Foreign students suing Canadian school, consultant for ‘false’ immigration promise
EDMONTON, Alberta — Dozens of foreign students, led by two Filipinos, are suing a private Edmonton college and an immigration consultant for allegedly promising them falsely that they could extend their stay in Canada by signing up for a diploma program.
“These individuals, through no fault of their own, were taken advantage of and now are left in limbo,” Edmonton lawyer Avnish Nanda told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM last Wednesday, according to a report by CBC News.
Nanda represents a dozen students from the Philippines, Israel, and Ukraine in a class-action lawsuit against Solomon College and immigration consultant Amarjot Singh. Some 100 current and former students have come forward to date, Nanda told CBC News.
Jonah Louise Cabela Falgui and Edeline Royo Agoncillo, two Philippine citizens, are the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They came to Edmonton under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2014.
Agoncillo said she contacted Apex and Singh online, seeking a way to extend her stay in Canada, after her employer told her that her work contract would not be renewed.
Singh allegedly advised her that enrolling at Solomon College was her “best chance” to stay in the country — that a diploma in hotel and hospitality management from Solomon College would make her eligible for the federal Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.
Solomon College is a private vocational college in Edmonton. Singh worked for Apex Professional Group Ltd., an Edmonton-based immigration consultancy that dissolved on Dec. 29. Neither Singh nor his lawyer has responded to a CBC query.
Agoncillo claimed that Apex and Singh received commissions from the college for referring Agoncillo and other students to the school. Apex and Singh have not made statements in their own defense.
The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program lets foreign students who have graduated from participating Canadian post-secondary institutions to work in Canada for up to three years. That work experience can be used in the process of qualifying for permanent residency.
College not eligible for program
Graduates from Solomon College, however, are not eligible for the post-graduation work permit program. The federal government runs the program but the provincial government decides which schools and programs are eligible, says CBC News.
According to the plaintiffs, students want their money back students as they were unable to withdraw from the program and register in eligible schools.
Louise Cabela Falgui was working at New York Fries in West Edmonton Mall in June 2016 when she learned her work visa wasn’t going to be extended. Like Agoncillo, Falgui enrolled in the Solomon College hotel management program, believing that the diploma would qualify her for a post-graduation work permit. She says she paid the school $18,000 for tuition, books, and other fees.
Nanda has heard from students who come from countries around the world, including the Philippines, Israel and Ukraine. Many took out high-interest loans in order to study in Edmonton, he said. “They want that money back.”
Solomon College program director Ping Ping Lee declined an interview request but sent a statement to CBC. The school said its legal advisers “need to look carefully” at the complaint. Lee said, “We make no promises to our students about our ability to procure work permits.”
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