Study permit: COVID-19 program delivery

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

These instructions provide guidance for issuing study permits during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Due to the closures and limited operations of some visa application centres (VACs) and U.S. Application Support Centers and limited access to IRCC and Service Canada offices, study permit applicants may be unable to

Until further notice, IRCC offices will not refuse an application for non-compliance. IRCC officers will continue to request additional supporting documents or necessary actions (such as biometrics and medical exams) as part of the application process and will keep the applications open until documents are received or evidence is provided that action has been taken. Please see more information in the processing section further below.

Note: Migration offices overseas and processing centres in Canada are currently working with reduced capacity, which will increase processing times. At this time, there are no measures in place to provide for expedited processing of study permit applications. The decision to expedite an application due to special circumstances remains at the discretion of unit managers of the responsible migration office and the manager of the responsible processing office in Canada.

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Travelling to Canada

The following foreign nationals who are currently outside Canada are exempt from Canada’s travel restrictions and can travel to Canada if they are travelling for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose:

Foreign nationals who had a study permit application approved before March 18, 2020 have been sent a letter (push notification) advising them about

The letter also requests that they check with their designated learning institution (DLI) to make sure their course or study program is still operating.

Foreign nationals who had a study permit application approved after March 18, 2020 will be sent a letter (push notification) advising them that

Like all travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, international students who enter Canada will undergo the necessary health checks and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

Processing instructions

Requests for additional documents on open applications

Until further notice, officers may continue to request any necessary additional documents or impose regulatory requirements for processing in relation to all temporary residence, permanent residence and citizenship applications in Canada and abroad, including police certificates, biometric enrolments, passports and medical examinations, as follows:

Student Direct Stream (SDS)

Due to the closures and limited operations of some VACs and U.S. Application Support Centers and limited access to IRCC and Service Canada offices, study permit applicants may be unable to

Additionally, local services such as courier services may be disrupted or closed, impacting the ability for clients to obtain educational transcripts and language test results.

Examples of missing documents include, but are not limited to

If an SDS application is missing any of the above documents and is held for processing by CPC-E, officers must input the following for tracking purposes:

Officers may refer an application to the migration office only in the following situations:

Applicants who do not have the required documents for the SDS upon submitting their application should be directed to apply through regular study permit channels or apply through the SDS once services resume and they are able to submit the required documents.

Study permit extensions (in Canada)

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Documents

Due to school closures, some international students may be unable to obtain a letter of acceptance or proof of enrolment from their DLI. As a temporary facilitation measure, students applying to extend their status will be allowed to submit an application without a letter of acceptance or proof of enrolment. In lieu of the letter of acceptance, the applicant should submit a letter of explanation indicating that they are unable to submit the requested document due to their school’s closure. Once these documents become available, applicants should submit the documents using the IRCC Web form. If no documents are submitted by the time CPC-E is ready to process the application, the documents will be requested by the processing officer as per the instructions above.

Students required to restore their status will also be able to submit an application without a letter of acceptance or proof of enrolment and should submit the documents once they become available using the IRCC Web form. If no documents are submitted by the time CPC-Edmonton is ready to process the application, the documents will be requested by the processing officer as per the instructions above.

Students destined to Quebec

As a temporary measure, the MIFI is automatically extending the validity of CAQs until December 31, 2020 for all certificates expiring between April 30, 2020 and December 31, 2020. This measure does not apply to CAQs that expired prior to April 30, 2020.

Students who apply to extend their study permit with a CAQ expiring between April 30 and December 31 should be issued a study permit valid until December 31, 2020, unless the applicant’s passport expires prior to this date.

For applicants whose program of study will continue after December 31, 2020, if they receive a new CAQ before IRCC is ready to process their application, they should submit their new CAQ using the IRCC Web form.

Applications submitted without a CAQ or with a CAQ that expired prior to April 30, 2020, should not be refused on that basis. Officers should request a new CAQ as per the instructions above.

New study permit applications submitted outside Canada without a CAQ or with an expired CAQ should not be refused on that basis. Processing officers should request a new CAQ as per the instructions above. However, new study permits should not be issued with a CAQ that was renewed automatically.

Compliance with study permit conditions

As a consequence of COVID-19, students who were studying in Canada prior to March 18, 2020 or whose programs of study began in May or June 2020 and whose programs of study are temporarily shifted to an online format will still be considered compliant with their study permit conditions if they remain enrolled at their DLI and continue to actively pursue their studies online.

If a DLI closes permanently as a consequence of COVID-19, students in Canada should either enrol in a new program of study, change their status or leave Canada. For the purpose of assessing if a student is enrolled and actively pursuing their studies, any time taken to transition to a new DLI and program, change status or leave Canada should not exceed 150 days from the date the school closed. If the student does not intend to enrol in a new program of study and is unable to leave the country, they must apply for a visitor record or a work permit.

Student off-campus work authorizations

International students who have been forced to drop to part-time studies or take a break in their studies due to COVID-19 can continue to work on or off campus. They are still subject to the authorized number of hours they would have been permitted to work as a full-time student.

For instance, full-time students during the winter 2020 semester who were forced to drop to part time and complete their courses via distance learning are authorized to work off campus for up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full time during the DLI’s regularly scheduled breaks.

IRCC has temporarily removed the condition that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods. This temporary change is in place until August 31, 2020. Services and functions that may be considered essential are included in the government’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Officers can refer to the list for information purpose only.

Post-graduation work permit

In this section

Documents to submit

Due to school closures, many international students may be unable to obtain a letter of completion or final transcript from their DLI. As a temporary facilitation measure, applicants who apply for a post-graduation work permit will be allowed to submit an application without their letter of completion or final transcript. Applicants should submit a letter of explanation indicating that they are unable to submit the requested documents due to school closure. Once these documents become available, applicants should submit the documents using the IRCC Web form. If no documents are submitted by the time CPC-E is ready to process the application, the documents will be requested by the processing officer as per the above procedures.

Applicants who need to restore their status will also be eligible to apply without their letter of completion or final transcript.

Eligibility to work while waiting for a decision

Applicants who submit their application before the expiry date of their study permit but without their letter of completion or final transcript are still eligible to work without a work permit until a decision is made on their application, as per paragraph R186(w). Applicants may start working full time as soon as they submit their application. Applicants who need to restore their status are not eligible to work while IRCC processes their application.

Post-graduation work permit eligibility requirements

Given the impact of COVID-19 on international students and the post-secondary sector, temporary policy changes are being made to post-graduation work permit eligibility requirements for the following groups of students:

Part-time status

Students may be required to put their studies on hold or become part-time students due to course cancellations as a result of health and social distancing restrictions at DLIs. For the winter and summer 2020 semesters, when a student’s status changes from full time to part time due to changes in course delivery at a DLI, their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit will not be impacted.

Distance learning in Canada

Students who were already studying in Canada and whose classes were moved online due to the travel and health restrictions introduced due to COVID-19 won’t be penalized with regard to their post-graduation work permit eligibility.

Distance learning outside Canada

Due to travel restrictions, IRCC acknowledges that study permit holders may be unable to travel to Canada and have to start or continue their program through distance learning abroad.

Students falling into one of the following categories will remain eligible for the post-graduation work permit if at least 50% of their total program of study is completed in Canada. Applicants may have to submit additional documents from the DLI confirming which part of the program was completed in Canada.

Under normal circumstances, all distance-learning courses completed outside Canada are excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit. However, for students in the above categories, on a temporary basis, the time spent in distance learning abroad will not be excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.

Note: For applicants currently outside Canada who are scheduled to begin studying in May or June 2020 but who do not have either a study permit or approval on their study permit application, time spent pursuing their studies online will not count toward their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit.

Work authorization after submitting a post-graduation work permit application

As per paragraph R186(w), graduates who apply for a work permit, such as a post-graduation work permit, before the expiry of their study permit are eligible to work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their application if all of the following apply:

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