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Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Visa processing time frames for the January 2013 intake.

Admittedly, we might be a little early off the mark in some cases as we are using our own reasonable but not statistically significant baselines as gathered from applicants via the Canadian University Application Centre (CUAC). Nonetheless, we hope there is utility in our quick assessments, as well as some editorial advice we offer in the following issue of Vis à vis Visas. Note our primary focus is in respect of students bound for university degrees, with significant attention for diploma-bound students, all strictly with a framework of Provincially-funded institutions.

For the two overwhelmingly most important countries in the international student recruitment field, India and China – Canadian visa operations performed exceedingly well in terms of speed and efficiency. Study permit turnarounds from application to decision were consistently within the 4 to 6 week period, and often well shorter. Canada has never made any pretense of competing with its primary country competitors on study permit processing speed (some of which can offer service in a day or days). But where it has managed to wrestle time frames and predictability to in or around one month, the brand benefit for all of Canada’s institutions has been significant.

Other offices with significant volumes which were able to process on predictable and reasonably quick time lines in our range of experience were Singapore (for Bangladesh), Pakistan, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.

Noteworthy lags were found in South Africa (for applicants from the region) and in Nigeria. It seems the principal delay pertained to the time taken after medicals were approved. Final decisions were not made for in excess of 4 weeks from the time of medicals being administered (and ultimately approved). However, there was also significant time required for the first phase in Nigeria – this has been the case for several years as volumes there are significant, and resourcing always comparatively stretched. This year considerable staff turnover may well have exacerbated the time frames taken.

Nonetheless, into the second week of the New Year, files were still being approved in all of the mentioned centres. For those being granted the study permit, this was welcome, but also posed considerable challenges for students in terms of travel and housing logistics as well as class-time missed.

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