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Canada: students demand answers on Québec visa processing

International students seeking to study in Québec, Canada are facing extreme stress as a result of delays in study visa issuance and extra checks being made relating to certain institutions in this Canadian province, after processing was suspended at the end of 2020.

Students waiting for visas to be processed say they are facing mental health issues, including depression. Photo: pexels

Students have highlighted that students who have waited the longest are not being prioritised

Some students – mainly from India – have waited since early 2020 for their visas to be processed, with one telling The PIE they first applied over 49 weeks ago. The usual time study permits for Indian students to be processed according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is nine weeks.

The province suspended international applications at 10 institutions, where it identified “dubious” international student recruitment practices.

While processing has resumed, the government is continuing investigations and verifications that students say are slowing down the process.

Despite orchestrated efforts via social media to raise awareness of the waiting times they face, the students do not have a clear indication as to when their visas will be processed. Many feel ignored by the government, they say.

Our mental health is at stake”

It is not clear how many students have been affected by the delays, but students claim the true number is in the thousands. At the time of publication, IRCC had not responded to requests for comment from The PIE.

We are attending online classes and paying huge amount of tuition fees, and going through very stressful conditions. Our mental health is at stake,” one student said.

“We are comprised with our health, wealth and studies in the very golden years of our age, and our fault is we decided to study in Québec,” another explained. Several applicants said they were feeling suicidal as a result of depression.

With at least CAN$10,000 spent on a Guaranteed Investment Certificate, along with tuition fees of more than $15,000, many have said they have taken high interest loans in India to fund their studies.

petition was started by a student who said that he has spent $30,000 to study at a college in Québec and is claiming that IRCC is giving priority to new files, rather than those applications that were first made in 2020. Another petition appealing to the IRCC has over 25,000 signatures.

Some also voiced concerns that the IELTS results used for evidence in applications may expire before permits are approved, which will result in additional time and financial costs.

In late 2020, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration in Québec issued a decree suspending the processing of international applications at 10 institutions as a result of “dubious” international student recruitment practices.

Affected institutions included:

  • M College of Canada;
  • Matrix College of Management, Technology and Healthcare;
  • Canada College inc.;
  • Herzing College (Institute);
  • CDE College;
  • Montréal College of Information Technology;
  • Institut supérieur d’informatique (ISI);
  • Universel College – Gatineau Campus;
  • Collège CDI;
  • Montréal Campus of Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles.

A Superior Court of Québec decision on January 12 – requested by the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles – found that the suspension constituted a “significant inconvenience” for students.

The ministry said it had resumed the reception and processing of applications on a temporary basis for students who had already submitted documents, but investigations and verifications carried out by the ministry of Higher Education are continuing.

One affected institution – CDI College in Montreal – said, following the ruling on January 12, that “all temporary selection applications will be processed within a normal timeframe”, including those for foreign students registered at CDI College and whose Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) expires between December 2020 and March 2021.

In a statement to The PIE, associate regional director of operations at CDI College Mohamed Slimani urged the ministry to “make the necessary adjustments on its website so that the information reflects the current situation, and to communicate these changes to Immigration Canada so it can properly direct foreign students’ applications”. 

While IRCC has begun to process documents, students have highlighted that students who have waited the longest are not being prioritised.

“They are saying some internal inspection is going on over colleges and that’s why they are not issuing our results, but parallel they accept new applications and promote students to get admission in Québec colleges,” one student noted. “It’s two-faced IRCC. They don’t think about us and our conditions.”

Why this kind of inequality with Québec students?”

Why this kind of inequality with Québec students?” another asked.

Trying to get an answer from those responsible has also proved laborious, if not impossible.

“I applied for my visa application on November 20, 2020 for a January 2021 course in Montreal,” a student highlighted.

“But due to delay in decision I’ve deferred to March 2021 but now IRCC is not picking up applications of Québec province because of the CAQ suspension of 10 DLIs. Although, MIFI has lifted the suspension, the Canadian embassy is not responding to files and it suggests to communicate to Québec immigration.

“When we contact Québec immigration they say talk to IRCC. It’s been four months… it’s very stressful for us students. College is also not supporting us. We have nowhere to go now. We don’t have any option but to wait. And it’s been many months since we are waiting… but enough is enough. Please help us.”

Responding to questions from The PIE, provincial immigration authority MIFI declined to comment further on the “dubious” recruitment techniques it cited in order to “not prejudice the audits and investigations in progress”.

However, a spokesperson said that students should receive a decision on the CAQ [Québec Acceptance Certificate] – which many students say they are still waiting for – within a maximum of 20 days upon receipt of a complete application.

“Since the processing of study permit applications is the responsibility of the federal government, the Department cannot comment on processing times,” the MIFI spokesperson said.

Earlier in 2021, The PIE reported on international students facing mental health problems as a result of visa delays across Canada. Affected students that have applied to institutions in Québec have suggested that students are receiving their visa documents quicker if they have applied to study in other provinces.

“To simplify… we want our results as quickly as the other provinces’ students are getting [theirs],” one student told The PIE.

IRCC is “aware of the issues, particularly those that slip through the margins and we are working with their office to ensure those gaps are closed”, a spokesperson for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations said.

Universities Canada said it is “continuing to press the importance of ramping up visa processing  capacity with IRCC, while calling for  flexibility around biometric  and language testing  requirements, to ensure that students can get their visas in time for academic deadlines”.

“Canada’s university sector is continuing to respond to the ongoing pandemic by prioritising student health and safety,” it added.

And CBIE told The PIE, “IRCC is committed to working through a backlog of applications across the board resulting from the series of lockdowns and other public health measures that impacted their administrative processes.”

Its spokesperson added that “mental health and wellbeing for our students in Canada, both domestic and international, is a priority for our institutions”.

“Many health insurance providers also have wellness programs and apps available for students”

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has been working with the education sector to develop a National Standard for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students, which CBIE was consulted on to ensure mental health challenges and barriers faced by international students were identified and addressed.

Affected students are encouraged to seek immediate support.

Any students affected by mental health issues in this article are urged to contact these organisations for help:

Canada-wide mental health resources, Helplines across Canada: Lifeline AppMindshift AppEmentalhealth.caMorneau Shepell International Student Support ProgramGuard.meCares and Good2Talk

Update GMT 13:30 Feb 11, this story has been updated to include comment from CDI College.

Update GMT 14:30 Feb 11, IRCC response: 

“Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on the facts presented in the study permit application. An officer can seek additional information to help them make a final decision on an application.

“Study permit processing is continuing for applicants accepted to study at one of the designated learning institutions identified as being under investigation by Quebec. However, while Quebec’s investigation is ongoing, additional checks and verifications may be necessary for officers to reach final decisions in these cases, resulting in slower processing.

“We understand that the situation can be stressful for international students waiting for their visa to come to Canada. People experiencing mental health issues should seek medical attention in their community.  

“The Government of Canada recognizes that international students bring tremendous economic, cultural and social benefits to Canada and annually contribute more than $21 billion to the economy. Working in cooperation with our partners in post-secondary education, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has introduced measures to support international students affected by COVID-19.

“Prior to [DLI Covid readiness plan] changes, very few international students were allowed to travel to Canada under the travel restrictions that had been in place since March. With the changes to travel restrictions in October, there has been an increase in study permit applications being finalized.                                                                                                                                                     

“Throughout the pandemic, amid health and travel restrictions, IRCC has adopted a number of student-specific facilitative measures.”

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39 Responses to Canada: students demand answers on Québec visa processing


  2. Im a international student, every parent wants their child to get good quality of education. From last six months including me , students are waiting for their finnal descion from candian emssby and now especially Quebec student are really under mental stress . Its humble request to take quick descion on student’s future
    Make focus on Quebec international student files

  3. Whats are fault why we are suffering for the investigation of those colleges… students taken admission in those colleges and trust them bcoz that colleges are in DLI list … so please give us visa… we are suffering we are suicidal 🥺 help us….#internationalstudentsquebec

  4. I took admission in CDI college in Jan 2020 and I have Yet to get a decision for my Visa application. Can you imagine how much stress me and family is going through with my money stuck and we paying back the loan we took from the bank without getting to study? Biggest mistake of my life is to choose Quebec as a study abroad destination.

  5. The processing is still slow and random processing of study permit is taking place, I have already started online classes and still I await the decision whereas students who lodged file after me and even they deferred got their decision. I don’t known what my future holds just because of the one decision I made that I choose Canada as my study abroad destination. still the processing is not done ! hope I get my decision before my academic deadline! My mental health is really disturb by this uncertainty IRCC has cause.

  6. Quebec student want their results like other provinces.I am waiting for my result since 5 month its too long and going into stressful life.My parents also feel stress because they have paid lot of money for my study.

  7. What is our fault ,why we are suffering due to suspension of college , i am waiting from last year and grosely depressed, IRCC please give us results This is totally unfair with International students of these 10 Colleges.

  8. I have submitted my visa file on March 18 2020 , because I applied to a Quebec I am not getting my visas . Immigration is processing new files faster avoiding the waiting time of study permit principal applicants. They are not processing in order. They are enjoying with our mental troubles

  9. We want Justice for Quebec Students . Don’t leave us alone here in India we Love Canada we need Jobs We need Money We have sacrificed a lot….plzz Give us Justice

  10. I am also studied in one of the Quebec colleges in September 2020 and studying online my first semester is going to be finished but still waiting for the results. We are Just studying but nothing is in our hands. Our future is at stake. We all are suffering but IRCC has to pay attention towards these students who have waiting for a long period of time.


  11. I am an international student from PAKISTAN and I have also invested huge amount of money, time and energy to study Masters in Canadian University.

    Nearly 35000 CAD have been paid for fulfilling the requirements for the SDS study visa. This visa was meant to he processed in 20 days for which we payed more than regulat visa.

    But PAKISTANI students are the most discriminated in processing of study permits. We are delayed and rejected for no solid reason.

    Why only PAKISTANI students ? We have paid the money you want and every single requirement is fulfilled.

    Despite pandemic many other countries like UK Australia are processing Study Visas in time unlike IRCC

    Kindly listen to a voice from PAKISTAN.

  12. what are our faults. Please give result to Quebec students or please clear why the files are not being processed. Every student is waiting for the results, please dont play with emotion and future if student. Please given results🙏🙏🙏

  13. I’m apply my file in sep18 2020 i am waiting from soo long time please give my any feedback because I am in trouble after two months my IELTS also expired and you don’t start giving Quebec results please try too understand my situation please give me any revert…

  14. Sadly, this is not only happening on Quebec. We finish everything that we need to do to get our student visa to Nova Scotia, even travelled 3.000 Km to give our biometrics, and since December/2020 we are waiting for a decision on our visa. My wife is already on her second semester, she had to drop some classes (as they were in person classes). We are struggling everyday with the pressure that we can’t do long term decisions here in Brazil because any moment they can finally approve our visa.

    I hope this article brings up a new light in the whole situation and can help us all, because – by god – it’s not funny anymore.

  15. I have taken 11lakhs of education loan and its been already 1year and I have to start repaying it from next year.And still there is no response of my Quebec visa and I am mentally distrubed on hoW to repay my loan by studying from India Without having any job.

  16. I have not applied to Quebec, but Manitoba and I face the same problem like millions of other int students. It’s unfair that the website says that my visa is in the process when clearly it’s not, I’ve been waiting for months and I really question whether there’s anything being processed at all. It says that our mental health is their top priority, is that why they’ve left us completely in the dark about it all and most importantly the unknown factor that whether I’ll even get my visa or not. I could simply be rejected and the two semesters of online class with extreme time differences I managed somehow despite extreme mental stress could all go to waste. There’s no assuring here, there’s no support here, other than the good ol’ helplines. We’re being treated like we don’t even exist when there’s millions of us. All I want is to go to Canada so I can take classes at normal hours. I don’t demand we open everything amidst the pandemic, just a little consideration about us. The most IRCC can do for us is at least give us a time frame , an estimated one, may it be months more, some sort of answer would be more than enough but that also seems impossible to get. There’s no one to hold responsible, we are just some int students that pay full fees in hopes of a better future and it’s disturbing how easily they can just shut us out and not respond or process an visas for a year. The wait seems never ending, please give us a response. This is seriously affecting all of us in all the worst ways possible.

  17. For all those complaining about Quebec, the province is actually trying to protect you from receiving a substandard education. I would switch to another college and take this as a warning sign.

  18. I took admission in cdi college in march 2020 for july intake then, I deffered 3 times now, my classes are going to start in may 2021 it’s been 7 months to lodged my application and also complete my biometrics please do not play with our future. We are on the verge of committing suicide because we are losting our golden years of study and also becoming hopeless. Please have mercy for us.

  19. I am from india and applied at matrix college from last year march 2020 but fdidnt get any result we are messed up with this dont force students to commit something wrong due to stress please help quebec bound students .

  20. Pleare understand the situation of quebec students.what’s our fault. Please give us final decision asap. Our biggest mistake to choose quebec province and you guys even not giving single result to cdi college. Please help us we are waiting since one and half year.

  21. This whole admission process staged by Canadian Government is a SCAM. They have no intentions to allow international students to come and study in Canada, but want their money to keep their universities floating. Justin Trudeau is only worried about his political abitions to retain his position and damn cares for anyone in Canada, forgt what he will care of international students. Let all international students should raise a common voice and expose this country and their ill hearted scams. Let everyone who is suffering should go to social media and trend for AVOID STUDYING IN CANADA, DUMP CANADAIN UNIVERSITIES 2021. This way all who are suffering can teach a lesson to Justin Trudeau when Canadian universities will close down in lack of international student who are the real source of funds to these universities and pensioners in Canada.

  22. All the students who have applied in other province’s colleges are getting their visa at a very fast pace, whereas we who have chosen Montreal for our studies are waiting and waiting AND WAITING!, How many times you will ask us to wait?, there is a limit to everything. We want our results, we are getting depressed because of your delays. You guys have marked a full stop on our dreams, carrier, ambitions. What more do you want from us students Patience? Don’t even ask we don’t have any.

  23. Ii have applied my applicant file from feb 2020 but process is not proceeding in a good manner and semester is continuosly id deferred to the next …..i am many mental issues as my parents have paid a huge amount of fee so that i could study from a good institute ……

  24. I have applied my applicant file from feb 2020 but process is not proceeding in a good manner and semester is continuosly deferred to the next …..i am facing many mental issues as my parents have paid a huge amount of fee so that i could study from a good institute ……

  25. I applied complete file on march 14 and biometric on 17 march but still waiting for passport reqst plzzz give us result .I am very stressed .it is effecting my mental health .plzz process march complete files.

  26. I have taken ₹ 17 lakh loan to study in canada and I am taking online classes after spending thousands of dollars on my study and paying interest on my loan. More than that I applied on 17th of march 2020 and see February 2021 is going on,and I can’t even expect when will I get decision on my application.
    Ircc just demanding for new and new documents despite giving decision.After lodging my file, I got approval in principle after 6 months and after 10 months I had demanded for LOA and then in January I got my medical updated.
    I was happy that soon i will get decision. But unfortunately I got new medical request in February. Isn’t it horrible?
    You can’t even think ,from what kind of situation we are going through.
    # Frustrated, irritated, anxiety, stress, everything is there. But our visa decision is still not there.
    Fed up of waiting.I am dying 😑

  27. I applied in july 2020 in cdi for September intake and attending online classes from October onwards but still no final result. Please raise voice on behave of us so that we cant go under depression. i already left my job and its hectic to take classes till midnight

  28. I have applied my file on 9 sep 2020 and biometrics done on 4 of dec but still waiting for my visa…. Now i am very depressed and also facing the mental illness but the canadian govt are not understanding the situation of us….. Its my humble request to Canadian govt plzzzzzzz plzzzzzzzzz give us decision as sooon as possible……..

  29. hello Maninderpal Singh this side.i m waiting from last 7 8 months for the results.sbmitted my file in one of that college which is in suspended list and my class mates and mme all are in mental stresss because not getting the decision..Not giving the decisons ruining the life and helth of all the students. please look into this matter we are not fools…ircc saying talk to quebec gvrnment and they are saying tlak to ircc where is your transparency you are not doing a good job.. sir pls give decisions asap….. its a humble request now my evrything is updated on file and studying online and stil nt getting results dont makee international students fooool pls its a request now with folded hands

  30. Hi, waiting for the results from last 8 months approximately. Non can imagine that how stressful it is. We request to process the files of students decided to take admission in Quebec colleges. We are loosing interest to our studies since we have no idea where and what to proceed. We kindly request to make decision on those files. Even, some of the colleges are not conducting correspondence schedule without any sort of pre-approval from the high commision. I really dont know how the things are proceeding, but this needs to be solved ASAP. We are additionally taking private classes to support our learnings and waiting for the results. Help us plz. Try to give results before our acedamic deadlines.
    Thank you

  31. Applied CDI in july, no AIP yet, hence not able to take online classes even, have to go additionally for private tutions nearby to protect my learning abilities. Therefore, took deferment for march 2021 hoping the results may reveal before the LOA deadline, but there is nothing yet. Feeling stuck.

  32. Yes…we are waiting for a long time…if this happen tban in future no student will go in montral…please provise results to students who apllied in quebac…Ircc ask the silly answer that process late due to covid 19 but than how they provide other cities results smoothly

  33. This is completely unfair with Quebec students.if ircc don’t want to process our files then please give clear statement rather than making us fool.

  34. It’s way too much. I applied for a visit Visa to see my partner 8 months ago and NOTHING. I even have an exemption. I find myself sick every day because of how much I think about it. I can no longer be patient, we need answers!!

    I personally know many people that got their visas in 2 weeks. It really sucks.

    I hope it works out for everyone soon

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