Canadian universities and language schools have raised concerns over the recent visa change made by the federal government for international students who need to complete a language or other prerequisite course.
Under new rules, students will need an initial visa for the duration of the language course, before applying again for a second visa for their main course of study.
Previously one visa was issued to cover everything, but it meant students could remain in Canada and work even if they didn’t complete the prerequisite course.
Now educators are worried that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has inserted another administrative layer which could mean delays and processing problems.
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For example, if a student completed a summer language course, the IRCC would need to issue a second visa in a matter of weeks for a university course that started in September.
Schools are worried over whether the immigration department has the resources to do this, saying the move feels like a backwards step.
With between 10,000 and 11,000 students needing to complete a prerequisite course each year, it creates a pile of new paperwork for students, schools and immigration officers.
Educators feel they should have been consulted before the change was made, although they were happy to reserve judgment until seeing the new system in practice.
The IRCC says issuing the single visa also posed a paperwork problem, as the prerequisite class and chosen course were often not provided by the same institution.
“A concern has been raised by officers that the student may not successfully complete their prerequisite program, but will continue to hold a valid study permit allowing them to work,” a July IRCC statement said.
The Canadian government is planning to make it easier for international students to remain in the country and begin their careers after graduation.
Completing a post-secondary degree in Canada is expected to be given more weight under the Express Entry system, through which candidates are invited to apply for permanent residency.
Currently, international students will most likely have to return to their original countries following graduation.
“International students are at the top of the government’s list to become permanent residents because they are young, educated, and fluent in English or French,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said at a recent round table discussion in Peel, Ontario.
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