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Posted on September 16 2020

Measures favorable to international students during COVID-19 continue in Canada

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023
Study in Canada

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, many countries including Canada introduced visa and travel restrictions.

This has had an impact on the entry of international students to Canada. This is especially relevant for those wishing to study in Canada. The government is aware of the contribution of international students to the Canadian economy, so it has introduced a number of favorable measures to help students who wish to study in Canada. These include a two-stage student visa application process and counting the time spent on online classes for eligibility to the Postgraduate Work Permit Program (PGWP).

Here is an overview of the special measures taken by the government for international students.

Two-stage application process

The IRCC has announced a new two-step approval process to help international students to come to the country to help them start their semester online even though their study permit is not finalized.

The IRCC intends to process all the complete study process applications as early as possible.

Stage 1

In the first stage, students will have to submit documents just like the regular study permit process. They will have to submit the following documents:

  • Letter of acceptance from the university
  • Proof of enough funds to finance one’s studies
  • Selection to a university in Quebec will need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec’ (CAQ that will be sent by the university)
  • Proof that they are ready to leave Canada when their legal or temporary status in Canada expires
  • Proof of any family ties in Canada

The IRCC will examine these applications and decide whether to issue a pre-approval or not.  However international students can begin their course at this stage.

Stage 2

In the second stage, students will have to apply for their full study permit to be able to travel to Canada. The documents required for this stage are:

  • Immigration medical examination
  • Security-Police certificates
  • Biometrics

Students who can successfully complete both stages of the application process will be able to travel to Canada once the travel restrictions are removed.

Changes in PGWP rules

The Canadian government has made changes to the eligibility requirements for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP) for international students.

The PGWP helps foreign students gain work experience in Canada after completing their study course at a specified educational institution. The PGWP is valid for 3 years, depending on the duration of the study program.

After completing their studies, the PGWP helps international students to work in the country for up to three years.

Online classes are normally not eligible for a PGWP application but due to travel restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has decided to allow international students to study online in their country and still be able to apply for a work permit after graduation.

Under this new legislation, students will be able to start their online programs at Canadian universities in the autumn of this year and complete up to 50% of their program abroad, and then earn their PGWP for work in Canada after completing their studies.

The IRCC has decided not to deduct the validity of the PGWP for the time the students spend on the course from outside Canada.

Because of the pandemic, international students can now begin their course in the fall and still be eligible for a three-year PGWP provided they arrive in Canada by December 2020 and complete a  program of at least two years at a Designated Learning Institute (DLI).

Students already in Canada

For students who are already in Canada, the IRCC has announced that if they are in Canada for winter, spring and summer terms will not lose their eligibility for PGWP if they are required to complete more than 50% of their online program, reduce their studies to part-time or take a full break due to restrictions on in-class learning due to the pandemic.

Canada has been proactive in mitigating the concerns of international students and has implemented measures ever since the pandemic broke out to help them.



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