With the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) strike still ongoing, some of Vancouver Island University’s foreign students fear they will not be able to attend classes this semester.
A third year computer science student, who wishes to remain anonymous, applied for his study permit in early June. He still has not received his permit and is worried that he may not be able to attend the classes he is currently enrolled in.
He said that the process usually takes no longer than a month but due to the strike it has been far longer. He said that when checking online it says that the wait is 54 days for all requests sent in on June 22nd. His request, sent in on June 4th, has still not been answered.
Not only are foreign students being hindered with their ability to study at VIU this year but this student also said that it ruined his summer. He said he was hoping to go back home to Saudi Arabia during the summer but was warned that if he did so he would risk not getting a visa to return to the country due to the long waiting period.
He said that his friend was not so lucky and returned home before the strike and now can’t return due to the wait to get a visa. He said the Saudi Embassy sent out an e-mail to students who could not get visas for assistance to return to Canada but was not sure how they planned it or if anything ever came of it.
Another student was supposed to receive his permit a month ago and when it did not arrive he was told that it had been lost and now he must wait for another.
The PAFSO strike is over wage demands from the officers whose main job is processing visas. With an approximate 14% of VIU students coming from outside of Canada the strike could negatively affect the university as well.
The student said that the process to get a visa for Canada already takes a long time and can be a hassle. With the strike making it harder he thinks that many people may consider going to other countries where it is easier to get a visa and they can get through schooling without having to renew it.