Important! Entry to Canada for international students!
On March 20, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced exemptions to the air travel restrictions introduced earlier as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic“to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.”
It means that:
The exemption applies only to international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on 18 March. The exemption will not apply to those whose study permit applications were approved after the border closures fully came into effect on 18 March.
The timing of the exemption is not yet clear and students are advised to not make travel plans right away. A supplemental advisory from IRCC notes that, “Students who haven’t [already arrived in Canada] should not travel yet. We’ve announced exemptions but they’re not in place. Travel restrictions are still in effect for these groups.”
IRCC has indicated that it expects to announce an effective date for the travel exemption imminently, and perhaps as early as this week. We will update this post right away once further details are available.
For the moment, we can also advise that exempted students will be subject to mandatory health screening protocols upon boarding and departing their flights and will be required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days immediately following their arrival in Canada.
If you are an international students already in Canada:
In a related development, IRCC has also confirmed that international students already in Canada, whose studies have been disrupted by campus or school closures and who may be unable to return to their home countries because of travel restrictions abroad, can still apply to extend their study permit status in Canada as needed.
A recent update from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) adds that, “IRCC has been clear that, as a basic principle and to the extent possible, clients who are currently in Canada should not be adversely impacted as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
All temporary residents who are already in Canada and unable to depart are encouraged to apply for an extension so that they may maintain their temporary resident status in Canada. Once the application is submitted, the client will benefit from implied status and may remain in Canada until a decision is rendered on their application, or the required documents can be submitted.”