Career & Education

'Be thorough in study permit application'

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 11, 2019

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IMMIGRATION and Mobility Advisor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Omolajipe Sanwoolu is urging international students seeking to attend universities in Canada to be thorough and transparent when applying for their study permit — the document that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions in the country.

“I think one of the major issues is just tension,” Sanwoolu said, indicating what she thinks is at the root of the problem. “It's a stressful time [because] you're moving to a new country. You've applied for admission, and now it's just this visa/permit standing between you and your goal, and so people are usually just anxious about that process.

“My advice to students is just to take a step back and stay calm. You are not (physically) there to make your case so you have to make sure that your application is complete, accurate, and speaks to all the requirements that immigration is looking for,” said Sanwoolu.

She was responding to a Jamaica Observer question during the EduCanada Guidance Counsellors, Students and Media Tour 2019, about the challenges students face with immigration during the school application process.

Sanwoolu also stressed that students must show significant ties to their home country, as well as how they intend to fund their stay in the North American country.

“So, your application should speak for you when it gets in front of an immigration officer. They will not be able to guess what documents you have but did not submit. You must submit all the documents you think are relevant to your case; all the documents that you think may help you and them in making a favourable decision,” she stated.

To apply for a study permit, students need to have an acceptance letter from an institution in the country. They must also have a valid passport and proof that they can support themselves and any family member who accompanies them on their stay in Canada.

As cited by Pole Star, which covers student immigration news, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rejected 33 per cent of study permit applications in 2017, and more than 34 per cent in the first four months of 2018.

Among the reasons applications are sometimes denied are that IRCC believes the applicant may not return to his/her home country upon completion of study; the applicant does not have enough money to support his/her stay in Canada; the applicant may have a criminal record or is deemed a security threat; or the applicant has a medical condition that poses a danger to the public or has a history of immigration violations in any other country.

Canada is the fourth most popular destination for international study, Pole Star reports, with more than 500,000 students holding valid permits.

Another area which international students need to pay keen attention to and budget for when applying to Canadian universites is health insurance.

Anna Pereira, international undergraduate students programme coordinator at McMaster explained that health insurance is mandatory for all international and exchange students enrolled in an Ontario university.

“No one ever asks, 'Hey, do I have insurance when I go to Canada?' Students don't really care about that because they are not going to get sick, ever; they are invincible,” she said making tongue-in-cheek reference to the general attitude to health among young people.

One of the things that is important is the university's health insurance plan and this plan is basically made for every university student who is in Ontario. So all university students in Ontario belong to this plan,” said Pereira.

“It was basically created to mirror our OHIP plan (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). So, permanent residents and Canadians of Ontario have an OHIP plan and basically, UHIP (University Health Insurance Plan) mirrors that plan to the full coverage. So if a [student] goes to the hospital and I go to the hospital [it's] the same coverage and it's a CAD$1 million. So, there's coverage for everyone,” she said.

The week-long EduCanada Guidance Counsellors, Students and Media Tour is an annual undertaking designed to promote Canadian institutions of higher education in international markets.

This year the tour visited eight Canadian institutions in Ontario and Nova Scotia to have a first-hand look at programmes offered, student housing, international student services, Diaspora presence, campus security, dietary offerings, and scholarships/funding/financial support for international students.


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