As many Languages Canada members have experienced, the much-anticipated changes allowing non-discretionary travel to Canada by fully vaccinated travellers have been hampered by contradicting instructions from IRCC.
While one published instruction corresponded to the latest Order in Council and to announcements by IRCC and CBSA stating that anyone with a valid entry document (eTA, TRV, Study Permit), fully vaccinated as per Government of Canada guidelines, and with a negative COVID-19 test result could enter the country without undergoing quarantine, another published instruction required international students to enter through Study Permits only, thereby not allowing thousands of eTA and TRV holders to come to Canada to study English or French. Furthermore, Canadian mission staff, including visa officers, were obliged to insist that students use Study Permits.
This contradiction and lack of clarity were causing confusion among our members, education agency partners and students and families around the world, especially in Brazil, where families and agencies were prepared to withdraw plans to come to Canada for language education, having planned on fully vaccinated students being eligible to come with an eTA or TRV for programs of six months or less.
As Languages Canada became aware of the issue and its potential impact, we began working on two fronts: understanding what led to the contradictory government messaging and rules; and using our channels of communication and influence to get changes made for the benefit of our members and their students.
In that process, we have been in contact with senior IRCC officials in Ottawa, with the Canadian Ambassador to Brazil, and with IRCC Sao Paulo, to seek a resolution to the issue. Others indirectly involved and consulted were Global Affairs, CBSA, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
We are pleased to inform you that IRCC has:
- confirmed that their guidelines should align with the Order in Council;
- already updated their website after consulting with Languages Canada; and
- instructed visa officers to use the updated guidelines.
This confirms that students may travel to and enter Canada using a TRV or eTA. However, processing priority is still being given to Study Permits. Therefore, if students need to apply for a permit (TRV or Study Permit), it is more advantageous, at this point, to apply for a Study Permit. If students have eTA status, then using eTA is faster and less expensive.
Languages Canada is grateful to IRCC and others for having taken action in a timely manner and for their continued support of our sector. Please make sure to share the updated website with your prospective partners and students!