Stay granted for Edmonton woman facing removal from Canada over fake letter

The Federal Court of Canada has temporarily stayed the removal of an Edmonton woman days before she was scheduled to return to India.

Kamarjeet Kaur allowed to remain pending outcome of judicial review

Woman with ponytail sits on bench in the sunshine. Her face is blurred out for security reasons.
Karamjeet Kaur's family hired a private immigration agent to help her apply to come to Canada as a student in 2018. Years later, CBSA discovered a college admission letter the agent supplied is fake. Kaur now faces removal from Canada. CBC has agreed not to show her face over security concerns. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

The Federal Court of Canada has temporarily stayed the removal of an Edmonton woman days before she was scheduled to return to India.

Kamarjeet Kaur was supposed to fly out Monday at 6 a.m. On Saturday, Justice Alan Diner approved a motion to stay the removal order until a final decision can be made in a judicial review that challenges a Canadian Border Services Agency officer's decision not to defer the removal.

Diner noted in his decision that the stay effectively grants the same relief sought in the judicial review application but said there are still open questions about whether the officer reasonably addressed potential risks of Kaur's return to India.

"After that I was feeling so happy," Kaur told CBC News on Monday. "I'm having positive vibes now."

Kaur arrived from Punjab in northern India five years ago to study. Years later, authorities discovered her student visa application included a fraudulent admissions letter filed by an immigration agent in India.

While authorities acknowledged that Kaur didn't know the letter was fake, they say it was still her responsibility to confirm the admission.

Deportation puts life in danger, lawyer argues

On Friday, Kaur's lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy, argued Kaur should be able to remain in Canada until her other applications are processed.

A second application to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds contends that sending Kaur back would put her life in danger.

Istvanffy said the immigration agent, who has since been criminally charged, has threatened the lives of Kaur and her family.

"This person is still free and he's threatened to throw acid at her," Istvanffy said. "She will have acid thrown on her or be killed."

He said her brother in Punjab had been beaten badly last Sunday.

Istvanffy said Kaur was also at risk because of circulating photos showing she had attended a demonstration in support of the Khalistani separatist movement.

He challenged previous assessments made by authorities that Kaur would have state protection in India.

Istvanffy said there is a human rights crisis in Punjab and the pre-removal risk assessment has "nothing to do with reality."

Istvanffy also highlighted Kaur's track record in Canada, noting she had earned a diploma in business administration, her employer of four years is "extremely satisfied with her services" and she married last month.

"She is someone who would be an exemplary immigrant."

Not done in timely fashion, says Crown

Crown counsel Galina Bining argued Kaur did not make her application in a timely fashion. Bining said the fake letter was identified three years ago but Kaur only made her application four or five months ago.

She said the risk to Kaur's life was "fully reviewed" by the pre-removal risk assessment officer.

Bining said there was nothing new presented showing Kaur's life was at risk apart from the alleged danger she faced for her support of a separatist state.

"There's a complete lack of evidence," Bining said. 

'Victims of fraud'

The arguments were heard on the same day federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said authorities were investigating recent reports of fraudulent acceptance letters.

He tweeted that the ministry's focus is "on identifying culprits, not penalizing victims.

"Victims of fraud will have an opportunity to demonstrate their situation and present evidence to support their case."

Fraser's press secretary declined further comment.

A spokesperson for the CBSA said the agency does not comment on specific cases but that all individuals subject to enforcement action and removal have access to due process before the law and that removal orders can be challenged through various means.

CBSA is investigating a number of active immigration cases of misrepresentation, they said, including those related to study permits.

Last month, Kaur was married. She is now planning a summer wedding ceremony and looking forward to spending more time with her new mother-in-law who arrived a week and a half ago.