International Students Subject to Screening Delays Despite Initial Screenings as Student Applicants
To strengthen Canada’s economy, Canada targets top skilled talent from around the world, including the world’s top international students. By lowering tuition costs, offering grants, and awarding scholarships, Canadian universities attempt to make it easier for international students to study in the country.
But when it comes to keeping this talent in the country through permanent residency and citizenship, challenges arise, especially for Iranian students.
According to a recent CBC News article, over 300 Iranian graduate and postgraduate students are experiencing longer-than-average wait times for permanent residency applications processing. For many, security screenings are the cause of the delays.
Security screenings are a necessary part of any permanent residency application. However, Canadian officials already vetted these students as part of the international student application process.
What’s more, they’ve lived in the country for many years during their studies, building lives and finding a community. Now they appear to be singled out based on their nationality.
The estimated wait time for processing permanent residency applications is six months. However, many Iranian students have been waiting several years.
Impact on Lives and Careers
In the meantime, these students have had to put their academic and professional lives on hold. While waiting for decisions on permanent residency, these students are not allowed to leave the country. Nor are they able to accept job offers. They are missing out on important opportunities and experiences that will affect their lives.
Iranian students are asking why Canada would invest in their academic careers yet make it difficult for them to stay and start their professional careers. Some of these students have received prestigious Canadian awards and scholarships for their research. All the same, they are unable to accept job offers due to the delays. Those forced to wait are suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression. These students don’t understand why the government is taking so long to process their applications.
A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said security screenings are part of the application process, regardless of country of origin. All the same, these security screening delays appear to be specifically affecting applicants from Iran.
Agencies outside of IRCC conduct the security screenings, including the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The delays could be part of the current backlog in the immigration system. But this doesn’t answer the question of why international students specifically from Iran face extended delays, especially when Canada previously vetted them to study here.