Coronavirus: International students worry as decisions loom on travel to Canada

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Zohra Shahbuddin says she was thrilled when she received a letter of admission in April from the university of her choice in Canada.

She’s been admitted to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver for a master of publishing degree but is having sleepless nights worrying because of COVID-19.

Like other international students, Shahbuddin faces uncertainty as universities switch to online classes. She also has financial concerns, worries about a work permit and has fears about her health.

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She is weighing whether to enrol this fall or put off coming to Canada from Pakistan until next year.

“It’s been almost two months now and I’ve been thinking about it everyday and still cannot make a decision,” she said in a phone interview.

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International students contribute $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supported nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018, said Nancy Caron, a spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Caron said in a statement the government is accommodating students who complete their studies outside Canada between September and Dec. 31 by not deducting that time from the length of their post-graduation work permit.

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