COVID-19 and International Students – Who can come and who can’t


As many people are aware there are currently a variety of restrictions in place t the Canadian border, limiting who may enter the country. Restrictions are in place for all types of travelers, how are international students restricted?

Which international students can currently travel to Canada:

Generally, there are now three categories of international students eligible to enter Canada:

  • A student holding a valid study permit
  • Students with a student visa issued prior to March 18, 2020
  • Students from the U.S. with a student visa issued at any time

It is important to remember that there is a difference between a study permit and a student visa. A student is issued a study permit when they first travel to Canada to begin studying. A student holding a valid study permit is one who will likely already have been in Canada studying before the COVID-19 outbreak. Students who have been approved for study in Canada will be holders of a visa but not a permit. For these students either the visa must have been issued prior to March 18, 2020, or they must be from the U.S.

Which international students cannot currently travel to Canada:

Students who do not meet one of the criteria above will not be able to travel to Canada at this time. In addition, there are two more requirements for students traveling to Canada:

  • Students must be able to complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival
  • Travel to Canada must be non-optional for the travelling student

A quarantine period is mandatory for all persons entering Canada at this time, and officers at the border will expect the traveler to have a plan for completing this quarantine – where they will stay, how they will meet their needs without exposing others, etc. If an officer determines that the traveler is not willing to quarantine or does not have the ability or resources to quarantine themselves they will not be permitted to enter Canada.

Even for those meeting the criteria for travel to Canada the travel must be non-discretionary. For a student, that means that they must need to be in Canada to continue their studies. If a student’s educational institution is not offering classes or is providing an option to continue classes online then the student would not need to be in Canada to study, and would not be permitted entry.

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