Indian students seeking studies abroad facing visa delays
Warsaw (Poland), June 26
Fresh Indian students waiting to fly abroad for higher studies and few other students keen on resuming studies interrupted due to Covid-19 restrictions are facing anxious moments due to inordinate delay in visa processing by most western countries of United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and Poland.
After easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions early this year, private firms processing visa applications for several western countries have been flooded with applications in recent weeks. The companies claim that the waiting period of 15 days to one month has now exceeded to several months for visa applications. “The students hoping to study abroad or immigrate to major study destinations abroad must be prepared for longer wait times for study visa application processing,” said, Adheer Vyas student volunteer at a University in Warsaw.
He said that the students and agents should submit their applications much earlier than they would have in other years. “The pandemic is the main cause for the delays as immigration departments in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States of America try to work overtime to deal with the pent-up demand. As such, they should file visa applications much further in advance than in a typical year for study programmes at universities abroad,” he said.
Beside the pandemic, a number of other factors are also behind the delays, which include new visa streams put in place by the United Kingdom and the United States and also the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine.UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) says that its backlog is also related to its decision to prioritise the applications of Ukrainian refugees. The UKVI has been prioritising the processing of UK visa applications from Ukrainians fleeing the invasion, and this has caused delays for all other UK visa applicants. It states, “If applying from outside the UK, applications for UK Student visas can be submitted up to 6 months before the start date of the course. The customer service standard for receiving a decision is 3 weeks.” The Home Office is currently advising that Student visa applications are taking on average 4 weeks to process, it also states that it is working hard to get back to the 3 week service standard.
There are reportedly 7,00,000 visa applications of Indian pending with Canadian authorities including large number of students. More than two lakh Indian students are joining Canadian educational institutes for the past few years.
Students from China and India accounted for 47% of all active foreign students in the U.S. in 2020, as per the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme, part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Indian students comprised the second largest student community in the U.K. and Australia in 2019-2020. Despite their presence in these countries students face several problems and are now reaching out to the Indian government through their student associations.
But in spite of their role in enhancing India’s soft power internationally, through their excellent academic performance as well as seamless integration into these countries, Indian students face several problems. These are often overlooked. However, in recent years Indian student associations have been trying to draw attention of the government to their problems. “After the students faced numerous hurdles in Ukraine during the ongoing war, we decided to become more vocal about our issues,” said Devinder Singh, a PhD student, who is waiting to fly to Germany for higher studies. He said that such details could prove detrimental to a student’s career. “If international students don’t think they have a chance of having their visa processed in a timely way, they may opt for another destination. Some European countries are offering faster visa processing times and higher visa approval rates than the major English-language destination,” he added.
Meanwhile, according to senior officials, the ministry of foreign affairs has formally take up the matter with the concerned governments of the countries of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the US about “streamlining student visas to Indian nationals.”