According to an internal government review obtained by the Vancouver Sun, Canada places so few restrictions on foreign students and schools that the student-visa system is open to widespread abuse and fraud.
The review notes that the rules associated with it are so lenient that even if foreign students never show up for class, they can’t be deported. The report said that there is no requirement for foreign students to actually attend classes, although they are in Canada for the purpose of study only. In order to study in Canada, students only need to show the intent to study in Canada, the review notes.
According to the review, this soft approach by Canada is in stark contrast to other competing nations, like the United States and Australia. Also, Canada is one of the few countries that grants permit to attend virtually any institution, irrespective of the fact as to whether it is a public university or a private university. In contrast to Canada, the US, Australia and the UK permit only a limited number of selected schools to accept overseas students.
After The Sun reported a widespread student-visa fraud in B.C., immigration minister Diane Finley ordered a review in the month of August last year.
The articles, based on the internal documents from the Border Service Agency of Canada, revealed that the fraud was so widespread in B.C. that the CBSA was unable to investigate almost ninety-five percent of the hundreds of alleged fraud cases that it knew about.
The CBSA documents also disclosed that some of the bogus students who came to B.C. were soon involved in Asian organized crime, drug trafficking, prostitution and human smuggling.
The review noted that due to such problems, the student-visa system not only poses a threat to the integrity of the student program, it can also hamper Canada’s reputation as a quality education provider. The program also poses risk to the safety and security of Canada.
According to the government’s review, the student-visa system is inundated both by fake students with no intention of studying here and by bogus schools that operate as classy visa mills.
Ujjal Dosanjh, the Liberal incumbent in Vancouver South, said that modifications are required in the student-visa program and requiring students to attend classes would be the first step towards it.
Dosanjh also said that the provincial governments also need to do a better job in this field.