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CERB for international students: What you should know about the extension

cerb for international students feat
TORONTO, ONTARIO - APRIL 23: Nathan Phillips Square and Toronto City Hall is seen during the coronavirus pandemic on April 23 2020 in Toronto, Canada. Tourist attractions across Canada have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images/AFP

International students in Canada who were previously unable to apply for the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) can still do so.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada has announced that the government is extending the CERB by eight weeks to ensure that all Canadians and international students have the help they need as lockdowns are beginning to ease in the country.

Trudeau said, “The reality is that there are three million people out of work who are looking for work, and even as our economy is reopening, there are many, many more people out of work, willing to work, than there are jobs available.”

According to the statement, the extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.

“As we begin to restart the economy and get people back on the job, Canadians receiving the benefit should be actively seeking work opportunities or planning to return to work, provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so.”

cerb for international students

Platine, an employee of the Sports Experts store on rue Sainte-Catherine prepares to receive customers in Montreal, Quebec on May 25, 2020. In Montreal, epicenter of the virus in Canada, there is a reopening of non-essential businesses after a two-month lockdown.
Source: Sebastien St-Jean / AFP

Which international students are eligible for the CERB?

Not sure if you’re eligible for the CERB? The benefit is available to those who:

  • live in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19, or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits, or have exhausted their EI regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
  • had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019, or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application
  • have not earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income per benefit period while collecting the CERB
  • have not quit their job voluntarily

International students who meet the eligibility criteria should begin to receive their CERB payments by direct deposit within 3 to 5 days of applying and by mail within 10 days of applying.

You must apply every four-week period to attest that you continue to meet the eligibility criteria for the CERB payment.

Also, take note that those who are claiming the benefit cannot have earned more than CA$1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of their claim.

Many international students have been stranded in Canada and lost their part-time jobs due to the pandemic, and are banking on the CERB to get them by as they don’t qualify for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

They also potentially lose out from summer job income this year, which international students rely on for supplemental income.

Some have also expressed disappointment that they don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the CERB as they earned more than CA$5,000 in the 12 months prior to the application.

A petition by Migrant Students, a project of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, has called on the government for more support, stating that “we have lost work or income, we are struggling to pay bills and high tuition fees, we have limited access to health care, we are concerned for our futures in Canada, and we have been separated from our families by border closures.”

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