What happens to your classes and visa when faculty goes on strike?
Source: Twitter/@pressprogress

For foreign students in Ontario, Canada, their studies, part-time work and visas are on the line because their teachers are now on strike.

Twelve thousand professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians began the strike late Sunday after negotiations between them and their labour union broke down, according to The Star.

It’s now going into the fourth day of the strike and around 300,000 students from 24 public colleges in the province are getting worried.

While Canadian-born students are as concerned about how the strike will affect them, the concerns are of a different kind when it comes to foreign students. In addition to worrying about when classes will resume, they have to worry about the part-time work they are in as well as how the strike will affect their visa.

Jamaican student Kabrena Robinson, who is studying journalism at Humber College, said the strike puts them in a “very uncomfortable or uneasy” place.

“We’d have to extend, possibly, our work permits too,” Robinson said, as quoted by Global News.

“A lot of us have internships to do and if we do co-ops we have to get permits for that. So that would cost a total of almost US$300. For a student who is working part-time because we’re only permitted to work a certain amount of time during school hours, that’s going to be difficult for us to manage.”

Concerns by foreign students often get overshadowed by those of their local peers, despite them paying three to four times more than domestic students.

Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students chairman Nour Alideeb said.

“If they don’t fulfill certain requirements, it allows the government to remove that visa and actually send them back home,”

While Robinson’s visa doesn’t expire until another year, the strike is still frustrating for the fourth-year college student.

“(International students) don’t know what’s going to happen and we want to be in a position where we’re comfortable and we know what to do going forward.”

The faculty have expressed regret on the effect of the walkout on their students, assuring them students will unlikely to lose a semester or year because of labour action by their faculty.

“I have the deepest sympathies for them in terms of trying to figure this stuff out over the next few weeks. We want to be back at the table, we want to be back in the classrooms,” the Chair of Ontario Public Service Employees Union’s (OPSEU) College Faculty Bargaining Team, J.P. Hornick said, adding that students should urge their colleges to get back on the bargaining table with the teachers.

Hornick added reassuringly, “in the history of the college system, there has never been a time when the students have lost their semester or their year due to a faculty action.”

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