International student says she spent months in anguish after Canadian immigration mistake

Warning: This story mentions suicidal thoughts.

An international student says she ran out of money and spent months in distress after arriving in Canada because an immigration officer failed to give her the correct document allowing her to work part-time while student in northern Ontario.

Shreya Rajput arrived from India on December 17 to study Information Technology at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Married.

It was only last Friday that Shreya Rajput found out she could finally get a social insurance number, which she couldn’t apply for until she had the right study document.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told CBC News: “The department deeply regrets this error.

But it’s little compensation for Rajput, who said the mistake had deeply affected his mental health.

The student relies on his savings to get by

Rajput’s problems started after he arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. An immigration officer printed out a study permit without the condition that she be allowed to work 20 hours a week, a standard document for international students.

She only found out about the error when she went to Service Canada last January to apply for a Social Insurance Number, and was told she was ineligible because her study permit did not include not the condition.

Leaning on some savings, she started her studies and started researching how to fix the mistake.

I broke down emotionally because I completely ran out of money.– Shreya Rajput, international student

Rajput followed the instructions she found on the IRCC website to correct the problem and sent them a photocopy of her study permit.

More than two months later, she was advised that a duplicate copy would not suffice and that she had to send in the original copy of her study permit. Rajput sent the original document and said he received a response in June that IRCC’s Operations Support Center does not process the applications as his own.

“That’s when I had my nervous breakdown. I broke down emotionally because I was completely out of money,” Rajput said. She also said that the stress got so bad that she even had suicidal thoughts.

She met a childhood friend living in North Bay, 435 kilometers east of Sault Ste. Marie, and asked to move in with him. Thereafter, she did much of her schooling remotely, unless she was required to be in Sault Ste. Mary on campus.

“Now he bears my expenses. And sometimes my parents send things and money,” said Rajput, who still lives in North Bay and plans to return to school in January 2023. In the meantime, she is not working and relies on the help of family and friends.

While studying at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Rajput says she had to stay with a childhood friend in North Bay, 435 kilometers away, because she couldn’t afford rent. (Algoma University)

In an email to CBC News, IRCC spokeswoman Isabelle Dubois said Rajput’s study permit issue was the result of human error. A line was missing from the documents he was originally given, allowing him to work on campus or off campus.

Dubois also confirmed that Rajput’s request to apply for a social insurance number was approved on August 26, 2022.

“The study permit will be mailed to him,” Dubois wrote in the email.

“People eligible to work on or off campus will have these remarks printed on their study permit, which will then allow them to apply for a Social Insurance Number.

Dubois added that immigration officials had received an application from Rajput to amend his study permit, but it “was found to be incomplete and was returned.”

Consultant urges schools to help students

Don Curry, president of Curry Immigration Consulting in North Bay, said IRCC “isn’t really ready to help people”.

“Even for someone like me, trying to get help from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is painful to say the least. You know, you send in an application, you get a template form that doesn’t respond to the question you asked.”

Curry said the onus is on colleges and universities, which depend on international students and their higher tuition, to have staff available who can help them with study permits and other immigration issues. .

If you or someone you know is having trouble, here’s where to get help:

This guide to Center for Addiction and Mental Health explains how to talk about suicide with someone you’re worried about.

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