The quick development of COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of almost everyone, including international students in Canada. Current students find themselves shifting all instruction online to complete the current semester, while new students are not sure if they can, or even if they should, enter Canada at a later date.
I took your questions to Ann Welsh, Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant, and international student support specialist at Schulich School of Business, York University. I'm sure many of you may find the information helpful.
If you have any further question, please feel free to leave a question in the comment section below. We will try our best to help with your questions.
Universities, colleges and schools across Canada have cancelled their classes for the remainder of the semester. Fall semester is still a question mark. What should international students do? Go home, or stay in Canada?
This is a very personal choice and most students will have several factors to consider in deciding whether to remain in Canada or return home, including family and health preferences, as well as home government requirements and travel restrictions,. If classes and exams are being delivered online, there is no requirement for students to remain in Canada should they wish to return home. They can continue to study online and earn credit from outside of Canada.
Some students have study permits approaching the expiry date. Can they still apply for extension when the new school year is still uncertain? Is the immigration office still processing study permit applications?
Students who are in Canada can apply online to extend their study permits if their study permit will expire soon. It is important to apply before the expiry of their current study permit in order to maintain their status in Canada. They should include sufficient documentation to support their request to extend their status, which should include an enrolment letter from their institution confirming their enrollment status as well as anticipated program completion date. Students should also include a letter explaining why they need to extend their status in Canada.
IRCC is continuing to accept and process online study permit extensions; however, there may be disruptions to processing times due to COVID-19. For example, all biometric collection centres in Canada are currently closed. While students can submit their study permit extension application, if they are required to provide biometrics, they will not be able to do so until this service becomes available again. They will be granted an automatic 90-day extension of time to provide biometrics.
For more information on COVID-19 and international students in Canada, see here
The travel restriction order from the government seems confusing. March 16, border access restricted, but Americans are allowed to enter. March 18, U.S. non-essential travelling to and from Canada are no longer allowed. March 20, "international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020". What do you think will happen down the road? Will existing international students be allowed to enter? Will new international students be allowed to enter?
It is difficult for anyone to predict the future in light of the rapidly evolving nature of this unprecedented global pandemic. The Canadian government is taking its approach to the COVID-19 situation very seriously and is focused on following instructions from public health authorities, which includes an emphasis on social distancing. As such, travel restrictions and/or exemptions may be updated as necessary to ensure the health and safety of those residing in Canada.
As of today, international students who hold a valid study permit are allowed to enter Canada, as well as those who had been approved for a study permit on or before March 18th (note: regular travel document requirements continue to apply. In other words, a student holding a valid study permit must also hold a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to board a flight to Canada). It is important to continue to closely monitor Canada's travel restrictions as well as travel restrictions in countries of departure or transit.
For more information about travel restrictions, see Implications of travel restrictions on IRCC clients
How does the quarantine work for international students arriving in Canada?
All individuals entering Canada are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. This means Failure to comply is considered an offense and can include penalties. For international students arriving in Canada for the first time, this can be be a stressful and challenging time. Before coming to Canada, students should inquire with their housing provider as well as their Canadian institution to determine whether any measures are in place to support or restrict their mandatory self-quarantine. For example, some on-campus residences will not allow students to complete the 14-day quarantine in residence; as such, these students should be prepared to make alternative arrangements and inquire with their institution whether support is in place to assist them in making these arrangements. Students should also be prepared to travel directly to their planned self-quarantine residence and have a plan in place to determine how they will obtain essential items (such as food, internet/phone set up, etc). For additional information, see the Government of Canada's information on how to self-isolate.
A blog where Homadorma team share information with our hosts and students.