Canada building protocols for safe arrival of international students this year

As per an exemption, international students are permitted to enter Canada so long as they held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, at the time that the current travel restrictions took effect on 18 March.

More recently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the resumption of some visa processing services. As of 1 July IRCC began to again process online applications for visitor visas and electronic travel authorisations (eTAs). IRCC has also resumed processing of study permit applications submitted online “to the extent possible”. In practice, this means that, while processing has restarted, some significant issues remain, including the ability of applicants to complete biometric requirements and that processing delays can otherwise be expected.

IRCC cautions as well that, “Due to current travel restrictions, applicants should keep in mind that, even if they apply and get a visitor visa or eTA, most people will not be able to travel to Canada at this time.” Where flights are available and travel restrictions permit, IRCC adds that, “Those who are eligible to travel to Canada at this time must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in Canada. This is mandatory, even if they have no symptoms. Those who don’t have a plan should not travel to Canada.”

While educators and all other stakeholders continue to watch closely for further guidance from IRCC and public health authorities, those current directives from Canadian immigration officials provide an important part of the context for student mobility to Canada over the balance of 2020. They also provide a foundation for educators to establish more concrete plans for bringing students to Canada in the coming months.

The guidance includes that all students should have detailed quarantine plans and other documentation to present on arrival in Canada so that Canadian border officials can see clearly that there is a sound plan in place with good supports and oversight. The student can have everything in order, including a valid study permit but if the [Canadian Border Services Agency] officer isn’t convinced that student has everything needed to self-isolate they can still deny entry to Canada.


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