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Message on behalf of Paul Davidson 

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Universities Canada has worked with members to ensure that international students can safely engage in their studies, both from within Canada and from abroad. Today the government made two significant announcements – the first on travel restrictions for people entering Canada and the second being an extension and expansion of the temporary postgraduate work permit measures – that will impact international students.

New Travel Regulations

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, together with the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Public Safety, Bill Blair and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic Leblanc provided more information on the additional measures announced two weeks ago designed to discourage non-essential travel. These measures place additional requirements on those seeking to enter the country from abroad.

It is our understanding from discussions with government officials at the technical briefing today that these new measures will apply to all international students seeking to enter the country. That said, we are continuing to work with senior officials on an urgent basis to explore alternatives and we will keep members updated.

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 Key components of today’s announcement include

Mandatory COVID-19 molecular testing upon arrival and a mandatory hotel stay until the results of the test are available for air travelers will come into action on February 22, 2021.

Air travelers will need to book their three-day hotel accommodations at their own cost at a government approved hotel before boarding their flight.

They will need to provide this information in the ArriveCan App, as well as answer COVID screening questions and enter a suitable quarantine plan.

Hotel booking information will be available online as of February 18, 2021. Travellers will need to book a hotel in the city in which they first arrive in Canada.

There will be a number of hotels to choose from near each of the four international airports accepting international flights, in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

Costs of these hotel stays may vary slightly at each location. It is up to the traveller to choose where they wish to stay and book in advance of departure.

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The price will include costs associated with the room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, and security as well as transportation.

If they receive a negative test result, travellers will be able to take a domestic flight to their final destination where they will complete their quarantine period. Travelers will be given a second test kit to take another mandatory test towards the end of their 14-day quarantine period. 

These measures are in addition to the already required 72 hour negative pre-boarding test requirement and the necessity of having a valid study permit to study at a DLI on the approved DLI list.

Travelers arriving to Canada by land, as of February 15, 2021, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival.

In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine. They will also need to provide their information and suitable quarantine plan in the ArriveCan app before crossing the border.

Backgrounder: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2021/02/additional-testing-and-more-stringent-quarantine-requirements-for-travel-to-canada.html

News release: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2021/02/government-of-canada-expands-restrictions-to-international-travel-by-land-and-air.html

Extension and expansion of temporary postgraduate work permit measures

Today, Minister Mendicino also announced the extension and expansion of the temporary postgraduate work permit measures (PGWP), which were set to expire on April 30th, to recognize the difficulty that international students are experiencing. As a result of these changes:

– Studies completed outside of Canada will be counted towards the eligibility and length of a future PGWP up to December 31, 2021

– Up to 100% of a student’s program can be completed online from outside Canada while remaining eligible for a PGWP

Universities Canada and members have advocated actively for these changes in light of the continued challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

By providing students who have remained in their home country with the certainty that they will have the same access to post-graduation work permits as students studying domestically, we believe this change will address significant uncertainty and apprehension amongst international students.

News release: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/02/government-of-canada-announces-further-measures-to-support-international-students.html

Universities Canada is continuing to engage with Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, IRCC and Transport Canada, to ensure that Canada has in place the required policy measures to provide a safe and welcoming pathway for international students to study and the necessary capacity to efficiently implement these programs.