‘Wait and Watch; Explore Other Countries’: Experts Advise as Canada Partially Halts Visa Services


The Canadian government Friday halted its in-person services at the visa offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chandigarh, and is currently operating only in New Delhi. This new development has baffled students planning to study in Canada or were hoping to head to Canada for higher studies in the next few months.

“I had completed all the necessary academic requirements, and everything seemed to be falling into place until the political tensions between India and Canada escalated. Many international students have been seen protesting as well regarding inflation and the housing crisis in Canada. Being a student, my parents were equally scared of the situation and decided not to send me to Canada and apply for other countries. Going to Canada was always my plan and a lot of money was spent on it but in the end, it did not work out,” shares Nandini Shah, who was about to join Seneca college, Ontario, Canada in the January intake.

However, unlike Nandini, there are some Indian students who are still willing to take a leap of faith and head to Canada for their January intake.

“Initially, I was taken aback by the sudden developments and worried about how it might affect my immigration status and education plans. I sought reassurance by discussing the matter with my university’s immigration team, and they offered some comfort by saying this move by the Canadian government shouldn’t pose a significant issue,” said 26-year-old Rohan Aggarwal from Chandigarh, who will be joining the Schulich School of Business, York University in January 2024.

“However, I can’t help but remain apprehensive. I am hopeful that these disruptions will be temporary. It’s clear that this will cause delays in student processing. Thankfully, I had received my visa approval before this situation unfolded, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t encounter any major hurdles,” he said.

Will Indian students not get a Canadian study visa?

Currently, Canada has only suspended in-person visa services at Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Mumbai. The services at New Delhi are operational, and all visa appointments will now be taken in the New Delhi office. Due to this, there can be a delay in the visa process.

Study abroad experts are also clarifying to future aspirants that this announcement by the Canadian authorities does not mean that the Indian students will not be issued a student visa, “it simply means that there will be delay in the visa process and students should take that time into consideration when applying for Canadian study visa,” Amit Singh, founder of UniScholars said.

‘Do not believe rumours’

Study abroad experts are advising Indian aspirants to get in contact with the representatives of their chosen university. “While the temporary halt to in-person services at the Canadian consulates general in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chandigarh may have an impact on students preparing for or en-route to Canadian higher education, it’s crucial for students to stay up to date with the most recent information and guidelines from the Canadian authorities. To protect their safety and well-being, they should also stay in touch with their Canadian educational institutions,” said Vibha Kagzi, founder and CEO of ReachIvy.com.

However, experts are also asking students to keep calm and not jump to conclusions or be misguided by any reports right now. Many study abroad experts believe ‘wait and watch’ would be the best strategy for now, and accordingly apply for Canada-based universities.

“Currently, students have been obtaining their visas for the January intake within the usual timeframe. It is too soon to comment on anything and know its impact on the visa timelines. Many students going for the January intake have already received their visas. We will have to wait and watch how the situation unfolds further to know its impact on students,” added Piyush Kumar, Regional Director- South Asia and Mauritius, IDP Education.

Earlier when India had “suspended its visa service till further notice”, Indian students and their parents in India had panicked. However, then too, experts and Canada-based universities had advised students to not panic and skip the summer intake.

While students and experts are hopeful that the diplomatic spat between the two countries will be resolved soon and it will not negatively impact students any further, some experts are also advising students to look for other English-speaking countries that provide good quality education and equal post-study work opportunities.

“This presents an opportunity to explore alternative pathways and destinations for education. Countries like the US, UK, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia offer excellent educational opportunities with similar programmes, language options, and post-study work opportunities, ensuring students can continue to pursue their academic and career goals,” Singh added.

Students, too, are moving on from their dream of settling in Canada and are now trying to look for other possible options that are immigrant-friendly. “I have always dreamt of studying in Canada, but the recent changes in visa and consular services are undoubtedly concerning. However, I believe adaptability is key to success. I have set a deadline while keeping an open mind about alternative destinations. My aspiration for foreign education remains strong, and I am confident that wherever I end up, I’ll find new opportunities and experiences that will shape my future,” said *Rajesh (name changed on demand).

For those students who have put their plans on halt, experts are advising bridge courses. “During this period of transition, learners could consider enrolling in bridge courses or online programmes to ensure that their educational journey stays on course,” Abhijit Zaveri, founder and director of Career Mosaic said.

Source : Indian Express