Gleaned from individual visa offices in 2012, the published times range from two weeks in Santiago Chile and 15 weeks in Manilla, Philippines, to 25 weeks in Islamabad, Pakistan. In its guidance, however, CIC advises all students to apply “at least four to six months prior to the start of classes”.
Overseas, Overwhelmed, a blog for Canadian international educators, said that publishing the information would provide clarity to the market.
“One of the key facets to a student’s decision-making relates to the projected time taken to process a study permit”
“There is no question that the more the Canadian government on a market-by-market basis can run out front and make it clear what to expect, the better at least that it will engender respect, if not fondness, for its processing times.”
Despite its keenness to increase international enrolments, Canada has struggled with visa processing delays in the last few years. Many blame spending cuts at CIC which have led to visa office closures and understaffing during peak periods. Last month, The PIE News reported that delays had stretched to seven months and forced some students to defer their programmes.
When compared with Australia, Canada does offer competitive processing in some markets, says Overseas, Overwhelmed. In India and China, for example, it takes 2 and 5 weeks respectively compared with up to three months in Australia.
But, says the blog, “In some high volume, and yes high fraud markets, [Canadian] processing times are well outside Australia’s outer limits of three months for 75% of cases.” It flags Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa.
In its guidance, CIC advises students to apply online (all students can do this as of December 2012) or use Visa Application Centres – privately run operations that assist with applications. It also urges students to get medical exams and police certificates in good time, submit all required documents, and fill in application forms completely.
“In some high volume markets processing times are well outside Australia’s outer limits of three months”
Overseas, Overwhelmed praised the “massive strides” CIC had made in China and India but said it needed to stay abreast of the processing timelines of key competitor countries.
“One of the key facets to a student’s decision-making relates to the projected time taken to process a study permit,” it said.
“The challenge is making sure we limit the risk of granting study permits to those who don’t deserve them, while also trying to reduce the risk we lose deserving students who are deterred by long processing times.”