India death sentence possible after B.C. immigration fraud convictions

Facing execution in India

An immigration consultant from India who pleaded guilty to immigration fraud May 29 could face that country’s death sentence when deported after he has served the remaining 19 months of his three-year Canadian sentence.

Brijesh Kumar Mishra, 37, pleaded guilty in Vancouver Provincial Court to three of five charges connected to alleged immigration offences in Canada and the Punjab, including producing a significant number of fraudulent letters for Canadian post-secondary institutions to Indian students as well as suspect financial documents.

Judge Susan Sangha heard that, between January 2016 and February 2020, in the Indian Punjab city of Jalandhar, Mishra violated the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in promoting Canadian student spaces and providing documents for Indian students to come to Canada.

The court heard some of those students arrived in Canada only to find the school places they had been promised did not exist.

Sangha sentenced Mishra to a total of three years in prison. After time already spent incarcerated while awaiting sentencing, Mishra has a remaining 19 months and two days left to serve.

The sentences Sangha passed, part of a joint Crown and defence recommendation, are to be served concurrently. If served separately, the maximum sentence could have been 12 years in prison and $400,000 in fines.

That, however, is not the end of his legal woes.

Mishra is a foreign national whose visitor visa expired some time ago. As such, he is subject to deportation when paroled.

And, said defence lawyer Gagan Nahal, given the length of time Mishra has already spent in jail, parole could come as soon as three weeks from now.

“He is likely to be arrested,” Nahal said. “It is likely he could be deported next month.”

Mishra acknowledged those deportation consequences in making his guilty pleas. The court heard there's a high chance he'd be arrested once he arrived in India due to warrants for his arrest. He faces six criminal charges and civil lawsuits in India. One charge, that of human trafficking, has a maximum sentence of death.

“Mr. Mishra understands the immigration consequences and still pled guilty,” Nahal said.

The judge told Mishra he took advantage of “innocent, vulnerable people trying to find a better life in Canada.” She chastised him for having come from poor circumstances only to take advantage of others.

“The sentence you’re facing is appropriate,” Sangha said.

Mishra spoke briefly before sentencing.

“I am sorry,” he said. “I can’t change the past.”

“He did show genuine remorse,” Nahal said. “He did own up to it; he didn’t deny it.”

The court heard Mishra, a licensed immigration advisor in India, had grown up in poverty, and that his family was in debt. And, when he saw the money to be made in the immigration business, he got greedy.

Student reprieves

It was feared the situation could have imperilled students who arrived in Canada sincerely believing their studies were assured only to discover they had been duped.

It’s also alleged that he misrepresented facts or communicated misleading information.

The charges were announced by the Canada Border Services Agency on June 23, 2023.

Some students impacted by Mishra’s crimes had been subject to immigration removal orders as a result of the situation but federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser laid those fears to rest in a June 2023 statement. He noted a task force would do a case-by-case analysis of the removal orders on the basis of fraudulent letters of acceptance.

Fraser said those genuinely in Canada with no knowledge of fraudulent activities would be allowed to remain for a few years.

The judge said the impacts of Mishra's actions continue to affect those he tricked.

More BC News