Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students

We recognize that the travel restrictions will have an impact on many people who can’t travel to Canada right now. These restrictions stop most non-essentialFootnote 1 (discretionary) travel to Canada.

If you haven’t applied for a study permit yet

Due to the impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we can’t

  • process applications normally
  • provide accurate processing times

We’re prioritizing some applications, including

  • Canadians trying to return to Canada
  • vulnerable people
  • people who perform or support essential services such as agriculture-, agri-food- and health-care-related occupations

Apply online

To keep processing applications from people who are exempt from the travel restrictions, we’re temporarily changing how you can apply to visit, work or study in Canada.

If you’re applying for a study permit from outside Canada, you must apply online. When you apply, you should

If you can’t apply online because of a disability or because there is a problem with the online application, you can apply on paper.

You cannot apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry during this time.

If you plan to study in Quebec, you must provide a valid Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) or proof that you applied for a CAQ.

We’ll process complete applications first.

What to do if you can’t provide required documents

Upload a letter of explanation explaining the reasons why you can’t submit the requested documents (such as the letter of acceptance or proof of enrolment).

Your application will not be rejected if you cannot submit the requested documents.

When we start processing your application, we’ll ask for the missing documents and give you an extension to provide the documents, if needed.

How we process applications without all required documents

If you can’t submit a complete application, we’ll process your application in 2 stages.

Stage 1: We check your eligibility

In this stage, an officer reviews your application for

  • a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution
  • a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (if you’ll be studying in Quebec)
  • proof that you have enough money for
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • any family ties you may have to Canada
  • evidence that you’ll leave Canada when you no longer have legal status

If your application passes this first stage, we’ll let you know in your online account. This doesn’t guarantee that we’ll approve your application and issue you a study permit.

Our aim is to pass most applications through stage 1 before the fall semester starts.

Stage 2: We check your application for admissibility and any changes to your eligibility

In this stage, an officer reviews your application for

  • a medical exam, if needed
  • police certificates, if needed
  • your biometrics
  • any information that changed after we reviewed your application for eligibility

If your application passes this second stage, we’ll approve it.

At this point, when current travel restrictions change, you’ll be

  • ready to travel to Canada and begin your studies, or
  • able to continue your studies in Canada, if you’ve already started studying online

This 2-stage process will only apply to study permit applications

  • submitted by September 15, 2020, and
  • for programs that start, or have started, in spring, summer or fall 2020.

Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students

You’re exempt from the travel restrictions and are able to enter Canada if you’re travelling for a non-discretionary or non-optional purpose and

  • you’re an international student who has a valid study permit or
  • you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, or
  • you’re coming from the United States

When you travel to Canada

Make sure you have proof that you’re exempt from the travel restrictions and that you’re travelling for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose.

When the border services officer greets you, they will look at several factors, including whether

  • you’re already living in Canada
    • If you’re already living in Canada, your return is non-discretionary.
  • you’re able to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • you begin studying after you complete your quarantine
  • you need to be in Canada for your program (for laboratories, workshops)
  • pursuing your studies online is not an option at your school or not possible from your home country (due to internet restrictions or bandwidth limitation)

You must also bring

  • a valid study permit, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit, if you’re coming from the United States, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, if you’re coming from any other country

Before you travel, you can contact the Border Information Service for more information.

A border services officer will make a final decision on your eligibility to enter Canada when you arrive.

Health requirements for travellers to Canada

International students already in Canada

Due to restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada–US border, you can’t travel from inside Canada to apply at a port of entry.

If your study permit is expiring

You must apply online to extend your stay in Canada.

If you’re a student, you have 3 options:

  1. If you want to continue studying, you may be able to extend your study permit if you’re eligible.
  2. If you’re no longer studying and not applying for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you can apply to change your status to visitor, as long as your study permit has not expired.
  3. If you completed your program of study, you may be eligible to apply for a PGWP.

COVID-19: Changes to biometrics requirement for in-Canada temporary residence applicants

As a temporary measure, if you’re in Canada and applying to work, study or stay temporarily in Canada, you do not need to give your biometrics. Learn more about the exemption.

If your status as a student has expired

You may be able to restore your status.

Students studying in Quebec

The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) is automatically extending the validity of Quebec Acceptance Certificates (CAQs) until December 31, 2020 for all certificates expiring between April 30 and December 31.

If you submit a CAQ expiring between April 30 and December 31 with your study permit application, your new study permit expiry date will automatically be December 31, 2020, unless your passport expires before this date.

This does not apply if your CAQ expired before April 30, 2020.

You should apply for a new CAQ if

Submit evidence that you applied for a new CAQ when we ask you to upload your CAQ. If you receive a new CAQ before we’re ready to process your application, you can submit it using our Web form.

Compliance with study permit conditions

If your in-class courses are being temporarily moved to an online-only format or suspended completely because of COVID-19, you’re still compliant with your study permit conditions if you

If your DLI closes permanently due to COVID-19, you have 150 days to

Letter of support for future applications

If an officer asks you for more information about your time studying in Canada on an application in the future, your DLI should provide you with a letter of support to explain how your studies were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Students with authorization to work

You can continue to work even if COVID-19 has forced you to become a part-time student or take a break in studies if you were

If you’re working off campus, you can work up to 20 hours per week during an academic session. You can work full time during scheduled breaks in the academic year.

International students working in an essential service or function

You’re temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours per week if you’re

This change is in effect until August 31, 2020.

Find out if your work is considered an essential service or function.

Apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)

If you’re applying for a PGWP, you need to submit

Find out how to apply for a PGWP.

What to do if you can’t provide required documents

Upload a letter of explanation instead of the missing documents and tell us why you can’t submit the documents (letter of completion or final transcript), for example because your school’s offices are closed.

Your application won’t be rejected if you cannot submit the requested documents.

When we start processing your application, we’ll ask for the missing documents and give you an extension to provide the documents, if needed.

Eligibility to work without a work permit

You may be eligible to start working full time right away until a decision is made on your application if

How your PGWP eligibility is affected

If you graduated or will graduate from a DLI that offers PGWP-eligible programs, you’re still eligible for a PGWP if

PGWP eligibility for programs starting in 2020

You’re still eligible for a PGWP if

If you’re in this situation, you may

After you apply for your study permit, any time spent studying online from outside Canada now counts toward the length of a PGWP. (Before, only the time spent studying online after you were approved for a study permit counted.)

For this time to count, you must

You won’t have time deducted from the length of your PGWP for studies you complete outside Canada until December 31, 2020.

Updates and related links

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