The Canadian government is telling international students they may not be able to come to Canada because of travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday’s update from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) states that students who received their introductory letter from IRCC before March 18 can travel to Canada, but only for a “non-discretionary or non-optional purpose.”
IRCC notes that while post-secondary campuses are closed, classes will continue online. Canada Border Services Agency officers will make decisions about whether a students’ purpose of travel is discretionary or not based on “individual circumstances.”
Students whose study permit application was approved after March 18 will be notified that they may not be exempt from travel restrictions. These students should not make plans to enter Canada until the government lifts travel restrictions “as they will not be allowed to travel to or enter Canada.”
International students contributed $21.6 billion to the Canadian economy in 2018, according to the federal government and they are a major source of revenue for post-secondary institutions here.
The federal government previously introduced new measures aimed at supporting international students:
- Taking steps to ensure study permits are processed quickly;
- Allowing students who have applied for a study permit to count time spent pursuing online higher education toward their post-graduate work permit (PGWP) if at least 50 per cent of their program is completed in Canada;
- And implementing a temporary new approval process for students who can’t submit all the necessary documentation right now.
Universities Canada president Paul Davidson said the recent new measures should be encouraging to international students, but he also wants to see an update on how travel restrictions will affect international students moving forward.