Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to process study permit applications at a limited capacity although service closures in Canada and overseas, such as Visa Application Centres, have an impact on individuals’ ability to submit a complete application, and IRCC’s ability to complete their assessment of applications.
All completed applications are processed to finalization. IRCC officers will continue to request additional supporting documents or necessary actions (such as biometrics and medical exams) as part of the application process and will keep the applications open until documents are received or evidence is provided that action has been taken.
VACs are gradually resuming services, please check IRCC’s website for the most up to date information.
Notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19 on international students’ ability to travel, the identity management and security rationale supporting the collection of biometrics remain. IRCC is continuing to work with educational partners to facilitate the entry of international students to Canada.
Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many courses that normally require in-person attendance have been shifted to an online format. A study permit or visa is not required to study online from overseas and earn a credential from a Canadian university, college, institute or school. Prospective students who wish to begin a program of study that normally requires in-person attendance are encouraged to apply for a study permit before commencing their studies online, as the program of study may still require in-person attendance in the future.
For applicants intending to study at a post-secondary institution, who do not have either a study permit or approval of their study permit application prior to the beginning of their studies, time spent pursuing their studies online will not count towards their eligibility for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
Under normal circumstances, all distance learning courses completed outside Canada are excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the PGWP. However, on a temporary basis, for prospective students currently outside Canada who are scheduled to begin studying in the spring, summer or fall 2020 semester, the duration of time spent in distance learning abroad will not be excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the PGWP (until December 31st, 2020 for the fall cohort) if at least 50% of their total program of study is completed in Canada.
Currently there is no alternative to the IELTS test for all study permit applications, including Student Direct Stream applications.
Immediate family members may be eligible to accompany their relative on a study permit.
Current travel restrictions contain certain exemptions for foreign nationals. Foreign nationals travelling from any country other than the US may be eligible to travel to Canada under the family reunification exemption, but will require written authorization from IRCC and demonstrate that their travel is non-discretionary:
Foreign nationals travelling from the US do not require written authorization, but they must also demonstrate they are travelling for a non-discretionary purpose, which includes, among others: showing appropriate documentation to return to Canada to work / study, or land as a permanent resident, and entering Canada for the purposes of taking up full-time residence in Canada (this applies to prospective permanent residents as well as temporary residents who are seeking entry to Canada to establish themselves with immediate family members).
CAPS-I has developed a Pre-Departure, Travel, Arrival & Quarantine Protocols which has been shard with their member schools who are now adding some final details specific to their own programs and consulting with their respective provincial and regional health and education authorities. All CAPS-I member schools will be sharing the Protocols with their agency partners and students planning to travel to Canada in the near future very soon.
Foreign nationals who hold a valid Canadian study permit or received a letter of introduction on or before March 18 can enter Canada if they are travelling for non-discretionary purposes, as determined upon arrival in Canada by the Canada Border Services Agency. Students are responsible to ensure that their programs of study are still ongoing, whether they are online or in-class. Travel will be deemed either discretionary or non-discretionary depending on individual circumstances, and each case is examined on its own merit.
Upon arrival in Canada, Border Services Officers will assess the circumstances surrounding the student’s travel and consider, for example, whether the student is:
A Border Services Officer will make a final determination on the foreign national’s eligibility to enter Canada at a port of entry when the foreign national first arrives in Canada.
If a foreign national’s study permit has expired, the student must submit a new application if they wish to complete their studies in Canada or have the time spent studying abroad counts towards their PGWP eligibility.
If a student has a valid study permit, or has been approved for a study permit for a program starting between May and December 2020, but can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, their PGWP eligibility will not be impacted if they complete more than 50% of their studies in Canada.
Other work permits may provide options to continue working in Canada, or to resume working for an employer at a later date once travel and health restrictions have been eased. See IRCC’s website for more details.
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