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Canada is looking at possibly easing travel restrictions for international students in time for the fall 2020 semester.


Since March 18, international students have not been able to enter Canada unless they held a study permit that was valid as of that date. A few days ago, students from the U.S. were added to the list of exemptions, though they must meet certain criteria to be able to enter Canada.

The undated letter is signed by Canada’s immigration minister Marco Mendicino, and health minister, Patty Hajdu, however, it asks recipients to reply to the letter by Friday, July 24, 2020.

The purpose of the letter is for the two ministers to engage in a dialogue with Canada’s provincial and territorial governments, as well as designated learning institutions (DLIs), about ways to safely welcome more international students to Canada within the coming months.

DLIs are the colleges, universities, and other educational institutions that are permitted by federal and provincial governments to welcome international students.

Under Canada’s Constitution, education falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. Unlike other countries, Canada does not have a federal education department, which means that Canada’s international student policies are spread across multiple federal departments. When the federal government wants to make a decision on international students, it consults with the provinces and territories to get their input.

In this case, the federal government has imposed travel restrictions, an issue that falls under its jurisdiction. The travel restrictions, which are meant to contain the coronavirus, impede the ability of provinces and territories to welcome international students.

In their letter, however, ministers Mendicino and Hajdu write that they recognize how important international students are to Canada’s learning environment, society, and economy.

As such, they are looking to strike a balance between respecting the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories over education, while also maintaining Canada’s special coronavirus measures to limit further spread of COVID-19.

At the same time, the ministers explained that the two levels of government and DLIs “…must collectively commit to and adopt a coordinated, clear, and well-communicated approach to support the health and safety of students and the Canadian public.”

To this end, the federal government will be issuing public safety guidance on how the country can welcome more international students. The guidance outlines expectations for students, governments, and DLIs in supporting this objective.

For example, students will remain required by law to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

Provinces and territories as well as DLIs are expected to comply with public health orders and guidance.

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