The move addresses concerns noted from Canadian institutions that students might enrol, pay and begin their study program online, without knowing for sure that they would receive a study permit in due course.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the changes will give students more certainty about their ability to enter Canada once travel and health restrictions are eased.
The time since a student applies for a study permit – rather than when they were approved for one – will now count towards a future post-graduation work permit.
Students must eventually be approved for a study permit and complete more than 50% of their program in the country.
Approvals in the visa process will be made in two stages: eligibility and admissibility.
“[The changes] mean that students will be eligible to work in Canada after graduation”
“[The changes] 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,” IRCC explained in a statement.
The new measures include:
- providing priority study-permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online, to ensure that permits are processed as quickly as possible
- allowing 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
- providing 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 two-stage approval process
IRCC said the temporary process will 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,” it explained.
This process is available to students starting a program in the fall semester who submit a study permit application before September 15, 2020.
IRCC is also providing priority processing for students who have submitted a complete study permit application.
If applicants pass the eligibility stage (showing that they have been accepted at a Canadian learning institution and have the available funds, for example) they will be notified of a first stage approval, explained IRCC on social media.
IRCC said students will receive final approval once they meet all admissibility requirements, including submitting necessary documents such as biometrics, an immigration medical exam and a police certificate.
In the wake of Covid-19, Canada’s minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco E. L. Mendicino has made a number of temporary policy changes to support and reassure international students and learning institutions.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and the Canadian institutions and communities that host them,” he said.
“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.”
In 2019, Canada hosted over 650,000 international students at the post-secondary education level. More than 58,000 former international students have become Canadian permanent residents.