As of August 18, the government was still processing 163,600 study visas for international postsecondary students.
Hundreds of international students were still back in their home countries waiting to hear the status of their study permits as welcome signs were hoisted and orientation activities echoed around Canadian postsecondary campuses last week.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations’ executive director, Mackenzy Metcalfe, reports that the group is receiving complaints from many disappointed international students who are hindered by backlogs at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Metcalfe says these delays affect how students view campus life. It implies that students won’t be able to be on campus until the middle of September, possibly even in October. As a result, they will miss the welcome week and other essential aspects of the university experience, such as getting acquainted with the campus and meeting new people.
Advocates are pushing the government to prioritize, and process study permits more quickly because international students already pay significantly higher tuition rates.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, increasing employees and updating systems will increase processing capacity and reduce backlogs.
IRCC reports that as of August 18, 163,600 applications are pending study permit processing. It claims that 64% of those applications are currently being processed within the required 60 days. The result is that there may be thousands of students whose applications won’t be processed in time for them to begin the school year.
Increasing anxiety in international students
According to Metcalfe, this time period of postsecondary education is particularly significant for students studying abroad, and any delay could put them under further financial burden.
Even a few-week delay in the start date might cost thousands of dollars in housing, food, and other expenses, not to mention the need to reschedule travel plans to Canada to attend school there, she explained.
Moreover, some of these students express high anxiety about losing a semester of school.
Russian-born, Victoria said she submitted for her study permit in January 2022 after being admitted to Algonquin College in Ottawa for a design degree. Later she postponed her classes twice in May and September 2022 because her study permit was not processed.
The IRCC reports that excluding the time it takes an application to move between a visa application centre and its office, the processing period for a study permit obtained outside Canada is typically 12 weeks. However, it is currently approaching eight months, according to Victoria.
IRCC continues to reduce backlogs
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokeswoman Julie Lafortune said in an email that the department was able to process 84,000 study permits and 21,000 extension requests for August, allowing international students already residing in Canada to continue their studies.
Lafortune says IRCC is providing monthly data on its website to keep Canadians informed on our work toward reducing the backlogs.
IRCC’s statement claims that the department will hire up to 1,250 new employees by the end of the fall to boost processing capacity and reduce backlogs.
Victoria says that if she could reapply for postsecondary education, she would choose to pursue her studies in another country as she has already spent $8,200 on her tuition deposit.
She says, “If I knew about this, I never would have applied to Canada.”
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