New Measures for International Students
Posted on 27/08/2020
Important: The 2-stage assessment process for initial study permit applications terminated on September 15, 2020.
I: If you’re an international student who is applying to study in Canada, your application will now be processed in two stages:
Stage 1: Your academic-related documents will be processed in the first stage – things like your transcript from your secondary and any post-secondary institution you have attended in your home country or country of residence abroad. This also includes things like an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). In this first stage, your eligibility as a student will be assessed. These criteria – as before the COVID pandemic – include ensuring that:
- You will be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
- You have sufficient funds to pay for:
- Living expenses
- Travel to and from Canada
- You will leave Canada when your studies are completed
Stage 2: Medical exams, police records, and biometrics, however, will be processed in a second stage. This is because COVID-19 restrictions may mean that you are currently unable to obtain them and need more time to do so. This stage involves ensuring you are admissible to Canada and do not pose a health or other risk to Canada and will be done when you are able to provide the required documentation (medical exams, police records, and biometrics).
International students applying for a study permit will be informed if they have passed the first round (everything except medical exams, police records, and biometrics). This will help them know that academically they are qualified and once they have submitted the remaining documents they will be allowed to travel to Canada as soon as travel restrictions are eased.
II: Post-Graduate Work Permit Eligibility
As well, the new policy states that, depending on the length of your post-secondary program that you are studying at a Canadian DLI, you are eligible for a PGWP as follows:
- You are allowed to study online until April 30, 2021 and still be eligible for a PGWP as long as you complete 50% of your program in Canada.
- However, if your program is 8 to 12 months long AND it started from early May through September of 2020 – Spring, Summer, and Fall terms in Canada – then you can complete 100% of your program online outside of Canada and still be eligible for a PGWP.
- If you complete a program of study starting in May through September of 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, AND graduate from more than one program, you may be able to combine the lengths of your programs when applying for your PGWP. However, 50% of your total studies of all programs you are combining must have been done in Canada.
Furthermore, the following has also been included in the PGWP eligibility requirements in order to account for the COVID-19 restrictions and how they can affect applications:
- When applying for a PGWP, if you can’t provide:
- A letter of completion and/or,
- A final transcript
Then you can upload a letter of explanation about why you cannot obtain these documents (schools being closed for example) when you apply for a PGWP and when your application is processed, you will be asked to provide the documents and if necessary be given an extension.
- You may be eligible to start working without your PGWP if:
- You apply for your PGWP before the date your study permit expires
- You completed your study program
- You were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit while you were studying
- You are still eligible for a PGWP even if:
- Your in-class courses in Canada were changed to an online-only format due to COVID-19
- Your studies were delayed or reduced to part-time studies during the winter, spring, or summer of 2020 due to COVID-19
- You can’t travel to Canada due to travel restrictions, AND:
- You have a study permit or have been approved for a study permit
- You applied for a study permit before starting your program in the spring, summer, or fall semesters of 2020
- You will apply for a study permit before starting your study program in January 2021 winter semester
III: Students Already in Canada
- Students in Canada who during the winter, spring, or summer semesters of 2020 were forced to study online, study part-time, or stop studying altogether for a period of time due to COVID-19 are allowed to continue working on or off-campus if their study permit allows it.
- International students can only work more than 20 hours per week off-campus if their work involves doing essential functions, and only until August 31, 2020.
A Prediction for the future
Temporary measures often have a way of becoming permanent regulations. Income tax was introduced in the U.S. as temporary measure near the end of WW I, and is now a cornerstone of tax systems around the world. Canada is desperate for international students given our demographics which would have our universities emptier and emptier as the country’s birth rate continues to decline. At some point, international students may begin to demand that their conditions (especially tuition) be similar to those faced by citizens and permanent residents of Canada.
Time will tell what regulations face international students in the future, but it would seem evident that more flexibility is in order.