed colleges after arriving in Canada without updating the Canadian government, which could have contributed to the issue as well.
In this article, we will discuss how students can avoid falling into such traps and immigration fraud.
New to the study abroad process? Start with this article for step-by-step guidance.
Why do study abroad frauds occur?
There are many reasons why such frauds or scams occur. There are some extrinsic and intrinsic reasons for these issues. Generally, all parties are equally culpable in some way. But let’s explore this section to find out the root cause.
High demand for study abroad
The increasing popularity of studying abroad creates a lucrative market for fraudulent agencies looking to exploit aspiring students. They capitalize on students' desires to secure admission to prestigious institutions and are willing to bend or break the rules to make it happen.
Lack of awareness and information
Many students and their families may not be fully aware of the intricacies involved in the study abroad process, making them vulnerable to misinformation and fraud. Some might not know how to verify the authenticity of documents, or they might be unfamiliar with the proper channels to follow when applying for visas or admissions.
The complexity of the application process
The study abroad process can be complex, involving multiple steps, documentation, and requirements. Fraudulent agents prey on students who may feel overwhelmed and are looking for shortcuts or guaranteed results.
Fraudulent agents and organizations are driven by financial gains. They charge high fees for their services, often promising successful outcomes that they cannot guarantee. In some cases, these agents may also have ties with certain institutions, receiving commissions for enrolling students.
Loopholes in the system
Some fraudulent agents exploit loopholes or weaknesses in the application or visa systems of host countries. They might forge documents, manipulate information, or use other underhanded tactics to secure visas or admissions for their clients.
Insufficient regulation and oversight
In some cases, there may be insufficient regulation and oversight of study abroad agents or consultants, allowing fraudulent actors to operate without much risk of being caught or penalized.
Students’ real intent
Many times students want to migrate to a country and their primary intent is not education, which makes them complacent about the university or program choice. They are ok to get into any university or program as long as it allows them to work part-time and offers a degree which will help them expedite their PR applications.
It is crucial for students and their families to be vigilant, well-informed, and cautious when seeking assistance for studying abroad. They should rely on reputable platforms and services, conduct thorough research, and verify the authenticity of documents and information to avoid falling victim to such fraud.
How to Avoid Falling into Traps
To avoid falling into traps, understand the requirements of studying abroad in the country you are planning to study in (For example, if it is Canada, make it a point to learn about studying abroad in Canada, and the visa processes. the Canadian education system, and more. Plus, when you apply to universities or take additional help from consultants, be sure to check for the following details.
- Verify the authenticity of offer letters, fee receipts, and other documents. Research the issuing institutions and contact them if necessary. It’s not just a one-off case or just restricted to one country.
In the past several such instances have occurred where students were duped by the agents to submit false documents, such as the (in)famous 2009 Australian visa fraud and 2015 New Zealand visa fraud. Over 150 Indian students were deported in case of the latter.
- Use verified and trustworthy sources for study abroad assistance, such as reputable consultants, organizations, or platforms like Yocket.
- Verify the credibility of your counsellors by checking out their reviews on Google, Trustpilot, YouTube, Quora, Reddit and other such public forums. Try to find their alumni via LinkedIn or Yocket and speak with them to get their honest opinion.
- Keep the relevant authorities, such as the Canadian government, updated on any changes in your study plans, including changes in colleges or programs.
- It’s not always the agents who are to be blamed. Sometimes the college or university itself can turn out to be fraudulent, such as the Tri-Valley University, US (2011), London School of Science and Technology, UK (2012) or Eden College, Ireland (2014).
When these colleges come under the radar of local authorities, they can get banned or shut down almost overnight, leaving international students in a fix and may even lead to deportation. So definitely double-check the university’s credentials before making the decision to enrol.
- Don’t be in denial and cut corners. These things can happen to anyone regardless of how knowledgeable they are. Always, always, always be vigilant as this can have a big impact on your career.
Say no to “jugaad”. Indians love jugaad and it may help us navigate certain systems on home turf, but it’s a strict no-no globally.
- Speak with students and alumni - Nothing beats the experience of past students, seniors and current students. Connect with them to get insights about the universities, the study abroad process, career opportunities, and more.
You can do so using Yocket Connect, where you’ll find more than a million aspirants, alumni and mentors who are living or have lived the study abroad experience.
Nevertheless, the simplest way to avoid these traps is to be clear in your own head about your intentions for going abroad. If you are going as a student, education should be the main focus.
You are going there to get a world-class education and global exposure first. Great career opportunities will obviously follow if you get into a good university and a program and give your best during the course.
However, if you are just using the education route as a means to enter a country, or planning to study abroad for all the wrong reasons, you are that much more gullible to any kind of fraud. Your own greed will prevent you from seeing the difference between right and wrong.
Agent vs. Counsellor
When it comes to deciding whom to seek help for your applications, there’s an inherent difference between an agent and a counsellor. And most study abroad aspirants and their parents don’t know about it.
An "agent" often works on behalf of specific educational institutions, seeking to enrol students in their programs for a commission. Their interests may not always align with the best interests of the students. In most cases, an agent won’t charge you.
“If You're Not Paying For It, You Become The Product” - While we are not sure whether to attribute this to Tristan Harris, Steve Jobs, or Andrew Lewis, we definitely hard-relate with this quote.
We Indians generally don’t like to pay for services out of pocket but are often okay if the service provider makes money as a commission. And while that may work well in many other cases, this is about your education, your career, and your future.
In contrast, a "counsellor" provides unbiased guidance and advice, helping students choose the right study path based on their needs and goals. A counsellor prioritizes the well-being and success of the students above all else.
Unfortunately, the majority of the players in the market are “agents”. And of course, it doesn’t mean that all of them are fraudulent.
But as a prospective student, it is your responsibility to do your own due diligence. Be sure of who you hire to do your application process.
P.S.: In case you didn’t get it, Yocket is purely a counselling platform and not an agent. We are a student-first organization, which is why we charge students for counselling rather than depending on the university commissions for our revenues.
Yocket's Commitment to Students
At Yocket, we have the best interests of our students at heart, as evidenced by the tons of free resources we provide on the platform, the 1 million+ community on the platform, and our multiple positive reviews on Google, Trustpilot, Quora, LinkedIn and more.
We understand the challenges and complexities of studying abroad - so many of our team members have studied abroad themselves - and we strive to provide accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information to help students make informed decisions.
Want to discuss your goals? We’ll make them a reality.
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Yocket Premium Counselling
Our Yocket Premium counselling service offers personalized guidance, connecting students with experienced counsellors who understand the nuances of the study abroad process. With Yocket Premium, students can:
- Receive unbiased advice on choosing the right program, university, and country.
- Get assistance with application processes, documentation, and visa requirements.
- Benefit from the expertise and knowledge of our counsellors, who stay updated on the latest trends, policies, and opportunities in the study abroad field.
- A transparent way to track their entire journey through our student-friendly dashboards and tools.
- Support from a 1 million+ community of aspirants, seniors and university reps.
With Yocket you’ll always be supported; never deported.
Explore Yocket Premium, for unbiased, authentic, student-centred counselling for your study abroad journey.
The deportation case of 700 Indian students from Canada serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance and due diligence in the study abroad journey. By understanding the difference between an agent and a counsellor, and choosing reliable platforms like Yocket, students can avoid falling prey to fraudulent schemes and make the best choices for their future.