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What Indian students should know about returning to Canada

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Indian nationals will still be unable to enter Canada if they are flying in from their home country. Source: Narinder Nanu/AFP

Although Indian students may not return to Canada from India, Canada will soon be opening its borders to other fully-vaccinated travellers. This means international students neither need to quarantine if they have received the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or AstraZeneca vaccines; nor will they have to test on the eighth day post-arrival.

Canada has extended its travel ban on India until July 27, 2021, after the previous ban ended on May 22. “Given the number of COVID-19 cases continue to be very high in India, we have extended our flight restrictions for this country. We will continue to assess the evolving situation and determine appropriate action going forward,” Canadian transport minister Omar Alghabra commented. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam added that the Delta variant shows increased transmissibility — this increases the risk of others returning to Canada.

What does this mean for Indian students who want to return to their Canadian designated learning institution (DLI) by fall semester? Here’s an idea.

Can Indian students overcome travel ban?

According to Canada’s official travel advisory for India, all flights from India are suspended until the ban ends. You may still return to Canada via an indirect route, in which case you must get a PCR test from the third country you are passing through.

“Travellers who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 90 days prior to departure, instead of a negative COVID-19 molecular test. You might need to seek entry and stay in a third country for at least 14 days,” reads the statement.

CIC News reckons that Canada will consider the input of DLIs in deciding how and when to welcome Indian students back. Many international students would recall how Canada became one of the first countries to bring international students back to campus in October 2020. Since then, DLIs have been allowed to host students on campus as long as they are enacting a state-approved COVID-19 readiness plan.

return to Canada

Indian students eager to return to campus are being delayed by travel bans and visa backlogs. Source: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP

Expect phased return to Canada

On June 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed measured optimism on easing more restrictions in Canada soon. “We certainly hope… that we will have more good news about reopenings in the coming weeks but, of course, it depends on the vaccination rate, the COVID situation in general, the variants of concern and what’s happening elsewhere,” he said.

As of July 5, vaccinated, asymptomatic travellers will no longer be required to quarantine in Canada — but you should still come prepared with a quarantine plan, in case you test positive or run into other complications that delay the result of your second test. At the same time, local reports have indicated that even students allowed to enter Canada are facing numerous obstacles including visa backlogs, lack of access to vaccinations, navigating quarantine measures, as well as fewer available flights.