Three Commonwealth countries -- Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia -- on Tuesday warned that unscrupulous travel agents were visiting villages in Punjab and other parts of India and promising fast-track visa approval to gullible people.
Authorities in these countries were working with India and other nations to combat immigration frauds, said the representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, UK Border Agency and Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Chandigarh.
"We are procuring intelligence inputs about all agents to tackle the menace," said Thomas Greig, regional director, South Asia, UK Border Agency.
"Crooked immigration agents often advise applicants to provide fake documentation or enter into marriages of convenience," said Sidney Frank, Canada's area director for immigration in South Asia, adding that such applicants could lose their hard-earned money and may also be denied entry into Canada.
"We welcome genuine visitors, students and workers to the UK. However, we will not tolerate abuse of our immigration system and have zero tolerance to fraud," Greig added.
"I advise people seeking UK visa not to listen to agents who offer forged documents and claim they can guarantee visa. We have effective processes for detecting fraud and we work with our international partners and Indian authorities. Once we uncover fraud, including false education and language certificates, the visa will be refused and the applicant will face a 10-year ban on travelling to the UK as well as possible action by the Indian authorities," Greig said.
"Fraud is a criminal offence in Australia and can lead to severe penalties. But ultimately the responsibility for a visa application lies with the applicant," said Jose Alvarez, regional director, South Asia, Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Applying for visa is a relatively simple and straight-forward procedure. Information and application forms are available free of charge on official government websites, he said.