The Canada immigration racket and its human impact

The yearning for a distant land, one which offers or at least poses to offer great opportunities in terms of better quality of life, possibilities of employment, health benefits, and other allurements, has made multitudes of people leave their places of birth and migrate to different countries. Indians are no exception to this, and over the past several decades, individuals and families have moved to countries such as USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, among other nations that seem to be a better bet as compared to their own homeland, and while there is no guarantee of a better life in these countries, Indians have for long believed that settling abroad will bring them some relief from what they perceive as “difficulties” in their own country.

Statistics suggest that most people who move out of the country do so as they believe that their adoptive country of residence would offer them golden opportunities, and that they might be able to have a more upscale life as compared to their own country, and no matter how mythical this theory might be, it does appeal to people from all walks of life, cutting across social barriers.

So, there are successful doctors who migrate and seek employment in hospitals abroad, there are teachers who pack their bags and leave, there are IT professionals who find it difficult to turn down an offer from an IT giant in the US, and of course, there are students who dream of making it big with a degree from a foreign university.

There are also those who sell off their lands, houses, and whatever properties they might have in their villages for what they perceive to be a greener pasture. While there is a great demand for doctors, nurses, and IT professionals abroad, who form the bulk of white-collar Indian immigrant population globally, there is also a great demand for cheap labour from India, in particular, and the Indian subcontinent, in general.

This forms the bulk of the blue-collar emigrant population from India, most of whom either work as taxi or bus drivers, cleaners or janitors, plumbers, masons, carpenters, loaders, factory workers, among other menial professions. Many of these blue-collar workers are either only partially or completely uneducated and are drawn towards the better standard of living the new country offers. It is the desire of this labour workforce to settle abroad for “better” opportunities that has led to the burgeoning immigration industry in India, a well-oiled machinery which works in cahoots with their international counterparts to facilitate the departure of Indians to countries like Canada through a seemingly “easy” immigration process.

In fact, Canada has become the dream destination for many Indians over the years, because of its “immigrant-friendly” policy further accentuated by the presence of a large Indian diaspora, which perhaps makes newcomers feel more at ease as compared to other countries that do not boast of such a large Indian population. The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada website offers a variety of options for those willing to migrate, for example, Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Family Sponsorship, Start-up or Business Visa, etc.

Concomitantly, lakhs of people apply for “PR Visa” to Canada every year. Immigration consultants, the likes of which are found in plenty in Nehru Place in New Delhi, and other parts of NCR as well as across many states and cities in the country, fool people into believing that they will get them a “PR Visa”—their ticket to a better life. This so-called “PR Visa” is, however, as much a fantasy as the legend of the Loch Ness monster.

These immigration consultants charge their clients exorbitantly and even guarantee employment and housing in Canada. There is, however, a big catch. There is no such thing as a “PR Visa”. Permanent residence cards are issued by Canadian government authorities only after two years of residence in the country, and the “PR Visa” that these consultants promise to secure for their clients is merely the acceptance of application through the Express Entry pool, primarily meant for skilled workers, which gets them a visa to travel to Canada, after which they have to reside in the country for a considerable time—if not employed, on their own expense—and then apply for citizenship only after permanent residence of 1,095 days (three years).

Besides, these consultants provide dubious information about the Express Entry process and convince even PhDs and Doctors that their “PR Visa” can be secured through Express Entry, which is, in the first place, not meant for educated professionals. Their fake promises range from assisting potential candidates in securing a high IELTS score to getting the so-called “PR Visa”.

At the outset, the process seems very clear and concise, with the immigration consultant assigned to the potential candidate explaining everything “in detail”; however, as one goes through the process, it seems to be a never-ending affair. The consultants do what is called an “eligibility test” on the basis of which they persuade the applicant to go ahead with the application, and barring a few, all potential candidates are encouraged to apply. The consultant then convinces the applicant that a high IELTS score is their ticket to Canada, which, however, is not the case.

Then comes the IELTS exam, followed by getting one’s educational credentials vetted by World Educational Services (WES). Next is the creation of the applicant’s Express Entry profile, followed by the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score—the score used for assessing the eligibility of the candidate and ranking it accordingly in the Express Entry pool.

While this process might seem extremely systematic and precise, there are major loopholes that one comes to known of only when their profile gets rejected or when they land in Canada and find themselves counted in the ranks of illegal immigrants.

It seems rather strange that applications of people with high IELTS scores (8.0 band or above), excellent WES reports (even earned doctorates), and a considerably decent CRS score, do not get picked, while applications of those with lesser IELTS scores and hardly any educational credentials, as per WES, get priority. And while the applicants begin to question their self-worth, the consultants provide no justification for the debacle.

In fact, they convince the applicant to reapply, which only means more profit for the consultancy and nothing at all for the applicant. The first rejection is followed by another, and then another, and in many cases, this saga of rejection goes on for years, only for the candidate to realize that his/her application is never going to be accepted.  

The story doesn’t end here. Many immigration consultants also “assure” jobs to applicants who get swayed by the possibility of landing a job before reaching Canada. Then there are also those who print fraudulent university acceptance letters for students hoping to get entry into Canadian universities. The story of student visas is as dodgy as PR visas.

A scandal broke out a couple of months ago, putting the fate of many Indian students to test, with around 700 of them facing the risk of deportation. Student visa consultants were responsible for the sword hanging over the heads of these students who were stranded in Canada without any ray of hope.

The Canada immigration racket runs deep, and while many are in a position to spend copious amounts to get their “PR Visa”, there are also those who do not have the wherewithal to squander away the little savings they have for a dream that may or may not come true. Some sell their lands, others their jewellery, while some also go to the extent of investing all their savings to land up in Canada.

This immigration racket is also entwined with human trafficking, and while the Canadian Prime Minister might be busy accusing the “agents” of the Government of India of being involved in the killing of a Khalistan separatist on its soil, it would be more prudent for the Government of Canada, and their Prime Minister, to investigate matters of human trafficking in the name of PR Visa, fraudulent university admission letters, and the larger nexus between Canadian immigration officials and immigration consultants based in India.

-Dr Chandni Sengupta The author is a Historian, Writer, and Political Analyst and currently teaches online as Guest Faculty for Southern New Hampshire University, USA

Chandni Sengupta: Dr. Chandni Sengupta is a Historian, Writer, and Political Commentator. Author of "Reclaiming Hindu Temples: Episodes from an Oppressive Era" published by Garuda Prakashan (2021).
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