Canada provides exception for U.S. students planning to study north of border

Canada provides exception for U.S. students planning to study north of border

WASHINGTON — The federal government appears to have relaxed restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border that would have made it impossible for first-year university students from the United States to enter the country.

An update to the government’s guidance for international students, posted Friday, now says a student coming from the U.S. may no longer need a study permit that was issued on or before March 18, the day the border restrictions were first announced.

New York resident Anna Marti, whose daughter is planning to attend McGill University in Montreal this fall, said she was part of a “group effort” by parents across the U.S. who lobbied their senators, members of Congress and Richard Mills, the acting U.S. ambassador to Canada, to get the restrictions eased.

The rule would have made it all but impossible for U.S. freshmen to get into Canada, while other later-year students with pre-existing student permits could cross the border easily — even after having spent the summer south of the border, where the COVID-19 pandemic has been growing in severity for months.

Marti said she was told by Mills that the issue came up during ongoing discussions in Washington about the Canada-U.S. border restrictions — and that her entreaties, as well as media coverage of the plight of U.S. parents, “helped to put a ‘face’ to the issue.”

Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Canada now says border officers will accept a “port of entry letter of introduction” that shows the student was approved for a study permit, in lieu of a permit approved before March 18. The exception, however, only applies to students from the United States.

“We celebrated, although we won’t fully celebrate until she is in Montreal,” Marti said, noting that the family — and many others — must now wait for those letters of introduction and study permits to come through.

She’s also well aware of the fact that students hoping to travel to Canada from countries outside the U.S. are still bound by the March 18 restriction.

“I just hope someone continues addressing the issue for all international freshmen,” she said. ”International students who quarantine are not the real danger.”

Other parents in the U.S. remain wary of the border, since the rules require anyone seeking entry to Canada to be travelling for a “non-discretionary or non-optional purpose” — a description that could exclude students whose courses are being held entirely online.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., growing by tens of thousands of cases a day, reached the 4.4 million mark Monday, with more than 150,000 deaths to date. Premature reopenings, an uneven and cavalier approach to physical distancing in parts of the country and a partisan divide over mask requirements have helped to fuel a surge in cases.

Canada, by comparison, has reported 114,000 total cases and nearly 8,900 fatalities so far.

“There are no measures in place to provide for expedited processing of study permit applications,” Canada’s immigration department said in an update earlier this month.

“Foreign nationals who had a study permit application approved after March 18, 2020 … may not be exempt from the travel restrictions (and) they should not make any plans to travel to Canada until the travel restrictions are lifted, as they will not be allowed to travel to or enter Canada.”

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced last week the government would prioritize study permits for students who have submitted complete applications online. Students will also be able to apply time spent studying online toward their eligibility for work permits in Canada, provided at least 50 per cent of the program is completed in Canada.

Ottawa has also introduced a priority processing system and a two-stage process for students who are unable to obtain all the necessary documentation.

A spokesman for Mendicino did not respond to media inquiries Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Education

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Submitted
Montana First Nations councillor gives back to youth

By Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News Reggie Rabbit is a newly elected… Continue reading

General Support Services workers were picketing on 46 St. at the entrances to the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury on Oct. 26 . (Emily Jaycox/PonokaNews)
Ponoka Centennial Centre support workers strike

General Support Services staff hit the picket line Oct. 26

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

The death of 19-year-old Jacob Michael Chitze of Edmonton has now been ruled a homicide following an ongoing RCMP investigation.
UPDATE: RCMP arrest youth for second degree murder of 19-year-old Jacob Chitze

Arrest made for the murder of Jacob Michael Chitze, 19.

Most Read