International students allowed back into Canada despite COVID-19 pandemic

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The day has come. The border is open to international students. The federal government’s much-anticipated corridor to foreign learners officially opened on Oct. 20. Entry, however, comes with a few caveats. Students can only apply to designated learning institutions (DLI), that is colleges and universities that have a COVID-19 readiness plan. CAN Pathways Immigration can assist you in the admission process in one of these DLIs and help you step by step in your Canada Study Visa process.

While many are likely to hail and welcome the news, the pandemic still looms large and is the reason behind the initial border closure. Hundreds of thousands of international students, both current and potential, were left in the lurch when the border was closed mid-March. The reopening provides a release valve for some student anxiety.

The government has provided a list of institutions meeting the criteria of COVID readiness that international students can pick from. The list is very selective, with only 131 schools listed as compliant. Many prominent institutions are missing, among them Ryerson, Lakehead, Laurentian, and University College of the North.

In a written response to NCM, Ryerson University said it “has received feedback on its official readiness plan to receive new incoming students.” The school added that their “Student Life & Learning Support is working with the University Planning Office to incorporate the feedback” and hopes to be on the list shortly.

The communications officer of Laurentian University, Shaun Malley, said, “We are working with the ministry to finalize the details of Laurentian inclusion on the list, which we expect shortly.” He added that the school has “already welcomed 593 international students, around a dozen of whom arrived this fall and live in residence.”

Brandon Walker, the spokesperson for Lakehead University echoed the comments by his colleagues and said the institution was working with the government and local health units responsible for ensuring that the plan is approved. “We anticipate the approval of our plan to come soon and for Lakehead to be added to the growing list of DLI institutions in Canada,” he told NCM.

“Education is primarily a provincial or territorial responsibility in Canada. It is up to a province or a territory to confirm which institutions should be added to the list of DLIs that have approved COVID-19 readiness plans,” said Nancy Caron, spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

When NCM initially reported on the reopening, post-secondary institutions expressed great enthusiasm. “We welcome the announcement that international students of approved institutions will be permitted to enter Canada starting Oct. 20, 2020,” read a University of Toronto statement to NCM. “University of Toronto has been providing a quarantine program to students since the summer. We will continue to support students arriving from outside Canada who must complete the 14-day mandatory quarantine.”

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