International students offer significant social and economic benefits which is why Canada seeks to attract them to the country. Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada hosted over 640,000 international students.
In a news release issued today, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said that it will help international students as follows:
- IRCC will prioritize the processing of study permits for students who have submitted a completed application online so that their permits are processed as soon as possible
- IRCC is introducing a temporary 2-stage approval process for international students who can not yet submit a completed study permit application and who want to begin their Canadian educational program online. This temporary process is available to students who want to begin their program this fall and who submit their study permit application by September 15, 2020
- As previously reported by CIC News in May, IRCC is also enabling students to begin their Canadian studies online while they are still abroad and having that time count towards their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility so long as they have submitted a study permit application and if at least 50 per cent of the program is completed in Canada.
While IRCC has not stated this, the first bullet of their news release strongly suggests that those who have already submitted a completed study permit application (e.g., prior to the start of the pandemic in March) should expect IRCC to process the application in the near future, and in time for the September 2020 academic year.
Why IRCC is helping international students
IRCC says it is rolling out these measures to help students begin their programs in time for the fall 2020 academic year.
IRCC recognizes that the global coronavirus crisis is creating uncertainty for international students. In addition, the pandemic has impacted IRCC’s ability to process study permits.
However these new changes will help students begin their programs online this fall at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI).
There are numerous benefits to IRCC’s changes.
Benefits to international students
International students can take comfort in being able to start their Canadian program online which will protect their health and safety and enable them to achieve their various study, career, and immigration objectives.
If they wish to begin their Canadian studies this fall, IRCC will do its best to process their study permit as soon as it can. Even if the student is unable to submit a completed study permit application, IRCC will pre-approve them if they meet the conditions outlined below.
Students want to come to Canada due to its high-quality of education. In addition, they are attracted by the opportunities to work in Canada during and after their studies, and potentially obtain permanent residence to become the Canadian citizens of the future.
IRCC’s new policies are meant to help international students pursue such goals.
How to get a pre-approval for a study permit
IRCC will provide an approval-in-principle for study permits if students pass the first stage.
In an email to CIC News, IRCC explained:
The two-stage assessment process will be applied to applicants at all levels of study whose program is starting in the fall semester or earlier and who submit, or have already submitted, a study permit application online on or before September 15, 2020.
At the initial eligibility stage, officers will assess:
- Letter of acceptance
- Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (for those destined for a learning institution in Quebec)
- Proof of funds
- That the applicant is a bona fide student who will leave Canada when they no longer have legal temporary or permanent status
- Family ties to Canada
For the admissibility stage, before a final decision is made, officers will review the following:
- Immigration medical examination
- Security-Police certificates
Upon receiving final approval for their study permit, students will be able to travel to Canada once international travel resumes.
International student attraction is hugely beneficial to students themselves and Canada.
Students are able to pursue an excellent standard of education in one of the world’s most open and diverse countries. It is also less expensive to study in Canada compared with countries such as the United States. Students can work while at a Canadian DLI, which can help them support their living expenses in Canada and also save for the future.
After completing their education, they can gain a PGWP to work in Canada for up to three years. The professional work experience they gain in Canada can help them obtain permanent residence and eventually citizenship. Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and many other pathways are available for international students who want immigration status.
Nearly 60,000 former international students become immigrants each year, according to IRCC.
International students enrich the learning experience at colleges and universities across Canada and help enrich Canadian society even further. They also contribute $22 billion annually to the economy which supports 170,000 Canadian jobs.
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