Canadian study permit
Image showing the main campus of McGill University on November 4, 2018. McGill University was established in 1821 at Mount Royal in downtown Montreal. Source: DANIEL SLIM/AFP

COVID-19 is posing challenges for international students in Canada to complete their studies, but the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made changes to the eligibility criteria for the Canadian post-graduation work permit (PGWP) in a bid to support foreign students.

According to Canada Immigration News (CIC), the time international students put into their courses before getting their Canadian study permit counts as long as their programme starts in 2020. 

International students also have to apply for the study permit before Sept. 15, 2020 and at least half of their programme must be completed in Canada.

IRCC will not deduct the study time completed outside Canada from the length of the PGWP up until Dec. 31, 2020.

“When Canada initially relaxed the PGWP requirements to include online study as part of the eligibility criteria, it only counted after international students were approved for their study permit,” said CIC News.

Prior to the pandemic, international students are ineligible for the work permit if they studied online and were not enrolled in a full-time programme for at least eight months.

With many institutions switching to online learning, this is no longer possible.

Canada’s PGWP allows international students to work in the country for up to three years and gain Canadian work experience that could lead to permanent residence.

Bolstering efforts to support international students in Canada

The Canadian government has been stepping up efforts to support international students in light of the pandemic.

The IRCC introduced the two-step Canadian study permit approval process which will allow international students to start the semester online without a finalised study permit.

IRCC also said they will be providing priority study permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online to ensure that permits are processed as quickly as possible.

It is available to students starting a programme in the fall semester who submit a study permit application before Sept. 15, 2020.

Those applying for the PGWP will need a full study permit, which will be issued once all documents are submitted and the application is approved.

Despite a pandemic on hand, data suggests international students are still keen to study abroad in Canada, said IRCC.

In 2019, Canada had over 640,000 international students, a tripling of its numbers in the past decade. India takes the crown as the top source country, followed by China and South Korea.

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