COVID-19 has impacted everyone, and international students have especially been left wondering what their academic future in Canada holds.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented several public policies that international students should know. Most of them can be found on the IRCC website here:
- https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/visitors-foreign-workers-students.html; and here
Prospective and current international students should check the above webpagse daily. The date that they were last modified can be found at the bottom.
Here are some of the important measures
Restrictions on Travelling to Canada
As of July 15, 2020 international students who have a valid study permit, or were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, can travel to Canada for a non-discretionary purpose. In determining whether a student’s travel to Canada is non-discretionary, the Canada Border Services Agency will consider the following:
- If students are established residing and studying in Canada,
- If students expected to begin studying upon arrival, whether their presence in Canada is necessary for their continued participation in their program, and
- If pursuing online studies is not an option for their school or from their home country, and whether the semester has been cancelled or delayed.
Those who are travelling by air need to pass a health check conducted by an airline before they will be allowed to board their flight. Anyone showing signs of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board their flight. After arriving they will need to quarantine for fourteen days. During this fourteen day period, they must remain in their place of residence, and arrange for items, like groceries, to be delivered to them.
International Students who have study permits, or have been approved for study permits, but who cannot travel to Canada, will be eligible for a post-graduate work permit. IRCC amended its Post-Graduate Work Permit Program so that those who are taking online-only courses remain eligible for a work permit upon graduation.
In the above situations, students may begin their classes while outside of Canada and complete up to 50% of their program while outside of Canada due to an inability to travel, and still be eligible for a work permit.
As well, students who complete the fall 2020 semester from outside of Canada will not have this time deducted from the duration of their post-graduate work permit.
Working While in School
If COVID-19 has resulted that full time students becomes part-time students, they can still work 20 hours per week as per a recent policy implemented by IRCC. Such students can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic session, and full-time during scheduled breaks in the academic year.
Students are allowed to work more than 20 hours if they are a study permit holder, are eligible to work off campus, and are providing an essential service. Public Safety Canada has provided guidance on what constitutes essential services, and it pertains to specific services in ten areas of critical infrastructure, including Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing.
Applications Processing times
Processing times remain uncertain, as everything during Covid-19. On July 20, 2020, IRCC announced that there are no measures in place to provide for expedited processing of study permit applications.
The Department has turned the study permit application process into a 2-stage approval process that will provide pre-approvals to students so that they can start their programs abroad with the confidence that their study permit applications will ultimately be approved.
However, as per IRCC, it is important for prospective students to note that commencing their studies online from abroad following approval-in-principle of a study permit application is not a guarantee that they will receive a full approval of their study permit application, or be authorized to pursue their studies in Canada.