Canada’s Extended Ban on Direct Flights From India Until Sept.21 Harms Indian Students

Indian students who were expected to pursue higher education in Canada have been negatively affected after Canada decided to extend its ban on direct passenger flights from and to India, at least by another month.

The PhD student at McGill University, Sachin Dev, said that he was planning to perform a COVID-19 test in another country before heading to Canada. He said he feels he is “lagging behind,” and after trying to take a COVID-19 test in a third country, he had to deal with five flight suspensions which also led to financial difficulties.

“Purchasing tickets via a third country is not only five or six times more expensive but involves infection risks too. I’ve faced financial issues because I am not able to access my (university) stipend, which requires a Canadian bank account and study permit, which I will receive only at the airport,” Dev told The Canadian Press.

Similar to Dev, Sayana Sherif, whose flights were also canceled, described the procedure to take a COVID-19 test at the airport in Egypt while heading to Canada as very challenging and disorganized.

“Passengers had to take charge, organize ourselves, collect the money for the test in groups and facilitate the whole administrative procedure pre-test by ourselves,” Sherif stressed.

She also told The Canadian Press that during her journey to Canada, she had to pass through Oman and Egypt before finally entering Toronto and settling in the student residence in Montreal.

Furthermore, the policy director for CanadaVisa.com that serves as the online presence of the Campbell Cohen Canadian Immigration Law Firm, Kareem El-Assal, described students’ situation as a “painful travel process”, adding that he believes a decrease in the number of enrollments from India could take place this year while the number of admissions will increase again only after travel restrictions are removed.

The government of Canada imposed the ban on direct flights from India until September 21, 2021, after surges in COVID-19 infections. According to the government, over this period, all passengers from India aiming to enter Canada through an indirect route are obliged to obtain a pre-departure negative COVID-19 from a third country before heading to Canada.

“Travellers who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 180 days prior to departure, instead of a negative COVID-19 molecular test. This proof must be obtained in a third country before the continuation of the journey to Canada,” a press release issued by the Canadian government reads.

Over the past five years, Canada has been one of the top study destinations among Indian students, with the country sending a high number of international students to Canada.

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