On June 29, the Federal Government shut the border to non-Canadian residents to restrict the spread of COVID-19 by mid-March. The extension of the international travel ban was made by a federal order.
Canada announced earlier this year that international students would be exempt from a travel ban as long as they had a valid study permit or have been approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020.
But now, the Canadian Government is considering possible ease of travel restrictions for international students in time for the fall semester of 2020. The Canadian Government is now saying that candidates who had a study permit before March 18 will only be exempt from travel restrictions if they are travelling for a ‘non-discretionary or non-optional’ purpose.
The Canada Border Services Agency said, “All foreign nationals seeking entry into Canada must come to Canada for non-optional or non-discretionary travel purposes”.
Canada will soon be relieving more international students of its current travel restrictions. However, it strongly suggests that Canada will go ahead and introduce new exemptions for international students as long as it is safe to do so, and when it receives confirmation from the respective provinces and territories, as well as DLIs that they are equipped to welcome more international students.
Border services officers and not the IRCC will make the final decision as to whether a student will be allowed into Canada. Still, guidelines that outline exactly what constitutes non-discretionary or non-optional travel have been published on the website of the Canadian Government.
Officials will also consider whether the program of a student requires them to study in-person (such as the need for laboratories or workshops), whether their plan is not being delivered online, or whether they are unable to study online from home.
Minister Mendicino announced that international students would be able to travel to Canada by air or land if they held a valid study permit or had been approved for a study permit when the travel restrictions came into effect on March 18, 2020.
The two ministers are asking recipients to provide them with a list of information by Friday, July 24 to confirm that their jurisdiction is ready to host a new cohort of international students and members of their immediate family.
Information Sought Included:
- List of DLIs in each jurisdiction approved following the public health and business recovery plans for the operation and hosting of students.
- Protocols are in place to implement and monitor compulsory 14-day DLI quarantine in Canada, and to ensure that students have:
- Appropriate shipment to DLI
- The appropriate place for quarantine (and access to supplies, food, prescriptions, and other necessary aid).
- Students won’t have contact with vulnerable persons.
- Accommodation in quarantine will allow physical distance from existing infection-prevention control protocols.
- Physical and mental health support information available for international study.
- The responsibility and readiness of each jurisdiction to ensure that provincial and local public health authorities comply with the requirements.
- A risk mitigation plan for testing, tracing and isolating COVID-19 and avoiding its spread
- Active outreach and communication with DLIs and their respective communities regarding expectations, roles and responsibilities to maintain guidelines on public health.
- Commitment to collaboration and information sharing between the two levels of Government to monitor and manage the risks associated with coronavirus in Canada among international students.
Canada recently announced several measures to support international students starting a new program online this fall, including the fast-tracking processing of study permits and the introduction of a temporary two-stage process for international students who can not submit all the required documentation.