Thousands of international students come to Canada every year to pursue higher education. However, this process is no longer as straightforward as it used to be. Due to the ongoing global pandemic and the travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of Covid-19 infections, international students must now stay up-to-date with the updates on the border restrictions and any change in the guidelines by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
IRCC recently cautioned international students to submit their study permit applications by May 15th if they are planning to attend college in the fall semester. According to the IRCC, applications submitted after May 15th would be processed as early as possible, however, study permits might not be issued in time for the start of the fall semester. If completed applications are submitted by May 15, then applicants will receive their study permits by August 6, well in time for them to join their colleagues in September.
Due to reduced services at the visa application centers (VACs), IRCC will not be able to ensure timely study permits for students who submit their applications after May 15. Setting targeted deadlines for the issuance of study permits is being done to give international students enough time to quarantine for 14-days as required by the government guidelines for international travelers.
Since study permit applications are submitted online regardless of the applicant’s current place of residence, it is expected that they will be able to submit their completed application in time.
What Are the Current Covid-19 Guidelines for International Students?
International students traveling to Canada must submit the following:
- Acceptance letter from a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI)
- Supporting documentation to complete their application
- A letter explaining why documentation could not be provided due to Covid-19 restrictions if required
International students enrolled at a DLI in Quebec must also include their application for a Quebec Certificate of Acceptance (CAQ, Certificat d’acceptation du Québec). Applicants who still haven’t received their CAQ can submit proof of receipt for their temporary selection for studies as a part of their study permit application. However, international students must submit their CAQ when they receive it to complete their application. Quebec has encouraged all international students to submit their application for the temporary selection for studies through its online Arrima portal.
Quebec has allotted nearly $9.1 million in its latest budget to the economic development agencies in Montreal, Quebec City and Drummondville to attract more international students.
International Students are a very important part of the fabric of Canadian Immigration. In 2018-19, the growth in international students in Canadian colleges and universities far exceeded the growth of Canadian students.
According to Statistics Canada, the growth of Canadian students in this period was by 10.9%, from 1,486,602 to 1,648,923, while international students almost tripled from 101,304 to 318,153. In a decade, between 2008-2018-19, international students in Canadian colleges increased from 6.4% to 16.2%. International students also account for 57.2% of the total growth in academic programs at Canadian colleges during that period.
Canadian provinces and territories gave their all-clear to international students in October 2020 to travel to Canada if they have a Covid-19 readiness plan and an acceptance letter from a DLI.