Envoy: increased data collection will ease Canada student visas
Bermudian students seeking to go to Canada could see improved biometric collection for visa applications by the end of the year.
André Frenette, the Acting Consul-General for Canada in New York, said that strengthening educational ties would play a primary role in improving Canadian-Bermudian relations.
He added that collecting personal identification data more often would allow Bermudians to receive their visas earlier and make a Canadian education more accessible.
Mr Frenette said: “We’ve been given messages on biometrics — we’re going to go back home and we’re going to see what we can do, and that might yield messages by the end of this year.”
Mr Frenette, who left the island last Thursday, was speaking during his three-day visit to Bermuda to work with the Bermudian Government on improving the countries' relationship.
Biometrics in the form of fingerprint scans and photographs have been collected for Canadian visa applications since 2019 and are often completed for students before the start of the school year.
Mr Frenette said that biometrics were collected in the spring and summer, but conversations with the Ministry of Education showed him that "we have to do it a little more often".
He explained that offering more windows for biometric data collection would divide the load throughout the year and allow students to receive their visas earlier.
He added that this streamlined process could make Canadian schools easier for Bermudians to apply to.
Mr Frenette said that existing relationships between the Bermuda College and Canadian schools would be imperative in preparing youngsters for the Canadian school system.
He added that he hoped to see the benefits of a Canadian education promoted on the island.
Mr Frenette said: "Canada is a beautiful country, it's a great country, and it's a diverse country. We want your students to come and study here."
Mr Frenette admitted that the Canadian Government could not organise direct flights from Bermuda to prominent Canadian cities because they were operated by private companies.
But Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, the Honorary Consul of Canada in Bermuda, urged the island to use its sway to convince airlines such as WestJet and Air Canada to offer these flights.
She said: “In the past, they have guaranteed certain revenues to the airlines.
“I don’t think they are doing this right now, but it has sometimes been done to start new air routes to ensure that, given enough time, they can develop a market.”
• For more information about Canadian schools, scholarships and the student visa process, visit the EduCanada website. Canadians living in Bermuda who would like to be notified about emergency situations in Canada or during travel can register for the free service here.
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