International students attending Canadian universities still waiting for visas

Published:  27 Aug at 6 PM
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Thousands of overseas students with places at Canadian colleges and universities are still waiting in their home countries for their student visas to be granted.

The unacceptable delays in visa processing are the result of two factors at present affecting Canada’s immigration services. The first is the unnecessarily complicated visa process itself which has led to backlogs and the second is the as yet unresolved industrial action by overseas staff at Canadian embassies and consulates.

The strike, called by the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers over inequality in the pay structure between Canadian and overseas-based staff, has caused the backlog to increase, with 15 per cent fewer visas approved since it began. As a result, many overseas students have no idea when they will be able to leave and how much course work they will have missed.

For Canadian colleges and universities, the timing could hardly have been worse, as it coincides with a push by education centres to encourage overseas students to choose Canada for their further education. Higher education officials now fear that the country’s reputation as a degree hub will be permanently damaged.

Foreign undergraduates bring essential revenue to the country’s seats of learning, with the average tuition fee CA$18,641 per annum, and total spends on living costs by international students are estimated at CA$7.7 billion. According to a director of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the issue is serious in the extreme.

In a attempt to help international registrants, most universities and colleges are holding places and residences for at least a week after classes begin. However, education professionals fear that those who have also been offered places at universities in other countries may decide to go for their second choice.
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