Hundreds of Bangladeshi students seeking visas for Canada and Germany have been feeling a sense of relief as the VFS Global's Canada Visa Application Center and the German embassy have recently resumed their operations for providing student visas.
The Bangladeshi students accepted by the Canadian universities had been at risk of losing their chances of admission if they failed to arrive at the campuses in due time. The Canada Visa Application Center remained closed from 4 April to 18 May this year to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the country.
The students had been trying to submit their necessary papers to the relevant authorities in order to get their visas. They even organised press conferences in this regard.
Toufiq Ahmed Shatil, director general, Americas Wing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Business Standard that the ministry had requested the Visa Application Center to reopen considering the future of the students.
"The centre responded to our call and now the students can submit their papers to get visas easily. We are always beside the students and trying to resolve all sorts of problems they face," he said.
Bappi Roy, an MS student in engineering with an offer from a university in Montreal, Canada, said, "We are happy now and hoping that our dreams will come true. Actually, we suffered from intense mental pressure. We were disappointed as we were not seeing any hope of getting the visas. We went through a very critical time."
"I thank the Bangladesh government for its prompt initiative on the visa question and completing other official work," he said.
For Canadian visas, in addition to paying biometric fees in advance (CAD $100-170) and submitting documents online, it is mandatory for applicants to provide biometrics (fingerprint and photo) by presenting themselves at the Canada VAC at the VFS Global premises.
Applicants cannot get any visa approval until their biometrics is submitted. Once visas are approved, applicants have to go to the Canada VAC once again to submit passports to get them stamped.
Javed Hossain, a master's student at a university in British Columbia, said, "I have earned a chance of admission into a respected university through extreme hard work and dedication. If I cannot arrive at the campus by August, I may lose my chance of admission for the fall term. It takes at least 3-4 months for a completed application in order for a student to get a visa. Now I feel good as I have submitted my papers."
Last year, VFS Global had kept its Canada biometrics and passport operations suspended for more than six months, which resulted in financial suffering and distress for Canada-bound Bangladeshi students. Many missed their offers for admission into universities and study terms, and lost their scholarships.
The majority of undergraduate, master's, and PhD students had to defer their admission to later terms, and the ones whose universities did not allow such deferment risked losing their admissions entirely.
After many months of demands from students, VFS Global finally resumed their Canadian visa operations in November 2020.
It then closed again on 4 April this year owing to the lockdown, a situation which left this year's admission seekers in a difficult situation. Many universities have already informed students that in-person attendance in Canada is necessary for them to begin their studies.
A similar situation arose for the Bangladeshi students who have been seeking admission into German universities as the German embassy suspended their student visa operations from 6 April to 15 May this year.
Nazim Uddin, one of the spokespersons for Bangladeshi students pursuing studies at various German universities, told TBS they are glad that the foreign ministry has taken measures to expedite the visa process.
"Only 150 out of 1,000 admission seeking students completed their visa process at the German embassy till last month. Many students got the visas and they can go to Germany now," he said.
Rayhanul Islam, a student at Technical University of Berlin, said, "It is bit late to get visas as students from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries have already gone to Germany. Even so, it is great news that now we can finally go to Germany.