Canada opening border to international students going to coronavirus-ready institutions

Shelby Thevenot
Published: October 6, 2020

International students will be allowed to travel to Canada starting October 20, if their study institution has a coronavirus-readiness plan that has been approved by its provincial or territorial health authority.

Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) are expected to send the specifics of their readiness plan to the provincial or territorial government, since this is the level of government that handles education in Canada. Plans should include details on how the institutions will inform international students on health and travel requirements before arrival, help with quarantine plans, and provide guidance or assistance in acquiring necessities like groceries and medicine during quarantine. The plans also must establish health and safety protocols in case students do come down with coronavirus.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will release the list of approved DLIs as they come available on their webpage.

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The new measure applies to all international students regardless of when their study permit was approved, or where they are from, IRCC says. However, the immigration department also advises travellers to not make any travel plans until they have met all the requirements and all necessary authorizations.

In order to travel to Canada once the new measure goes into place, eligible international students will have to be asymptomatic, and they will need the appropriate documents to enter Canada. Once at the border, they will be considered to be travelling for an essential reason, unless "there is evidence that they are clearly coming to Canada for a discretionary or optional purpose, such as tourism."

The immediate family members of students my also be able to come with them to Canada, as long as their reason for travel is essential, such as getting established in Canada to support the student's study program. In this case, immediate family includes spouses and common-law partners, dependents, or if the student is under the age 18, a parent or legal guardian.

International students and accompanying family members will need to comply with all public health measures once they arrive in Canada, including the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Earlier this year, immigration minister Marco Mendicino and health minister Patty Hajdu began collaborating with provincial and territorial governments, as well as DLIs on how to safely welcome more international students to Canada. The ministers gave the announcement of the new measures on Friday, October 2nd.

International students have been calling on the federal government to allow exemptions for students. Many of whom live in countries with limited access to internet, and time differences make for impractical class times.

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