New leave of absence procedure for international students leaves some issues unanswered


UBC’s new leave documentation process for international students has allowed some outside of Canada to maintain work permit eligibility after graduation, but some students still face challenges additional.

International students stranded in their country due to travel restrictions can use it new documentation option to withdraw from their courses without a W status.

According to Michelle Suderman, director of international student development and student engagement, UBC wanted this change to help international students overcome the problems of being unable to enter Canada. In addition to the previously existing UBC Senate academic policy, this procedure has been added to ensure that the leave is recognized by Immigration Canada.

Suderman said the international undergraduate leave procedure allows international students to take the leave as Canadian students do, creating “a fair opportunity.”

Raunaq Nambiar, a third year student at the Faculty of Forestry, decided to accept his offer at UBC due to the ban on direct flights from India at the time.

“I would have to go to a third country, do a COVID-19 test there, then fly to Canada… I would have to apply for a visa for a lot of different countries… and the price was just outrageous,” he said.

At first, Nambiar planned to wait until the flight ban was lifted and participate in his classes virtually, but he encountered issues with the live broadcast and jet lag, so he decided to take the option of leave.

Nambiar found the request form “very easy” to complete, but only received a response on the add and remove deadline day.

“I had sent this form on September 15. We have arrived at September 20 and I still have not had a response from them, and since September 20 is the deadline for adding, I was a little nervous. as to what to do, “Nambiar said.

He contacted college counselors and learned that he had to drop all of his classes first, and then they would be able to approve his leave.

But Nambiar faced more challenges after getting his leave approved.

Nambiar has a housing contract with UBC and wanted to keep his current residence on campus so that he wouldn’t have to find new accommodation in January.

“[UBC Student Housing] was not aware of this leave, so I had to transmit [them] the email I received from International Student Adviser. And that’s when they finally said, “Okay, we understand your situation, we’ll give you a one-term exemption.” And so it was a lot of back and forth, ”Nambiar said.

Nambiar also ran into issues with his TREK and scholarships. Because he had to drop all of his classes, Nambiar lost the amount he was due to receive from TREK for this term, and also nearly lost his eligibility to apply again next year.

Nambiar said the awards committees didn’t know how to approach situations like his, other than “downright [making] students not eligible.

“If I hadn’t appealed, I wouldn’t have been eligible for scholarships next year either,” Nambiar said.

However, Suderman said The Ubyssey that for accommodation, there is an obligation to give rooms to students on the waiting list – which means that requests that are not fulfilled would be revoked.

As for the scholarship, she mentioned that these requests are being canceled not because of the leave policy, but because they are not taking any courses.

However, as Nambiar had to drop his classes in order for the leave request to be approved, it is not clear if there is a way for international students to take the authorized leave while keeping their holdings in other units. including housing and scholarship applications.

However, Suderman expressed his sympathy for the international students.

“Being an international student comes with an extra layer,” she said, and again stressed that the leave of absence option was to “give them one more tool” to overcome the hassle, especially during this time. .

Nambiar said this situation essentially led him to have to “beg people to exempt [him] things.

“It’s tiring after a certain point, I spent the end of August begging my teachers to do things online, and now I have to do the same again, except it’s now with the staff instead of teachers. “


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