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What is a “tutor” and why are they exempt from travel restrictions?

Canada has listed “tutors” as immediate family members, causing confusion for people who are only familiar with the word being used in academia.

In Canada, many people think of “tutors” as people who help students study a particular subject.

However, the Government of Canada groups them in with “guardians” under the list of family members who are exempt from travel restrictions. They define guardians and tutors as: “individuals who are responsible for caring for a foreign national minor who is living apart from a parent for an extended period of time, for example, to attend a secondary school in Canada.”

Minors are people who are under the age of 18 in Canada.

Different jurisdictions have varied definitions of tutors and guardians, though they both serve similar functions. A guardian or tutor does not take over all parental responsibilities, as in the case of adoptive parents, but has the authority to make decisions on behalf of a minor when a parent is not available.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told CIC News that a number of foreign national children who study in Canada live with a guardian or tutor during their studies instead of with their parents.

Guardians and tutors were included in the exemptions because IRCC wanted to avoid situations where they were separated from their foreign national wards.

“The Government of Canada first implemented travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the March break, when some of these foreign national minors were travelling abroad,” IRCC said in an email. “Guardians and tutors were included in the definition of an immediate family member to ensure these foreign national minors were not stranded because the people housing them in Canada did not meet the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations’ definition of an immediate family member.”

In order to come to Canada, the guardian or tutor must be able to prove that they normally live at the same address as the minor. Live-in nannies are not considered to be guardians or tutors.

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) provides the following list of some of the acceptable documents that prove the employment or status as a guardian or tutor:

  • documents that indicate the relationship to the child;
  • documents that indicate legal responsibility for the child and authority to make decisions in the absence of their parents;
  • documents showing power of attorney; or
  • a judicial court order or affidavit.

The onus is on the guardians or tutors to satisfy the border services officer that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada. Travellers should also have documentation that will demonstrate their reason for travel and length of stay. In addition, they should bring any other information that may prove how they meet the exemption. The final decision is made by a CBSA officer on a case-by-case basis, based on the information available to them at the time of processing.

Online courses started before study permit approval count toward PGWP

The time that international students spend studying online from outside Canada now counts toward a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

When Canada initially relaxed the PGWP requirements to include online study as part of the eligibility criteria, it only counted after international students were approved for their study permit.

Now the time international students put into their courses before getting their study permit counts as long as their program starts in 2020. They also have to apply for the study permit before September 15 and at least half of their program must be completed in Canada.

Up until December 31, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will not deduct the study time completed outside Canada from the length of the PGWP.

Canada’s immigration department has made sweeping changes to the eligibility criteria for the PGWP in light of the challenges international students face while trying to complete their studies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Among these challenges is the transition from in-person classes to online study. Before the pandemic hit, the PGWP only recognized in-person classes. This is no longer viable with so many Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) switching to online courses.

If you haven’t applied for a study permit yet

Most international students must apply for their study permits online as ports of entry are not issuing visas during the pandemic.

Canada will accept incomplete applications for study permits. The new two-step study permit system allows international students to start studying without being fully equipped with a study permit. The full study permit, which will eventually be needed if international students want a PGWP, will be issued once all documents are submitted and the application is approved.

How a PGWP can lead to permanent residence

The PGWP gives international student graduates the opportunity to work in Canada for up to three years after the end of their study program.

PGWP holders can use all their years of Canadian experience toward an application for immigration. Most immigrants to Canada go through economic-class immigration where Canadian work and study experience are highly valued toward an application in the Express Entry system.

Express Entry manages applications for Canada’s three Federal Skilled Immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class.

PGWP holders can be eligible for any one of these programs depending on their experience. They must first submit a profile into the Express Entry system and become an Express Entry candidate.

Express Entry candidates are given a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Candidates are ranked based on factors that the Canadian government has determined will support the labour market. Points are awarded based on a candidate’s age, work experience, education, and language ability in English or French.

The highest-scoring candidates are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence through an Express Entry draw. The next draw is expected to happen this week, based on how the government has been holding draws about every two weeks this year.

Canada may lift international student travel restrictions

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

This is revealed in a letter that has been obtained by CIC News.

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 which 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 explain 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 to Canada.

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

Information sought by ministers Mendicino and Hajdun

The two ministers ask recipients to provide a list of information to them by Friday July 24 to confirm whether their jurisdiction is ready to host a new cohort of international students and their immediate family members. Immediate family is defined as spouses and common-law partners, dependent children, parents and step-parents, and guardians.

Information sought included:

  • a list of DLIs in each jurisdiction that has been approved in accordance with public health requirements and business resumption plans for operation and for hosting students
  • there are protocols in place to implement and monitor Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine by the DLIs and ensuring that students have:
    • appropriate transportation to the DLI
      • a suitable place to quarantine (and with access to supplies, food, prescriptions, and other necessary support)
      • students will not have contact with vulnerable individuals
      • quarantine accommodation will enable physical distancing with infection-prevention control protocols in place
    • information on physical and mental health supports available to international students
  • each jurisdiction’s responsibility and readiness to ensure compliance with the requirements of provincial and local public health authorities
  • a risk mitigation plan to test, trace, and isolate COVID-19 and prevent its spread
  • active outreach and communications with DLIs and respective communities on expectations, roles, and responsibilities to maintain public health guidelines
  • a commitment for collaboration and information sharing between the two levels of government to monitor and manage coronavirus-related risks of international students in Canada.

Given the evolving nature of the pandemic, Mendicino and Hajdu note that the involved stakeholders will likely need to continue to adjust their approach to ensure they uphold the health and safety of Canadians and international students.

What does this letter mean?

The letter does not necessarily mean that Canada will exempt more international students from its current travel restrictions any time soon. However, it strongly suggests that Canada will go ahead and introduce new exemptions for international students as long as it is safe to do so, and if it receives confirmation from respective provinces and territories, as well as DLIs that they are equipped to welcome more foreign students.

Canada’s travel restrictions are in effect until July 31.

Hence, we may learn within the coming days whether Canada will go ahead and introduce the exemptions for students.

Canada has been able to flatten the coronavirus curve since the crisis began in the middle of March. Canada’s low coronavirus numbers are due to its strict public health measures which include in part the limitation of travel from abroad.

Canada is now in the fortunate position where it can at least consider welcoming more foreign students. Prior to the pandemic, it hosted over 640,000 students who contributed $22 billion to the economy and supported some 170,000 jobs each year.

Even if students are unable to come to Canada in the near future, they can still benefit from a host of new policies that are in place to help international students achieve their Canadian immigration goals.

For example, Canada has a new two-step study permit process in place that allows students to get pre-approval for their study permits so they can begin their Canadian programs online at a DLI. They would then be able to come to Canada assuming they submit a completed study permit application which gets approved, and travel restrictions for them are lifted. Moreover, students can study online and have that time count towards their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility. The PGWP can then help them become eligible for Canadian permanent residence.

Express Entry: Canada invites 3,343 CEC candidates

Canada held another Express Entry draw on July 23, the second invitation round held in two days. Invitations were issued to a total of 3,343 Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. A Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 445 was enough to ensure an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Today’s CRS cut-off score was 14 points higher than the previous CEC-specific draw on June 25, which had a CRS cut-off score of 431. The increase in points is due to more candidates being entered into the pool over the past month after Canada held an all-program draw on July 8.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has held these program-specific draws since the coronavirus pandemic caused Canada’s border to close in March. They have all taken place shortly after Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)-specific draws, and the number of ITAs from the two draws combined add up to a round number.

Yesterday, IRCC returned to program-specific draws with 557 PNP candidates receiving ITAs.

Express Entry is a system that the federal government uses to manage applications for Canada’s three main economic-class programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Some provinces also have provincial programs that are aligned with the Express Entry system.

In the Express Entry system, candidates are ranked based on their CRS score that considers multiple factors including their age, work experience, education and proficiency in French or English. In some cases, the date and time at which the Express Entry profile was created is also a ranking factor.

Today’s draw saw the tie-break rule implemented. The tie-break rule is used to rank candidates who have the same CRS score (at the cut-off) based on the date and time the profile was created.

The tie-breaking rule for today’s draw was implemented for July 12, 2020 at 15:16:55 UTC. This means that candidates with a CRS score of 445 were only invited if their profile was submitted before this date and time.

This draw brings the total number of invitations issued in 2020 to 57,700.

Despite coronavirus, this number still exceeds the number of invitations issued at the same time last year and the year before.

Candidates who wish to submit their Express Entry profile may still do so despite any coronavirus-related restrictions in place. IRCC continues to accept submissions to the Express Entry system.

Who is invited?

The following are hypothetical examples of candidates who would have had a CRS score high enough to receive an ITA in this draw:

Salma is 33 years old and has been working in Canada for one year as a graphic designer since completing her bachelors degree in Canada. She wrote the IELTS and scored an 8 in listening, a 7.5 in speaking, a 7.5 in writing and a 7 in reading. Salma’s CRS of 446 and eligibility under the CEC would have allowed her to obtain an ITA during the July 23 Express Entry draw.

Nabil is 38, holds a bachelors degree and has been working as a management consultant outside of Canada for six years. Nabil has an advanced English language proficiency and worked in Canada for a year, in 2019. Nabil’s CRS score of 445 as well as his eligibility under the CEC would have allowed him to obtain an ITA in the July 23 Express Entry draw.

New two-step process to study in Canada in fall 2020

Canada released new information this morning on how to obtain a study permit for the fall 2020 academic year.

The coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult for international students to get the documents they usually need for Canadian study permits. The Canadian border is also closed to most international students. Students are only exempt from travel restrictions if their study permits were issued before noon on March 18.

Even then, border officers may refuse entry to exempt international students if their program can be done online. International students still need to be in Canada for an essential reason. If their courses are offered online and they can study from home, that could make their reason for travelling to Canada “optional” or “discretionary.”

However, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is introducing a new two-step approval process that will allow international students to start the semester online without a finalized study permit. Today, the immigration department unveiled new instructions for its officers on how to proceed with the temporary changes.

IRCC stated last week it is aiming to process complete study permit applications that have already been submitted as quickly as possible.

Students who want to take advantage of the temporary two-step process have until September 15 to apply for their study permit.

How to obtain a study permit for fall 2020

The first stage is much like the regular study-permit process. International students have to submit:

  • letter of acceptance;
  • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (for Quebec students only);
  • proof of funds;
  • proof that they can leave Canada when they no longer have legal temporary or permanent status; and
  • any family ties to Canada.

Immigration officers will assess these applications and issue pre-approval at their discretion. International students can begin studying at this stage.

To get the full study permit, and eventually be able to travel to Canada, international students will need to submit:

  • Immigration medical examination
  • Security-Police certificates
  • Biometrics

Regular requirements for Student Direct Stream

International students who are applying under the Student Direct Stream (SDS) are only eligible for the expedited study-permit program if they can submit a full application. Otherwise, they have to apply under the regular process or wait until they are able to supply all the necessary documents to be eligible for the SDS. IRCC also says that there may be delays.

The SDS aims to process study permits in 20 days. Currently, international students are eligible if they are from the following seven countries: China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal and Vietnam.

Online study is now eligible for Post-Graduation Work Permit

The full study permit is needed if students want to complete their program in Canada, and eventually apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to work in the country after they graduate.

IRCC previously changed the eligibility requirements for the PGWP as designated learning institutions changed their in-class programs to online. International students will now be able to do to half of their program online and still be eligible for the work permit that could allow them to stay in Canada for at least three more years.

The PGWP is important because it enables international students to get the Canadian work experience they often need to become eligible for Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) are among numerous immigration pathways available to international students who complete their studies in Canada and get qualifying work experience.

“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 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.”

Canada makes huge changes to help international students

IRCC has just announced several major changes to help international students pursue their education in Canada.

International students offer significant social and economic benefits which is why Canada seeks to attract them to the country. Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada hosted over 640,000 international students.

In a news release issued today, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said that it will help international students as follows:

  • IRCC will prioritize the processing of study permits for students who have submitted a completed application online so that their permits are processed as soon as possible
  • IRCC is introducing a temporary 2-stage approval process for international students who can not yet submit a completed study permit application and who want to begin their Canadian educational program online. This temporary process is available to students who want to begin their program this fall and who submit their study permit application by September 15, 2020
  • As previously reported by CIC News in May, IRCC is also enabling students to begin their Canadian studies online while they are still abroad and having that time count towards their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility so long as they have submitted a study permit application and if at least 50 per cent of the program is completed in Canada.

Why IRCC is helping international students

IRCC says it is rolling out these measures to help students begin their programs in time for the fall 2020 academic year.

IRCC recognizes that the global coronavirus crisis is creating uncertainty for international students. In addition, the pandemic has impacted IRCC’s ability to process study permits.

However these new changes will help students begin their programs online this fall at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI).

There are numerous benefits to IRCC’s changes.

Benefits to international students

International students can take comfort in being able to start their Canadian program online which will protect their health and safety and enable them to achieve their various study, career, and immigration objectives.

If they wish to begin their Canadian studies this fall, IRCC will do its best to process their study permit as soon as it can. Even if the student is unable to submit a completed study permit application, IRCC will pre-approve them if they meet the conditions outlined below.

Students want to come to Canada due to its high-quality of education. In addition, they are attracted by the opportunities to work in Canada during and after their studies, and potentially obtain permanent residence to become the Canadian citizens of the future.

IRCC’s new policies are meant to help international students pursue such goals.

How to get a pre-approval for a study permit

IRCC will provide an approval-in-principle for study permits if students pass the first stage.

To pass the first stage, study permit applicants must show that:

  • They have been accepted at a Canadian designated learning institution
  • Have enough funds to support their education in Canada
  • Meet all other study permit requirements

After passing this stage, students can begin their studies online while still overseas and still have this period count towards their PGWP eligibility and duration (as long as they eventually obtain a study permit).

To receive a final approval for a study permit, students will need to complete the application process including submitting biometrics and necessary documents such as a medical exam and police certificate.

Upon receiving final approval for their study permit, students will be able to travel to Canada.

Win-Win Situation

International student attraction is hugely beneficial to students themselves and Canada.

Students are able to pursue an excellent standard of education in one of the world’s most open and diverse countries. It is also less expensive to study in Canada compared with countries such as the United States. Students can work while at a Canadian DLI, which can help them support their living expenses in Canada and also save for the future.

After completing their education, they can gain a PGWP to work in Canada for up to three years. The professional work experience they gain in Canada can help them obtain permanent residence and eventually citizenship. Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and many other pathways are available for international students who want immigration status.

Nearly 60,000 former international students become immigrants each year, according to IRCC.

International students enrich the learning experience at colleges and universities across Canada and help enrich Canadian society even further. They also contribute $22 billion annually to the economy which supports 170,000 Canadian jobs.

Alberta includes U.S. international student graduates in immigration reforms

Alberta is accelerating two previously-announced immigration streams aimed at foreign graduates from U.S. universities as part of an overhaul of the province’s immigration system.

The Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program and the Student Entrepreneur program will be heavily promoted to “graduates of U.S. universities who are not welcome in the United States,” the Alberta Recovery Plan says.

The report was published on June 29, which is one week after the Trump administration announced the immigration freeze for 2020 and one week before they announced that international students enrolled in a fulltime online study program would have to leave the U.S.

“One of the key factors holding back Alberta’s technology sector is a lack of people with relevant skills,” the Alberta Recovery Plan states, “At the same time, the United States has further closed its border to some of the world’s most talented information technology workers and start-up entrepreneurs.”

Growing the technology sector is one of the strategies in Alberta’s economic recovery plan following the coronavirus lockdown. The government plans to create capital investments for tech startups, support to develop artificial intelligence, enhance 5G initiatives, and create an Innovation Employment Grant program.

GThe Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program is still a “go” though jobs in Alberta have taken a hit from the coronavirus crisis, the program is poised to support technology and innovation in the province.

Coronavirus effect on Alberta immigration

Following the economic shutdown in March, Alberta is reducing its immigration targets for 2020 by a third from 6,250 permanent resident nominations to no more than 4,000.

The province also says it is requesting that the federal government remove most occupational categories under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) for Alberta, this is part of the government’s overriding goal of “getting Albertans back to work.”

The government does not specify which occupational categories it plans to add to the “refusal to process list” but says they aim to remove the vast majority of occupations from the TFWP. A few specialized occupations experiencing acute and proven labour shortages will be exempt.

“We know job creators have a hard time filling vacancies in areas such as caregiving, emergency response, hospitality positions in the mountain parks, and agriculture, that is why these sectors will be exempt from these changes,” a spokesperson from the Government of Alberta, wrote to CIC News, “Employers in these sectors will be able to access TFWs to fill vacant positions.”

The province also said that as of December 2019, the total number of TFWs in Alberta was 10,188. The service industry accounts for 62 per cent of all TFWs in Alberta. TFWs who are currently working in Alberta will not be affected by these changes.

The government will enhance services to connect employers with available workers and increase training opportunities in occupations where there is a persistent skill shortage.

The province also says that newcomers will be needed in the future to create jobs and bring specialized skills to the Alberta labour market. As such, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program will become the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program, and four new streams will be launched to spur entrepreneurship, tech start-ups, and to boost economic growth in rural communities.

The province did not say when these changes would be implemented but said more details will be announced in the coming weeks.

New Admissions in Canada institution will have the following benefits.

Once they are admitted, and not able to travel to Canada because of travel restrictions, they will be offered online studies and will get the same benefits as regular attendance. They will enjoy the same benefits as if they were in Canada.

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