The coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult for international students to get the documents they usually need for Canadian study permits. The Canadian border is also closed to most international students. Students are only exempt from travel restrictions if their study permits were issued before noon on March 18.
Even then, border officers may refuse entry to exempt international students if their program can be done online. International students still need to be in Canada for an essential reason. If their courses are offered online and they can study from home, that could make their reason for travelling to Canada “optional” or “discretionary.”
However, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is introducing a new two-step approval process that will allow international students to start the semester online without a finalized study permit. Today, the immigration department unveiled new instructions for its officers on how to proceed with the temporary changes.
IRCC stated last week it is aiming to process complete study permit applications that have already been submitted as quickly as possible.
Students who want to take advantage of the temporary two-step process have until September 15 to apply for their study permit.
The first stage is much like the regular study-permit process. International students have to submit:
Immigration officers will assess these applications and issue pre-approval at their discretion. International students can begin studying at this stage.
To get the full study permit, and eventually be able to travel to Canada, international students will need to submit:
International students who are applying under the Student Direct Stream (SDS) are only eligible for the expedited study-permit program if they can submit a full application. Otherwise, they have to apply under the regular process or wait until they are able to supply all the necessary documents to be eligible for the SDS. IRCC also says that there may be delays.
The SDS aims to process study permits in 20 days. Currently, international students are eligible if they are from the following seven countries: China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal and Vietnam.
The full study permit is needed if students want to complete their program in Canada, and eventually apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to work in the country after they graduate.
IRCC previously changed the eligibility requirements for the PGWP as designated learning institutions changed their in-class programs to online. International students will now be able to do to half of their program online and still be eligible for the work permit that could allow them to stay in Canada for at least three more years.
The PGWP is important because it enables international students to get the Canadian work experience they often need to become eligible for Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) are among numerous immigration pathways available to international students who complete their studies in Canada and get qualifying work experience.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and the Canadian institutions and communities that host them,” immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, said in a news release. “This is why we have implemented a series of measures to support them. 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.”
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