Canada backtracks on travel ban exemption for international students

Earlier this year, Canada announced that international students would be exempt from a travel ban as long as they had a valid study permit or were approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020.

“Seeking entry for the purpose of studying in Canada would generally be considered discretionary/optional”

However, these rules have now changed, with the Canadian government now says that students who had a study permit before March 18 will only be exempt from travel restrictions if they are traveling for a ‘non-discretionary Where not optional’ goal.

“All foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada must come to Canada for the purpose of non-optional or non-discretionary travel,” Rebecca Purdy, senior spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, Recount The PIE news.

“Application for entry for the purpose of studying in Canada would generally be considered discretionary/optional unless the student is required to be in Canada,” she said.

Importantly, it will mean that students who can study online in their home country will likely be denied entry.

The changes have caused great concern among international students, who say studying in their home country is not a feasible option due to time differences and because studying online does not offer good value for money. -price.

Many have reached out to The PIE via Twitter to voice their concerns. “There’s a huge time difference between Canada and India,” says Mohammad Danish, a student who plans to study at Centennial College in Toronto.

“You have to wake up late at night to attend these classes… Many students face problems. From a health perspective, it is not possible to stay up all night and study and then sleep all day.

“IRCC said [students] that they are exempt from traveling but they are not allowed to enter the country, they are not allowed to board planes,” he said.

Akshay Bhardwaj, another student from India, explained that many students travel to Canada and choose to study abroad because they live in rural areas where internet access is an issue.

“Rural areas of India don’t have internet facilities…they often experience electricity problems,” he said.

The final decision as to whether a student will be allowed to enter Canada will be made by border services officers and not by IRCC, but guidelines that describe exactly what constitutes non-discretionary Where non-optional trips have been published on the Canadian government website.

The border force will examine whether the students are already established in Canada and returning to their current residence and whether their school reopens and they will be able to start classes after their quarantine period ends.

Officials will also consider whether a student the program requires them to study in person (such as the need for labs or workshops), if their program is not delivered online or if they are unable to study online from their home country (including bandwidth issues).

They will also review if a student’s program is delayed or canceled, or if they have postponed enrollment to a later date.

“International students continue to be welcome on Canadian university campuses”

An IRCC spokesperson confirmed to The PIE: “On March 20, Minister Mendicino announced that international students who hold a valid study permit or have been approved for a study permit when travel restrictions came into effect on March 18, 2020, may travel to Canada by air or land.

“Since then, we have introduced more flexibility for international students.

“This includes, allowing students already in Canada to continue their studies online without affecting their post-graduation work permit eligibility, allowing students who are unable to travel to Canada to begin their studies to complete up to 50% of their online program and allow international students working in essential services to work up to 40 hours per week.

But as of this writing, IRCC has not responded directly to students’ concerns about being turned back at the border.

On July 31, the government announcement an extension of travel restrictions until August 31.

The country also recently announced a number of measures to help international students begin a new online program this fall, including speeding up study permit processing and introducing a temporary two-step process for international students who cannot submit all required documents.

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