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Stuck at home: TMU international students struggle with delays in acquiring student permits

By Yanika Saluja

With Immigration Canada experiencing a large application backlog, international students at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) are encountering delays in receiving their student permits.

After months of waiting for their permits, international students say the delays are not only adding stress due to piling assignments, but they’re also struggling to meet new people while stuck abroad.

“The delay in my Visa makes me unable to attend classes and meet new classmates,” said Bingwin Wu, a first-year hospitality and tourism student from Japan.

“It’s absolutely very stressful to be in this situation and we are only allowed to wait,” said Wu. “There is nothing else I can do.”

Wu applied for her Visa in June 2022 and has still not received any updates from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

Wu feels that, by being forced to remain online, she is missing out on the in-person class experience. 

“It’s a pity that I couldn’t attend the first in-person classes,” said Wu. “I was very excited to be in-person.”

However, Wu added that she is trying to prioritize her mental health and manage her stress levels by spending as much time with her family and friends as possible and acknowledging that these issues are out of her control.

“I think I am able to deal with the stress and uncertainty because I think everything happens for a reason,” said Wu.

Unnati Madan, a first-year business management student from India, has been waiting for two-and-a-half months for her Visa to arrive, resulting in constant stress due to uncertainty.

Madan was hoping to have received her Visa before this month, so that she could have participated in classes in-person. 

However, since she was unable to receive it in time, she had to pivot to online learning, causing her to lose a class she was looking forward to.

“I had to drop one of my favourite classes because it could only be in-person,” said Madan. “It’s frustrating.”

According to Ashish Agarwal, students around the world, especially in Toronto, are facing substantial difficulties in getting their Visas. 

Agarwal is a Canadian immigration consultant, licensed by the Government of Canada. He specializes in helping students in India get into universities and colleges in Canada and assists with the corresponding Visa process, with offices in both India and Toronto. 

He said due to the delay in their applications, a lot of students have had to defer their semester and delay their plans.

“A lot of students didn’t want to study online and the universities were giving an option to study online,” said Agrawal.

“Parents have been worried, especially because they want their kids to pursue their career in time,” he added.

According to the IRCC, in the first quarter of 2022, 175,000 study permit applications were received and are in the process of being reviewed.

At TMU, International Student Support (ISS) said they have been working to provide the best experience for international students who are still overseas. 

ISS said they are trying to include international students now and make them feel as comfortable as possible when they arrive in Canada. 

“We welcome and support newcomers to Canada as they adjust to the new Canadian environment and culture,” said TMU in an email to The Eyeopener.

The ISS has a team of International Student Advisors who can help provide group immigration advice both in-person and online for students who are still abroad.

The ISS added that it continues to consider the difficulties of international students continuing their studies online and has developed an “Action Plan.” The Plan provides appointments to students who are in need of assistance with their academics, finances and social transitions. 

Students can also attend workshops and meditation sessions run by the ISS.

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