Canada has opened its borders to international students. But now what? 

By Edvisor

Oct 22, 2020

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On Friday 2nd October we received some of the most exciting news our industry has had in months. Canada is opening its borders to international students provided they follow the nation's COVID-19 response regulations and study at approved schools.

But what does this mean for schools and agencies? Let's break it down.

In early 2020, the government closed its borders to international students and travellers to lessen the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Now, the country is gradually beginning to scale those closures back with "learning institutions whose COVID-19 readiness plans have been approved by their provincial or territorial government" able to welcome students to campuses, according to the federal government’s press release.

These amended travel restrictions took place as of Tuesday 20th October, marking the beginning of international students with valid or approved study permits being able to enter Canada provided that their Designated Learning Institution (DLI) has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place.  

The news was welcomed by Languages Canada, which has been instrumental in developing a Study Safe Corridor  for international students arriving in Canada and supporting them both during and beyond the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.  Indeed, the association’s International Promotion and Marketing Manager, Diego Sanchez, heralded the news as a clear indication that the ‘the Government of Canada is listening to the industry’s experts’. 

Canadian schools too have been buoyed by the government’s announcement with Matt Collingwood, the President and CEO at Tamwood, indicating that the latest developments could lead to “a continued strengthening of our industry in late 2020 and early 2021”:

Tamwood is pleased to see the early signs of a return to student travel through an increased number of Edvisor quotations issued each week. Our students overseas who previously registered but were unable to get a visa are in continued contact with Tamwood as Canada’s visa application centres steadily reopen around the globe.” 

Tamwood is one of more than one hundred DLIs with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place. The complete list of institutions is now available on the IRCC web page for international students affected by COVID-19 restrictions and will be updated on a regular basis. 

Schools, of course, are not alone in welcoming the much-needed positive news for our industry. Since the planned reopening of Canadian borders for international students was announced on 2nd October, Edvisor recorded a 70.12% spike in quotations created by agencies for programmes in Canada compared to the week prior the announcement.


Speaking to Edvisor, Bruno Perron, President of CLASS Education, praised the Canadian government for their step-by-step approach in first “allow[ing] students to study online without affecting their PGWP and, now, gradually opening the border for international students with a carefully designed plan. Through this pandemic, the demand for Canadian education has only increased, and now the opening of our border will only further fuel the much needed and anticipated recovery”. 

Despite the excitement that is sweeping the industry, Jonathan Kolber, CEO of ILAC, recommended a dose of cautious optimism as there continue to be numerous factors at play both in Canada and agencies’ recruiting countries:

“We are excited by the recent announcement that international students with valid study permits will be able to travel to Canada at the end of October. While this is promising, we remain cautiously optimistic that students will actually start travelling soon due to numerous other obstacles that remain, largely based on the uncertainty of the pandemic both in our provinces and in our source countries”.

Whilst the news from Canada provides some much-needed optimism in what has been a year of unprecedented challenges for our industry, it is clear that both schools and agencies must remain abreast of the latest developments and updates from the Canadian government. Edvisor will therefore continue to update schools and agencies with all relevant news as we all continue to adapt to the changing landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several of the Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) are now available for agencies to connect with and quote, promote and sell on Edvisor:

  • Capilano University
  • EF International Language Campus
  • Greystone College of Business and Technology
  • Heartland International English School
  • ILSC Vancouver
  • Lakeland College
  • OIEG Oxford International Education Group/Eurocentres Canada
  • Royal Roads University
  • Stafford House Calgary
  • Study Abroad Canada Language Institute
  • Tamwood Careers
  • Tamwood International College
  • Tamwood Language Centres
  • The King's University
  • International College of Manitoba
  • Thompson Rivers University
  • Trent University
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • University of Victoria
  • VGC International College


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