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

Lacombe resident creates labyrinth near Breton

Marsha Duggan encourages others to use their imagination

76 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday

Active cases at 1,036, 10,713 recovered cases

Stettler to celebrate rich prairie culture throughout September during Alberta Culture Days

Stettler has been selected as a “Feature Celebration Site” for Alberta Culture Days

Christ-King Catholic School gears up for back-to-school start-up

‘If a parent isn’t comfortable sending their child back to the brick and mortar school, then School of Hope is an option.’

COVID-19 tests urged for all teachers and school staff

121 new cases Wednesday, active cases up to 1,040

Charges likely in fatal attack at central Alberta medical clinic: RCMP

A vigil was held Monday night to mourn the victim

Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools receive grant from Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

WRPS has received $15,975 from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Three people drown at Crescent Falls

Rocky Mountain House RCMP say the incident occurred Tuesday

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Most Read