Why are international student visas from Canada on hold?

An ongoing Canadian immigration backlog of 151,000 applications has left many international students at risk of missing their entire fall semester. Many schools recommend postponing their semesters, leaving these students in limbo.

Federal data shows that at the end of July, 34% of pending international student visa applications were taking longer than required by government standards.

Immigration lawyer Mario Bellissimo says a major cause of the backlog is an outdated immigration system that tries to impose a « one size fits all » approach on most applicants.

While COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem, the issue is more historic, Bellissimo told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday. Arguing that the system has been “slow to modernise”, he advocates a more nuanced approach.

“We need to have province-specific study permit categories (and) better training and regulation of educational agents who follow these students to Canada,” he said.

According to Bellissimo, the current immigration pathway of a one- to four-year study permit, which often leads to a work permit for international students after graduation, does not always guarantee permanent residency. . He says this should be clear to applicants.

“If you remove the one (system) you will have a more nuanced system, a system that has caps and ends when individuals cannot be treated in time,” he said, adding that this will allow students to move on.

International students now represent nearly 20% of all students enrolled in post-secondary institutions in Canada, up from 7.2% in 2010. This group is often seen as a potential solution to the country’s aging workforce .

But the path to stable employment and citizenship for them is paved with complicated immigration requirements and barriers to entry for many workers, according to a report released earlier this month by RBC Economics and Thought. Leadership.

“For many, a Canadian education may not produce the desired return on investment,” the report states.

Bellissimo says there’s not much students who are currently in the immigration backlog waiting for their visas can do.

« It’s very difficult to bring meaningful remedy to these students and so a lot of their lives are interrupted by this, and keep in mind that when we think of the students, we’re not just talking about the people who come. for their first degree,” he said.

“We think of some accomplished students, some with career experience, those who come with spouses and families.

So there are a lot of myth busters that need to happen here. And understanding how many lives it really impacts.

In a statement to CTV’s Your Morning, IRCC said it was moving towards a « more integrated, modernized and centralized work environment », which should help speed up the processing of applications.

Bellissimo says immigration systems in Canada must take advantage of new technologies such as artificial intelligence if they plan to meet the demand that, at the moment, exceeds the supply.

So far this year, IRCC has processed over 360,000 study visas, an increase of 17% over the same period in 2021.

The High Commission of India in Ottawa said in a statement that it was discussing with Canadian universities what could be done to accommodate the large number of Indian international students still awaiting visas.

The high commission said universities have also approached the Department of Immigration to raise concerns.

Some institutions will offer a distance option for students unable to travel to Canada at the start of term because they have not yet received a visa.

“We have to stay true to the principles of the program, which is really to attract in (the) future, potentially in some cases, future Canadians,” Bellissimo said.

“You don’t know who is in this backlog. Someone who could have a huge impact on Canada.

With files from The Canadian Press


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