COVID-19 outbreak

Dreams Under Lockdown: Impact of COVID-19 outbreak on Student Visas

NEWS of Pakistan, Pakistani Writers Corner

COVID-19 outbreak is not only disrupting student dreams of higher education abroad but hurting economies of the world-leading educational provider countries as they are closing borders. However, every crisis brings an opportunity with it. Pakistani, Indian, Philippine, Bangladeshi students etc are likely to secure more Canadian study permits after the lockdown ends.

Western countries generate billions of dollars from immigration and foreign students each year. The immigration industry provides jobs, a skilled workforce and brings innovations to the host countries.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) foreign students doubled in number from 1999 to 2013 in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. In 2000, 2 million foreign students chose to embark on their studies abroad, however, in 2017, the numbers reached 5.3 million.

The COVID-19 outbreak brought the entire world into a standstill. Across the world, industries are struggling to cope with the new dynamic situation. Countries sealed their borders and imposed unprecedented travel bans.

At first, Canada shuts her borders to all travelers entering Canada, even for Canadian citizens and permanent residence (PR) holders as well. However, on 21 March, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship of Canada (IRRC) announced travel relaxation for Canadian citizens, PR holders and student visa holders to return home that traveled outside Canada for some reason. It’s to be noted that foreigners, except special cases, are still restricted to enter Canada.

Hundreds and thousands of students enter Canada each year. In 2019 alone, 642,480 students chose Canada as their dream destination for undergraduate and graduate studies.

According to many student visa consultants, the student visas rejection rate went dramatically up since the COVID-19 outbreak. Students who have got their admissions are forced to defer their semester intakes from January to September. Those that were preparing for IELTS (English Language Testing System) test are now unable to take their tests as the test centers announced closures due to COVID-19 outbreak . Uncertainty prevails everywhere.

There is another very interesting viewpoint pertaining to student visa approvals. China and India alone got half of the total student permits that Canada issues every year. Out of the total 642,480 study permits issued by Canada in 2019, Indians got 172,000 and the Chinese got 142,000 study permits.

However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak in China, Chinese students will be unlikely to procure students permits until the situation gets normal in China. Thus, Some students and student visa consultants argue that the coronavirus outbreak will benefit students visas aspirants, namely from India, Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan, etc and their student visa approval rate will increase as Canada will look towards other countries to recruit students from.