Indian families desperate to get their sons to Canada are posting ads in newspapers to find brides who are on track to being accepted into a Canadian university and willing to take a new husband along, says a former Canadian citizenship judge.

The ads are part of what some media in India are reporting is a booming industry based on families paying the travel and education expenses of students studying abroad, in exchange for marriage.

Ads for students typically seek a young woman who has passed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) required by Canadian post-secondary schools. On the flip side, parents of those who have passed the English exam and face paying $50,000 to $60,000 for a two-year diploma in Canada are also placing ads to find “spouses” willing to foot the bill.

Shinder Purewal, a former citizenship judge for the B.C. and Yukon region, says Canadian immigration officials are aware of the scheme but it’s difficult to determine if a marriage is real or legal when all the documentation is in place and there are plenty of pictures and videos of a ceremony.

He says Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have already cracked down on the practice.

“It’s a pretty good deal for a student who has just done high school and passed the English international exams. And it’s quite easy to get admission in Canada because we have a lot of private-sector post-secondary institutions,” Purewal told CTV’s Your Morning Friday.

There are about 250 in B.C. alone, says Purewal, who is a political science professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C. They typically have low standards to get in, requiring only the English exam, he says. The proportion of international students is also growing quickly at public-sector institutions and, in some cases, that’s pushing out Canadian-born students.

“For example, at UBC, almost one-third of their population (is) international students.”

It’s estimated that close to half a million Indians study abroad each year and that almost 85 per cent of them head for Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.