Immigration: Avoid Hassles by Having all the Official Documents on Hand
Have you decided to come study in Montreal? Will your engineering studies at ÉTS soon be completed and you want to stay permanently in Québec? In both case, you will have to comply with immigration regulations. Here are some tips to help you avoid lots of hassles.
Please note that this page only presents a summary of the immigration procedures, laws and regulations that are currently in effect in Québec and Canada, which are subject to change at any time without notice. The websites of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francophonie et de l’Intégration (MIFI, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) take precedence over this site, and you are responsible for validating all information at the source.
In order to enter Canada, any person who is not a citizen of Canada or who does not have permanent resident status and who wishes to study in Québec for more than six months must receive authorization from the Québec Government (provincial) and the Government of Canada (federal) by obtaining a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ – Québec Acceptance Certificate) and a study permit, along with a visa or Electronic Travel Authorisation.
You will find the procedures for obtaining immigration documents in your MonÉTS portal, in the immigration procedures document and in the following section. It may take several months to complete these procedures, and you should begin by obtaining your admission letter from ÉTS. The admission letter is the only document that will be issued by ÉTS, and it contains all of the information required to submit your applications for immigration documents. Having a conditional admission letter should not prevent you from initiating your procedures, and will not affect the approval of your immigration documents.
NOTICE! To find the exact start and end dates for your study program, consult the Academic Calendar. Please note that there are three regular sessions per year. You can refer immigration officials and yourself to the estimated annual tuition fees indicated on our website.
Obtaining the official documents required for studying in Québec
The validity of your Canadian study permit will not extend past the expiry date of your passport. If your passport will be expiring within the next year, verify whether you can renew it before applying for your immigration documents. Otherwise, you will have to renew all of the documents during the course of your studies, which will entail paying all of the fees again.
NOTICE! You can begin the process of applying for a CAQ even if you must renew your passport. You might save some time by beginning both procedures at the same time. However, you must wait until you receive your new passport before applying for a study permit.
2. Applying for a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ)
All international students (with the exception of those in programs that last less than 6 months and certain other specific cases) must obtain a CAQ from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation de l’Intégration (MIFI) in order to study in Québec. You should begin this procedure as soon as you receive your admission letter.
The CAQ is issued based on the normal length of your study program for a single level of study. The level of study is clearly indicated in your admission letter: Bachelor = 1st level (undergraduate) / Master and Specialized Graduate Studies (DESS) = 2nd level (graduate) / Doctorate = 3rd level (post-graduate).
- Submit your application and pay the processing fees ($120) using the CAQ application form.
- Follow the checklist and collect all of the requested documents.
- Sign, date and digitize the forms.
- Approximately 48 hours after submitting your application, you will be given access to the Arrima platform. You must use it to submit all of the requested supporting documents.
- Keep a digital copy of your file.
The processing of your request begins once the documents are submitted via Arrima. If your file is complete, the processing time will be approximately 20 business days. If your file is incomplete, you will first receive a notice of intent to reject, and you will have an opportunity to submit new supporting documents via Arrima. This will result in longer processing times.
If your CAQ is approved, you will receive an electronic confirmation in your online file. You can then apply for a study permit. The original will be sent to you by mail. If it is lost, or if there is an error in the address, you can request a copy once you arrive in Montréal.
3. Applying for a study permit
All international students (with the exception of those in programs that last less than 6 months) must obtain a study permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in order to study in Canada. You should begin this procedure as soon as you receive your letter of approval for your CAQ (the original is not required).
- Submit your application online using the GCKey service (recommended).
- Mail a printed application or submit it to the visa application centre (VAC) for your region in person.
- Pay the processing fees ($150).
- Collect all of the required documents and keep a printed or digital copy of your file. If you submit an application through the Student Direct Stream, contact email@example.com to arrange for payment of your tuition fees.
IMPORTANT! Depending on your country of origin, there may be additional requirements for obtaining a study permit. Consult the application package for instructions pertaining to your Canadian Visa Office. It is important to understand that the refusal rate for study permits is extremely high for certain countries. Attach a detailed letter of explanation and be sure to submit a complete file along with adequate proof of financial support. Please refer to our document Understanding a refusal for a sample explanation letter that can be used when first applying for a study permit and for advice in the case your application is denied.
Paying tuition fees before arriving | Student Direct Stream (SDS) program
If you are a resident of China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal or Vietnam, you may be able to obtain a study permit more quickly through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program. You must meet certain requirements, including having paid your tuition fees for your first year of study. IRCC may also require other students to pay tuition fees.
To do so, you must send an international transfer (ÉTS bank contact information). Allow for a delay of up to 2 weeks for ÉTS to receive the payment. If this deadline has passed, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and attach proof of payment and your permanent code. You can produce a receipt for your transaction yourself via the MonÉTS portal, under Mes documents (My documents). Any amount that is sent will be credited toward the payment of subsequent sessions. If you change your study plans, you can request reimbursement to the issuing account. If you have any other questions concerning payment, please contact email@example.com.
Check processing times online (processing times vary widely from country to country). If the indicated processing times are exceeded, you can submit a request using the IRCC Webform. If you still do not receive a response, you can contact IRCC from outside of Canada by calling 613-944-4000. You will first have to select your preferred language, and then select the Immigration, citizenship and visas for Canada option. Please note that this is not a toll-free number, and patience will be required.
If your application is refused, you must begin the process again, with additional supporting documents. Read our document about understanding a refusal, which includes a sample explanation letter, and be sure to submit a complete file along with adequate proof of financial support.
If your application for a study permit is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction from your embassy. Keep this document safe and present it to the Border Services Officer when you arrive in Canada.
5. Providing biometric data
The vast majority of international students (aside from those coming from the United States and certain other exceptions) must provide biometric data (photographs and fingerprints) in order to obtain a study permit and visa. Verify whether you must provide your biometric data.
Biometric data are valid for a period of 10 years. Therefore, if you have already provided them in connection with a previous application submitted to IRCC, you do not need to provide them again. A few hours after you submit your application for a study permit, you will receive a letter of instruction via your GCKey account that will explain how and where to make an appointment. You must then travel to the appointment center nearest your home. You must also pay a fee of $85 (CAD) if you have not already paid it in connection with your application for a study permit.
NOTICE! No application for a study permit will be approved until IRCC receives the biometric data.
6. Undergoing a medical exam
Determine whether you must undergo a medical exam, depending on the countries in which you have resided within the previous year. If you are affected, you will receive instructions from IRCC, and you will have 30 day to undergo the exam. The results will be sent directly to IRCC by the designated physician, and they remain valid for a period of 12 months.
7. Obtaining a temporary resident visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA)
Determine whether you must obtain a temporary resident visa (TRV) in order to enter Canada, depending on your country of citizenship. The TRV will be issued with your study permit, at no extra cost, and will be valid for the same period. It is recommended that you send your passport to the CVO for your country of residence, where the visa will be appended.
If you come from a country that requires an eTA, you will automatically receive it with your study permit, at no extra cost. The eTA is valid for a period of 5 years or until the expiration date of your passport.
8. Purchasing airline tickets: When to arrive in Canada
You should plan to arrive at least 5 days before the start of the semester in order to make it easier to establish yourself in Montréal, attend orientation activities and finalize your registration. If you prefer to arrive earlier, there is no official immigration deadline. However, if you decide to arrive several months before the official start of your semester, a Border Services Officer may question your intentions and refuse to allow you to enter Canada. In addition, you must subscribe to private health and hospitalization insurance coverage for this period.
NOTICE! You must wait until you have received all of your immigration documents before boarding a flight to Canada. Otherwise, you may be subject to an immediate deportation order! In light of this, it is strongly recommended that you do not arrive in Canada before obtaining your letter of introduction for the study permit, regardless of your nationality.
9. What to do if your application is refused
If your application for a study permit is refused, ÉTS cannot intervene with IRCC. In such a case, you are responsible for deciding whether to cancel, postpone or pursue your studies at ÉTS. To help you decide, the following are the considerations and procedures involved in the case of a refusal.
Before applying for a new study permit, it is crucial to understand the reasons for the initial refusal and to assess whether you have the arguments and additional documents required to obtain a favourable response.
- Consult the information related to the application package to review the specific directives from your visa office;
- See our proposed sample explanation letter to attach to your application;
- Draft a detailed letter of explanation (maximum two pages) with well-defined sections and clearly listed information. Adequately address the reasons for refusal that were indicated.
- If you submitted your application online, you may decide to submit the new application directly to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) for your region in paper format.
If you plan to submit a new application for a study permit, verify the processing time first. If the delay will exceed the beginning date for the session when you are supposed to begin, request a postponement of admission to a later session via the Omnivox portal before proceeding. Once your application has been processed, you will receive a new letter of admission that you can used for your new application for a study permit.
If you choose to abandon your studies at ÉTS, you can do so via the Omnivox portal.
You must maintain a valid legal status throughout the duration of your studies at ÉTS and your stay Canada, and you must provide ÉTS with valid immigration documents. If your current CAQ or study permit does not cover the entire duration of your program, for whatever reason, you must renew them.
It is important to begin these procedures at least 4 to 6 months before the expiration of your documents. Failure to renew your study permit before it expires will result in the automatic cancellation of your enrolment at ÉTS, and you will be obliged to begin the procedure of restoring your status.
Resources and procedures
- Consult the workshop "Renewing your immigration documents".
- Attend the next workshop on renewing your immigration documents. Consult the Interface newsletter (in French) and our Services, Workshops and Activities for International Students page (in French) to find the dates of our upcoming workshops.
- If your situation is urgent, contact an International Student Advisor.
- If necessary, renew your passeport.
- If necessary, obtain the document entitled prolongation de la durée des études, programmes de 2e et 3e cycles (request to extend the duration of studies, graduate and post-graduate programs – in French).
- Request your official documents from ÉTS (in French): Transcript, proof of renewal of temporary resident visa , CAQ or RAMQ card.
- Submit an application to extend your CAQ.
- Once you receive the electronic confirmation of approval of your CAQ, submit a request to extend your study permit. Use this same request to renew or apply for a co-op work permit.
- If necessary, provide your biometric data, following the instructions that you will receive from IRCC.
- If necessary, apply for renewal of your temporary resident visa.
You must provide proof of renewal of your documents to the Registrar’s Office before they expire (original of your CAQ and study permit, or the IMM5739 form as proof of renewal, indicating that you have Maintained status).
NOTICE! If your file remains incomplete after the date of expiration of your current documents, you will be considered to be restoring your status, and your ÉTS file will be closed. All of your courses will be cancelled, with no possibility of registering again for the ongoing session, and you will lose access to all ÉTS resources (portal, e-mail, laboratories, etc.).
As indicated on the IRCC website: If you submit an application for renewal from inside Canada before the expiration of your study permit, you are considered to have implied status during the processing of the application. Therefore, you are authorized to remain in Canada and study while awaiting a decision. However, you will lose this status if you leave Canada before you receive your new permit. You must wait until you receive it before re-entering Canada.
For more detailed information, consult the IRCC website.
Important elements to consider when renewing immigration documents
The government will reconfirm whether you have sufficient financial resources to continue your studies. Your financial capacity must cover your living expenses, your tuition fees and your insurance fees (as applicable). Consult the MIFI website for information concerning the types of documents and proof to be provided to demonstrate your financial capacity.
Complying with the conditions of your CAQ and study permit
During the renewal process, you must provide proof to the governments that you have been in compliance with the conditions of your CAQ and study permit since they were issued, as follows:
- Maintain health insurance coverage in Québec (attach proof of RAMQ or Desjardins insurance coverage).
- Studies must be your main activity (successful completion of courses and registration as a full-time student).
If you have not been in compliance with these conditions for any reason, you must attach a dated and signed letter of explanation, and provide supporting documents (e.g.: doctor’s note, airline ticket, proof of change of program, etc.).
Failure to renew your study permit before it expires or receiving a negative response to your request for renewal of your study permit after it has expired signifies that you no longer have valid legal status in Canada. Unlike an applicant who is recognized as having Maintained status, someone who is waiting for their status to be restored has lost their status, and cannot continue to work or study.
- Submit an application for restoration of your status during the process of renewing your study permit.
- Pay the restoration fees ($200) and the fees for your study permit ($150).
There is no official processing time for restoring your status. If the restoration is granted, you will be sent a permit that indicates the conditions associated with the restoration of status. If it is refused, you must leave Canada within the indicated time period.
Travelling during the restoration process
- Restoration of status cannot be granted at a port of entry (land border or airport), and therefore, it is strongly recommended that you do not leave and re-enter Canada while in the process of restoring your status.
- If you leave Canada, you do not need to restore your status. If you submit your application for a study permit from outside of Canada, you will be considered to be requesting a new authorization to stay.
Contact us so that we can help you evaluate your options.
Have you completed your studies? If you would like to remain in Canada, you must undertake new immigration procedures, in accordance with your objectives: becoming a permanent resident, becoming a worker, staying temporarily as a visitor or beginning a new study program. Evaluate your options as soon as possible, so that you will be ready when you have completed your studies.
- Please consult our presentation End of Studies and Immigration Status
Remember that you must maintain a valid legal status at all times. You study permit will become invalid under the following conditions:
- After the expiration date.
- 90 days after you have completed your studies.
- 90 days after you have abandoned your studies.
As indicated on the IRCC website: You have completed your studies on the date your school first notifies you by completion letter, transcript, degree or diploma.
More specifically, you will receive an e-mail from the Registrar’s Office with the subject line Programme terminé (Program completed). Once you have received the e-mail, you can submit a request for the official documents required for your application for a work permit, CSQ or other document. You will need your final transcript, the Attestation of Completion of Studies and the letter confirming fluency in French (as applicable). NOTICE! If you have a balance owing on your file, you must pay the outstanding amount before the Registrar’s Office will send you your official documents. ÉTS no longer offers payment arrangements.
Applying for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)
In order to avoid placing yourself in a non-legal position, pay particular attention to the various options for transitioning from a study permit to a work permit before applying for a Post-Graduate Work Permit.
Off-campus work and completion of a program of studies
If you hold a study permit that authorizes you to work, and you have completed all of you academic activities (waiting for final results for your courses, projects, thesis or dissertation):
- You are permitted to continue to work 20 hours/week off campus and an unlimited number of hours on campus while waiting for confirmation of completion of your program (“Program completed” e‑mail);
- You must stop working under your study permit immediately once ÉTS confirms the completion of your program, namely upon reception of the “Program completed” e‑mail.
Find all of the necessary information and the procedure for applying in the section entitled Working after completing your studies.
Applying for permanent residence
Office of Student Life is not legally authorized to guide you through the procedure for immigrating to Canada on a permanent basis (CSQ, permanent residence). However, we organize a number of information sessions every year, in cooperation with Québec and Canadian immigration authorities. Check the Interface newsletter (in French) for information about attending one of these sessions. The presentations are available for consultation at any time:
- Request your official documents from ÉTS (final transcript, Attestation of Completion of Studies and letter of confirmation of proficiency in French, as applicable).
- Submit an application for a Post-Graduate Work Permit in order to maintain your legal status as a temporary resident while waiting for permanent residence.
- Submit an application to the MIFI for a Québec Selection Certificate (CSQ) if you plan on establishing yourself in Québec.
- Submit an application to IRCC for permanent residence.
Considering the various processing times and the obligation to acquire professional experience, it may take up to 3 years to obtain permanent residence in Québec after you graduate. If your Post-Graduate Work Permit expires before then, you must obtain another type of work permit in the meantime.
Staying in Canada temporarily as a visitor
If you have completed your studies earlier than expected and your study permit is still valid, you can remain in Canada with your study permit for up to 90 days after completing your studies, or until it expires, whichever comes first. If you wish to extend your stay in Canada beyond these dates, you must change your status to that of a visitor.
Beginning a new study program
The following elements should be taken into consideration if you decide to undertake a new study program after having completed your current studies at ÉTS. Remember that you must maintain a valid legal status at all times.
Renewal of immigration documents
- If you are changing your study level (e.g.: from Master to Doctorate), you must apply for a new CAQ immediately.
- If you are not changing your study level, you must begin the process of renewing your CAQ at least 4 to 5 months before the expiration date of your current CAQ.
- If your permit is still valid, you do not need to apply for a new one in order to begin another program.
- If the expiration date of your permit is coming soon, you must renew it before the expiration date in order to maintain implied status. Refer to the procedure for the renewal of immigration documents in the section entitled During your studies, or follow the instructions given by your new educational institution, as applicable.
Working on a full-time basis between two study programs
If your study permit is still valid, you have completed your study program and you will be beginning the new program within 150 days, you can work on a full-time basis during this period if you meet the various conditions described in the section entitled Off-campus work and completion of a program of studies.
If the time between programs exceeds 150 days, you are permitted to work on a full-time basis for the first 150 days, but you must then submit a request to change your status (e.g.: to that of visitor) or leave Canada and return for the beginning of the new program.
Would you like to have your spouse or your children accompany you during the time when you are studying at ÉTS? There are a number of options for inviting members of your family, but it is important to understand that there is no guarantee that your immigration requests will be approved. In addition, ÉTS is not authorized to guide you through these various procedures, but we have made available a summary of the procedures to be followed, along with links to the various applications and pertinent information.
In essence, there are three options available for your spouse and the members of your family to accompany you during your stay in Canada:
- Apply for a work permit.
- Apply for a visitor visa (period of less than 6 months).
- Apply for a study permit (also requires a CAQ).
You can submit these applications during your initial application for a study permit, or your spouse can submit them once your study permit has been approved. As in the case of your application for a study permit, you can submit these applications online, or in person at the Visa application centre (VAC) for your region. Processing times vary by country, so consult the processing times by Visa Office.
NOTICE! According to IRCC, a spouse is considered to be a person to whom you are married or with whom you have been living in a common-law relationship for at least 12 months (see the list of documents accepted as proof).
Applying for a work permit
Your spouse can submit an application for an open work permit (not job-specific, no requirement to obtain a CAQ for work or a Labour Market Impact Assessment – LMIA). The fee for an open work permit is $255, plus the fee for biometrics ($85). For more detailed information, consult the section entitled Help your partner work in Canada.
You must fill out the various forms required, including the IMM1295 - Application for Work Permit Made Outside of Canada, provide proof of your relationship and your status as a student (study permit, confirmation of registration from ÉTS) and comply with all of the other requirements of your CVO (e.g.: biometrics, medical exam, etc.). If your application is accepted, the permit will be approved for the same duration as your study permit.
Applying for a visitor visa
Your spouse or other members of your family can come and visit you in Canada for one or more periods of 6 months by applying for a temporary resident visa (TRV). The fee is $100.
Instructions and requirements for applying for a TRV may differ from one Canadian Visa Office (CVO) to another, so it is important to get the proper information. You must fill out the various forms required, including the IMM 5257 – Application for Temporary Resident Visa, provide proof of your relationship, etc.
It is strongly recommended that you attach a letter of invitation, written by you, that contains the following information. Those who you are inviting must also attach a signed and dated letter of explanation indicating the following: the purpose and duration of the visit to Canada, ties to the country of origin, reasons for returning to the country after the visit, proof of employment in the country of origin, proof of financial capacity, etc
Applying for a study permit
If your spouse also wishes to begin studying in Québec, they must obtain an offer of admission and a CAQ, and demonstrate adequate proof of financial support. In short, the procedure is almost identical to the procedure that you must follow. You can consult the procedures for obtaining immigration documents in the section entitled Before your studies.
Study permit for your children
Consult the information pertaining to applying for a study permit for a minor child.
During your studies
Maintaining valid legal status for the members of your family
As is the case with your study permit, the members of your family must maintain a valid legal status throughout their stay in Canada. If you must renew your study permit, take advantage of the opportunity to renew the authorization to stay for your spouse or your children at the same time.
If you no longer meet the requirements indicated on your study permit (e.g.: leave of absence in excess of 150 days), take the time to consult Section H. Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students (C42) and Section I. Children of a full-time student.
NOTICE! If your spouse has a work permit, it is possible that they may qualify for the Québec Experience Program (PEQ - Temporary foreign worker) before the completion of your study program, which may accelerate access to permanent residence status for your family.
After your studies
Applying for an open work permit within the context of your PGWP
When you submit your application for a Post-Graduate Work Permit, you may be eligible to apply for an open work permit, in compliance with the C41 exemption for spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers.
If you do not meet these criteria, take a look at the other types of work permits.
Any situation that deviates from the norm (full-time studies throughout all sessions covered by your study permit and CAQ) must be justified to immigration authorities through supporting documents. Therefore, it is extremely important to make decisions that are in compliance with the applicable rules and laws, and to document your situation if it is atypical.
Postponement of admission
If you must or wish to postpone your admission, ÉTS allows you to do so twice, for a maximum of three sessions (one year). Postponement of your admission is not automatic. You are responsible for going to the Omnivox portal to request a postponement. You can also access your new admission letter through the Omnivox portal once your application has been processed. Due to the high volume of applications, it may take several weeks to process your application. If you encounter any problems, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must submit your request for admission postponement before the deadline:
- Winter session: January 15
- Summer session: May 15
- Fall session: September 15
If you do not take any action before this date (postponement or registration), the Registrar’s Office will deem that you have abandoned your studies, and will close your file. You will no longer be able to submit postponement requests via the Omnivox portal.
Impact on immigration documents
- CAQ: Please note that you do not need to apply for a new CAQ if you are postponing the start of your program of study to the following semester. However, in all other cases, you must apply for a new CAQ.
- Study permit, eTA, TRV: If your study permit has already been approved, send your new admission letter and your new CAQ (as applicable) using the IRCC Webform.
- TRV or eTA: You do not need to apply for a new TRV or eTA, but it is important to verify the expiration dates.
NOTICE! If you are already in Canada, and you decide to postpone your admission, you must ensure that you meet the study permit conditions in order to maintain your legal status (e.g.: do not work before the official beginning of your program, obtain a new admission letter, begin within 150 days of entering Canada or change your status to that of visitor or worker, leave Canada, etc.).
Changing your study program or institution
If you have a valid study permit, you can change your study program or designated learning institution (DLI) without having to submit a new application for a study permit. However, you must inform IRCC immediately and change the number of your designated learning institution in your GCKey account.
In all cases, you must begin or return to your studies within 150 days. Otherwise, you must do one of the following:
Read Section C carefully for detailed information about how to change your institution or program.
If you are outside of Canada and your application is still being processed: You must inform IRCC by submitting your new letter of acceptance using the IRCC Webform.
If you are outside of Canada and your application has already been approved: You must submit a new application for a study permit and pay the applicable fees.
NOTICE! If you interrupt your studies, you are not permitted to work on or off campus, because you are not considered to be a full-time student, and therefore, you do not meet the requirements of Section 186 f) or v). You can only return to work once you have returned to your studies and meet all of the requirements for working on or off campus.
Sometimes, a student must temporarily interrupt their studies for exceptional reasons (illness, pregnancy, family emergency, etc.). Please verify in advance whether you are required to request an authorized absence from ÉTS.
For immigration purposes, a leave of absence cannot exceed 150 days, beginning with the start date of the leave, and it must be authorized by the DEI, as applicable. If you do not return to your studies within 150 days, you must do one of the following:
NOTICE! You are not permitted to work on or off campus during a leave of absence, whether authorized or not, because you are not considered to be a full-time student, and therefore, you do not meet the requirements of Section 186 f) or v). You can only return to work once you have returned to your studies and meet all of the requirements for working on or off campus
Expulsion from your program
If you are expelled from your program, ÉTS will close your file and cancel your course registration. Desjardins health insurance coverage will also be canceled. If you have already paid your tuition fees, you can request a reimbursement by writing to the Registrar’s Office at email@example.com. You will receive a cheque by mail at the address indicated in your student file within 4 to 5 weeks.
If you intend to stay in Canada, please make sure you understand all conditions associated with your study permit, and more specifically the 150-day rule on IRCC's website:
A student should begin or resume their studies at their new institution within 150 days from the day that they ceased or completed their studies at the previous institution. If a student does not resume their studies within 150 days, they should do either of the following:
NOTICE! You do not have the right to work on or off campus during this period.
As ÉTS will cancel your Desjardins coverage, it is essential that you take out a personal contract for health and hospitalization insurance from a Canadian insurer if you stay in Canada. You must do so for your own health and safety, but also to comply with immigration conditions associated with you CAQ.
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