Many students from India are confused about whether or not to apply for a study permit to Canada for the Fall 2020 intake (September) and Winter 2021 intake (January). Students choose courses from various lengths, such as a 1-year course, a 2-year course, or a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Those who choose any course which has a length of a two-year or above are relatively safe and may not need to worry with regard to their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) rights. Before I put forward my point of view, let’s study the official announcement made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC):
“Online courses won’t affect your PGWPP eligibility: If your in-class courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, you’re still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).
If you have a study permit, or been approved for a study permit for a program starting in the spring, summer or fall, but you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, you’re also still eligible for the PGWPP.
If you’re in this situation, you may
- Begin your classes while outside Canada, and
- Complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada, if you can’t travel to Canada sooner.
If you start your studies in fall 2020, you won’t have time deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit for studies you complete while outside Canada between fall 2020 and December 31, 2020.” Source: IRCC, Government of Canada
At the onset, it is positive news for students wishing to study, and it clearly shows a positive intent of the Government of Canada (GoC) to accommodate international students during this medical crisis. However, if we look at this announcement closely, all students may not benefit from this announcement. My personal opinion is drawn on the assumption theory since we have no idea what will unfold in the near future due to the coronavirus pandemic.
What concerns me is the choice made by students for the one-year course commencing from Fall 2020 (September). The government directive clearly states that those who complete up to 50% of their degree online while outside Canada will be eligible for PGWP. Point taken!
Let’s see a hypothetical case now: Sandeep Patel applies for a one-year course starting Fall 2020 intake and gets the study permit, but his college has decided to run the course online only for the first semester, i.e., September 2020 until January 2021. He enrolls for the class and completes it successfully, too. In all likelihood, the GoC and the college allow him to attend the physical classroom in January 2021. Sandeep Patel is safe then because he meets the government directive. But what happens when the GoC and the college do not allow him to do so, presumably the coronavirus spread is out of control? He will have to complete his second cum last semester online and may become disqualified for the PGWP.
In the scenario mentioned above, nobody is at fault (GoC, College, Agent, Student), but the student may suffer because he will complete his course online without visiting his school ever. So, what is the option for him?
Here is my perspective:
- He applies for a Winter intake (January 2021) if he has chosen a one-year course. There are chances things might settle easily then (again an assumption)
- He changes his course from a one-year length to a two-year length course if he wishes to start his studies in Fall intake (September 2020) because it will offer him an extra window of time, i.e., two years of study and then to apply for a PGWP.
I hope that this clarification will clear all your doubts. If not, talk to me.
Disclaimer: This explanation is useful only for those students who are applying for a one-year course commencing from September 2020. Others don’t need to worry. Furthermore, it’s a point of view and may not be construed as an official guideline as it rests on several unknown factors. The opinion letter is made with a view to helping to understand the possible combinations of situations for all stakeholders in the industry.