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Canada’s international student population has skyrocketed in recent years.
In 2019, Canada had over 640,000 international students which means its foreign student population has tripled over the past decade.
International students are attracted to Canada’s high quality of education, diversity, safety, affordability, work opportunities, and immigration pathways.
As such, Canada is now welcoming international students from around 175 countries each year.
An early look at Canada’s 2020 international student data shows that many students were still coming to the country up until coronavirus lockdowns were imposed around the world.
New data by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shows that Canada welcomed 67,000 students from 156 countries between January and April 2020.
India remains the top source country with the other leading source countries remaining largely the same as in 2019.
So far in 2020, the top 15 source countries are:
Canada’s international student intake in the first four months of 2020 has been weaker than during the same period last year. During the first four months of 2019, Canada welcomed over 95,000 new international students.
The obvious reason for the nearly 30 per cent decline in new students is the global coronavirus pandemic.
The number of Chinese students arriving in early 2020 has been weaker than last year, with COVID-19 lockdown measures imposed by China playing a factor.
Similar measures were adopted by Canada and other countries in March when the coronavirus began to spread more widely.
By March 18, Canada introduced travel restrictions which have since prevented anyone that did not hold a study permit as of March 16 from entering the country unless there is another exemption that allows them to come to Canada.
Canada will make an announcement later this month on its travel guidelines in July 2020 and beyond.
Given that IRCC has said it will continue to process study permits to the best of its ability, new international students should expect to be allowed to enter Canada later in 2020.
Currently, Canadian colleges and universities are issuing letters of acceptance to international students.
A recent survey found that international students remain determined to study in Canada despite the pandemic.
Canada has introduced a variety of special measures to help such students study.
For example, it announced a major reform that will allow students to begin their programs online and remain eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.
The PGWP can help international students gain Canadian work experience after completing their program which they can go on to use to support their eligibility for a Canadian immigration program.
Recognizing the importance of international students to Canada’s economic and social vibrancy, we can expect IRCC to consider further temporary reforms to help students begin their programs in the second half of 2020.
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