Late last year, Québec’s Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation, et de l’Intégration released a decree suspending foreign application processing at ten institutions due to “dubious” international student recruitment practises.
After then, the ministry has stated that it has resumed the temporary reception and processing of applications for students who have already submitted documents.
However, students are still waiting for their applications to be processed and have staged protests in front of the General Consulate of Canada in Chandigarh, India, and handed applications to a staff member.
Many of those students are taking online classes since the fall of 2020, with no guarantee that they will grant a visa or not.
Yet, the students who participated in the protest have not received an official response from Canadian authorities.
Many students from institutions that did not make it to the top ten in Quebec are still waiting for their visas to be processed. This includes students who applied to colleges and universities in other provinces and territories.
Significant delays continue to be experienced by students from provinces and territories across Canada, not just Québec. For example, 129 students applied to Ontario-based institutions in 2019-2020 and have yet to hear back.
Many students submitted their applications in February 2020 with complete documentation, but Covid-19 occurred, and students are still waiting for their visas. Many students have created new web forms and submitted new documents, but there is still no response. Students have been waiting for study visa approval for more than 14 months.
According to reports from immigration consultants, some students who applied for the May 2021 and September 2021 intakes have had their applications processed.
Students who applied for their visas more than a year ago believe that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC) is not putting the backlog of applications ahead of new applications.
Severe mental health issues
Visa processing delays are now affecting students’ mental health.
Indian students across Canada are experiencing mental health issues as a result of visa delays. Affected students who applied to institutions in Québec reported that they received their visa documents faster if they applied to study in other provinces.
Universities in Canada stated that they are continuing to press the importance of ramping up visa processing capacity with IRCC while calling for flexibility around biometric and language testing requirements to ensure that students can receive their visas in time for educational deadlines.
According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), IRCC is committed to completing a backlog of applications across the board due to the series of lockdowns and other public health measures that affected their regulatory processes.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has been working with the education sector to develop a National Standard for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students. CBIE has been consulted to ensure that international students’ mental health challenges and barriers are correctly identified.