Last Updated on August 14, 2021
Even as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic raged in Canada, Ottawa issued more study permits to international students in India in the first four months of this year than during the comparable period two years ago, before the pandemic even started.
Official statistics from the Canadian High Commission in Delhi, India for the first four months of this year show that Canada issued almost 100,000 study permits for the period that ended Apr. 30. That’s up almost 4.2 per cent from the 96,000 for the comparable four-month period in 2019.
The upswing in the number of study permits issued to Indian international students is also up by more than a third, or 35.4 per cent, almost 34,000, for that period compared to the same four months last year.
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The surge in study permits issued is undoubtedly the result of a temporary policy taken by Ottawa earlier this year to allow international students to complete 100 per cent of their courses with Canadian colleges and universities online during the pandemic.
Immigration Minister Allows International Students To Qualify For Open Work Permits
In January, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino kicked off the new year by offering a lifeline to international students who might not be able to qualify for Open Work Permits due to the economic blow of the pandemic.
Mendicino offered Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders the chance to qualify for an Open Work Permit so they could gather the experience they needed to qualify for permanent residence.
Candidates with a PGWP that expired on or after Jan. 30, 2020, and were still in Canada, were given six months to apply for an Open Work Permit to help them continue to seek the work experience they need to qualify to stay in Canada long-term.
“This new policy means that young students from abroad who have studied here can stay and find work, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow,” Mendicino said.
“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”
IRCC Relaxes Rules For Online Courses For International Students
At the same time, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also relaxed its rules about studying online, allowing international students who could not come to Canada due to the border closure the opportunity complete 100 per cent of their studies online and still be able to get a PGWP.
Since then, Ottawa has relaxed the border and public health restrictions limiting the movement of international students who arrive in Canada.
Starting Aug. 9, international students who land in Canada will no longer need to stay three nights in a government-designated “quarantine hotel” – but they will still need to have 14-day quarantine plans.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits that international students bring to Canada and acknowledges that there are benefits for students who choose to study in Canada beyond earning a degree or diploma,” noted the IRCC.
“That is why, throughout the pandemic, IRCC has striven to accommodate international students by introducing a variety of temporary policy changes, including measures put in place to benefit international students studying online from abroad.”
Indian international students have faced an additional hurdle during the pandemic, and particularly so now that the COVID-19 variant first identified in India has been found to spread particularly quickly.
Flights From India To Canada Suspended Until September
Earlier this month, Canada suspended flights from India until September 21.
During that period, passengers who travel to Canada from India via an indirect route will need to obtain a pre-departure negative COVID-19 molecular test result from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada.
Travellers who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 90 days prior to departure, instead of a negative COVID-19 molecular test. This proof must be obtained in a third country before the continuation of the journey to Canada. They may also need to seek entry and stay in a third country for at least 14 days.
This ban on flights from India to Canada gnaws at Indian international students.
“This extended travel ban is hitting Indian students hard,” Hemant Shah, a Winnipeg businessman with ties to India-Canada trade organizations, reportedly told The Times of India.
“Direct flights are not permitted yet and they have to find long and expensive routes to reach Canada to join their classes which will start in August-September,” he reportedly said.