Int’l Students Expected to Arrive in Canada for Fall Semester Are Facing Slow Visa Process & Few Flight Options to the Country

Despite Canada opening its borders to international students who met the criteria to enter the country, students expected to pursue studies at Canadian universities in the fall semester are struggling with visa delays, fewer available flights, as well as lack of access to vaccination.

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) pointed out that the department has continued to receive and process study permit applications even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CBC via The Canadian Press.

“If you submitted your complete study permit application (including your biometrics and immigration medical exam) by May 15, 2021, you should get a decision by August 6, 2021, in time to attend the fall semester,” IRCC’s website points out.

Nevertheless, the spokesperson Nancy Caron said that some applications could take longer as they are not complete at all.

Nearly 100,000 study permits have been issued by the department during the first four months of this year, marking an increase from about 66,000 in the same period during the previous year and about 96,000 in 2019, from January to April.

Most recently, Canada announced that as of July 5, 2021, travelers who are fully vaccinated and exempted from travel restrictions are not required to quarantine or perform a COVID-19 test on day eight, which rule includes international students traveling to Canada as well. Whereas vaccinated travelers heading to Canada before that date will be required to self-isolate.

In order to be fully inoculated by the Canadian government, travelers must have received vaccines approved by the Canadian government, meaning two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccines, or one dose of the Janssen vaccine at least 14 days before entering the country.

The University of Toronto’s Vice-Provost of students, Sandy Welsh, said that students who can’t get any of the vaccines before moving to Canada would have 14 days to get it.

International student Muhammad Saad who has been admitted to Centennial College in Toronto for a diploma in project management has expressed concerns about getting his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“My second dose is in mid-July. I hope the vaccine will be available in Pakistan at that time,” he said.

Most recently, Canada announced it will extend travel restrictions on non-essential international travel until July 21, 2021. However, international students with valid visas will still be allowed to enter the country.

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