Volume 96, Issue 16
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

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Foreign students fear deportation

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

A number of international students at Simon Fraser University in British Colombia fear they may not be able to continue their studies – or even stay in the country – after failing to renew their study permits on time.

"There are over 100 international students affected by the [federal law] changes," said Chris Breedyk, SFU's international student advisor.

Breedyk said many of the students have gone beyond the sanctioned 90-day buffer period to renew their permits after transferring from other schools. "They have to seek restoration," she said.

According to Clement Apaak, an SFU Student Society executive member, Citizenship and Immigration Canada was not as aggressive in enforcing the buffer period as it was prior to recent changes, which took place in June.

"People are afraid. They're afraid they may be deported. They don't want to step on the toes of the government, so to speak," he said.

"My sympathy goes to people who weren't informed," Apaak explained. "We haven't had much feedback from Immigration yet," he added.

According to Susan Scarlett, departmental spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, international students who change schools must contact the department to ensure their permits are sustained. "That's very clearly explained," she said.

"Our part is to make sure students know what their requirements [are]," Scarlett said, adding the department has worked very hard to ensure there is flexibility.

Scarlett stressed that Canada welcomes foreign students, adding they bring more culture to campuses across the country.

"Over 60 per cent of those currently affected are students who [transferred] from colleges," Apaak said, who is also the international student commissioner with the Canadian Federation of Students.

Apaak said the SFU Student Society may issue a press release to provoke government action on the issue.

Breedyk said SFU did not know what the outcome of the situation would be, adding the school has supported the students from the outset. "There are people who are involved [to help]," she said.

The SFU has been in contact with the Vancouver office of the immigration department, she added.

Scarlett noted the last time the Immigration Act was changed prior to June was during the '70s. "There are regulations that go along with [the] Act," she said.

–with files from Kelly Marcella

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2002 THE GAZETTE