Ismael's Tuition and Immigration

This year it has been difficult to cover my tuition fee. I managed to pay half of it but am unable to pay the remaining in the one week window I have been given.

I am on a study permit in Canada, which means I am an international student, and I am 6 to 8 months from finishing my program. My study permit however is expiring. To extend it for the coming 2016-2017 school year I have to first pay the remaining tuition fee. Once this is paid I can enroll for the coming school year and then get my permit extended for that period. 

I have had jobs throughout my studies and I also had a small scholarship. International students however are not eligible for student loans, line of credits, and most academic grants and scholarships. These are limited to domestic students and permanent residents.

Furthermore, international students are not allowed to work for more than 20 hours off-campus during the academic session. They can work full-time off-campus during academic breaks such as spring and summer breaks. This technically means that for only four months during the year they can have full-time work off-campus. 

As a graduate student however I am in session throughout the year besides a week or two during the winter break. This has limited my ability to find work off-campus, where most of the work is. On campus, international students can work full-time throughout the year but a lot of university positions give preference to domestic students and permanent residents. 

I managed to survive throughout the years with the jobs I had, mainly, as research assistant and teaching assistant. Lately however I have been unable to land a job because my study permit is expiring. My credit card is maxed out and the little left in my savings is to cover rent for the next month.

So I am in a catch-22: I need the study permit to be eligible for work but I need the money (or work) to pay off the tuition fee so I can get the study permit. 

Immigration Canada has given me one week to send them a letter of enrollment.

If I can have help covering the remaining tuition fee ($2,500) of the last school year (2015-2016), I’d be abundantly gratefulAny contribution beyond that would go to covering the tuition ($4,355) of this coming school year  (2016-2017).

I am also grateful for the work that the Graduate Students Association (GSA) in partnership with the International GSA at McMaster University are doing to bring back the PhD stream program, which would allow international PhD students to obtain permanent residency after 2 years of PhD studies. I have been in Canada for a total of 10 years now.

~ Ismaël

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Ismael Traore 
Vernon, BC
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