Earlier in the year, IRCC told students that if they sent their applications in by May 15, they would have them processed by August 6, 2021. 

“We have seen a number of our international applicants decide to defer their start of the programs to January 2022”

However, some students who sent their applications by this date have not received an answer – something that IRCC said is down to students sending incomplete applications. Others who sent applications after the May 15 date are also waiting for their visas to be processed. 

As a result, some students are deferring their start dates and large numbers are still studying online instead of reaching Canadian campuses. 

“We have seen a number of our international applicants decide to defer their start of the programs to January 2022 with a hope to be able to travel to Canada in-person to start their programs,” Anuraj Bajwa, dean, international and partnerships at Mohawk College in Ontario, told The PIE. 

“We have been very supportive of their requests and have also been discussing offering a few programs which normally would only be offered in September intakes to be offered in January intake.”

Bajwa said that Mohawk currently has 500 students studying online from outside Canada, who are expected to travel to the country in the next few months. 

This compares with just over 730 students, who have travelled into Canada to attend classes over the last two to three months. These students belong to semester one and also upper semesters.   

“The delay in processing of study permit applications due to the situation created by Covid-19 has been a challenge for the last year or so, for international students as well as the educational institutions,” Bajwa added. 

“Added to that, the safety related precautionary measures taken by the Canadian government in the form of travel restrictions as well as ban on direct flights from India, which created a lot of uncertainties in the lives of our students who were looking forward to studying at Mohawk College from inside Canada,” he said. Limited direct flights from India to Canada have begun again in September.

A significant increase in applications this year

“Nearly 29,000 study permit applications were identified as part of this commitment”

As of August 2021 IRCC had processed close to 370,000 study permit applications. The same period last year saw about 100,000 study permit applications processed.

Earlier this year, IRCC committed to processing, by August 6, complete study permit applications that were received by May 15. 

“Nearly 29,000 study permit applications were identified as part of this commitment. Of those, only 80 were not yet processed as of August 6,” IRCC told The PIE. 

However, IRCC acknowledged that applications that were incomplete or that required additional information were not part of IRCC’s processing commitment. 

The agency told The PIE News that it has many applications in it’s processing inventory that are incomplete and that these applications can’t be finalised until applicants are able to provide biometrics, immigration medical examinations, police certificates or other missing documents.

Those students who sent incomplete applications were not accepted or refused- leaving students without an answer. 

IRCC is processing complete applications submitted after May 15, 2021, as quickly as possible.

A newsletter sent to Colleges and Institutes Canada members earlier in September explained that approximately 60,000 applications completed (approximately 24,000 from India and 3,700 from France) after that date remain to be processed.

The organisation said that it understood the backlog would be cleared by the end of September. The PIE contacted IRCC to confirm these numbers but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

These delays around processing have also resulted in deferrals. 

“There were certainly some students who applied later who didn’t receive approval in time for school start,” the Canadian Association of Public Schools- International’s executive director Bonnie McKie told The PIE. 

“At this point most of these students have deferred to the second semester to February starts or to November depending on the structure of the school year.”

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