CIMM – Minister’s Opening Statement – June 14, 2023

Remarks for The Hon. Sean Fraser - Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Standing committee on citizenship and immigration (CIMM)

Reports of Fraudulent Acceptance Letters

Ottawa, Ontario

June 14, 2023

507 words (5 mins)


[Optional: I wanted to begin by noting many communities across the country are dealing with wildfires, including many in Nova Scotia. My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes. The federal government remains committed to helping every way we can.]

Thank you for the invitation to appear and address the concerns around the reports of fraudulent acceptance letters to obtain study permits in Canada.

International students bring significant benefits to our Canadian academic institutions, to our economy, accounting for upwards of $22 billion annually, and to communities from coast to coast to coastFootnote 1.

As has been reported, some international students and graduates in Canada are facing removal after letters of acceptance that were submitted as part of their study permit applications were determined to be fraudulent. I understand that this situation is distressing for those affected, and want to assure them, and members of the Committee, that their wellbeing is paramount.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Canadian Border Services Agency are currently investigating on a case-by-case basis and will take the appropriate actions as mandated by Canadian law.

I have directed my officials to approach every case with expediency, flexibility and compassion. And to deploy the necessary tools so that those who are innocent can remain in Canada.

We are focused on identifying organizers of coordinated fraud, not penalizing victims. If the facts are clear that a student was a victim, we will issue a Temporary Resident Permit allowing them to continue their studies.

Prevention and detection

To uphold our system, a review of the International Student Program is underway. The review aims to strengthen program integrity and enhance protection to address student vulnerability, unethical recruitment and unreliable actors.

IRCC is working with its local and international partners to detect and deter fraud. We are continuously improving the systems to detect evidence of fraud. Where fraud tips are involved, IRCC looks into each one.

To crack down on dishonest consultants, we have regulated consultants in Canada and they must be licensed under the College of Immigration Consultants. And we have invested to improve oversight, strengthen enforcement, and increase accountability.

IRCC also runs media campaigns when they are warranted, to deter fraud and inform additional victims. In March 2023, IRCC ran a campaign in India targeting potential visitors, students, and workers to decrease the misuse of permits and reduce fraud.

In addition to these targeted campaigns, our missions perform regular outreach efforts to counter fraud.

I am committed to ensure the integrity of our immigration system that upholds legitimate cases, supports victims of fraud, and goes after the perpetrators of fraud.

I understand this is a difficult time for those who may have been victims of fraud, and I’m committed to finding a way to support them and ensure they can remain in Canada with valid legal status while at the same time ensuring those who were complicit in the fraudulent letters are held to account.

Thank you.

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