As the Covid-19 induced pandemic took hold, Canadian study permit for new applications fell by nearly half in 2020 – compared to 2019. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data indicate a total of 8,47,852 applications in 2019, which then dropped to just under 4,42,000 last year as countries brought in national and state-level lockdown restrictions and international flights were halted.
However, study permit application volumes are poised to move ahead of the pre-pandemic level in 2021 as it is driven by a combination of demand from last year and this year’s student group.
According to IRCC, more than 7,30,000 new student permit applications went through by August 2021, a roughly 27% increase over the same period from 2019. That means, more than half of the total volume of applications year-to-date were filed between January and May in 2021.
This surge in study permit applications is also high because of the IRCC processing deadline. The immigration ministry had earlier advised that all completed applications received by May 15 would be processed by August 6 this year. The IRCC at that time has said that, excepting incomplete applications, nearly all files received by that deadline were processed on time. Immigration officials are working to process files received after 15 May as quickly as possible.
However, nearly 3,30,000 study permit applications were filed from June through August 2021 and there are reports across Canadian institutions and schools of some students needing to defer admission to January 2022 as IRCC continues to work through the backlog this year.
The growth in 2021 study permit application volumes reflects more extensive enrolment trends for the five years leading up to 2020. Roughly 22% of all applications year-to-date 2021 are from Indian students, with other major pre-pandemic growth markets – including Bangladesh, Colombia, Iran, Nigeria, Philippines, and Vietnam – showing renewed strength this year as well.
Estimated processing times for new applications are available from IRCC. And IRCC is also regularly updating its Covid-19 guidance for applicants and incoming students as well.