For more than 2.15 lakh Indian students enrolled in Canadian higher education institutions who are waiting to return to campus, and thousands more waiting to apply and enroll, getting a visa is one of the major concerns at the moment.
There have been several requests from such students to the Canadian government, the high commission, and other officials for help in the faster processing of their visa applications and easing of travel restrictions.
Taking note of these queries and concerns, the Canadian High Commission in India and VFS Global (an outsourcing and technology services company that serves governments and diplomatic missions globally) have introduced a new process in visa application centres across India. Going forward, there will be a dedicated biometrics appointment queue for student applicants, aimed at speeding up visa processing and easing the backlog of applications.
This service is available only for returning students, short-term study, and study permits.
Those who already have booked a slot on the biometrics system must cancel their current appointment to book an earlier date on the dedicated queue through the Appointment Management System (AMS).
The Indian government has already communicated to the Canadian authorities how more than 33,000 Indian students are facing challenges in reaching their university campuses in Canada before the start of the new semester in September this year and has held discussions with the government officials regarding resumption of direct flights.
However, because of concerns related to the Delta variant of COVID-19, Canada has extended the ban on direct flights from India until Aug. 31.
With no direct connectivity, many students have been forced to take the stopover routes from other countries, causing more hurdles and delays as each country has its own rules regarding permissions, negative COVID-19 test results, and quarantine, to name a few.
The Canadian government intends to open the country’s borders to fully vaccinated travellers from Sept. 7, 2021, provided the “domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable.” The vaccine must be accepted by the Canada government and should be taken at least 14 days before entering the country.
The country is also taking other measures and following different strategies to continuously monitor COVID-19 variants of concern and vaccine efficacy.
International students need to have a 14-day quarantine plan (before arriving in Canada) if they fail to meet all the conditions needed to be exempt from quarantine. They may still be required to follow quarantine rules if they are fully vaccinated, depending on the decision by the authorities. They are also supposed to stay connected with their designated university or institution for any help in chalking out quarantine plans prior to their arrival.