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Canada opens border to international students going to coronavirus-ready institutions

Canada announced this morning that, starting on October 20, 2020, designated learning institutions (DLIs) whose COVID-19 readiness plans (Canada DLI COVID-19 readiness plans) have been approved by their provincial or territorial government will soon be able to welcome more international students back to their schools. DLIs are universities, colleges, and other educational institutions that are approved by federal and provincial government to admit international students.

This change to travel restrictions affects all international students, regardless of where they are travelling from or when their study permit was approved. 

Travellers should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations.

Many DLIs desire to onboard international students during the pandemic but most international students are currently unable to travel to Canada because of government travel restrictions. Canada’s provincial and territorial governments indicated they would like to see a process that allows international students to begin travelling to Canada again, as long as it is done safely and respects health requirements.

In recent discussions on Canada DLI COVID-19 readiness, Health Canada, provinces and territories representatives agreed that the DLIs must focus on identifying whether the educational institutions are able to manage quarantine or social distancing restrictions in order to welcome the international students in the upcoming months.

Canada DLI COVID-19 readiness plans

Canada’s provincial and territorial governments bear the primary responsibility for education and health care in their provinces/territories, and are therefore mandated to assess COVID-19 readiness plans that schools are putting in place. The federal government of Canada works closely with provinces and territories on the attraction and hosting of international students in Canada and other issues related to international education.

Canada DLI COVID-19 readiness – specifics

As part of their plans, DLIs are expected to provide specifics to their provincial or territorial government on how they will provide information to international students on health and travel requirements before they arrive in Canada, help students with their quarantine plans and provide guidance or assistance in acquiring the necessities of life, such as food and medication, during their quarantine.

DLI COVID-19 readiness plans also need to establish protocols for the health of students in the event there are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases at the school.

The list of DLIs with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place will be posted on IRCC’s web page for international students affected by COVID-19 restrictions and updated regularly as provinces and territories identify additional schools.

International students’ accompanying family members

With the amended travel restrictions, immediate family members may be able to accompany an international student to Canada if their reason for travel is non-optional or non-discretionary, such as getting established in Canada in support of the principal applicant’s study program. This could include a spouse or common-law partner, a dependant, or in the case of a minor child who will be studying in Canada, a parent or legal guardian.

Self-isolation upon arrival in Canada

Like all travellers to Canada, international students and accompanying family members will be subject to all public health measures, including the mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in Canada.

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