International students flouting work rules is quite common

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Sabrina Almeida

A recent report about an international student possibly being deported for working as a truck driver without a separate work visa puts the spotlight on a growing problem. Foreign students flouting the 20-hour-off-campus work rule is certainly not news. At least not to those of us who live and work around warehousing and manufacturing operations in Brampton and Mississauga.
Driving by any of the Amazon fulfillment centres where large groups of them can be seen entering and leaving the premises is an eye opener for sure.

The truth is that for the unfortunate few, like Jobandeep Sandhu, who get caught, there are hundreds flying under the radar. Most of these students work no less than 40 hours a week and even manage to squeeze in some overtime. Those attending college typically opt for night shifts, while others in so-called part-time programs are free to choose and often work round-the-clock. This upsets other employees and Canadians looking to find jobs here, however no one wants to blow the whistle either.

How does all this go undetected? Cash payments I’m told. This surprises me because my son and his friends received direct deposits in their bank accounts during their brief stint at Amazon.
A part-time warehouse employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity believes employment agencies who recruit and pay the students make the fraud possible. And since big companies like Amazon are not directly involved in the recruitment or payment process, they are either unaware of what is going on (which seems highly unlikely) or willing to look the other way!!!

A staffer at a food manufacturing facility employing a large number of foreign students feels that the immigration department should track their activities. Looking into how they purchase or finance high-end vehicles with little or no documented income, for instance, might provide the answers.

A professor at a popular college with a substantial amount of foreign enrollment is deeply aware of the situation. He finds teaching these students unfulfilling because of their lack of commitment to the course. In his experience, a majority of them already have degrees from India and have come here as students as a means to securing residency. As a result, they enroll in courses which require little effort to pass. They are “money hungry” because of the large amounts they pay for tuition and board… and therefore focussed on picking up as much work as possible. Watching them drag themselves into class after working long hours and just do the bare minimum upsets him.

Being a businessman himself, he too wonders how large operations with proper accounting procedures support cash payments to student employees.

Ethnic grocery stores, on the other hand, are well known for employing foreign students and new immigrants at below minimum wages and paying cash. Some dollar stores are also guilty of similar hiring practices. In fact, Indian restaurants and dollar stores both here and south of the border were a popular source of employment for many new and undocumented immigrants at one time. Being largely cash-based businesses allows them to cook the books as well as pay their employees in cash.

The situation has caught the attention of both mainstream and ethnic media who have reported on it on several occasions. It seems like the immigration authorities are the only ones who aren’t aware rules are being flouted and on such a large scale. Many Canadians believe that the government is aware but lacks the machinery to fix the issue or just doesn’t care to. It is only focussed on growing the population and economy through immigration no matter the cost. Either way it is encouraging illegal business practices and both students and Canadians looking for work are at the wrong end of it. -CINEWS


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