Canada-bound students left in limbo
- Delay in processing visa leaves hundreds in state of uncertainty
- More than 25,000 students sign a petition on change.org to hasten the visa process
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is yet to start processing visas
- Many students who got admissions for September with waiting for their visas since March
Hyderabad: Students aspiring to study in Canada are a worried lot as the Canadian Embassy 'Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)' is yet to start processing visas. 34 per cent of Canada's foreign students are from India and a good number from Hyderabad go to Canada for higher studies.
Students who paid the tuition fee before the lockdown are now becoming restless. Rahul Reddy from Kondapur received an offer letter from Conestoga for the May intake. He said "I paid Rs 14.5 lakh towards tuition fee and other processing requirements. It's been four months but I am still waiting for the visa."
The processing of Student Direct Stream (SDS) visa shouldn't take more than 20 days. But many students who got admissions for September intake are waiting for their visas since March.
They paid tuition fee in addition to the Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of 10,000 Canadian Dollars, took English language proficiency test and underwent medical tests.
Unable to bear the uncertainty of their future, Prithvi Raj, a resident of Srinagar Colony, a student applicant started a petition on change.org. More than 25,000 students signed it and the petition is now doing rounds over social media platforms.
Prithvi Raj said that most of the applicants have quit their jobs and have put other things on hold in anticipation of getting the visa. If there is a clear dateline or even a communication from embassy, these students can take a decision and move on, he added.
The High Commission of Canada attributed the delay to the shortage in staff in its offices in India and Canada due to COVID-19. "The Visa Application Centre (VAC) network across India has been closed for biometric collection and document intake.
The Indian airspace too was not running international flights until July 31. For these reasons, while a Student direct stream (SDS) application may be submitted online, processing is taking much longer than normal time," the High Commission added.
The students request IRCC to immediately process their visas and provide them a decision before the end of July 2020.
As per the recent update from CIC News, Canada immigration newsletter, the destination country would fast-track study permit processing by introducing a temporary two-step study permit process. But Indian students are not happy with this new policy. They say it is not conclusive and is subject to interpretation and does not allay all fears of them.
Earl Blaney, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, The Canada Network, Ontario, says "The new two stage policy does not really help students. I recommend that students do not start their classes until they have a full approval."
Surender Wesley, Wesley Immigration Consultants Private Limited, says the processing for student visas is taking three to four months now which used to be less than a month earlier.
"As of now there are no flights to Canada for students except citizens and PRs. Certainly, there's worry among students as they have paid tuition fee and don't know if it gets refunded to them in case their visas aren't approved," he adds.