International Students Commit three major kinds of fraud
By Martin Collacott,
Retired Canadian Ambassador
As many are aware, there are a range of problems involving submission of fraudulent documents or other types of misrepresentation related to foreign student programs. I won’t attempt to list them all but will flag some of the major ones. They include:
(1) Submission of fake documents in the initial application for a student visa. (International students lie in documents about their ability to support themselves.) I first became aware of this as a major problem when I was posted to the Canadian High Commission in Lagos, Nigeria in the mid-1970s. While we were aware of the high incidence of phony documents submitted, the American Embassy took the time to do a quantitative analysis. As I recall, the Americans found that something like 74% of the bank documents showed that the applicants had enough money to support themselves during their studies in the U.S. With this in mind, both we and the Americans would contact the banks to confirm if the statements were, indeed, genuine. When the U.S. embassy got around to checking with their contacts in the banks to make sure the bank confirmations were correct, however, they found that 77% of these were also false (i.e. which indicated that bank staff were in on the scam). Three Canadian reports describe some of them. The first is a Vancouver Sun article of October 2008 that makes reference to a government report about student fraud. The second relates to the bogus document challenge at our visa office in Chandigarh – an article in which Jason Kenney is quoted. The third is similar problems encountered by the Brits. Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch UK has been critical of the foreign student program.
(2) Another problem is the use of student visas to come here to work instead of study— in some cases with the connivance of the institution where the study is supposed to take place. I don’t know to what extent this has been documented but anecdotal reports to this effect certainly surface from time to time. Dan Murray of Immigration Watch Canada has received a message with well-substantiated allegations from a Syed Noor in Vancouver. Tracking down whether each student visa recipient is actually engaged in the studies for which they were given their visas would be a major undertaking —although it is something the Americans decided to take on after they found that some of the 9/11 hijackers entered the country on student visas and never pursued their studies. Canada has focused on this issue.
(3) A further problem faced by all Western countries with foreign students is ensuring that they leave when they complete their studies – unless, of course, they are authorized to remain in some other capacity. A UK report states that it is having problems in this regard and the way they plan to deal with them. The only way to really know who’s left when they should have and who hasn’t is to have biometrically-based exit controls that record when someone leaves and tie into a central data bank that has a record of when they entered. The problem of over-stayers could become quite large in Canada within the next few years given the substantial numbers of temporary foreign workers and foreign students now in the country. As former immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the Commons Committee on April 27, 2012, exit controls should also be applied to permanent residents (a point I also made when I appeared before the Committee on Feb 28, 2012 – in connection with the need to be able to confirm that permanent residents have met residency requirements before being eligible to apply for citizenship).