Canada’s immigration services also known as IRCC has released a summary of temporary measures being put in place to support international students, study permits, and post-graduation work permits.

The introduction of strict travel restrictions put in place to manage the outbreak of the COVID-19 has had a serious impact on Canada’s immigration activities in recent months.

Travel restrictions limit, among other things, international students’ entry into Canada. Under the government’s Order-in-Council, only foreign students who fall under these three categories below can enter Canada at the moment:

  • International students with a valid study permits; or
  • International students approved for a study permits on or prior to March 18, 2020; or
  • International students coming from the U.S.

Canada recognizes the important contribution that international students make to the socio-economic life of the country. That is why it has put in place several measures to ensure that international students who want to study in Canada can do so.

The changes include a two-stage study permit processes and the ability to start online studies, with this time counted towards the Post-Graduation Work Permit.

For those who are following these changes, or whose applications may be directly or indirectly impact by them, here is a consolidated overview of present temporary measures regarding studies in Canada.

The information is based on the latest backgrounder listing facilitative measures to support international students affected by the coronavirus pandemic released on the Government of Canada website.

Study permits

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for international students to get the documents they normally need for Canadian study permits.

To remedy the situation, Canada has implemented a two-step approval process that made it possible for foreign students to start their fall semester online without a final study permit.

Those who have not been able to provide biometric information, the results of an immigration medical examination, or other important documents, may still be considered for a study permit. Those approved in the first stage will have already met most of the requirements for a study permit.

Canada has stated that complete study permit applications that have already been lodged will be processed as fast as possible.

International students who successfully complete both stages will be able to travel to Canada once travel restrictions are relaxed.

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP)

After a student completes an eligible program at a designated post-secondary institution (for instance, a college or university), he or she may get a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for up to three years.

The final duration of the PGWP depends on how long the person has studied at a Canadian post-secondary institution.

Before the pandemic, distance learning could not count towards PGWP eligibility. Ottawa made a series of changes over the past months to allow online learning count towards PGWP eligibility.

Currently, international students can study online from overseas until April 30, 2021, without affecting their PGWP eligibility. There is however one condition: they must be able to complete at least fifty (50) percent of their program in Canada.

In addition, international students who are enrolled in eight (8)- to twelve (12)-month programs that began in the spring, summer, or fall (May-September) semesters of 2020 may be able to apply for a PGWP even if they finished their entire program abroad.

Finally, international students who are registered in a program with a start date between May and September 2020, who study online until April 30, 2021, and who graduated from more than one qualifying course of study, may be able to combine the duration of their programs of study when filing for a PGWP in the future.

The same condition also applies to some international students in this situation, which requires that fifty (50) percent of their total studies be completed in Canada.

For International Students who are already in Canada

Canada has said that students already in Canada for the winter, spring, and summer terms programs will not lose their PGWP eligibility if they are required to complete more than fifty (50) percent of their programs online, reduce their studies to part-time or take a full break due to the travel restrictions imposed on in-class learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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