Multiple internal government reviews have revealed delays and errors in visa processing in Canada, seeing processing times increase by a third for study permits and double for permanent residence permits.
The Canadian Bureau for International Education and Colleges and Institutes Canada are two of the latest Canadian international education associations to win funding from the government’s Global Opportunities for Associations programme for the year 2014-15.
Canada’s longest public service workers’ strike, which affected some 100,000 inbound international students, has come to an end after the PAFSO reached a tentative agreement with the Canadian government, late last week. The strike, which began on 2 April, has cost the Canadian economy CAN$1 billion so far while creating a backlog of visa applications for international students.
A strike by Canada’s foreign services workers that has caused lengthy visa processing delays may be nearing an end, after the government accepted an arbitration offer from the union involved in the crisis. While PAFSO is still considering the governments terms, Gonzalo Peralta, the head of Languages Canada, said that the international education sector could expect to see improvements in the next few months.
Nova Scotia has become the first Canadian province to regulate language schools under law. This aligns with the federal government’s requirement that all schools be "designated" by their province to recruit overseas from Jan 2014, but goes a step further, applying not just to long-term study permit visas, but also short-term visas.
Canadian language schools are facing uncertainty over new proposals to tighten up the student visa system. One concern is a requirement that provinces decide which educators can and cannot accept foreign students, which could leave some language schools overlooked. Work-study "co-op" programmes – an important segment of the market – could also be abolished.
In a bid to tackle persisting student visa delays, Canadian Immigration and Citizenship has published a list of projected processing times for different country markets, along with guidelines for students on speeding up the application process. Observers say the move will provide clarity to the market.
Visa processing delays are hampering international recruitment efforts across the tertiary, language and schools sectors in Canada, with one institution even claiming that visa barriers forced her to close her business temporarily. Immigration and Citizenship Canada blames a surge in demand for Canadian education, but others say spending cuts are at fault.