International students coming to Canada overcome many hurdles as they seek to start fall courses

A potential student from Pakistan who will enroll at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver says she is “panicking step by step” as she crosses the hurdles to get her education, made much more difficult by COVID-19.

Zohra Shahabuddin said she has spent sleepless nights worrying about gathering her documents for her student visa application to Canada.

His visa was approved last week. She will prepare for her Masters in Publishing.

“I haven’t had the chance to be excited to come to Vancouver,” she said with a laugh.

“My mind is busy. First it was the visa, now it’s the flights and quarantine.”

International students coming to Canada this year as COVID-19 cases rise and fall in various parts of the world face many obstacles such as visa backlogs, lack of vaccinations, quarantine measures and fewer thefts available.

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the department continued to accept and process study permit applications throughout the pandemic.

It updated its website to show that full study permit applications submitted for the fall 2021 semester by May 15 would be processed by August 6. However, some requests may take longer because they are incomplete, spokeswoman Nancy Caron said in a statement.

“In the context of the global pandemic and the challenges associated with it, we wanted to provide a target date for those who plan to start their studies in the fall,” she said.

The department issued nearly 100,000 study permits in the first four months of 2021, up from around 66,000 during the same period last year and around 96,000 from January to April 2019, she said. declared.

Muhammad Saad was admitted to Centennial College in Toronto for a diploma in project management and received his first injection of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

He said he was worried about getting this second shot.

“It depends on the supplies,” he said. “My second dose is in mid-July. I hope the vaccine will be available in Pakistan at that time.”

At some universities, students who do not have access to a vaccine before moving in will have 14 days to do so. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Several universities will require students living in residence to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in September.

Students who cannot access a vaccine before moving in will have 14 days to do so, said Sandy Welsh, vice-president of students at the University of Toronto.

Western University also said those without access to vaccines will have 14 days to get vaccinated on campus.

Those who are not fully vaccinated will need to follow federal government requirements, Caron said.

To be considered fully vaccinated, persons entering Canada will need to prove that they have received both vaccines or a combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or a dose of Johnson & Johnson at least 14 days prior to entering. the country, she added.

Shahabuddin said that means she will have to find an additional $ 2,000 to stay in quarantine. She plans to get the vaccine after arriving in Canada.

“As an international student I’m already paying a lot of money,” she said. It is an additional expense. “

Many universities offer accommodation for quarantine.

Welsh said students will be offered transportation from the airport, daily health check calls and other supports.

Shahabuddin’s next concern is getting sick while traveling, along with the medical bills that would follow.

These are the same concerns the Canadian Federation of Students has heard from others, said Bipin Kumar, the organization’s international student representative.

“At least one of the things we’re hearing is whether the supplemental health insurance offered by private companies would cover students, in case they get sick from travel,” he said.

“Much of the trip would happen before they arrive in Canada, and generally insurance is only valid after they register on or after September 1.”

The federation is working with universities and provincial governments to get more details, he said.

Ali Hassan, who has been accepted to York University in Toronto, said the visa process is moving slowly and he may not have time to travel, so he is happy the university is offering online course.

“But I’m a little worried,” he said, adding that he checked his emails several times a day to get her approval.

“I’m very hopeful,” added Hassan. “I’m hopeful that I can come to Canada this fall.”

A number of universities will be offering a mix of online and in-person courses this semester as students work their way through the hurdles caused by the pandemic.

Matthew Ramsey, director of media relations at the University of British Columbia, said students will have the option to take courses online if they are unable to travel to Canada this semester.

“We will work with them on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they can access their courses, whether online or in person. “

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