Study permits and New credential introduced for international student advisors.
English: International Students (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CIC is also making greater use of its Multiple Entry Visa (MEV) option this year for those applying for visitor visas for Canada – that is, for visits of up to six months at a time. MEVs are valid for a 10-year period and, as of February 2014, they are now the default visa type issued to successful visitor visa applicants.
Next stage of reform implementation
In June this year, Canada began to implement a series of wide-ranging reforms for its International Student Program (ISP). Major policy changes introduced at the time included:
Only students enrolled at designated institutions in Canada are now able to apply for a study permit (that is, an international student visa).
International students with a Canadian study permit (and “pursuing academic, vocational or professional training of six months or more that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate at a designated institution”) are now automatically authorised to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks, all without the need to apply for a separate work permit.
The next major stage of reform implementation will be the introduction of a new “compliance reporting portal” website for designated institutions. The portal will launch in spring 2015, following a pilot currently underway with an initial group of 40 institutions. All designated institutions will be required to use the portal to file reports at six-month intervals on the academic and enrolment status of their international students.
Introducing the Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor
The introduction of Canada’s Bill C-35 legislation famously excluded both international education agents, as well as international student advisors employed by Canadian institutions, from advising students on immigration matters – unless, that is, they completed training and certification as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
In other words, the new legislation prevented international student advisors (ISAs) based at Canadian institutions from providing the immigration advice that they had always done in the course of their day-to-day work with students. Canadian institutions objected vigorously on this point to CIC, and also to the expense associated with qualifying ISA staff as RCICs under the requirements of the new legislation.
The end result of these discussions, as described in ICCRC by-law amendments, was as follows, “[ICCRC] tried to persuade CIC that all ISAs should simply become RCICs. Some did and many others are in the process of doing so, however, many did not. CIC made it clear that ISAs must be able to continue to offer the immigration advice to international students and their dependents that they did before the passage of Bill C-35, without becoming RCICs. We therefore needed to find a way to regulate ISAs without requiring them to become RCICs. CIC also made it clear that they expected us to find a workable solution quickly.”
This imperative from CIC led the ICCRC to approve the introduction of a new credential – the Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA) – at its AGM in Toronto yesterday. Under the revised by-laws adopted by ICCRC, experienced ISAs will be eligible to write a challenge exam in order to secure the RISIA credential. Newer staff will be required to take a training programme before taking the exam and, while there will be a cost associated with such training, the clear expectation is that the costs for institutions will be notably less than would be the case for RCIC training.
ICCRC adds, “As with RCICs, ISAs wanting to become RISIAs will be required to pass an exam – and if they are new ISAs they must also complete an education programme before writing that exam. They will need to show good conduct and character before being registered as RISIAs. Once registered, they will need to complete professional development hours, fulfill annual reporting obligations, have [liability] insurance, and otherwise meet professional standards similar to those that we require of RCICs now.”
ICCRC has indicated that the RISIA programme could launch as early as February 2015, and further details regarding training options and costs will be forthcoming. For additional background on the new RISIA designation, please see a set of Frequently Asked Questions prepared by ICCRC.