Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Visa Rejections Frustrate Efforts to Bring in More International Students

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Visa Rejections Frustrate Efforts to Bring in More International Students

Article excerpt

Concerns over Canadian student visa refusals


OTTAWA - At a time when Canada is attracting more students from around the world, there are concerns qualified applicants from certain countries are getting turned away because of its visa process.

Most students have been coming to Canada in recent years from India and China. Fazley Siddiq, a University of New Brunswick professor who served as dean of the business department, said visas have been a headache for applicants from countries like Pakistan and Nigeria.

"It's frustrating for the students, it's frustrating for universities," Siddiq said.

"The security checks were so stringent that no one could make it. Or at least, in my experience, very few were given visas."

He added that the issue has been of particular concern in Atlantic Canada, where some universities are desperate for international students and "bend over backwards" to attract them.

Siddiq said the situation has improved for applicants from Nigeria, but those from Pakistan have continued to see more refusals -- in some years eight Pakistanis received acceptance letters from his department but none could get a visa.

Canada wants to draw in more international students as a way to diversify classrooms and increase the economic benefits they bring, which already amount to billions of dollars each year. The economic impacts of foreign students rival Canada's exports of auto parts, aircraft and lumber.

Pakistan's High Commission in Ottawa has urged federal government officials to address what its spokesman calls a "very high" visa rejection rate for the Asian country's students.

"Canadian universities are popular among Pakistani students, but due to visa difficulties increasing numbers of students is turning towards other countries," Nadeem Kiani said in an email.

"Consequently, Canadian universities are losing both high-quality students and revenue."

For example, Kiani pointed to numbers in government documents obtained through access-to-information law that show 2015 student permit applications from Pakistan had a success rate of about 32 per cent. …

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