Given the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has implemented some temporary changes that will ease some of the pressure facing international students.
The federal government has already made changes to the requirements for post-graduation work permits. Typically, international students are expected to attend full-time classes, mainly on campus. Earlier this year, the government loosened these requirements, allowing students to take more than 50 percent of their classes online, to reduce their studies to part time, or even to stop taking classes, altogether. However, these changes assumed that students would be physically in Canada, even if their studies moved online.
This week, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced further temporary measures to support the future of international students who want to live and work in Canada. Students who start a program in spring, summer, or fall 2020 will be able to take classes online, outside of Canada, and have that coursework count towards their eligibility for a post-graduate work permit.
For international students who will not be able to travel to Canada in 2020 to start their education programs, this means that they can begin their studies abroad, and that their online work will count towards their time studying in Canada. At this time, international students will be required to complete a minimum of 50 percent of their program in Canada in order for their online studies to count.
So far, this change only covers studies in 2020. Yet, the pandemic trajectory is uncertain, and if travel continues to be limited, there is potential for these temporary changes to be extended.