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Canadian colleges pilot express visas for Vietnam

A streamlined visa programme for Vietnamese students looking to study at colleges in Canada has begun its pilot phase this month. The scheme aims to cut visa processing times to two months or less from the current five, and will require students to show less financial documentation.

The Canada Express Study Program is in response to high demand from Vietnamese students to study at Canada's publicly supported colleges, institutes, cégeps and polytechnics. Photo: Embassy of Canada to Vietnam.The Canada Express Study Program is in response to high demand from Vietnamese students to study at Canada's publicly supported colleges, institutes, cégeps and polytechnics. Photo: Embassy of Canada to Vietnam.

The scheme aims to cut visa processing times to two months or less from the current five

The 18-month Canada Express Study Program pilot will be available to students who have gained admission to study at the 38 participating Colleges and Institutes Canada members.

Students will be required to pay the tuition fee for one year and purchase a Guaranteed Investment Certificate from the Scotiabank of CAD$10,000 to cover living expenses for their first year of stay.

Paul Brennan, vice president of international partnerships at CICan, said the programme has been developed in response to increasing demand from Vietnamese students by the organisation’s members.

“This will hopefully bring us more in line with the US, the UK and Australia, who are attracting thousands of students”

“We have a few hundred students, but the five months’ time to process and relatively low approval rates for colleges and institutes were a disincentive to apply to Canada,” he said.

“This will hopefully bring us more in line with the US, the UK and Australia, who are attracting thousands of students.”

The Consulate General of Canada in Ho Chi Minh City, the Embassy of Canada in Hanoi, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), are collaborating with CICan in the initiative.

In addition to simpler proof of funds through the GICs, letters of offer from colleges will also be streamlined into a set form that meets the core needs of immigration Canada and allows them to assess more rapidly, said Brennan.

Applicants will need to show an overall IELTS score of 5.0, with no band less than 4.5, submit their visa within 60 days prior to the start date of their course and undergo a medical examination at least one week before submitting their application.

The scheme resembles the Student Partners’ Project launched in 2009 initially offering streamlined visa processing to Indian students. Results show approval rates increased from 38% to 75%, and contributed significantly to the rise in Indian student enrolments from 1,200 in 2008 to 14,000 last year. The SPP was introduced for Chinese students in 2011.

If successful, Brennan said the CES will be extended to other key student source countries. “Next on the list is Nigeria which has excellent students but also a number of institutional challenges,” he commented.

With 135 members, CICan is a national, voluntary membership organisation representing publicly supported colleges, institutes, cégeps and polytechnics in Canada and internationally.

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