You can get in serious trouble if you’re found entering the country through illegitimate means. Unfortunately, international students often fall prey to fraudulent visa agents.
The problem is more prevalent in countries like Canada and the UK where students are allowed to work off-campus.
We have compiled a list of red flags to look out for:
The University is not accredited, or does not exist
This seems obvious, but even applying to an unaccredited university can get you in serious trouble, as it is against most visa laws. The World Education Services suggest avoiding applying to universities when “not being able to find comprehensive information about classes online, not easily locating information about student organisations or alumni, and not being able to make direct contact with various relevant personnel.”
They claim you won’t have to attend classes
If an agent assures you that you can simply work without attending classes while on a student visa and there is a job offer waiting for you, this is a major red flag.
In most countries, you must be enrolled in a full-time course as an international student in order for your student visa to be valid. Plus, employers rarely offer jobs or sponsor those without a qualification or a legitimate student visa.
Their promises differ from official websites
Always check official embassy and university websites. If the website claims that you cannot work off-campus or that you can only work a certain number of hours but your agent is telling you otherwise, they are probably lying.
Also, check the application fees for both your visa and university so the agent can’t fool you into paying more than you should.
Another red flag is when an agent guarantees you admission to a particular university before you even apply. There is no institution that will do so before you’ve even applied or sent in any of your documents.
This is not so much a red flag, but keep in mind that you will not be able to claim ignorance if it turns out that the school you enrol in is not a legitimate institution. Students can be deported if it is determined that they were part of a scam, even if they are the victim.