International students to hold protest in Mississauga, demand changes to immigration rules amid COVID-19

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Current and former international students are planning a weekend of demonstrations in Mississauga and Toronto this weekend, calling on the government to change immigration rules amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Migrant Students United (MSU) says international students have been left out in the cold as schools reopen and unemployment remains high, leaving thousands to face deportation, high fees, and lack of healthcare.

“International student tuition fees have increased dramatically during COVID-19 even as students and their families have lost work and wages, and classes have shifted online,” the MSU said in a recent statement.

“Many international graduates on time-restricted work permits are required to complete 12-24 months of continuous high waged work to qualify for permanent resident status. However, with unemployment for racialized workers at 17%, most graduates do not have access to these jobs.”

The first demonstration is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 12 at Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office on 344 Bloor Street West, Toronto.

The second will happen at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 13 at Westwood Square Mall in Mississauga.

The migrant students are requesting various changes to immigration rules from the federal and provincial governments:

  • Make post-graduate work permits renewable so former students can complete requirements for Permanent Residency (PR) in the COVID-19 job market; Remove time-limits and industry restrictions on work;

  • Lower points requirements for PR (CRS); Count work that is part-time, in-school, in any occupation, including with gaps towards PR; and Ensure full and permanent immigration status for all migrants;

  • Lower tuition and ensure full services; Ensure migrant students pay domestic tuition; Full access to all services including healthcare, housing, jobs, scholarships, pandemic emergency benefits, and in-school support; Immediate access to Social Insurance Numbers

  • Unite families by allowing families to travel, ensure work permits for family members

The MSU says over 14,000 people have signed petitions calling for immediate changes in immigration policy.

More information can be found at migrantworkersalliance.org.

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