The Covid lockdown has hit local immigration and IELTS centres hard as many are staring at losses. Sources say some centres have fired their staff as enquiries regarding immigration and IELTS coaching have nosedived in the past couple of months.

As for students who had planned to study abroad, they are considering alternative options as there is no clarity from colleges and universities about their upcoming academic calendar.

Hundreds of students from Doaba were planning to go abroad for the May and September intake. Now, such plans have taken a back seat.

Aakash (21), a native of the district’s Jandiala village, said he was on cloud nine three months ago when he received a letter of acceptance from the University of Manchester, UK.

After the Covid outbreak, there has no update on his application. “Now, I plan to take admission to one of the local colleges as my immigration consultant has told me that foreign nations may not invite students from other countries until mid of 2021,” he said.

The next six to eight months are crucial for the immigration industry. If the situation does not improve soon, many agencies would be forced to shut shop.

Harsaurabh Singh Bajaj, Managing Director of International Education Services, told The Tribune, “The Covid outbreak has hit the immigration sector hard and its effect will be long lasting. In spite of offering 60 to 70 per cent discount on consultation and IELTS coaching, there are hardly any takers. We have been running online visa consultancy and IELTS classes, but the response has been poor.”

Online classes, claimed to be the solution in times of Covid, have failed to beat the lockdown effect. “Only one out of every 10 institutes in the city has the infrastructre to conduct online classes. This arrangement is not easy sailing as institutes have been facing poor Net connectivity,” said Satish Sareen, the owner of Sareen Ligua World.

Sources say many immigration and IELTS offices in the district have fired telecallers and teachers as there are no takers for IELTS coaching. This is the obvious fallout as Class XII board exams and final-semester exam of college students are still pending. Also, parents are reluctant to send their children abroad for studies as they have incurred losses in their businesses.