‘Pay fees directly to university, not agent,’ study abroad consultants advise

One-on-one interviews for student visa allow for better scrutiny and verification, said Indian experts.

Study abroad - students need to exercise caution say expertsStudy abroad - students need to exercise caution say experts

Pritha Roy Choudhury | March 22, 2023 | 06:13 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Having nearly 700 people from a single state slip into a country with forged documents indicates laxity in the processes for scrutiny and verification, said Indian experts on recent reports of Canada deporting a large number of Indians. According to reports, most of them had entered the country on study visas in 2017-18 and are now employed.

According to reports, the Indians had approached a study abroad consultant in Jalandhar, Punjab, who forged documents, including admission offer letters. It was only when the students applied for permanent resident certificates did the matter come to light.

“Whatever document was submitted on behalf of the universities, any document submitted by the student should have been cross verified by the local consulate embassy,” said Ajay Sharma, president, Abhinav Immigration Services Pvt. Ltd told Careers 360.

Admission letter issued by the university or college is one of the critical documents in a student visa application. That 700 student visa applications escaped this scrutiny clearly indicates there was a flaw in the review process. “Such high numbers coming from one institution and the majority – as the reports indicate – from the same state could have given a red alert – to the IT systems and officials,” added Sharma.

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Study abroad consultants

Admission in the best-known universities abroad requires much more than entrance test scores. Most require proof of English proficiency, a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation apart from exam score transcripts. Some may even demand more essays, portfolios and aptitude test scores.

Many students approach study abroad consultancies for help with refining their applications and supporting documents. They also guide students with obtaining financial documents and securing study loans. The consultants help the students with the application process from the beginning till the end.

If selected, the candidate gets an admission letter first and based on that – along with proof of English proficiency and financial documents – they apply for a visa.

While processing the visa, the due diligence of the respective country's high commission or embassy is usually comprehensive and extensive, said Sharma.

According to reports, the students now facing deportation, had paid the Jalandhar agent for everything – application, cost of the English proficiency test IELTS, and some, even the first-semester fee. According to reports, he assured them he would deposit the fee with the university. Initially, the students were given admission letters from colleges they were interested in. Upon landing in Canada, they were told that the university from which the students had received the admission letters had some issues and that their admission was being transferred to another university.

“This kind of racket is only specific to Punjab and is not there in any other state,” said a counsellor in a Delhi-based agency, asking not to be named. “The colleges where the students were finally admitted were likely hand-in-glove with the agency and probably paid it well.” Foreign universities do hire agents in India for recruiting students but among agencies, like among the universities themselves, there is great variation in quality and popularity.

Sharma suggested that more face-to-face interviews, especially for students from states like Punjab, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where the craze for studying abroad is very high, is the need of the hour. “The USA is a good example where interviews play an essential role and compliance by visa applicants is more strictly monitored,” he said.

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Admission, semester fee

That said, experts advised students to always insist on paying test and admission fees directly to the university or testing body and not to any intermediary or agent.

“If a student had approached the university to pay the tuition fee based on the admission letter they received, the university would have informed them that they had not issued the admission letter,” said Sharma.

Pointing out that Indians have surpassed the Chinese as foreign students in some countries, Sharma said: “This is billion dollar industry which is supporting the local economy. The fee that is paid by the international students across the globe subsidises the education of the local residents and their kids. The fees that the international students bring in supports the budget of all the universities.”

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