Canada is currently trying to process a visa backlog of over 2.1 million applications, which is causing delays in processing for international students bound for Canada.
According to Nancy Caron, media relation advisor for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the significant increase is due in part to the introduction of the “temporary residency pathway” Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel. It has the goal of bringing as many Ukrainians to Canada as possible.
In the UK, the Home Office has said that it is prioritising visas under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine applications, which it says has led to student visa processing time delays.
Current study permit processing times are at 12 weeks, but IRCC has processed 175,616 study permit applications from January to April 2022, a record number compared to past years.
Many international students, and the education companies that assist them, have found themselves in difficult situations while waiting for their study permits to be processed.
“Presently, the student visas are taking 80-90 days… it is challenging to get all their papers in order to apply over 90 days in advance,” Sushil Sukhwani, director of Edwise International in India, said.
“It is challenging to get all their papers in order to apply over 90 days in advance”
Sukhwani also shared that Edwise has streamlined its operations to help students organise their applications so far in advance, but many have not received their visas until their course has already ended.
This has created issues with getting refunds and program deferrals, as some courses are not available in a later session. Some 97 of Edwise’s 2022 students have had to defer to the next course, he added.
Sukhwani believes this issue is unique to India due to the “high demands” of Indian international students. India’s ministry of external affairs reported that in 2021, there were over 215,720 Indian international students studying in Canada.
Overall, in 2021, Canada hosted nearly 622,000 international students. A record breaking figure reported by IRCC’s monthly statistics.
Like many Canadian universities, the University of British Columbia has seen an increase in recent years in the number of international students they accept to their programs, according to Philipp Reichert, UBC’s director of Global Engagement.
Reichert added that visa processing delays are affecting a number of Canadian educational institutions. He also mentioned that IRCC has announced “significant investments” in Canada’s global visa processing and are planning an upheaval of the application process in order to streamline it for the future.
“We are aware that ongoing study permit processing delays can impact current and new students,” he noted.
“Processing delays can affect anything from travel arrangements, making final decisions on which institution to attend, to finalising plans for the start of term such as securing housing, for those living off-campus. Understandably these difficulties can be stressful and concerning for students and their families.”
Teams at UBC campuses in Vancouver and Okanagan are providing a “full suite of supports”, including regulated immigration advisors and consultants helping international students navigate the permit application process, he added.
“It is our understanding that visa processing delays are also being faced by international students hoping to study in major destinations such as the UK, US, New Zealand and Australia due to several reasons, including the pandemic backlog and events in Afghanistan and Ukraine.
“We are yet to see the impact of these delays on the upcoming fall term”
“Here in Canada, processing delays are impacting institutions all across the country, and other kinds of applications such as work permits and permanent residency.”
Presently, students who have to engage in their studies virtually outside of Canada, remain eligible for Canadian post-graduation work permits, Reichert shared.
“Although we are yet to see the impact of these delays on the upcoming fall term, we advise students applying for a study permit to apply as early as possible, ensure that documentation is complete and specific, and connect with your institution for support on any questions or for the most up to date information,” he concluded.
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