Friday, February 14, 2020

Immigration consulting: beyond the documents

By: Boon Khoo and Chantal Vallis. This is the fourth article in the International Student Connection staff edition, a monthly series to help our University community support international students at Waterloo. It is written by staff at the Student Success Office (SSO).

A group of consultants sits in front of the EV3 living wall. 

Meet the Immigration Consultants at the Student Success Office who provided 1,700+ consultations and responded to 2,100+ email inquiries this fall 2019, a 14% increase over last year. From left to right: Ambreen Husain, Clint MacPhee, Boon Khoo, Jessica McCormick and Shannon Chung.

Sandwiched between all the typical student activities (like going to class, visiting with friends, completing assignments, etc.), international students need to ensure they’re meeting the conditions of their study permit. Without this, they can’t remain at Waterloo and complete their studies. They also won’t be able to graduate, apply for their post-graduation work permit and/or permanent residency.

The length and complexity of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) applications and their ever-changing regulations can cause a lot of stress for international students. Layered on to this, academic policies can sometimes juxtapose immigration policies, causing confusion and additional stress. However, the immigration consulting services at the SSO alleviate concerns and help students to feel confident in applying for and renewing their documents.

Our team of five highly-skilled Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) belong to the regulated profession in Canada that certifies them to advise, consult and represent before IRCC. They’re the only group on campus that provide professional immigration consulting to students as they face challenging periods in their studies or deal with complex timelines. They help students make important decisions that will enable them to study in Canada and fulfill their permanent residency aspirations; 60% of international students in Canada report that they intend to apply for permanent residency and 30% are undecided.

Beyond immigration advice, the consultants offer a compassionate listening ear and refer students to resources on and off campus when students share life challenges in their appointments. It’s not uncommon for students to arrive feeling overwhelmed but leave feeling reassured and understanding their next steps. A recent student expressed that the support not only helped them with their application, but also provided them hope and optimism about their future.

As immigration regulations and policies change, and as our international student population increases, the role of the immigration consultants continues to grow and evolve. So how can you maintain a high level of support while meeting increasing demands for consulting?

Get creative! Over the past year, many improvements have been implemented such as:

  • A series of YouTube videos to help guide international students through the application process for key documents, which received 28,033 views in the first year
  • Improvements to the online appointment booking experience for students, through Q-nomy integration, which allows for same-day appointments to be conveniently booked in Portal
  • Targeted info sessions about post-graduate work permits for MBET students and study permit extensions for BASE students in collaboration with faculties and departments

None of this is possible without the continued support of campus partners. By directing students to authorized immigration consultants, you can help ensure international students are receiving current immigration information. Thank you!

To learn more visit our website or email us at

EdTech Week offers development opportunities for instructors

Students work with technology, viewing a skeleton and studying anatomy

A message from the Centre for Teaching Excellence

Educational Technologies Week is March 2-6, 2020.  EdTech Week is an opportunity for Waterloo instructors to focus more intensively on teaching development and technologies that promote deep learning. Join us for the entire week or register for individual workshops that you find interesting!

Learn about what others are doing and engage with the following topics and technologies:

  • Using Bongo, a video assessment tool that promotes experiential learning and the development of soft skills
  • VirBELA, a virtual workplace platform that facilitates casual and structured collaboration
  • Use of virtual and augmented reality in the classroom
  • How to “gamify” a course with LEARN
  • H5P, a powerful and flexible authoring tool that allows users to create interactive videos, presentations, games, and more
  • Lightboard, an illuminated glass “chalkboard” that can be used to create engaging videos
  • Mobius, a tool that facilitates the development of interactive online content for STEM courses
  • PebblePad ePortfolios

Derek Bruff, Director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching and a principal senior lecturer in the Vanderbilt Department of Mathematics, will deliver a keynote presentation: Principles to Guide the use of Educational Technology in University Teaching. He will also lead a workshop on the use of creative assignments for deep learning.

Register and find out more.

What's open and closed on Family Day, Reading Week

A woman in the snow holds a hot drink.

Monday is Family Day, a statutory holiday in Ontario, and most University operations will be closed.

Monday's closures include Print + Retail Solutions, the Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield, (open 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 15 but closed Sunday, February 16 and Monday, February 17), and most Food Services locations, unless otherwise noted on their schedule. 

The Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries will be open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday with some services remaining closed. Browser’s Café in the Dana Porter Library will be closed Saturday, February 15 - 17, it will open 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. February 18 - 21 and will be closed from February 22 - 23. 

Even on holidays, the University Police (519-888-4911) will be at work, the Student Life Centre's Turnkey Desk (519–888-4434) will be open, and the central plant will monitor campus buildings (for maintenance emergencies, call ext. 33793).

Monday, February 17 marks the beginning of Reading Week, otherwise known as the Winter term study break, during which there will be no lectures or classes on campus. The University’s offices and services will be open more or less as usual from Tuesday through Friday, which are regular working days for most University employees.

Some Food Services outlets will close for the entire week or have modified hours of operation, visit the Food Services site for all restaurant schedules.

Print + Retail Solutions locations will be open from Tuesday February 18 to Thursday February 20, and will be closed Friday the 21 until 1:30 p.m. for a staff training session. 

Have a great long weekend!

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast Episode 34

Beyond the Bulletin graphic with two vintage microphones

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now live. Adrien Côté is the new executive director of Velocity, Canada’s most productive incubator. He tells us about the evolution, focus and future of Waterloo’s largest entrepreneurship program. The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association elected its first all-female executive. A new documentary called Beyond Tradition highlights the University’s unique history. And there are some closures for Family Day and Reading Week.

Upcoming office closure

Campus Wellness will be closed Tuesday, February 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a staff meeting.

Link of the day

A history of Valentine’s Day

When and Where

Valentine’s Day at the University Club, Thursday, February 13 and Friday, February 14, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

Lectures in Catholic Experience series, “The God Beat: Writing about Religion in the 21st Century,” featuring Michael Enright, Host, The Sunday Edition, CBC Radio, Friday, February 14, 7:30 p.m., Vanstone Lecture Hall, St. Jerome’s University. Please register in advance. 

Concept $5K Grant applications close, “Previously known as the Velocity Fund $5K, student teams can apply to win a $5K grant for their startup idea,” Sunday, February 16.

W3 presents W5: Waterloo Women Writing With Women, a writing retreat, Wednesday, February 19, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Research ethics drop-in sessions, Wednesday, February 19, 10:00 a.m., Dana Porter Library first floor study booth.

Grebel and Aha! Productions Present: Nunsense the Musical“A hilarious fundraiser show for the Grebel Fill The Table campaign”, various showtimes from February 20 to 23, Conrad Grebel University College.

QPR Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Thursday, February 20, 9:30 a.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

WaterTalk: Addressing excess reactive nitrogen issues across international boundaries and across the globe: The International Nitrogen Management System, Thursday, February 20, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, February 20, 3:30 p.m., NH 2419 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Grade 10 Family Night, Thursday, February 20, 6:00 p.m.

FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle, February 21, 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., HH 235.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Sunday, February 23, 3:30 p.m., HS 1106 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Concept by Velocity - Graduate Student Startup Fund applications open, “Apply for the chance to win $20,000 and take your research to the next level.” Monday, February 24.

Indigenous Employee Lunch, Monday, February 24, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., HH 373.

Coping Skills Seminar - Challenging Thinking, Monday, February 24, 3:30 p.m., NH 2447– Register on GoSignMeUp.

FAUW Lecturers Town Hall, Tuesday, February 25, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Akindi training session, Thursday, February 25, 1:30 p.m.

Coping Skills Seminar – Cultivating Resiliency, Tuesday, February 25, 4:00 p.m., NH 2447  – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Writing and Communication Centre Workshop, "Grammar Studio III: Clarity at the sentence level," Wednesday, February 26, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., SCH 228F.

Research ethics drop-in sessions, Wednesday, February 26, 10:00 a.m.

WIN Seminar Series: Adventures with Chiral Induced Spin Selectivity, Wednesday, February 26, 10:30 a.m., QNC 1501.

Noon Hour Concert: Bernstein 101, Wednesday, February 26, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University Chapel.  

Writing and Communication Centre Workshop, "Graduate Literature Reviews A: Organizing Research," Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., LIB 323.

Coping Skills Seminar – Thriving With Emotions, Wednesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

2020 Latin American Film Festival screening, Neruda, Wednesday, February 26, 6:30 p.m., Kitchener Public Library main branch. Admission is free.

Concept by Velocity - Intro Session: Pitch to Win! “Perfect your 3-minute business pitch at this interactive workshop”, Wednesday, February 26, 6:30 p.m., South Campus Hall, 2nd Floor.

NEW - Writing and Communication Centre Workshop, "Say it in Your Own Words: Paraphrase & Summary for Graduate Students," Thursday, February 27, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., SCH 228F.

NEW - Writing and Communication Centre Workshop, "Design & Deliver I: Structure and delivery," Thursday, February 27, 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., SCH 228F.

NEW - Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, February 27, 3:30 p.m., NH 2419 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

NEW - Alleviating Anxiety Seminar, Thursday, February 27, 5:00 p.m., NH 2447 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

NEW - Hallman Lecture - The state of Indigenous health in Canada: Causes and consequences featuring Jane Philpott, Thursday, February 27, 7:00 p.m., AHS 1689.