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Report calls for better support – CASA

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations has released a policy paper advocating for “simpler systems and better supports” for international students in Canada.

CASA advocates for easier to navigate immigration processes. Photo: Pexels

The policy paper outlined CASA’s vision for international students, which it called "invaluable members of post-secondary communities"

CASA argued that international students face a number of challenges while in the country and outlined a series of proposals for the federal government to improve the mobile student experience.

“We know that international students are having trouble navigating the immigration system, that they often have difficulties integrating, that they’re facing large financial burdens, and that their work opportunities are limited,” CASA Executive Director Manjeet Birk told The PIE News.

“The extra permit that they need… is a bureaucratic nightmare that makes little sense”

“These are all important issues.”

Emphatically titled Value Beyond the Dollars and Cents: International Students’ Contributions to Canada and Their Need for Supports, the policy paper outlined CASA’s vision for international students, “invaluable members of post-secondary communities.”

Among its recommendations, the report argued for removing some of the barriers to work students face, calling for work rights for part-time international students, and for the ability to participate in co-ops and internships under the study permit.

“We are working to raise awareness about the barriers that international students face when trying to participate in a co-op placement or gain work experience here in Canada,” Birk said.

“The extra permit that they need… is a bureaucratic nightmare that makes little sense,” she claimed.

Another area CASA is particularly focused on is allowing knowledgeable post-secondary staff to give immigration advice to international students again, after article 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act 2001 barred them from doing so.

CASA will bring these two issues to the attention of ministers, MPs, and senators at its Advocacy Week event in the autumn.

The paper also called for increased merit- and need-based financial aid for international students, the expansion of the Student Refugee Program, and for easier routes to navigate immigration processes and pathways to citizenship.

CASA has started a petition on its website on these points and has included them in its 2019 pre-budget submission.

In a recent survey by CBIE, some international students reported difficulties finding employment in Canada.

The major challenge was not having enough work experience, but some students cited a sense of employer discrimination against international work experience, cultural differences and the difficulty of finding time to network.

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