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New rules planned for Canada-bound international students

Introduced in January, it’s called Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) Overview of Proposed Changes to Canada’s International Student Program.

Although it is a proposal and not yet confirmed, the document makes clear what will be the focus of the Canadian government when it comes to international students.

Let’s look at the proposed changes, and then conclude with some tips on preparing for a Canadian Study Permit application.

The proposal has two very clear areas of focus. First, to make Canada increasingly attractive to students with a sincere intention to study at a reputable Canadian educational institution. And secondly, the plan is also intended to make Canada a less attractive country for those who intend to use the study permit system to get into Canada without a sincere intention to study.

The first part of the proposal introduces the latest in a long line of attracts for international students. If adopted, the new plan will mean students automatically get an off-campus work permit without needing to apply for one after arrival. At this point it is not clear if students will be allowed to work off-campus immediately after coming to Canada, or if they will have to wait six months as they had to do before. It seems that with the off-campus work permit becoming automatically included with the study permit, students could apply immediately for their Social Insurance Number which they must provide to off-campus employers. In either case, the new system will make it faster and less costly as the work permit will now be automatic.

The second part of the proposal deals with abuses of the study permit system. First, not every educational institution will be permitted to receive international students. This is to deal with the fact that some organizations are set up only to facilitate people getting into Canada. In other words, they are not genuine institutions of higher study, and the people seeking entry into them are either not genuine students, or they are being fooled into thinking these are genuine institutions. This is good for genuine students because it will offer more protection for them. Canada has not suffered so many cases of such abuse as have, for example, Australia or the United Kingdom, but there have still been situations where students come to Canada and were totally fooled by the website or other promotions of the “educational institution”.

The proposal would also heavily involve legitimate educational institutions in making reports to Immigration Canada about students who came to Canada so that the government could make sure people were truly studying, and if not, remove them from Canada. This is also very good for genuine students because the people who have abused the system always make it more difficult for others to demonstrate that they are genuine. The proposal even adds that “institutions may also pro-actively identify students who don’t show up, or, CIC may initiate targeted requests.” The plans calls for a third-party technology mechanism, likely a web-based portal, to be set up for universities and colleges to report on status of their students and the government would analyze the data.

What are the steps students should be taking to prepare for the changes, specially since it is not clear when they will come into effect?

Getting admission to a legitimate institution

Universities: Completely research the university you plan to attend and make sure it is legitimate. Each of the 10 Canadian provinces has a website indicating which universities it is the principal source of money for – meaning these are “public universities”. All of these are considered respectable. If the institution has the word “university” in it, it will be listed in the province it belongs to. There are very few private universities in Canada, but usually the province will indicate in its website that it has given the licence to that institution.

Colleges: Be careful with any institution with the name “college”. The safest ones are listed on the province website confirming that the province is the funder, meaning these are “public colleges” or “public institutes of technology”. It is possible in Canada for any private person to register a business in one day with the name “college” or “institute” or “school” in it.
This is important. Even if you are genuine, if your offer of admission is not for an institution respected by the Canadian government, you have a much higher risk of refusal of the study permit. So, take some responsibility and do your research.

Getting admission to an appropriate program

Don’t apply for a program just because you think it gives you a “better chance at a visa”.
For example, many people tried to use the SPP program even though they really wanted and should have been applying for a Master program at a university.
Sometimes, a program that does not match the student’s academic and experience background can make the visa office doubt the sincerity. Other times, the student is sincere and comes to Canada and studies, but is stuck in the wrong program. If the program you were admitted to is absolutely what you want, but if this may not be obvious to the visa office, then include a clear detailed statement as to why you are pursuing this program at this institution.

Preparing the Study Permit application

• Be careful how you prepare this and whom you seek help from if you need it. It is very possible to prepare the study permit application yourself. But if you need help, do not let just anybody touch your application. If something wrong is put in there, something fake, something inaccurate, you will be responsible for it even if you didn’t know about it or didn’t approve of it. So, if you let someone else prepare your study permit application, you must look over every page and absolutely get a copy of what is being sent in your name.
• If you do get another party to submit the application, it is important that this party have a good reputation. Just as applying to an institution will hurt your chances of getting a study permit, applying through a person or company that does not have a good reputation, will also hurt your chances. So, again, you have to be responsible to check very carefully if you even want the help of any other party.

Coming to Canada

So, you received great news and have the study permit! Make sure you follow the Canadian rules.
Here are common mistakes that people make that can cause them trouble.
• Getting the study permit and not informing the Canadian government that you plan to wait until a following semester. It is easy to do and shows you are sincere.
• Coming to Canada and not studying – this is the biggest mistake people make. In the new system, people who do this will run into bigger trouble than in the current system. If someone is sent out from Canada, they may be forbidden from returning to Canada for many years. Even worse, and unfortunate, they may hurt the chances of family relations who genuinely want to study but may be perceived as more of a risk not to study.
• Studying, but not paying all fees in advance of the semester. It is absolutely important people have the finances organized in advance. This is a condition of getting the study permit.
If students can’t pay the full fees, the university may refuse the student from being registered, and if the student is not registered, he/she could be reported to the government.
– Daniel Zaretsky

• Daniel Zaretsky is Director of the Canadian University Application Centre (cuac). The CUAC has offices across South Asia, as well as around the world. For 15 years, Zaretsky and his colleagues have developed diligent screening methods to help genuine students realize their dreams to study in Canada.

• Learn more about CUAC: To find out more about studying in Canada, visit Canadian University Application Centre’s website at www.canada123.org

Posted: Jan 31, 2013

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