Canada is stupid to snub international graduate and university students

By Katrina Plamondon of the University of British Columbia, Melisa Valverde of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Susan J. Elliott of the University of Waterloo Toronto, July 19 (The Conversation) In January 2017, Donald Trump, then President of the United States, banned entry into the United States of persons from predominantly Muslim countries.

In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed Canada as an open and welcoming nation.

But some criticized Trudeau’s #WelcomeToCanada tweet, calling it a signal of virtue and saying it offered false hope and perpetuated a misrepresentation of Canadian immigration practices.

Despite Trudeau’s welcoming words and the general public’s perception of Canada as a friendly and welcoming place, many who attempt to come to our country find themselves faced with decidedly unwelcoming realities.

Canadian universities welcome thousands of visiting students each year. According to a report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, many of them come from low- and middle-income countries to bring diversity, talent and knowledge to communities across the country, while helping to create an economic boon.

The report highlights the immense impact of significant delays at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Between 2016 and 2020, more than half a million people were denied a study permit in Canada.

Many of these exceptional individuals were already qualified and accepted into leading programs and often sponsored through Canadian research grants and fellowships. These brilliant minds probably chose to pursue their studies elsewhere or not at all. Denials of IRCC study permits and visas are a tragedy for them and a great loss for Canada.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times for international student permit applications have more than doubled. Instead of the standard 60 days, students in some regions are experiencing delays of over 200 days.

These delays occur even for people who are already living and studying in Canada, who are simply applying for standard, authorized and encouraged postdoctoral work.

Students from low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are experiencing exceptionally long delays, revealing patterns of systemic discrimination and racism.

A staggering 69% of African students, especially from French-speaking countries, were rejected compared to the average rejection rate of 41% for students from non-African countries. Rejection rates were even higher for Ethiopian (88%), Ghanaian (82%) and Rwandan (81%) students.

Students purposely recruited into Canadian universities – often through strategies that align with government immigration strategies – suddenly find themselves faced with illogical visa denials and delays.

This puts them at a very disadvantageous position, generating and exacerbating inequalities. People living in underserved parts of the world with fewer processing centers must travel long distances to provide Canadian authorities with the required biometrics and often incur excessive costs to duplicate documents deemed “expired” before their applications are processed. treated.

Members of the Canadian Global Health Association’s Academic Advisory Council, representing 25 member universities across Canada, find that ongoing inequalities and discrimination affect their ability to partner, support and engage with scholars across Canada. whole world.

In a recent discussion on the impacts of visa delays and denials on students and postdoctoral fellows, our members described an opaque and unpredictable system, with visa denials highly discriminatory for students from low-income countries and intermediate. This is in stark contrast to those seeking to enter Canada from high-income countries like the United States or Australia.

IRCC’s inconsistency makes it impossible to predict or advise applicants, creates strain on systems through wasted time and duplication of effort, and has serious implications for the research programs of Canada’s top researchers. inside and outside universities.

For graduate students and scholarship recipients already studying in Canada, the delays create fear and anxiety and restrict freedom to travel due to the risk of being denied readmission.

Long wait times for responses from IRCC threatens their income and access to basic benefits like health and childcare as, without a valid visa or study permit, universities cannot process their scholarships. education or employment payments.

The toll on Canada’s research ecosystem cannot be underestimated, not to mention the crippling impact on those left in precarious limbo and changing their lives while waiting for their fate to be determined by unpredictable bureaucratic decision-making and undisclosed, understood only by those inside the system.

Canada must do better.

Although the IRCC has put in place employee training and other initiatives to address racism and prejudice within its ranks, evidence suggests there is still much work to be done.

Given Canada’s history of racism and discrimination in its immigration policies, establishing fair policies and practices requires higher levels of transparency and accountability than currently exist.

As co-chairs of the Academic Advisory Council of the Canadian Global Health Association, we fully support the 35 recommendations submitted by the Standing Committee on Citizens and Immigration in its May 2022 report.

We echo the urgency of the report and add our voice to demand: The elimination of overt anti-African racism in current processes; Transparency on decisions and grounds for refusal; The creation of an immediate mechanism to grant students and postdoctoral fellows already in Canada a grace period while the backlog at IRCC is resolved.

International students are not only ideal candidates to settle in Canada, they are also essential to Canada’s prosperity.

Canada faces over a million job vacancies and a shrinking population. The Standing Committee’s report makes it clear that successful integration and retention of international students is essential to addressing labor shortages, including in rural and remote areas, combating Canada’s declining population, and reaching federal government objectives for the Francophone population.

As Canada prepares to host the International AIDS 2022 conference in Montreal — bringing together more than 20,000 scholars, activists and students from around the world — our global reputation becomes one of bureaucracy and closed doors. We can and must do better. (The Conversation) RUP

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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