Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students
Upcoming border changes
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals may be allowed to enter Canada for discretionary travel on the following dates if they meet specific criteria:
- Effective August 9: American citizens and permanent residents of the United States, who currently reside in the United States, who meet specific criteria to qualify as fully vaccinated
- September 7 (intended start date): All other foreign nationals who qualify as fully vaccinated
The 3-night hotel stopover requirement will be eliminated for all travellers arriving by air after 12:01 A.M. EDT on August 9.
We recognize that the travel restrictions have an impact on many people who can’t travel to Canada right now. These restrictions stop most discretionary travel to Canada.
On this page
- Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students
- Apply for a study permit
- Complying with your study permit conditions
- If you want to stay in Canada longer
- Studying in Quebec
- Working as a student
- How your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected
- Apply for a PGWP
- If your PGWP has expired or will expire soon
Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students
You need to be eligible to travel to Canada at this time if
- you want to come to Canada to study
- you’re returning to Canada as an international student
- you’re coming to Canada as a family member or support person for an international student
You can find this out by
Apply for a study permit
Processing study permit applications for the fall 2021 semester
If you submitted your complete study permit application (including your biometrics and immigration medical examination results) by May 15, 2021, you should get a decision by August 6, 2021, in time to attend the fall semester.
We’ll process complete applications submitted after May 15, 2021, as quickly as possible—but we can’t guarantee that you’ll get a final decision before the fall semester begins.
Some applications take longer to process and may not be finalized by August 6, 2021, such as those that
- are incomplete
- require the officer to request more information from you
If you submitted your study permit application by May 15, 2021, without the official copy of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ), then you must submit the official copy using your online account or our web form by June 30, 2021, to have your application processed in time for the fall semester.
If you’re applying for a study permit, you should apply online, whether you’re outside of Canada or already in Canada.
When you apply, you should submit
- the letter of acceptance issued to you by the designated learning institution (DLI) you’ll be attending
- as many of the documents needed for a complete application as possible
- a letter of explanation for any documents that are missing due to COVID-19
If you can’t apply online because of a disability or because there’s a problem with the online application, you can apply on paper.
If you plan to study in Quebec, you must provide a valid Quebec Acceptance Certificate or proof that you applied for one.
Applying at the port of entry
In general, you should not apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry. You should apply online for a study permit before you travel to Canada.
Only certain people can apply at the port of entry at this time. You may be able to apply at the port of entry if you’re a
- U.S. citizen
- lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- resident of Greenland
- resident of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
If you meet one of these requirements, you must have all the documents required to apply for a study permit with you when you arrive at the border. The border services officer who greets you will determine if you’re eligible to enter Canada as a student.
Complying with your study permit conditions
If your in-class courses are temporarily moved to an online-only format or suspended completely because of COVID-19, you’re still complying with your study permit conditions if you
- stay enrolled in your DLI, and
- participate in your studies online, if your DLI offers them
Letter of support for future applications
If, on a future application, an officer asks you for more information about your time studying in Canada, your DLI should provide you with a letter of support to explain how your studies were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you want to stay in Canada longer
You must apply online to extend your stay in Canada.
If your study permit is going to expire soon
If you’re a student, you have 3 options:
- You may be able to extend your study permit, if you want to continue studying.
- You may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) or a work permit, if you completed your study program.
- You can apply to change your status to visitor.
You must submit an application for 1 of these options before your study permit expires, or you may need to leave Canada.
If your study permit has expired
If your study permit expires before you apply to extend it, you’ve lost your status as a student in Canada. You may be able to restore your status.
If you’re a visitor who needs a study permit
You can apply online for a study permit if you’re already in Canada as a visitor.
When you apply, you must follow the instructions for applying from outside of Canada. We’ll process your application in the same amount of time as though you’d applied from your home country, outside of Canada.
You can’t start studying until you receive your study permit.
Studying in Quebec
If you want to study in Quebec for longer than 6 months, you must apply for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).
When you apply for a study permit to study in Quebec, you’ll need to show us that you’ve applied for a CAQ. To do this, you can submit either
- your official CAQ document (preferred)
- proof that you applied for a new CAQ if you don’t have the approved CAQ when you submit your study permit application
If you plan to study in Quebec for less than 6 months, you can apply for a study permit without a CAQ.
Working as a student
As of September 1, 2020, to work in Canada as a student, you must
- be a full-time student
- be enrolled at a DLI
- meet all on-campus and off-campus work eligibility requirements
Co-op work permits
During the COVID-19 outbreak, many international students are studying online from abroad. If your school and employer agree, you can either
- accept a Canadian work placement and begin working remotely from your home country
- work for a company in your home country
If you’re working outside Canada, you can work while we process your study permit and co-op work permit applications.
How your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected
If you’re inside Canada
You’re still eligible for the PGWP if
- your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format and you are taking your classes online because of COVID-19, or
- you had to put your studies on hold, or study part-time, during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters because of COVID-19
As of the fall 2020 semester, you must be studying full-time to be eligible.
If you’re outside of Canada
If you can’t travel to Canada at this time and you’re taking your classes online, you’re still eligible for a PGWP.
To be eligible, you must
- meet all the other PGWP requirements
- have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
- have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021, and
- you have a study permit, or
- you’ve been approved for a study permit, or
- you applied for a study permit before starting your study program
- your study permit must eventually be approved
How much of your studies count toward a PGWP
You can complete 100% of your studies online from outside Canada.
All your time studying online outside Canada between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021, counts toward the length of a PGWP. This applies even if you’re completing 2 study programs.
If you’re completing 2 study programs, you can finish 100% of your studies online if the programs were ongoing or started between March 2020 and fall 2021, and
- both study programs are from an eligible DLI and are completed within 2 years
- each program meets all PGWP eligibility requirements and is at least 8 months long
The following time won’t count toward the length of a PGWP:
- time spent studying outside Canada after December 31, 2021
- time spent studying before you applied for a study permit
Apply for a PGWP
To apply for a PGWP, you need to submit
- a letter of completion and
- your final transcript
You can start working right away, until we make a decision on your application, if
- you submitted your PGWP application before your study permit expired, and
- you meet the other requirements
If your PGWP has expired or will expire soon
Starting January 27, 2021, you may be eligible for an open work permit of up to 18 months under a new public policy. Find out if you meet the requirements for this open work permit.
You can submit applications for this open work permit until July 27, 2021.
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