On July 14, 2020, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, E.L. Mendicino, made temporary policy changes to reassure international students and educational institutions of the student permit visa process. Due to COVID-19, international students have been uncertain about their visa process and their ability to enter Canada because of international travel restrictions. Presently, international students are unable to complete their biometrics and medicals due to lockdowns causing closures to VAC and clinics. To ensure students can continue with their study plans, student visa applications will be processed in two stages:
- Stage One: Allowing students to count their time studying online (if applicable at the institution of choice) in their home countries toward their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit once they receive an approval-in-principle letter. They are still required to complete 50% of their program in Canada.
- As long as students are able to maintain all the requirements and receive full approval of their study permit.
- Stage Two: Once the VAC centers and clinics are open, students are required to finish the pending process and submit their biometrics and medicals. If there are no disruptions such as criminality and/or medical issues full approval will be issued to the student.
This process is available to students starting their programs in the fall semester who submit their application before September 15, 2020. This measure will reassure students that they can enroll and begin their studies this fall online, even when they are not able to submit all required documentation due to pandemic-related closures. Other changes include the priority study-permit process for students who have submitted a complete application online. Once travel restrictions are lifted and borders re-open, students can travel to Canada to complete their studies. It is important for prospective students to note that commencing their studies online from abroad following approval-in-principle of a study permit application is not a guarantee that they will receive full approval of their study permit application, or be authorized to pursue their studies in Canada.
These changes are put in place to ensure the safety of international students and students who are already in Canada.