There is a Student Direct Stream many Indian international students use when applying for student visas. It necessitates applicants to invest in a Guaranteed Investment Certificate worth $10,000 CAD, in addition to providing proof of full payment for the first year of study’s tuition fees. In a recent report IRCC noted that the average international undergraduate tuition fees for the 2021-2022 academic year were $33,623. Thus, the total financial commitment is approximately $43,623 for SDS applicants in their first year.
There were 137,535 students from India alone in 2021. Multiply the two numbers and the contribution in just tuition fees from Indian international students is $6 Billion for 2021 alone.
Clearly, this means that there are major stakeholders who would like to see this revenue continue. For one, we have universities and colleges in Canada. Most Indian international students come to community colleges. However, we have seen colleges motivated by greed in the past. Some colleges partner with ‘private colleges’ to grant diplomas even where those types of diplomas do not enable the student to obtain the coveted post-graduate open work permit upon graduation. We have seen colleges oversubscribe leaving students stranded and also try to hold classes in rented movie theatres because there is no more room in the classroom.
There is also a major problem of ‘agents’ and registered consultants advising prospective students that they have a ‘sure-shot’ path to permanent residence. This has led to a high number of Indian foreign students committing suicide given they’ve spent so much of their parents’ net worth on international student fees and many feel shame if they were to return to India without permanent residence status.
The federal government has been absolving itself of responsibility by saying the provinces control educational institutions and their practices. However, notably, it’s the federal government that issues student visas.
Of late we’ve seen massive fraud where students have obtained fraudulent admissions and then real student visas. The federal government should adopt a system that the US has had for years (SEVIS) where the schools communicate admissions to the federal government electronically for verification.
In any event, given the incredible financial contribution of Indian students (and their families), more should be done to ensure they are not misled as to their chances of permanent residence and powerful interests should be kept in check.