COVID-19 and students – Steven Meurrens Immigration

Towards the end of summer, students prepare for the start of the school year. They will check to see if they have the latest version of Zoom on their computers and may update their home internet. COVID-19 has influenced everyone, and international students in particular have wondered what their academic future will look like in Canada.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada has implemented several public policies in response to COVID-19 that international students should know about. You can find most of them on the IRCC website here:

Potential and current international students should check the above website daily. The date on which they were last changed is shown below. Unfortunately, IRCC updates its COVID 19 guidelines through stealth editing. Therefore, it may be advisable to save the website as a PDF to keep track of changes.

Here are some key measures.

Travel restrictions for Canada

From July 15, 2020, international students who have a valid study permit or who received a study permit on or before March 18, 2020 can travel to Canada for a non-discretionary purpose. When determining whether a student’s trip to Canada is at their own discretion, the Canada Border Services Agency checks whether they are resident and studying in Canada, whether they are likely to begin their studies upon arrival, and whether they are present in Canada is necessary for their continuation Participation in their program, regardless of whether an online study is not possible for their school or their home country and whether the semester has been canceled or postponed.

Anyone arriving by plane must pass an airline health check before they can board their flight. Those who show signs of COVID-19 are not allowed to board their flight. Upon arrival, they must be quarantined for a fortnight. During this fortnight, they must stay where they are and ensure that items such as food are delivered to them.

Online courses

The IRCC has changed its postgraduate work permit program so that those who only take online courses continue to receive a work permit after completing their studies.

Even those who have a study permit or have been admitted to a study permit but cannot travel to Canada are entitled to a postgraduate work permit.

In the above situations, students can begin their classes outside of Canada and complete up to fifty percent of their program outside of Canada because they cannot travel and are still entitled to a work permit.

Students who complete the fall semester 2020 from outside of Canada will not be deducted from their postgraduate work permit.

Working at school

The IRCC has introduced a public policy that allows full-time students to work off campus if COVID-19 has resulted in them becoming part-time students. Such students can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during the planned breaks in the academic year.

Students are allowed to work more than 20 hours if they hold a study permit, are allowed to work outside the campus and do a substantial service. Public security Canada has provided guidance on key services and relates to specific services in ten areas of critical infrastructure, including energy and utilities, information and communication technologies, finance, health, food, water, transportation, security, government and manufacturing.


Perhaps the biggest question most applicants with a study permit have is when their applications will be processed. Unfortunately, this remains uncertain. On July 14, 2020, Marco EL Mendicino, Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, announced that the IRCC would offer priority priority to study applicants to those who applied online. In the meantime, on July 20, 2020, the IRCC announced that there are no measures in place to speed up the processing of study permit applications.

The department also examines whether the process of applying for a study permit can be converted into a two-step approval process that provides students with pre-approvals so that they can start their programs abroad with the certainty that their application for study approval will ultimately be approved.

However, according to the IRCC, it is important that potential students note that starting their studies online from abroad after the basic approval of an application for a study permit is not a guarantee that they will be given full approval of their application for a study permit, to continue her studies in Canada.

As with almost everything during COVID-19, the result is uncertainty.

Hopefully the IRCC’s efforts to present inviting and simplistic messages and guidelines will lead to flexibility at the level of individual officials.

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