A backlog of paperwork blamed on the epidemic has put many overseas students in British Columbia in jeopardy.

Ekam Sandhu, a 20-year-old Indian student who recently graduated with a certificate in tourism from Hanson College in British Columbia, is one of them.

Sandhu, like many overseas students, was looking for a work visa and a job in order to begin the process of obtaining permanent residency.

However, he told Global News that he found out last month that his work permit application had been refused, with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) notifying him that graduates from his institution were ineligible.

That, according to Sandhu, does not make sense because several of his peers in the same programme were accepted.

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“I was really taken aback. I had no idea why my application had been denied, and she informed me that your college is ineligible. “It seems unjust to me that after studying for 16 months and spending $32,000 in tuition, I’m not even permitted to work or stay in this country,” he added.

Sandhu is now in a tough situation as a result of his rejection.

While he is permitted to reapply, the procedure takes months, and he no longer has status in Canada, which means he is unable to work and without MSP coverage.

“There’s my mental health, there’s my financial condition, I’m troubled when I see how I’m going to endure the next five, six months of my life without any income and so many debts,” he told Global News.
Hanson College, a private institution, has a collaboration with Cambrian College in Ontario, allowing students to receive a public college credential.

Sandhu has various support letters proving the universities’ connection, which dates back to 2005, and that he graduated as a result of that partnership.

IRCC stated in a statement to Global News that the institution in British Columbia was excluded from the scheme.

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However, immigration experts interviewed by Global News indicated such is not the case.

Sandhu is not alone in his dilemma, according to Subbalakshmi Arunachalam Pillai, a certified Canadian immigration consultant, adding that a mix of anomalies in application processing and pandemic-driven backlogs at IRCC have put numerous students in legal limbo.

“There are occasions when the decision has not been made for up to a year, and students must make do by borrowing or living with friends while waiting for money to be returned from India.” “It’s not an easy condition in which they can survive for long,” she explained.

“The processing period has been stretched to the point that some kids are contemplating suicide.”
According to Pillai, students would be charged around $600 to resubmit their applications, adding to their financial burden.

She claims that students without status in Canada are highly vulnerable to exploitation, whether through pay-to-work programmes or unscrupulous companies that give them under-the-table labour for less than the minimum wage.

Sandhu, who was working in a food warehouse before losing his status, said it was unjust that Canada wanted him as an essential worker during the worst months of the epidemic but has now left him with few choices.

“During the pinnacle of COVID, when everyone was staying at home, overseas students were assured they could work more than 20 hours.” So we were working 50-60 hours a week,” he explained.

“They want international students here, but they don’t want to take care of them.” They simply want to use them whenever there is an opportune moment, and they simply want overseas students to come here, pay three or four times the ordinary student rate, and labour for two or three years.

Amid mounting backlogs and, according to Pillai, countless comparable examples, the immigration expert wants the government to enable students to work lawfully while their resubmitted applications are reviewed and the application fees waived. (Original Article published in Global News)

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