July 16, 2015 7:01 pm
Updated: July 22, 2015 10:26 am

International students in limbo after college program ruled ineligible for work permit


WATCH ABOVE: Through a lawyer the students are hoping Citizenship and Immigration Canada will grant them a work permit based on humanitarian grounds presenting the case they are victims of misinformation. Angie Seth reports.

TORONTO – Some international students are scrambling after discovering the Ontario program they’ve enrolled in won’t lead to a Canadian work permit after all.

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Jagrit Sahni says he’s been in the throes of anxiety and panic attacks since he found out the three-year elder-care program he’s taking at Niagara College won’t guarantee him a work permit.

“There is no Plan B,” said Sahni, who is from New Delhi, India.

The problem facing Sahni and dozens of other international students: Their program included online courses, which Citizenship and Immigration Canada considers “distance learning,” rendering them ineligible for work permits.

Niagara College maintains its program is eligible for work permits.

“Regarding work permit eligibility, the program meets the same standards as all of the diploma programs offered at Niagara College,” reads a statement from the school.

The course”is an approved program by our ministry of training, colleges and universities, like any other diploma program offered at Niagara College.”

READ MORE: Canada one of the most affordable places for foreign students, survey finds

Sahni, meantime, has hired a lawyer.

Ravi Jain said his client is being caught in the middle, and that the CIC needs to update its criteria to reflect the growing amount of course work being completed online.

“Colleges also need not try to interpret federal laws and they should get legal opinions before they design their programs,”  Jain said.

Sahni and his fellow students can ask CIC for a work permit based on humanitarian grounds, arguing they’ve been misinformed. The federal department told Global News that any decisions will be decided on a case-by-case basis and will be up to the discretion of the individual immigration officer.

That’s little consolation to Sahni, who spent $25,000 to take the program.

“I file my taxes, I paid my fees,” said Sahni. “It’s really frustrating, I don’t know where this went wrong.”


With files from Angie Seth

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