Education in the time of COVID-19

Education in the time of COVID-19

 Find out about how the pandemic affects foreigners planning to go to Canada to study, or who are already there.

By Estela Cangerana

International education, like almost every other sector, has suffered the effects of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. But this doesn’t mean that the dream of studying in Canada, which many Brazilians cherish, is over. While for some a postponement appears inevitable, for others the situation may afford opportunities. According to the specialists, before you decide what to do, you must first understand the current situation in Canada and define your own aims as a student.

“This has been a major blow for people. Everyone has been taken by surprise and all the systems have been affected, including immigration”, says immigration specialist Marina Snyder. The Canadian government closed the country’s borders on March 18. Since then only Canadians and permanent residents have been allowed in. “But there are exceptions, including foreign students whose study permits were approved by March 18”, she says.

The immigration department and the consulates are still working, but with a skeleton staff, concentrating on essential and emergency cases. Everything is handled virtually. “In other words, if your Canadian visa is expiring and you want to extend it, this has to be done online. Applications will not be rejected if documents are not available because of the coronavirus, but the deadlines will be extended”, says Snyder.

She stresses the importance of planning ahead in the current situation. “At the moment you can safely ignore the normal deadlines indicated on official websites, because there are fewer staff to process applications and delays are inevitable. Everything goes more slowly. So rethink your plans”, she advises. Special care must be taken by anyone planning to start a course in September who is still in Brazil. “If you wanted to start a course in September and still have not obtained a permit, it will be best to change your plans and aim at a January start”, says Snyder.

“There is still a question mark over the September courses, but we are more comfortable about January”, says Luciano Tavares, sales director of Canadá com Você, a consultancy specializing in education and immigration. But he points out that there is a silver lining to the pandemic. “There are courses which were costing 280 Canadian dollars a week which you can now get for as little as 100 dollars. And you can now do the preparatory English course in Brazil before you travel”, he says.

According to Tavares, if you want to go to Canada to study, “you don’t need to suspend your plans, just rethink them”. He, Marina Snyder and the CEO of Canadá com Você, Eduardo Flit, have held a webinar free of charge, supported by CCBC, to answer students’ questions.

You can watch a recording of the webinar at

Here are some tips from the specialists to avoid missing your trip:

  • Pay attention to deadlines: immigration departments and consulates are working with fewer staff and only online. So bear in mind the likelihood of delays in dealing with applications;
  • Pay attention to deadlines 2: if you have got a study permit for a course in September and it has been postponed to January, check the expiry date of your permit. If it expires before the new course dates, you will have to apply for an extension. And if it is going to be at a different college, the registration number on the document will also have to be changed;
  • A lot of colleges and universities are offering online courses, but you must be particularly careful if you want to get a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) after completing the course. If part of the course is completed remotely, outside Canada, this period may be deducted from the total amount of time allowed for work subsequently;
  • If you are in Canada and have a study permit, you cannot remain in the country for more than 150 days after the end of your course. So if it is cancelled or terminated, you must matriculate for another one if you want to be allowed to stay in the country;
  • If you are an international student or foreign worker and your job has been affected by the pandemic, you may be entitled to the emergency aid of two thousand Canadian dollars a month that the government is offering to workers who have lost their livelihood. It is worth checking out the rules for this grant;
  • Some colleges and universities are reimbursing payments received as financial aid, and there are joint schemes with companies for cash support and donations of food baskets;
  • And don’t forget: on arrival in Canada you will have to spend two weeks in quarantine.