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Ottawa has made further significant changes to help international students wishing to study in Canada start a new program online from this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Changes to the Study Permit application process and to how time spent studying online counts toward a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) were announced on Tuesday, July 14.
They follow a number of other moves to support international students made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) since the pandemic took hold in March.
“We value the contribution of young people seeking a high-quality education in Canada, and we’re making every effort to minimize how current challenges affect their plans and dreams for the future,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
The changes include the creation of a new two-stage study permit approval process to help candidates who cannot submit the required documents due to COVID-19 closures. This process is available to students starting a program in the fall semester who submit a study permit application before September 15, 2020.
“This measure will reassure students that they can enrol and begin their studies this fall online, even when they are not able to submit all required documentation due to pandemic-related closures,” an IRCC statement said.
Candidates will initially receive approvement-in-principle, allowing them to begin their studies online, before receiving full approval at a later date when the required documents can be submitted.
The time spent studying online abroad will count towards their PGWP, provided they submit a study permit application and at least 50 percent of their program is completed in Canada.
Canada has also committed to providing priority study-permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online, to ensure that permits are processed as quickly as possible.
Mendicino said: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and the Canadian institutions and communities that host them. This is why we have implemented a series of measures to support them.”
Temporary Stages for Study Permit Approval
Approval-in-principle stage: Candidates must show that they have been accepted at a Canadian learning institution, have the available funds and are otherwise eligible for the study permit.
Once the approval-in-principle is issued, applicants can begin studying online abroad and have that time count towards their PGWP, provided they meet other criteria and that they eventually receive full study permit approval.
Final approval stage: Candidates must meet all eligibility and admissibility requirements, including submitting biometrics and necessary documents such as an immigration medical exam and a police certificate. Only once final approval is received will an applicant be able to travel to Canada.
IRCC made it clear that a candidate receiving approval-in-principle is not guaranteed to receive full approval. “It is still possible that an applicant could receive a negative final decision on their study permit based on factors such as inadmissibility for criminality or security reasons, and the inability to predict how the COVID-19 situation and any associated travel restrictions will evolve,” an IRCC statement said.