09/07/2012 07:23 EDT | Updated 11/07/2012 05:12 EST

Visa Office Cuts Blamed For Foreign Student Delays

King's College
Universities are noticing more international students than usual are facing delays getting visas, and some are blaming the government cutbacks to visa offices abroad.

Zhaohui Wong, manager of enrolment at the University of Prince Edward Island, works with a growing number of international students. Last year one in every 10 students on campus came from overseas. Wong said a certain number of delayed arrivals is normal.

"For different reasons they come late, some visas, some airfare things," said Wong.

"This year I notice we have quite a few more visa delays."

Wong isn't sure yet how many international students will be late, but UPEI isn't the only university with visa problems. He's heard about similar problems in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario. At UBC at least 100 students will not be able to start school until January, and the university is blaming the closure of visa services in Germany, Japan, Iran, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

UPEI nursing student Chisom Ukasanya made it to Charlottetown on time, but she waited three months for her visa. It came just the day before she was supposed to leave Nigeria.

All the while she worried about missing the school year, and having to start over.

"It's just really long and it's frustrating, and you're just home doing nothing every day," said Ukasanya.

UPEI is coming up with contingency plans, contacting professors and setting up tutors so students can get caught up and hopefully not miss a semester whenever they finally arrive.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada said while it has closed some offices, it's exceeding target times for processing student visas.

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