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Scratching Beyond The Surface: Uncovering The Cartel Exploiting Indians Migrating To Canada

A pervasive cartel comprising fake agents and consultancy firms has been engaging in fraudulent practices, exploiting individuals from India who aspire to pursue education, employment, and permanent residency in Canada. The recent incident involving Indian students being deceived with counterfeit documents by a particular agency merely scratches the surface of a more extensive network.

By Sweekriti Agarwal & Sourabh Kumar
New Update

“I had approached Education Migration Services, an agency headed by Brijesh Mishra in Jalandhar, to migrate to Canada. Since May 2018, I have been residing in Canada, where I pursued my studies. After completing my studies, I applied for a work permit in Canada, which was successfully granted. Encouraged by this, I then applied for permanent residency. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly until my life took an unexpected and drastic turn,” says Sandeep Kumar, one of the many Indian students duped by a fake education agent in India in the Canada migration scam.

Sandeep adds, “Out of the blue, I received a call from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) requesting that I update my immigration status. Complying with their request, I promptly visited their office, only to be informed that my documents, including my acceptance letter, were deemed fraudulent. Shockingly, I was informed that charges of misrepresentation were going to be filed against me by the Canadian authorities”.

Manjit Singh GK, President JAGO party and former President Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee speaks on the plight of Indian students in Canada.

Numerous Indian students have fallen victim to the Canada migration scam perpetrated by deceitful education agents operating in India. While the media's focus has predominantly centred on Education Migration Services, an agency led by Brijesh Mishra, it has become evident that this issue extends far beyond a single agent or consultancy firm. During this story, we found that many fraudulent education agents have exploited unsuspecting students and yet continue to operate offices in India without facing any action from the authorities.

Brijesh Mishra had charged students like Sandeep thousands of dollars to cover the fees related to handling college and visa applications and tuition fees. Although a case was filed against him and his agency's license was revoked, he is currently on the run and is considered missing.

Investigations have revealed that Mishra's firm had provided fraudulent offer letters and imposed charges ranging from Rs 14 lakh to Rs 16 lakh on each student who applied for a study visa to Canada. Most of these students arrived in Canada between 2017 and 2019, but the scam only surfaced in March this year when the students applied for permanent residency in Canada. During the investigation, the Canadian Border Services Agency discovered that the offer letters of admission to a Canadian higher education institution, which was essential for obtaining study permits in Canada, were indeed counterfeit. 

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Subsequently, the CBSA proceeded to issue deportation letters to the Indian students who had applied for permanent residency. In response, the affected students started protesting in front of the CBSA headquarters, arguing that they had lawfully completed their studies, obtained valid work permits, and should not face deportation. The students contended that they were victims of the Canada migration scam orchestrated by fraudulent agents, which had gone undetected in Canada for several years. The students' plea gained momentum with support from both the Indian government and public opinion.

Under mounting pressure, the Canadian government decided to grant a temporary reprieve to the students by rescinding the deportation orders. Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser recently stated that genuine students who fell prey to the Canada migration scam would be permitted to remain in Canada after the investigations. The Indian government welcomed this move as a positive step towards addressing the issue. However, our investigation reveals that multiple agents and agencies have deceived numerous other students, and these culprits are evading punishment by law enforcement agencies in India. Sandeep reveals that both the Canadian and Indian governments should share the blame for the dire plight of the students.

“The CBSA informed me that they would be filing a case against me for misrepresentation and assured me that details regarding the further proceedings would be sent soon in an email. Surprisingly, that email arrived after a whole year had passed. I couldn’t understand what the CBSA had been doing during that extensive period. Meanwhile, back in India, as soon as I discovered the falsity of my documents, I lodged a complaint against Brijesh Mishra and his firm at a local police station. Unfortunately, no action was taken by the Indian authorities. If they had acted promptly at that time, Mishra would not have been able to deceive many more students,” states Sandeep.

“The Indian police failed to register an FIR despite our best efforts. I then sought assistance from the NRI department, which led to the police visiting my residence. However, even after presenting them with substantial evidence, including a money trail and forged documentation, the case failed to progress any further. Although they glanced at the complaint, they did not register my FIR. It was only recently when the situation worsened that they finally filed an FIR, acknowledging the common complaints,” Sandeep adds. 

We interviewed another victim, Jagjeet Kaur Budwal, who allegedly fell prey to a different agency in India. Jagjeet shares her experience: “In September 2021, I approached this consultancy for assistance with my Canada PR application. The agent, Sirsendu Chakraborty from Emigration 24, has duped several candidates like me over the past two years. He lured us by promising a PR in Canada through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) route. This individual operates offices in Bangalore and Kolkata and boasts of having influential connections within the establishment. He portrayed himself as a powerful figure with extensive networks. Consequently, I am unsure how to pursue legal action against such a powerful man. However, I am doing my part by spreading awareness and cautioning others not to fall victim to such schemes as I did.”

Permanent residency mail

Mail allegedly sent by a fake agent to Jagjeet Kaur Budwal | Courtesy: Jagjeet Kaur Budwal

Jagjeet explains, "We were assured that once we paid all the required fees, we would gain access to our application account. However, the agent withheld the login details, citing privacy concerns. He consistently claimed that my application was in progress, but in reality, it did not even exist in the system. He followed a meticulously planned process, showcasing progress through invitations and regular documentation updates, including medical examinations, which he shared as PDF files."

"In one of the shared files, we noticed errors, prompting us to seek professional advice from an immigration lawyer in Canada. It was then revealed that the agent had been fabricating the PDF files, which were not authentic or original documents. The entire process turned out to be a fraudulent sham. All our payments were routed through his accounts, and we were provided with forged receipts. Families like mine have invested our hard-earned money into this PR process, and more importantly, we have invested our emotions. But sadly this man continues to run his operations in India today without facing any action," Jagjeet affirms.

We attempted to reach out to Sirsendu, the agent from Emigration 24 who allegedly deceived Jagjeet, for a response regarding the allegations against him. However, despite our efforts, Sirsendu declined to engage in a conversation and refused to provide a statement on the subject. 

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Speaking to The Probe, Puneet Singh Chandhok, the President of the Indian World Forum, expressed his concerns regarding a prevalent cartel deceiving numerous Indian students and residents who aspire to study, work and acquire permanent residency in Canada. Chandhok contends that this issue extends beyond the actions of Brijesh Mishra alone, suggesting the involvement of a more extensive network of individuals. He further questions the role of certain officials from the Canadian government, stating, "The Canada migration scam could not have taken place without their active participation."

Chandhok raises concerns about the visa issuance process. "If the admission letters were counterfeit and there were issues with the documentation, why were the students granted visas in the first place?" He highlights that after the students enrolled in their respective colleges and completed their education, their visas were converted into work permits. It is now, after the students' entire journey has concluded that they are being informed that their documents were fraudulent.

Chandhok further adds, “This scam had been operating for a considerable duration, seemingly on autopilot, and it is perplexing that the Canadian government failed to detect it. They boast of having one of the most efficient and effective visa systems. Therefore, it raises concerns that this supposedly efficient visa system lacks the capability to identify or flag errors when fraudulent documents are submitted. If the students were deemed ineligible for Canadian visas, then the question arises: why were they granted visas in the first place? These students are not conspirators; they are victims. The Canadian government must implement robust systems to rectify their existing processes’ flaws.”

Manjit Singh GK, the President of the JAGO party and former President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, points out several glaring flaws in how the Canadian government handled this issue. “Despite being granted admission, these students were even permitted to switch colleges. They were issued work permits and diligently paid their taxes. It is disconcerting that this scam persisted for years without being promptly addressed by the Canadian government. I have personally spoken to many families who have taken loans, sold properties, and made significant financial sacrifices to secure admission for their children in Canada. If they face deportation for no fault of theirs, what happens to the education they underwent for three to four years? What happens to the financial losses incurred by their families? The fraudulent activities originated in India, making the Indian government accountable, while the counterparts of these fraudulent agents who operated in Canada were allowed to continue their criminal activities. Thus, the Canadian government must also be held equally accountable.”

Surinder Singh Madan, the Founder and Chairman of The Indo Canada Education Council (ICEC), has been in touch with government officials from both India and Canada on the issue. Acknowledging that the scam is part of a larger cartel, Madan says that both governments must share responsibility and provide relief to all the victims. “By the time the CBSA had discovered the fraud, it was too late, as the students had already obtained all legal documents, including study permits and visas, and had paid their full fees. The Canadian government should have conducted a diligent screening process to prevent such issues. Both governments should now launch a complete crackdown on this larger cartel, identify all victims and perpetrators and help the victims see through this crisis,” asserts Madan.

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Amardeep Singh, an Immigration Consultant closely monitoring the case, states, “Based on my knowledge, there were 254 cases of students that were brought to the attention of the government. Among those, 84 cases were actively being dealt with by the Canadian government. Of these, 10 students have already returned to India, while the remaining students are pleading before the Canadian government. However, it is important to note that these figures only scratch the surface, as numerous other fraudulent agents are still operating, and both Indian and Canadian agents, including some officials associated with the Canada migration scam continue to operate with impunity.”