HUMA - International Students
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- International students who already had a valid study permit and those whose application to study in Canada was approved before March 18, 2020, will be able to travel to Canada. Any applicants approved after March 18, 2020, will not be able to travel to Canada.
Lifting Work Restrictions
- The Department is temporarily lifting the 20-hour-per-week restriction on study permit holders working off-campus during their academic session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, effective immediately.
- With the outbreak putting considerable pressure on workers in certain roles and industries, my Department recognizes that there are many international students who may be able to contribute their skills to the COVID-19 response, including those in health-related programs.
Distance learning for programs starting in May or June 2020
- Through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, many post-secondary study permit holders studying in Canada can work for up to 3 years after they graduate, depending on the length of their program.
- Students who were studying in Canada and whose classes were moved online due to the emergency should not be penalized with regard to their Post-Graduation Work Permit Program eligibility, including the length of work permit they will be eligible for, provided they have completed at least 50% of their study program in class in Canada.
Travel Restrictions and Exemptions
- On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada put in place measures to restrict air travel to Canada by most foreign nationals overseas, including international students. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada became aware that a number of study permit holders, including minor international students, had been travelling at that time of the restriction and were stranded abroad and unable to return to Canada.
- On March 26, 2020, the Government introduced exemptions to the travel restrictions to allow study permit holders, as well as study permit applicants who had received written approval of their application before noon on March 18, 2020, to travel to Canada.
Measures to Extend Stay and Document Requirements
- Recognizing the impact of the travel restriction, international students in Canada whose permits were set to expire in the near future were encouraged to apply online to renew their status. By doing so, they can continue to study and/or work while their application is in process.
- The Department is providing more time for applicants to provide necessary documentation (from 30 days to 90 days), and has committed that no application would be refused for non-compliance where an applicant is unable to provide the required documents.
Post-Graduation Work Permit and Distance Learning
- Due to the health and travel restrictions, many international students and academic institutions expressed concern about the possible effects of the students’ eligibility for a post-graduation work permit. This permit provides the international student with the opportunity to work in Canada for up to 3 years following their graduation, depending on the length of their program.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that students who were studying in Canada and whose classes were moved online due to the emergency, should not be penalized on their post-graduation work permit eligibility, including the length of the work permit, provided they completed at least 50% of their study program in class in Canada.
- The Department expanded this temporary policy change to be fair to additional groups of students, including:
- study permit holders who had already begun their studies in Canada, but left Canada and continued their courses online from their home country;
- study permit holders who are already in Canada to start a program in May or June 2020, but whose courses will initially be online only; and
- applicants who have been approved for a study permit to begin a program in May or June 2020, and who will begin their program online from their home country instead of trying to travel to Canada at this time, on the condition they eventually complete more than half of their program from inside Canada.
Lifting the restriction on off-campus work for international students working in an essential service or function
- On April 22, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that study permit holders could work more than 20 hours/week off-campus during their academic session, provided they are working in an essential service or function. This facilitation, which went into effect immediately, is in place until August 31, 2020.
- This facilitation was put in place to respond to requests from provinces, territories and other federal government departments to relax the limitations on international students already in Canada to work more than the 20 hours/week during the current academic session so that they may contribute to COVID-19 response efforts.
- International students and employers can consult the Government’s Guide on Essential Services and Functions During the COVID-19 pandemic for information on whether the work may be considered an essential service or function.
Working with Stakeholders on Fall Intake
- The Department has been in close and ongoing communication with provinces and territories, and education sector stakeholders, to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- We recognize how the uncertainty regarding travel may impact the need for education institutions to plan their program offering. In that light, the Department is working with partners on what facilitation measures can be put in place to support the fall 2020 intake of international students.
Support facts and figures
- International students contribute over $21B per year to the Canadian economy – greater than exports of auto parts, lumber or aircrafts.
- Canada offers a generous international student program. Worldwide, Canada ranks 4th for education destination of choice.
- In 2019, the Department issued more than 415,000 study permits to international students, including extensions (13% increase over 2018). The average study permit approval rate in 2019 was 58% (excluding extensions).
- In 2019, there were 828,356 international students in Canada studying from primary to post-secondary levels (in 2015, there were 495, 590 students in Canada).
Applications for Study Permits and Extensions
- From January to April 2020, the Department received 157,324 applications for new study permits, including extensions. This compares to 162,859 for the same period in 2019.
- The most significant decrease happened in April 2020 when only 23,443 applications for study permits and extensions were received compared to 48,908 in April 2019.
Applications Processed – Study Permit and Extensions
- From January to April 2020, the Department processed 121,900 applications for study permits and extensions. This compares to 151,307 for the same time period in 2019.
- In April 2020, the number of study permit extensions processed heavily exceeded processing of new study permit applications (19,700 vs 3,818 respectively).
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