Studying online due to COVID-19 won't affect work permit eligibility

Studying online due to COVID-19 won't affect work permit eligibility

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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Dear Mr Brown,

Thanks, so far, for the assistance with school admission and a study permit. Can you give me an update on whether I will be able to actually start classes in Toronto for May, as we planned?

— MR

Dear MR:

Thank you for your query. For the benefit of others who are affected, I will respond to your question in a general nature, rather than referring to your specific college.

Temporary distance classes

Pursuant to social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, college campus facilities are closed.

Colleges therefore currently offer distance learning, which consists of online platforms, virtual services and teleworking operations. While learning at a distance is expected to continue until at least to the end of the semester, other college operations will go back to normal as soon as possible.

We will have to see how things develop over the next several weeks for the summer term, which is expected to begin on or around May 25, 2020 for many schools.

Postgraduate work permit eligibility

Normally, distance learning can affect a student's eligibility to obtain a postgraduate work permit (PGWP). It is very important to note that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has stated that: “Courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID-19 will not affect PGWP Program eligibility. Time spent in distance learning due to the current situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic will be counted towards PGWP.”

Begin studies from Jamaica online

Under the March 14, 2020 travel health advisory issued by the Government of Canada, all international students who arrive from outside Canada must be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to Canada. However, starting online studies upon arrival or from a home country may be an alternative to consider.

Most colleges are preparing online programme offerings for both the summer and fall 2020 semesters, and will be announcing available programmes in the near future. This will allow students who are unable to travel in the coming months to start their studies from their home country, which I would recommend for those who have been granted a study permit.

If the Canadian border remains closed, another study abroad plan may involve distance education that allows you to start your academic progress and get a head start during the pandemic. Students who prefer to wait to start their studies or whose programmes are not available through online offerings may defer their start date to the next available intake for their programme.

I will keep providing updates as they become available.

Please visit for additional information on Canadian permanent residence programs, including Express Entry, the Study & Work programme, visas or appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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