International Students and IRCC Measures due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel and border measures have been implemented by the Canadian government to protect the health and safety of Canadians by restricting non-essential international travel.
In the air mode, the basic rule is that foreign nationals are prohibited from boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada when
- the flight is departing from any country other than the United States, and
- the foreign national is not covered by any of the travel exemptions
One of the exceptions applies to foreign nationals who hold a valid Canadian study permit or were issued a letter of invitation dated on or before March 18, 2020.
It means international students are allowed to come to Canada should they have a study permit or an approval letter for an application submitted outside Canada issued before March 18, 2020.
These international students were already enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada or had been accepted by a DLI and made arrangements to come to Canada to study before the travel restrictions were put in place.
In terms of documents that need to be presented, you should self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that you are exempt under this provision by presenting:
- a valid study permit, or
- a letter of introduction from IRCC (study permit approval letter) dated on or before March 18, 2020
The instructions from the Canadian government could change without notice, so you should check the government website for the latest information.
Applicants can continue to submit study permit applications outside Canada.
Applicants can also continue to submit study permit extension applications from within Canada.
EXTENSIONS - Temporary residents in Canada unable to depart Canada
It is important to note that there is no fee waiver for any temporary residence applications or extensions.
Students who are in Canada and whose temporary resident status may soon expire may apply for an extension in order to maintain their temporary resident status in Canada: it could be an application for a study permit extension, a visitor record or a work permit.
Everyone who has an extension application currently in progress can benefit from implied status and may remain in Canada until a decision is rendered on their application.
Foreign nationals whose temporary resident status has expired may apply for restoration.
If the applicant is not eligible for restoration, the officer has the option to refer the case to an admissibility hearing, issue a departure order or allow the foreign national to remain in Canada.
STUDY PERMIT CONDITIONS - ONLINE STUDYING
If an international student holds or has been approved for a study permit for a program starting in May or June 2020 for example, and those classes are being offered online due to the coronavirus, you can begin your program online from outside and complete up to 50% of it from outside Canada.
POST-GRADUATION WORK PERMIT (PGWP)
Under normal circumstances, international students must have continuously studied full time in Canada in a program that is at least eight months long to be eligible for this work permit.
Given that many courses were forced to move online in accordance with coronavirus prevention measures, IRCC is allowing international students enrolled in these courses to be eligible for a PGWP. International students will not be penalized for online coursework when they eventually apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
Courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID-19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit Program eligibility for a post-graduation work permit.
International students in this predicament can begin their classes while outside Canada and may complete up to half of their program while abroad if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.
For the most updated information regarding the Coronavirus-COVID-19 pandemic, make sure you check the IRCC website at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19.html?utm_source=SMAC