Canada Immigration announces changes to help international students begin their studies in the fall

The new two-stage approval process will make it easier for students to begin their Canadian education online overseas

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced on Tuesday that they would be making another temporary policy change to help international students wishing to study at Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs). There has been some uncertainty about what the fall semester would look like in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the IRCC has been working hard to reassure international students that they will still be able to pursue a Canadian education.

The newest policy change is the introduction of a temporary two-stage approval process that will allow students to begin their studies online and overseas without a fully approved study permit. The first stage is an approval-in-principle and the second stage is eligibility/admissibility.

To pass the first stage and receive an approval-in-principle, students must show that they have been accepted at a DLI, have the necessary funds and meet all other eligibility requirements for a study permit. They will be notified of first-step approval.

With an approval-in-principle, students can begin studying online. This time will also count towards post-graduate work permit (PGWP) eligibility as long as they meet the PGWP criteria and eventually receive a fully approved study permit. This is designed to reassure international students who cannot submit a complete application due to closures caused by pandemic health restrictions such as biometrics collection sites.

In order to get full approval, students must meet all of the eligibility and admissibility requirements and submit any remaining documents like their police certificate, immigration medical exam and biometrics as soon as they are able to do so. Students will only be able to travel to Canada once they have a fully approved study permit.

As part of the new measures, IRCC said that they will be giving priority processing to students who have submitted completed applications online and restated that students will be able to count their time spent studying online overseas towards their PGWP as long as they have submitted a study permit application and complete at least 50 percent of their program in Canada.

The two-step approval process is available to students starting their program in the fall semester. To qualify, they need to submit their study permit application before September 15, 2020.

Immigration and international students are an important part of Canada’s identity and economy. According to the IRCC, over 650,000 international students studied in Canada at the post-secondary level in 2019 and over 58,000 former students have become permanent residents. International students contribute around $22 billion to the economy annually and this supports 170,000 Canadian jobs.

There are also many benefits to studying in Canada for international students such as high-quality education, lower costs than other popular destinations, the ability to work during their studies to help with the cost and pathways to permanent residence.

In Tuesday’s press release, the minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino said, “The pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and the Canadian institutions and communities that host them. This is why we have implemented a series of measures to support them. We value the contribution of young people seeking a high-quality education in Canada, and we’re making every effort to minimize how current challenges affect their plans and dreams for the future.”

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