Planning to study abroad takes a lot of preparation. It is not something that you can expect to happen overnight. There are a lot of things that you have to consider and work your way through to ensure success. However, there are also things that can happen beyond our control. The best example of an unforeseeable event is the 2019 pandemic that put the whole world to a stop: COVID-19.
So the question now remains: Can you still come and study in Canada if you are a Filipino international student? The simple answer would be: YES! Study permit holders were actually one of the few visa classes that were considered as essential travel and were allowed to enter Canada. In fact as of September 7, 2021, even non-essential travel such as tourism is allowed for fully vaccinated travellers.
Two years deep into this situation (COVID-19) and we have slowly gone back to our regular lives while navigating cautiously to keep the world running. We have learned to adapt to the new normal, keeping as versatile as water to the changes and mandates that happen often as events unfold everyday.
When Canada reopened its borders, it was not without a high degree of caution. Jeunice is one of the thousands of international students who had successfully travelled from the Philippines to Canada amidst the pandemic. How did she do it? Here is a list of what you should prepare for and bring for travel according to Jeunice’s experience to help you get ready:
Valid study permit
Filipino nationals are required to get a study permit (or colloquially referred to in the Philippines as a student visa).
Acceptance Letter from a DLI with a COVID-19 readiness plan
You must have your acceptance letter from your school; and your school must have a COVID-19 readiness that is approved by the province or territory where it is located. A COVID-19 readiness plan is a systematic set of procedures and protocols your DLI has in place to protect the health and safety of its students and members against COVID-19.
“I have to download the ArriveCAN App and fill it out with my information and travel details. I accomplished it thoroughly as I did not want any hitch in my travel and it cost me my trip.,” says Jeunice who had used the ArriveCAN App as mandated by the government.
ArriveCAN App is a mobile application that asks for your name, contact information, travel documents (passport information and study permit), COVID-19 molecular test result, quarantine plan, and an accomplished self assessment COVID19- symptoms form. You must accomplish this 72 hours prior to arriving in Canada.
You must prepare for a quarantine plan even if you believe you meet criteria for being fully vaccinated. Your quarantine plan must include how you will be able to access basic human needs during your isolation like food, accommodation, and means of communication like a mobile phone or internet. “My school helped me to do my quarantine plan, they provided me with a form that I had to fill up,” said Jeunice. Most DLI’s have a ready form for students to follow for their quarantine plan. Schools also conduct pre-departure orientations to guide their students and arrive in Canada safely.
Pre-Entry COVID-19 Molecular Test Result
You must present a negative COVID-19 Molecular Test taken 72 hours before your flight. Rapid antigen test is NOT accepted.
The list of accepted COVID-10 molecular test are:
- PCR – Polymerase chain reaction
- Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)
- Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)
Proof of Vaccination Status
Travelers 12 years and four months above must carry proof of their vaccination status and must contain the following information:
- Your name
- Name of government and organization who administered the vaccine
- Vaccine name and manufacturer
- Date(s) and place(s) when the vaccine(s) was administered
To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveler and possibly skip the quarantine, international students must have met all other entry requirements and have a full dose of any (or a mix) of these approved vaccines within at least 14 full days:
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2) (2 shots)
- Moderna (Spikevax, mRNA-1273) (2 shots)
- AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222) (2 shots)
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S) (1 shot)
Partially vaccinated international students can still enter Canada given that they will quarantine for 14 days. This was a protocol that Jeunice had to follow since she was not fully vaccinated at the time she traveled to Canada. She was in quarantine for 14 days; on the eighth day, she was visited by a government officer to check if she is following her quarantine plan.
“To my surprise somebody was at the door, they said they are from the government and they began to ask me if I was following my quarantine plan. They asked (while on a safe distance) how do I get my food and if I have my own bathroom.”
Proof of Funds to Support Yourself
Although this requirement is at the bottom of the list, even if COVID-19 related requirements are often prioritized, you must not overlook this requirement; it affects how you’ll manage living in Canada with ease especially if you were to quarantine. Your proof of funds must be sufficient to cover your basic necessities.
“International students must take extra care when traveling to Canada. As the old saying goes: it is better safe than sorry. Just follow protocols and be mindful throughout your journey. For me it wasn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be.” – Jeunice
Please bear in mind that admissibility in Canada will be ultimately determined by the CBSA officer (Canada Border Security Agency) at your port of entry. Travelers are expected to follow local COVID-19 restrictions and protocols regardless of visa status.