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Canada: int’l students hold vigil for classmate

A group of 23 international students in Ontario have held a vigil for a classmate who took his own life after losing his status to stay in Canada when his post-graduate work visa application was denied.

A gofundme account has been set up to help the family of Ajesh Chopra pay for funeral arrangements. Photo: gofundme.com

A peaceful vigil was held by Chopra's classmates to highlight the tragedy and honour the student's death

According to reports, the student, Ajesh Chopra, was one of several St. Clair College international graduates caught in limbo as a result of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s denial of such permits in recent months.

“Our parents are paying extra, but that can’t go on forever”

Originally from India, Chopra had recently graduated from an International Business Management program and had planned to continue with his studies to complete a four-month Freight Forwarding Logistics course.

However, when the students applied for the work permit at the end of the additional course, they were told they had missed the 90-day deadline for application, one source told The PIE News.

Speaking about the permit denial, John Fairley, the college’s vice-president of communications and community relations told the Windsor Star that St Clair has been running the programs for two years and this has “never happened before”.

He said the college has reached out to IRCC minister Ahmed Hussen for advice, along with local MPs and government officials.

However, just days after attempting to discuss his plight with US border guards, which reportedly resulted in having his passport taken away, Chopra’s body was pulled from the St. Lawrence River.

In response, a peaceful vigil was held by Chopra’s classmates to highlight the tragedy and honour the 25-year-old’s death.

Go-Fund-Me account has also been set up to raise money for funeral expenses and pay for Chopra’s family to fly from India to Montreal.

Speaking at the vigil, Chopra’s classmate Arjun Verma refused to blame the visa denial entirely for the student’s action but said an unexpected change in policy has greatly ramped up the stress on many students.

Another student, Ramanjeet Kaur, who was also denied a work permit described the situation as “very stressful”, and that the students just want some answers before their funds run out.

“People came here with dreams, but the dreams are scattering because of this change,” he said.

“Our parents are paying extra, but that can’t go on forever.”

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