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Return to Canada: Government issues COVID-19 guide for international students

return to Canada
International students may return to Canada as long as they follow the rules put in place by the federal government. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP

International students scheduled for return to Canada can now better navigate travel restrictions with the federal government’s COVID-19 guide. “COVID-19: Guide for international students in Canada arriving from abroad” outlines the roles of every designated learning institution (DLI, another name for universities), province, and territory to support the return of these students, in tandem with health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

After announcing that students may return to Canada after Oct. 20, 2020, the federal government is now ensuring health and safety guidelines are followed throughout all stages of the return. This guideline follows Canada’s early November announcement that it plans to welcome over 1.2 million new permanent residents by 2023. This group is pegged to include a large number of international students who remain in the country after graduating.

If you are heading back to university soon, you should definitely read the full guidelines. Below is a summary of Canada’s COVID-19 guide for international students.

Your DLI must be approved by the government

Only DLIs with an approved coronavirus-readiness plan may welcome students back on campus. Check if your university is on the official list.

Your travel authorisation is separate from your study permit

Your study permit should not be construed as a green light to travel. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will reach out to let you know if you have been approved for travel. Bear in mind that this travel authorisation may be revoked at any time, depending on the situation at the school, province, and territory.

You must be free of all COVID-19 symptoms

The first thing you should do is ensure you are in good health. Any student or accompanying family member who shows symptoms of COVID-19 on their return to Canada will not be allowed to board their flight. Those who arrive in Canada with symptoms will be sent for immediate health screening, after which they may be transported to a hospital for further examination. It may be useful to get your doctor’s clearance and the right insurance policy before leaving the country.

You must prove your reason for entry

Once you arrive in Canada, you must show border officers the necessary documents to prove that you are going to study at an approved DLI. So, sort out your paperwork and have your approval permit ready in hand. You don’t want to risk being turned away at immigration, after all.

You must have health insurance

International students will be asked to confirm their eligibility for heath care coverage in Canada. If you are not covered, you must get private insurance (with COVID-19 coverage) before you return to Canada.

You must be ready to quarantine

All students and accompanying family members must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. Before that, you will be required to wear a face mask or covering during all phases of travel, including to the quarantine location. Since you will be isolated during this time, you must have basic necessities such as food and medicine delivered, and avoid public spaces, especially the elderly and sick.

Bear in mind that you are responsible for coming up with this quarantine plan — or if you’re a minor, your parents are. You may book individual accommodation at a hotel or live with a host, in which case you must self-isolate in the shared home (including using a separate bedroom and washroom).

Anyone who breaks quarantine may be fined up to 750,000 Canadian dollars or sentenced to six months in jail. Plus, you would be placing everyone you in danger if you were an asymptomatic carrier and could even lose your place at university. Hence, play by the rules and you’ll be back at university soon.