Canada announces conditional student visa approvals for students beginning studies online

The Canadian government recently announced temporary policy changes in an effort to help international students starting a new program online this fall.

The new measures include priority study permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online, and a new temporary two-stage approval process for students who are unable to submit all of the documentation needed to complete their application, and who choose to pursue programs through distance learning.

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and the Canadian institutions and communities that host them,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in a July 15 news release. “This is why we have implemented a series of measures to support them. We value the contribution of young people seeking a high-quality education in Canada, and we’re making every effort to minimize how current challenges affect their plans and dreams for the future.”

The temporary process will allow applicants to count the time spent studying online abroad towards their post-graduation work permit once they receive an approval-in-principle, as long as they are able to fulfill all requirements and receive the full approval of their study permit application at a later date.

The new process is available to students starting a program in the fall as long as they submit a study permit application before Sept. 15, 2020.

“This measure will reassure students that they can enrol and begin their studies this fall online, even when they are not able to submit all required documentation due to pandemic-related closures,” the government statement reads.

To accommodate this deadline, University Canada West (UCW) has extended the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) issuance deadline to Aug. 28. Students wanting to study at UCW in the Fall should pay their tuition deposit as soon as possible to confirm their admission offer, which then allows UCW to issue the LOA. A LOA is needed to apply for a study permit.

UCW has committed to issue refunds in the unlikely event a student has an application refused after receiving an approval-in-principle, even if a student has already started studying online.

Fast Facts

  • Applicants who pass the approval-in-principle stage — which includes showing that they have been accepted at a Canadian learning institution, have the available funds and are otherwise eligible for the study permit — will be notified of a first-step approval.
  • Once the approval-in-principle is issued, applicants can begin studying online abroad and have that time count towards their post-graduation work permit, provided they meet other criteria and they eventually receive full approval of their study permit.
  • An applicant will receive final approval once they have met all eligibility and admissibility requirements, including submitting biometrics and other necessary documents such as an immigration medical exam and a police certificate. Applicants will only be able to travel to Canada once they receive final approval.
Published on August 10, 2020.