MEA refutes allegations of mass deportation amid Indian student protests in Canada’s Prince Edward Island

Image Source : INDIA TV MEA Spokesperson addresses press conference

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday responded to the query of the mass deportation of Indian students from Canada. Addressing a presser, the MEA spokesperson responded to a query about the mass deportation of Indians from Canada, which rose after hundreds of Indian students began their protest in Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) region against the local government’s now-changed immigration policy, which denied them work permits.

Refuting claims of widespread deportation, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said, “A large number of students have gone to Canada to study. The figure is pretty significant. But we haven’t come across several students facing deportation. There may be one case here or one case there. But we don’t see any major problem as far as students in Canada are concerned.” 

Significantly, Jaiswal’s remarks come in the wake of protests that began near PEI government buildings on May 9, where hundreds of Indian students gathered to voice their discontent over abrupt alterations in immigration policies. The students allege that recent amendments have led to the denial of work permits post-graduation, placing their residency status in jeopardy.

With tensions escalating, the students have also threatened to escalate their protest with a hunger strike if their demands are not addressed by mid-May. Videos circulating online depict large groups of Indian students marching through the streets of Charlottetown.

About revised immigration policy

Last July, PEI enacted legislation restricting postgraduate work permits solely to students with qualifications in construction, home-building, and healthcare. This change has left many students in other industries uncertain about their future in Canada as their work permits approach expiration.

Additionally, the decision by the PEI government to reduce the number of nominees for permanent residency through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) by 25 percent in 2024 has added to the students’ anxieties. 

Meanwhile, a protester, expressing his frustration over what he described as broken promises, stated, “They called us here; now they want us to leave… Our province gave us false hopes. They were giving us the wrong information. This is totally exploitation.”

What are Indian students demanding?

The protesting students have called for an extension of work permits and a review of recent immigration policy changes. They seek to be ‘grandfathered’, exempted from new regulations based on their previous status or circumstances, to ensure stability and fairness in the immigration system.

According to the media report, a “grandfathered” status provides a measure of “stability and fairness in immigration systems”, allowing individuals to plan their lives and futures with greater certainty.