Pro IQRA News Updates.
A continuing Canadian immigration backlog of 151,000 applications has left many international students at risk of missing their entire fall semesters altogether. Many schools recommend that they postpone their semesters, effectively leaving these students in limbo.
Federal data shows that, as of the end of July, 34 percent of pending international student visa applications were taking longer to process than government standards dictate.
Immigration lawyer Mario Bellissimo says a main cause of the backlog is an outdated immigration system that seeks to give a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to most applicants.
While COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem, the problem 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 provincial specific study permit categories (and) better training and regulation of educational agents who track these students to Canada,” he said.
According to Bellissimo, the current immigration path 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 made clear to applicants.
“If you remove the one-size-fits-all (system), you will have a more nuanced system, one that has caps and ends when individuals cannot be processed in time,” he said, adding that it would allow students to move on.
International students now make up nearly 20 percent of all students enrolled in post-secondary institutions in Canada, up from 7.2 percent in 2010. This group is often seen as a potential solution to the country’s aging workforce.
But the path to steady employment and citizenship for them is paved with complicated immigration requirements and barriers to entry into many workforces, a report published earlier this month by RBC Economics and Thought Leadership found.
“For many, a Canadian education may not provide the desired return on investment,” the report said.
Bellissimo says there is not much the students currently in the immigration backlog waiting for their visas can do.
“It’s very difficult to give these students a meaningful remedy and so many of their lives are interrupted by this, and keep in mind when we think of students, we’re not just talking about individuals coming for their first time. degree,” he said.
“We are thinking of some able students, some who have professional experience, those who come with spouses and families.
So there’s a lot of myth-explosion going on here. And to understand how many lives it really touches.”
In a statement to CTV’s Your Morning, the IRCC said it is moving to a more “integrated, modernized and centralized work environment,” which is expected to help speed up application processing.
Bellissimo says that immigration systems in Canada must take advantage of newer technology such as artificial intelligence if they are to keep up with demand, which currently outstrips supply.
So far this year, the IRCC has processed more than 360,000 study visas, an increase of 17 percent over the same period in 2021.
The High Commissioner of India in Ottawa said in a statement that he is talking to Canadian universities about what can be done to accommodate the large number of Indian international students still waiting for visas.
The high commission said universities have also approached the immigration ministry with their concerns.
Some institutions will offer a remote option for students who cannot reach Canada at the beginning of the term because they have not yet received a visa.
“We have to stay true to the principles of the program, which is really to draw in (the) future, possibly in some cases future Canadians,” Bellissimo said.
“You don’t know who is in that backlog. Someone who can make a big impact on Canada.”
With files from The Canadian Press