The number of Indian students studying abroad is on the rise. In 2022, the number of Indians pursuing higher education abroad reached a six-year high, surpassing 7.5 lakhs.
This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, with a recent RedSeer report estimating that by 2024, approximately 1.8 million Indians will spend a staggering $85 billion on education overseas.
Visa Season: A Prime Time for Exploitation
The demand for visas for Indian students is highest during the student season, which commences in mid-May and lasts until September. This is when unscrupulous agents and operators often prey on unsuspecting students, offering them fake visa documents in exchange for exorbitant amounts of money.
Record Number of Indian Students Deported
In recent years, there has been a growing number of Indian students being deported from countries like Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US. In many cases, these students have been duped by unscrupulous agents who have provided them with fake visa documents.
Early Visa Applications as a Preventive Measure
To safeguard against falling victim to fraudulent operators, VFS Global, a visa outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions, advises applicants to submit their visa applications as early as possible.
The spokesperson further urges visa applicants to exercise caution when approached by third-party entities posing as visa service providers, fraudulently misusing the company’s name to entice unsuspecting individuals with false promises of expedited appointments or favourable visa decisions.
Student Responsibility and Vetting Educational Institutions
VFS Global emphasizes that students bear the responsibility of conducting thorough checks and vetting the details of the educational institutions they plan to study at, rather than relying solely on agents.
While the company, having processed over 256 million applications since its establishment in 2001, endeavours to increase awareness about visa scams and frauds, they stress the importance of students proactively ensuring the legitimacy of their chosen institutions.
Efforts to Combat Visa Fraud
VFS Global is actively working to combat visa fraud by leveraging various communication channels to caution visa applicants. They are committed to remaining vigilant against fraudulent entities and cooperating closely with law enforcement agencies to address this growing menace.
Recent Incident Exposing Visa Forgery
In a recent incident, security personnel at VFS Global apprehended a group of seven visa applicants in New Delhi attempting to apply for Italian visas with forged documents.
Two agents based in Delhi had allegedly provided the applicants with these counterfeit papers in exchange for sums ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 55,000.
Investigations revealed that the fraudsters had gone as far as falsifying the VFS Global logo on the forged documents.
Continued Vigilance and Collaboration
VFS Global reiterates its commitment to protecting travellers from third-party fraudulent entities and assures its collaboration with law enforcement authorities to mitigate this growing problem. They remain dedicated to safeguarding the interests of students and the general public by raising awareness about visa scams and maintaining strict security measures.
(Source & Inputs from IANS)