Canada eases immigration rules to help foreign students amid Covid-19

New Delhi (NVI): Canada has made its immigration rules more flexible amid the Covid-19 pandemic to help international students study online from their native countries and qualify for a work permit at the same time after completing their graduation.

The changes were announced by the Canadian government earlier this week to cater to the needs of foreign students. Apart from approval for online study, a two-stage approval process has also been introduced to allow applicants to start their studies even if some of their documentation is delayed due to the pandemic.

Canada is among the most preferred and favourite destinations among foreign students, with a huge study contingent from India. For instance, in 2019, nearly 1.39 lakh study permits (34.5% of total) were allotted to Indian students.

The new measures provide priority study-permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online, to ensure that permits are processed as quickly as possible.

It will also allow students to count the time spent pursuing their studies online abroad toward their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit, if they have submitted a study permit application and if at least 50% of their program is completed in Canada.

In addition to this, the new rules provide reassurances to international students who cannot submit all of the documentation needed to complete processing of their applications, and who choose to pursue programs through distance learning, by implementing a temporary 2-stage approval process.

The temporary process will also allow applicants to count the time spent studying online abroad towards their post-graduation work permit once they receive an approval-in-principle, as long as they are able to satisfy all requirements and receive the full approval of their study permit application at a later date.

As services begin to reopen, applicants will be required to submit remaining documents and receive an approved study permit before being allowed to travel to Canada.

This process is available to students starting a program in the fall semester who submit a study permit application before September 15, 2020, according to IRCC. This measure will reassure students that they can enrol and begin their studies this fall online, even when they are not able to submit all required documentation due to pandemic-related closures, it added.

As the fall season is fast approaching, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino announced additional measures to support international students beginning a new program online this fall with a Canadian learning institution, if their institution is offering the program online, so that they can pursue their education while ensuring everyone’s safety, read an official statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“These changes will give students more certainty about their ability to enter Canada once travel and health restrictions are eased in Canada and their own home countries. They mean that students will be eligible to work in Canada after graduation, even if they need to begin their studies online from overseas this fall,” the IRCC statement read.