Canada Offers More Detail on Coronavirus Measures for International Students


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Canada has offered more details for international students on the new 2-step application process for a Canada study permit put in place due to coronavirus restrictions

In guidance posted on July 20, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) seeks to clarify which students can still travel to Canada under current restrictions.

The guidance indicates that international student accepted by a college or university may not be allowed to travel if their course is being conducted online.

Further information on how distance learning will impact an international student’s future eligibility for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) has also been issued.

Read on for full details.

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Non-Optional and Non-Discretionary Purposes of Travel for Students

IRCC has clarified that students with a study permit approved on or before March 18 are exempt from travel restrictions if travelling for a non-discretionary or non-optional purpose.

Students with a valid study permit but who do not need to be in Canada because their courses are being conducted online may be deemed ineligible for entry.

Factors to be considered by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers include: 

  • Whether the student is already established in Canada.
  • Whether they will begin studying after completing quarantine.
  • Whether they need to be in Canada to participate in the program, for example workshops or lab sessions.
  • Whether studying online is not possible in their home country.

Distance Learning and Study Permit Issuance

Canada has introduced a new 2-step process for students starting this fall who may have to begin their courses online due to coronavirus restrictions.

The process involved approval in principle for candidates beginning their studies online, with full approval granted at a later date when the candidate arrives in Canada.

Candidates accepted for a place at a qualifying college or university normally requiring in-person attendance should apply for a study permit before starting online classes.

In order to be approved, candidates require a letter of acceptance from the college or university that states in-person attendance will be required once coronavirus restrictions are lifted. The letter must also include a target start date for in-person classes.

The application will be refused if the applicant intends to complete the entire program via distance learning.

Quebec Students Whose Program Start Date has been Postponed from Summer to Fall

Students issued a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) for a summer start that has been delayed until fall are exempt from applying for a new CAQ.

Quebec is also automatically extending the validity of CAQs until December 31, 2020 for all certificates expiring between April 30 and December 31, 2020.

Fall Cohort and Post-Graduation Work Permit Eligibility

Students in one of the following categories remain eligible for the PGWP if at least half of their program is completed in Canada:

1) Study permit holders who had already begun their studies in Canada, but left Canada and are continuing their courses online.

2) Candidates approved for a study permit for a program starting in spring, summer or fall 2020, who will begin their program online instead of trying to travel to Canada.

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