Canadian Immigration officers are concerned about increasing fraudulent documents, including papers for funerals of nearest relatives that people in Punjab file with visa applications in several categories. These papers lead to a significant increase in the immigration officials' work.
"There's a high incidence of fraudulent documents submitted with applications," says 'Chandigarh 2007-08' report that Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland acquired under Access to Information Act.
In a telephone interview with rediff.com on Tuesday, he said there are more than 60 overseas Canadian immigration posts and each station manager files an annual report with the department of citizenship and immigration.
"I get copies of these reports and on that basis prepare my monthly publication -- just cut and paste matter from the reports. I circulate this publication to Canadian newspapers, television networks."
The reports are revealing, he said.
The latest report from Chandigarh is disturbing and revealing
'The live-in caregiver programme has been targeted by the immigration consultant business in the Punjab. This office has identified over 160 'Nanny Schools' in the Punjab. While some of these schools are bona fide ones, there are a considerable number lacking in facilities, equipment and students -- but having large graduating classes!' the report says.
The Canadian immigration officials are concerned as 'many of the applicants (who are applying for visa to work as caregivers, nannies and baby sitters) are men in a society where childcare and eldercare are seen as the sphere of women.'
The immigration office in Chandigarh already has 'over 2000 applications (in this category) in the inventory. The processing time is now forecast at 22-30 months.'
The Canadian diplomats are also concerned as the immigration consultancy business with special reference to Canada has increased manifold.
"As a result, fraud is omnipresent in Chandigarh and is found in every sort of document, Indian and Canadian. We have seen copies of forged Canadian passports, forged Indian bank documents, forged employment letters both Indian and Canadian, forged letters from Canadian funeral homes and from Canadian educational institutions (to the extent of entire 'kits' of forced documents are regularly seen.
"Such kits have been seen in support requests for parents to visit their children in Canada and to attend the funerals in Canada of close relatives."
The introductory part in 2007-08 report, as e-mailed to this office by Kurland, shows how inhospitable the climate is for the Canadian diplomats to work as 'the Canadian Consulate General in Chandigarh is the only diplomatic mission present (and) as such, mission personnel are highly visible and everyone knows the majority of staff here are CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) staff (and) this results in some security concerns for staff, particularly related to specific types of refusals '
In the report it is also indicated that 'Canada's role in Afghanistan and the proximity of Jammu and Kashmir could also present some risk (to the Canadian diplomats)'.
'There is a culture of emigration in the Punjab and Canada is seen (by people there) as a very desirable end destination. As such, many will do anything to arrive in Canada by any means and this has resulted in a proliferation of immigration consultants and 'agents' over the years, many of whom are unscrupulous,' says the report.
Canada has recently eased requirements for temporary 'low-skilled workers' and people in Punjab, because of wide publicity, are aware of the 'shortages of workers in Alberta and British Columbia.' Canadian immigration office in Chandigarh 'has seen a significant increase in the numbers of such applicants' and so the Canadian immigration officials see "the low-skilled worker movement as a major challenge for 2007 and beyond.'
Immigration Minister Diane Finley is soon leaving for India. She will be visiting Chandigarh. She told rediff.com that she would be going there to look into the immigration operations 'and how things are working on the ground. I hear a lot of stories. I want to see what's happening.'