Canada plans to ease travel restrictions for international students in time for the fall 2020 semester. This is revealed in a letter that was obtained by CIC News.
As of March 18, international students can only enter Canada if they hold a valid study permit on that date. A few days ago, students from the United States were added to the list of exemptions, although they must meet certain criteria in order to enter Canada.
The undated letter is signed by Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino and Health Minister Patty Hajdu but asks recipients to respond to the letter by Friday, July 24, 2020.
The purpose of the letter is for the two ministers to engage in dialogue with Canada’s provincial and territorial governments, as well as with Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), on ways to safely welcome more international students. in Canada over the next few months. DLIs are colleges, universities, and other educational institutions that are licensed by the federal and provincial governments to accept international students.
Education is under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories under the Canadian Constitution. Unlike other countries, Canada does not have a federal ministry of education, which means that Canadian policies regarding international students are divided among several federal ministries. When the federal government wants to make a decision about international students, it consults the provinces and territories for their advice.
In this case, the federal government imposed travel restrictions, an issue that falls under its jurisdiction. Travel restrictions, which are aimed at containing the coronavirus, hamper the ability of provinces and territories to welcome international students.
In their letter, however, Ministers Mendicino and Hajdu write that they recognize the importance of international students to Canada’s learning environment, society, and economy.
As such, they seek to strike a balance between respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction over education, while maintaining Canada’s special coronavirus measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
At the same time, the ministers explained that the two levels of government and the DLIs “… must collectively engage and take a coordinated, clear, and well-communicated approach to support the health and safety of students and the Canadian public.
To that end, the federal government will issue public safety guidelines on how the country can accommodate more international students. The guidelines outline the expectations of students, governments, and DLIs to support this goal.
For example, students will remain required by law to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. Provinces and territories as well as DLIs are expected to comply with public health orders and guidelines.
Ministers waiting on the information
The two ministers ask recipients to provide them with a list of information by Friday, July 24 to confirm whether their jurisdiction is ready to welcome a new cohort of international students and their immediate family members. Immediate family is defined as spouses and common-law partners, dependent children, parents and step-parents and guardians.
Information sought included:
- A list of DLIs in each jurisdiction that has been approved in accordance with public health requirements and business resumption plans for operating and hosting students
- Protocols are in place to implement and monitor the mandatory 14-day quarantine in Canada by DLIs and ensure that students have:
- Appropriate transport to DLI
- A suitable place for quarantine (and with access to supplies, food, prescriptions, and any other necessary support)
- Students will not have contact with vulnerable people
- Quarantine accommodation will allow physical distancing with infection prevention control protocols in place
- Information on physical and mental health supports available to international students
- Responsibility and willingness of each administration to ensure compliance with the requirements of provincial and local public health authorities
- A risk mitigation plan to test, trace and isolate COVID-19 and prevent its spread
- Active outreach and communication with DLIs and respective communities on expectations, roles, and responsibilities for maintaining public health guidelines
- A commitment to collaboration and information exchange between the two levels of government to monitor and manage the risks associated with the coronavirus among international students in Canada.
Given the evolving nature of the pandemic, Mendicino and Hajdu note that affected stakeholders will likely need to continue adjusting their approach to ensure they respect the health and safety of Canadians and international students.
What can be extracted from the Letter?
The letter does not necessarily mean that Canada will soon exempt more international students from its current travel restrictions. However, this strongly suggests that Canada will go ahead and introduce new exemptions for international students as long as it is safe to do so and if it receives confirmation from the respective provinces and territories, as well as DLIs. , that they are equipped to accommodate more foreigners. students.
Canada’s travel restrictions are in effect until July 31. Therefore, we might know in the next few days if Canada will go ahead and introduce exemptions for students.
Canada has managed to flatten the coronavirus curve since the crisis began in mid-March. The low number of coronaviruses in Canada is due to its stringent public health measures, which in part include limiting travel from abroad.
Canada is now in a privileged position where it can at least consider welcoming more foreign students. Before the pandemic, it hosted over 640,000 students who contributed $ 22 billion to the economy and supported some 170,000 jobs each year.
Even though students may not come to Canada in the near future, they can still benefit from a host of new policies that are in place to help international students meet their immigration goals in Canada.
For example, Canada implemented a new two-step study permit process that allows students to obtain pre-approval for their study permits so they can start their Canadian programs online at the DLI. They could then come to Canada assuming they submit a completed study permit application that is approved and the travel restrictions for them are lifted. Additionally, students can study online and have this time counted toward their post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility. The PGWP can then help them become eligible for permanent residence in Canada.