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Thursday, February 21st, 2013

College visa gravy train derailed ?

“Sir, last year my friends got a visa for this same program,” was a common refrain from a refused visa applicant for a Canadian college post-graduate program at Canadian education fair this February in India. Is a shift taking place in terms of the massive movement of college applicants from India ? In the past few years, it was the college route billed by hundreds of agents in India as a “guaranteed visa” to Canada which fuelled the four and five times jump in the total number of Indian students going to Canada each year. Yes, the fact that Australia and the UK is now saying “No” to the similar crop and profile of students, means Canada has become the choice destination for many more. Very few applicants are academically eligible for a Masters degree in Canada (due to the high standards of most Canadian university graduate programs) but many fit quite nicely into a post graduate diploma or certificate stream at a community college. The challenge is that the college post-graduate area entertains many individuals who may be admissible, but are not serious students, hoping to use a student visa as the basis for working and staying on in Canada.

What Canadian visa officials have been finding out is that you can’t just take in 15,000 such students in the past few years with the same likelihood of them being academically focussed students as a Bachelor or Masters degree bound student. Visa officers knew this before, but the pressure was clearly on them to dramatically increase the intake and the Student Partners Program (SPP) via college admissions was the vehicle. That vehicle experienced quite a few crashes, and the more cautious approach which may now be driving decisions on such applicants is resulting in a lot more visa refusals. Hence the current frustration of Indian applicants holding a visa refusal letter when similar and even poorer profiles are now in Canada. It’s also you don’t see the SPP being marketed in India as a “guaranteed visa” for Canada.

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