Canada’s border opening for overseas students heading to coronavirus-ready institutions

International students with COVID-19 preparation plans who go to those institutions will be able to come to Canada.

Starting October 20, foreign students will be able to travel to Canada if their study institution has a plan for coronavirus readiness approved by its provincial or territorial health authority.

Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) are required to give the provincial or territorial government the specifics of their preparation plan, since this is the level of government that manages education in Canada. Plans should provide information about how the institutions can advise foreign students before arrival about health and travel conditions, assist with quarantine plans, and provide advice or assistance during quarantine in obtaining necessities such as groceries and medication. In the event that students come down with coronavirus, the plans must also develop health and safety protocols.

The list of authorized DLIs will be published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) when they become available on the webpage.

The new measure extends to all overseas students regardless of when or from where their study permit has been authorised, IRCC says. The immigration department also advises passengers, however, not to make any travel arrangements until all the criteria and all required authorizations have been met.

Qualified foreign students will have to be asymptomatic and will need the necessary paperwork to reach Canada in order to fly to Canada once the new measure is in effect. Unless “there is evidence that they are specifically coming to Canada for a discretionary or optional purpose, such as tourism,” they will be deemed to be travelling for an important reason once at the border.

As long as their reason for travel is necessary, such as getting established in Canada to help the student’s study programme, the immediate family members of students can also come with them to Canada. In this case, immediate family includes spouses and common-law partners, dependents, or if the student is under the age 18, a parent or legal guardian.

International students and accompanying family members will need to comply with all public health measures once they arrive in Canada, including the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino and Minister of Health Patty Hajdu started working with provincial and territorial governments earlier this year, as well as with DLIs on how to safely invite more foreign students to Canada. The announcement of the new initiatives was made by ministers on Friday 2 October.

International students have been calling on the federal government to approve student exemptions. Many of them live in countries with minimal internet access, and variations in time make class times impractical.

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