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Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm
Jun 10, 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on International Students

As COVID-19 continues to reshape the Canadian immigration landscape, many questions arise for international students such as…. what is the impact of online course? Will the Post Graduate Study Permit (PGWP) be affected? When and how can a student enter Canada from abroad?

Currently, those students approved for their study permit before March 18, 2020 are deemed to be exempt from the travel restrictions in place and can enter Canada. For those who were approved after this key date, unfortunately cannot enter Canada. 

International students who are exempt and plan to come to Canada will have to pass a health check which is conducted by the airline in order to board the plane. Those who show any symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of the travel exemption, will not be able to enter Canada. Further assessment takes place once the plane lands in Canada, as Canadian officials at the port of entry will also assess the health of those entering. Regardless of whether symptoms are shown or not, everyone entering Canada must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days.

As the situation is fluid, IRCC has advised that students obtain a letter of support from their academic institution confirming how their study program was affected by COVID-19. This letter should be presented to an immigration officer if they ask for more information.

International Students in Canada

International students who have valid study permits but cannot study at their school due to COVID-19 related closings can continue their study programs through online study should the learning institution offer this alternative. Those who plan to start their Canadian studies this upcoming fall semester will not have any time deducted from the length of their study program affecting their Post-Graduation Work Permit while completing their courses online while outside or inside Canada.

For applicants whose study permits will expire shortly, they can extend their study permits online. Applicants can only apply to extend their status if at the time, they have valid status. Otherwise, the applicant must apply to restore their status.

International Students Who Want to Work in Canada

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has modified student work authorization during this time, stating that students who have become part-time students or were forced to take a break in studies due to COVID-19, may continue to work in Canada as if they were a full-time student or if they were previously authorized to work on or off campus during their study program in Canada. The 20 hours of work per week limit still applies for off campus workers during academic sessions and full-time work can still be scheduled during breaks in the academic year.

International students providing essential services are currently exempt from this 20 hour limit until August 31, 2020. IRCC has deemed energy and utilities, information and communication technologies, finance, health, food, water, transportation, safety, government, and manufacturing sectors as essential.


Post-Graduation Work Permits and International Students Outside Canada

Individuals from the graduating class of 2020 who wish to remain and work in Canada will want to apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit. To be eligible, international students must have attended a “designated learning institute” and completed a study program at least 8 months long that led to a degree, diploma or certificate. Applicants must apply within 180 of receiving their final marks and must have valid status the time of making their application.

IRCC has announced an international student needed to  complete over 50% of their studies in Canada to be eligible. Given the impact of COVID-19 on universities, international students can exceed the 50% threshold without losing their PGWP eligibility.

Looking Ahead

IRCC has made adjustments to accommodate international students during this time  in order to allow a path to Canadian permanent residency and then Canadian citizenship. International students can still complete their Canadian study programs, obtain a PGWP, and, in turn, have competitive scores for the Express Entry pool.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on your study permit or your PGWP, please contact us.

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