Late last year, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration in Québec issued a decree suspending the processing of international applications at 10 institutions as a result of “dubious” international student recruitment practices.
“We are feeling frustrated, harassed and depressed”
Since then the ministry said it had resumed the reception and processing of applications on a temporary basis for students who had already submitted documents.
However students told The PIE News that are still waiting for their applications to be processed. In response, they held protests in Chandigarh, India, in front of the office of the General Consulate of Canada and handed applications to a member of staff.
“Many of those students have been attending online classes since fall 2020 without having any surety they will have a visa or not,” one of the students who was at the protest told The PIE.
“Our money is deposited in those ten colleges. We are feeling frustrated, harassed and depressed,” they added.
Please process March 2020 student Visa applications. pic.twitter.com/ARqS1niOgC
— Love numberdar (@Love_numberdar) April 7, 2021
As of yet the students who took part in the protest said that they had not received an official response from the Canadian authorities.
Delays happening across Canada
The PIE learnt that many students from institutions that weren’t featured on the list of ten Québec institutions are still waiting for their visas to be processed. This includes students who applied to institutions in other provinces and territories.
The PIE worked with international students to put together a data set to better understand how many of them are still waiting for their visas to be processed.
Some 519 students provided information about their applications. Of these responses 486 were from students who had applied for a study permit in either 2019 or 2020 but who had still not received PPR.
“I have raised plenty of webforms and submitted the fresh documents but nobody cares”
While the overall majority of these students had applied to one of the ten Québec colleges that had applications suspended, a significant number of students (165) had applied to institutions that aren’t on the list.
This means that students are still facing significant delays from provinces and territories across Canada and not just Québec. For example there were 129 students who had applied to Ontario-based institutions in 2019/2020 and still have not received a response.
“It’s been more than 14 months that I have been waiting for my study visa approval. I lodged my file in February 2020 with complete documents but then Covid-19 happened and I am still waiting for my visa. I have raised plenty of webforms and submitted the fresh documents but nobody cares,” one student studying online at an Ontario college told The PIE.
Reports from immigration consultants also appear to show that some students who have applied for the May 2021 and September 2021 intake have had their applications processed.
Students who applied for their visas over a year ago told The PIE that they believe that IRCC is not prioritising the backlog of applications over new applications.
The PIE contacted IRCC for comment on the students’ concerns but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Serious mental health concerns
Earlier this year The PIE reported on how visa processing delays have been affecting the mental health of students.
While speaking with a number of Indian students, the pressure of the delays was apparent. Two students told The PIE that they were suicidal and many others said that they were suffering from depression.
In a previous response concerning the mental health impact that the processing delays have had on students IRCC told The PIE: “We understand that the situation can be stressful for international students waiting for their visa to come to Canada. People experiencing mental health issues should seek medical attention in their community.”