Last Updated on April 14, 2020
Canada’s federal government says the processing of study permit applications is continuing ahead of the start of the fall term despite the coronavirus crisis.
An Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) statement dated April 10 said applications were being processed ‘to the extent possible’.
The statement says study permit candidates were being given 90 days instead of 30 to provide biometrics, because of the closure of many the visa application centres.
Currently, only students with a study permit issued before March 18, 2020, can travel to Canada.
Canadian universities are facing an uncertain time as they attempt to recruit and retain students despite coronavirus restrictions.
Prospective international students looking on from abroad are also uncertain about their futures.
Current international students face tough decisions about whether to return for the fall, with no clear picture on whether in-person classes will return for the new academic year.
Students are being forced to weigh up whether it is worth paying tuition fees for what could turn out to be online classes.
It means universities may end up with fewer students that projected, having a significant financial impact.
While the majority of universities made a fast move to online learning when Canada’s lockdown was imposed mid-March, it is unclear whether students will be willing to fork out the same tuition fees for a continuation of e-learning come September.
This is especially true given the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis, with many people finding themselves out of work and even more reluctant to part with thousands of dollars in exchange for online classes.
Universities, who are well into the offer and acceptance phase of their planning for September, are yet to see an impact on their numbers. But they must be aware that students in Canada and around the world are reconsidering their options in the midst of the global pandemic.
Schools would have been happy to see the federal government include international students in their exemption list for the travel restrictions put in place on March 18 to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect are now allowed to travel to Canada.
They must pass a medical test before boarding their flight, and self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.