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 discretionary travel to Canada.

Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students

COVID-19 testing required for people flying into Canada

As of January 7, 2021, air travellers 5 years of age or older will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. See the news release for air travellers.

Mandatory 14-day quarantine or isolation

Everyone entering Canada must follow mandatory isolation or quarantine requirements. Not respecting the mandatory requirements is a serious offence with consequences and penalties.

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you must meet 2 requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit.
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory.

You must meet these 2 requirements whether you’re studying for 6 months or less or you’re enrolled in a longer study program.

If you’re already studying in Canada and you leave, you won’t be able to return to Canada if your DLI isn’t on the approved list.

Your travel to Canada may be considered essential (non-discretionary) if you have all of the required documents and your DLI is on the approved list.

As a student, your travel to Canada won’t be considered essential (non-discretionary) if

  • your study program has been cancelled or suspended, or
  • you’re entering Canada for any reason other than to study

If you cross the border into Canada regularly for school

To be able to enter Canada, you must have a study permit and be attending a DLI with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory.

As a cross-border student, you may also be exempt from having to quarantine. You don’t need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada if

  • you live in the United States and cross the border daily or regularly to attend your classes
  • your DLI is in British Columbia

If the province or territory in which your DLI is located isn’t listed above, you’ll be required to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

While in Canada you must

  • wear a mask in any public setting where you can’t maintain physical distancing
  • follow all public health guidelines for the municipality and province or territory in which you study

If someone will be driving you to and from your DLI, they also don’t need to quarantine for 14 days, as long as

  • they only leave their vehicle to escort you to and from your school, and
  • they wear a mask at all times while outside their vehicle

When you travel to Canada


You must use ArriveCAN before checking in at the airport or crossing the border to submit your

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan
  • COVID-19 symptoms self-assessment

Please bring your ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper) with you to show the border services officer upon arrival.

Make sure your school is on the list of DLIs with COVID-19 readiness plans approved by their province or territory.

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

You must bring

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

A border services officer will make the final decision on whether you’re eligible to enter Canada when you arrive.

If immediate family members want to be with you in Canada

Your immediate family members may be able to come with you to Canada.

If they want to help you get settled in Canada

They don’t need a written authorization from IRCC to travel with you, but they must have an essential (non-discretionary) reason for travel.

Essential reasons for travel are either:

  1. You’re a minor child and you need a family member to
    • travel with you
    • help you meet your guardian in Canada, and
    • get set up in your new home
  2. You aren’t a minor child, but you have supporting documents that prove you need a family member with you to get settled. For example, you have a physical or mental condition and you need help getting settled. In this case, you’d submit a medical note as proof.

In either case, only 1 immediate family member will be able to travel with you to Canada.

Your family member may still need an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa to travel to Canada.

If they need a visitor visa, you should include their application when you apply online for your study permit.

If they need an eTA, they must apply for one separately. Make sure they follow the special instructions on how to apply for an eTA at this time.

If they’ll study or work in Canada with you

You must submit all of your applications together when you apply online. To be able to enter Canada, they’ll need to

If they’ll join you later

If your family will join you after you’re already in Canada, what they need to travel depends on where they’re travelling from. Find out what they need to join you in Canada. They may also need an eTA or a visitor visa to travel to Canada.

Health requirements for travellers to Canada

To travel to Canada, you must

Apply for a study permit

Due to the impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we

This is to make sure that we can prioritize applications from people who meet the requirements to enter Canada.

Apply online

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

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.

How we process applications

We’ll process your application in our regular study permit process if you

We’ll process your application in 2 stages if

If we process your application in 2 stages, this is what will happen:

Stage 1: We check your eligibility

In this stage, an officer reviews your application for

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

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

In this stage, an officer reviews your application for

If your application passes this second stage, we’ll approve it. If you applied for a co-op work permit, we’ll now assess your co-op work permit application.

At this point, if you meet the requirements, you may be able to travel to Canada and

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.

If you’re already in Canada and you try to apply at the port of entry, you may need to quarantine for 14 days when you re-enter 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

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.

What to do if you can’t provide required documents

Upload a letter of explanation explaining why you can’t submit the required documents (like your biometrics, proof of enrolment, final transcripts, or others). For example, you may not be able to get these documents because offices are closed.

You must provide a letter of acceptance from a DLI when you apply. We won’t process applications that are submitted without this document.

We won’t reject your application if you can’t submit the required documents, other than your letter of acceptance, because of COVID-19.

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

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:

  1. You may be able to extend your study permit, if you want to continue studying.
  2. You may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), if you completed your study program.
  3. You can apply to change your status to visitor, if you’re not studying or applying for a PGWP.

You must submit an application for 1 of these options before your study permit expires, or you may need to leave Canada.

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 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.

If we approve your application and send you a port of entry letter of introduction, you need to contact us to have your study permit sent to you in Canada.

You can’t start studying until you receive your study permit.

Studying in Quebec

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

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

This doesn’t apply if your CAQ expired before April 30, 2020.

You should apply for a CAQ if

Submit proof 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.

Complying with your study permit conditions

You’ll still be 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. To stay compliant you must

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

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.

Working as a student

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

If you work 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.

If you worked in an essential service or function

Between April 22 and August 31, 2020, you were temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours per week during an academic session if

This change no longer applies.

If, on a future application, an officer asks you about work you performed during this time, let them know what essential service or function you worked in. You could ask your employer for a letter of support to confirm this.

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

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

If you’re working outside Canada, you can work while we process your study permit and co-op work permit applications.

How to apply for a co-op work permit

How your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected

If you’re eligible for the post-graduation work permit program, you’ll still be able to get a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) if

If you’re outside of Canada

You’re still eligible for a PGWP if you can’t travel to Canada at this time and

If you’re in this situation, you can begin your classes while outside Canada.

If you applied for your study permit before starting your program

Any time spent studying online from outside Canada since spring 2020 now counts toward the length of a PGWP. (Before, only the time spent studying online after you were approved for a study permit counted.)

You won’t have time deducted from the length of your PGWP for studies you complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021.

How much of your program you can complete online

How much of your program you can complete online depends on when you started studying and how long your study program is.

  1. You’re taking a short-term program that started between May and September 2020

    You can complete 100% of your program online. Your program must be between 8 and 12 months long, and you must have started your studies between May and September 2020.

    If you’re studying in a Quebec vocational program, your program must be between 900 and 1,348 hours.

  2. You’re taking a program that is 12 months or longer, or you started a short-term program before May 2020

    You can complete up to 50% of your program online (until April 30, 2021). You must complete the other 50% of your program in Canada.

  3. You’re completing 2 study programs

    You can complete up to 50% of your total studies online (until April 30, 2021). To be able to do this

    • you must complete both study programs from an eligible DLI within 2 years
    • one of the programs must have started between May and September 2020, and
    • each program must meet all PGWP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months long

    You must complete at least 50% of the combined length of the 2 programs in Canada.

    If you’re studying in a Quebec vocational program

    • a diploma (DVS program) must be at least 900 hours long
    • an attestation of vocational studies (AVS) can be less than 900 hours if it’s combined with a DVS

Apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)

To apply for a PGWP, you need to submit

Find out what to do if you’re unable to provide required documents because of COVID-19.

You can start working right away, until we make a decision on your application, if

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