Indian Immigration Agent Pleads Guilty In International Students Fraud Case In Canada; Sentenced To 3 Years In Jail

Indian Immigration Agent Pleads Guilty In International Students Fraud Case In Canada; Sentenced To 3 Years In Jail

Mishra pleaded guilty to three charges related to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, including misrepresentation and communicating false information, CBC News reported.

PTIUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2024, 07:30 AM IST
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Brijesh Mishra, 37, was arrested after a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) investigation tied him to dozens of fraudulent acceptance letters for Canadian colleges and universities that were provided to prospective international students from India between 2016 and 2020 | PTI

Ottawa: An Indian immigration agent at the centre of a scam to cheat students from India by issuing fake college admission to procure Canadian visas has been sentenced to three years in jail after he pleaded guilty before a court in Vancouver to immigration offences, according to a media report.

Brijesh Mishra, 37, was arrested after a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) investigation tied him to dozens of fraudulent acceptance letters for Canadian colleges and universities that were provided to prospective international students from India between 2016 and 2020.

Dressed in a red jumpsuit, Mishra on Wednesday stood inside a Vancouver courtroom and apologised for a slew of Canadian immigration offences.

Mishra pleaded guilty to three charges related to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, including misrepresentation and communicating false information, CBC News reported.

"I'm sorry," he told the courtroom. "I cannot change the past, but I can make sure I do not do it again in the future." Mishra was arrested in Surrey, British Columbia, in June 2023. He entered Canada on a tourist visa, which had expired at the time of his arrest.

Crown and defence lawyers issued a joint sentencing submission asking for three years in prison, to which the judge agreed was sufficient.

Mishra's time in custody since his 2023 arrest counts as time served, meaning he will serve an additional 19 months.

"I would say he did show genuine remorse," CBC News quoted Gagan Nahal, Mishra's defence lawyer, as saying.

"The pleas that were entered today were clearly a demonstration of his remorse because he did have a right to run a trial in this." Nahal said 12 victims came forward during the CBSA's investigation.

After serving his sentence in Canada, Mishra is expected to be deported to India where he faces further criminal charges, including a human smuggling offence. The maximum penalty for that offence is death.

No victims or their family members were present in the courtroom. Federal Crown Prosecutor Molly Greene declined to comment on the case.

In an agreed statement of facts between the crown and the defence, Greene outlined a common pattern based on victim testimony.

Greene said prospective students typically came from a modest background in Punjab with the desire to study abroad in Canada and were referred to Mishra by family or friends.

Mishra would advise them to apply to multiple schools to ensure they were accepted. Prospective students would provide him with passport information, transcripts and English language test results. They did not apply to any schools themselves.

Greene said prospective students would then be informed that they were accepted into a school, and would collect a letter of acceptance from Mishra's office.

He took fees in exchange for services, including application fees, tuition costs, immigration fees and consulting fees. Families would usually pay in cash without receipts.

Upon arrival in Canada, prospective students would try to enrol in classes at the school only to find out they weren't admitted.

When they would contact Mishra, his responses would vary. In some cases, assisting enrolment in another institution, in other cases avoiding the victims and their families altogether.

Greene said witnesses would make the best of a bad situation by applying to alternate schools and waiting for upcoming semesters to begin.

Mishra and his lawyers said his family remains in India and has been harassed by the family members of his alleged victims.

The CBSA said a task force is still locating all possible victims of Mishra and other fraudsters, but will work to keep them in Canada.

"Our focus will continue to be on helping individuals assessed as genuine students as part of the task force so they can complete their studies in Canada," it said in a statement released last year.

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