International students: Immigration and Health Insurance FAQ on COVID-19

Latest updates

The information on this page is based on information available at the time of publishing and may not always be up to date.

As of April 22, 2021, flights from India and Pakistan to Canada are suspended for 30 days. See the news release for details. Mental health supports are available through UBC and the BC government.

For the most up-to-date and authoritative source of information about the University’s response to COVID-19, please visit covid19.ubc.ca.

Last updated on April 30, 2021

If you are planning to travel to Canada

If you’re an international student planning to come to UBC during the winter term, there are important steps to follow before you plan your travels.

Frequently asked questions

Immigration applications

Study and work permits

STUDY PERMITS

WORK PERMITS AND WORKING IN CANADA

PART-TIME STUDIES AND TAKING A BREAK FROM CLASSES

Health insurance

Academic and financial supports

I am a new student – can I apply for my study permit now?

Yes. As soon as you are admitted to UBC, you should apply online for an initial study permit so that you are in the queue for processing. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada recently announced that if you submit a complete initial study permit application online from outside Canada by May 15, 2021, you will receive a decision by August 6, 2021. We urge you to apply by May 15, if you are able.

Be sure to carefully review our step-by-step initial study permit tutorial to prepare your application. After you apply, you may be asked to submit biometrics (photo and fingerprints), complete a medical exam, or provide other documents which may not be possible to do right now, but we are confident that Immigration will account for these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

If you are unable to provide all documents, you can apply for your study permit by May 15 and add a section to your letter of explanation to address why you can’t provide the document and include proof for the delay, such as your future medical exam appointment confirmation, then combine this with your other supporting documents in the ‘client information’ section of your application. When you receive your outstanding document, you should send it to IRCC by uploading it in your online portal. If you don’t have a request in your online portal, send it through a webform and request that the document is added to your application. 

If you cannot apply by May 15 due to documents you still require, such as biometrics or a medical exam, submit a complete application as soon as possible for your study permit to be processed in a timely manner. 

If IRCC sends you a request for documents after you apply, it is important to submit it by the deadline indicated or provide an explanation and proof for why you are unable to submit it in time. See the FAQ topic for more details.

The current travel restrictions will not prevent your study permit application from being processed. IRCC is prioritizing applications from people who are exempt from travel restrictions, such as international students.

If you have options to take online courses, your online courses completed outside of Canada can count towards your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) starting from when you submit your study application as long as you apply before your courses starts and your study permit is later approved in the future. Learn more about online studies and the PGWP.

If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, learn about the option to apply at the border or airport on arrival.

 See the latest IRCC updates on study permits.

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I can’t pay my tuition now and I want to apply through the Student Direct Stream (SDS). What should I do?

If you are currently a legal resident in China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, or Vietnam, you have two pathways available for a study permit application – the regular stream and the Student Direct Stream (SDS). At this time UBC does not support pre-payment of tuition before you register for classes, so the regular stream might be a better option for you. Details below will help you decide.

To apply under SDS, you have to meet certain criteria, including proof of upfront tuition payment to UBC. The earliest date you can pay your tuition fees is when you register for courses in late June/early July. Furthermore, you must have all required documents at the time of application to be eligible for SDS, including medical exams, and the estimated processing times for SDS may not be accurate. Although SDS might provide faster processing, we do not recommend delaying your application in order to apply through SDS.

If you submit a complete initial study permit application online from outside Canada by May 15, 2021, you will receive a decision by August 6, 2021 – see the FAQ for more information.

We recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your UBC letter of admission and your study permit application is complete. If your registration date has not yet arrived, we strongly recommend applying through the regular stream. If your registration date has already arrived, you can pre-paying your tuition and apply through the SDS stream.

Under the regular stream, you can improve your chances of getting a study permit (and avoiding any unnecessary delays) by completing as many of the following as you can:

  • Review our initial study permit tutorial and apply online
  • Complete your medical exam ‘upfront’ before you apply, if you need one
  • Provide a Guaranteed Income Certificate (GIC) for CAD$10,000 that meets the conditions set out by IRCC
  • Provide an IELTS scores of 6.0 or higher in each language skill
  • Provide a valid offer letter
  • Provide a police certificate, if required (check your visa office’s instructions)
  • Provide financial evidence of liquid funds for one year’s worth of tuition (for example, an education loan from a national bank, bank statements showing liquid funds, etc.)

If you register for courses and then apply through SDS, your tuition amounts will be available for Term 1 and Term 2 in the Student Service Centre (SSC) under “Financial Summary” in Finances. After making a payment, it may take 1-5 days for tuition payment to appear on your account. You can get proof of payment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting “Tuition History” under Finances.

If you receive a request for proof of tuition payment or other documents after you’ve applied, see our FAQ topic

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Can I submit an immigration application now?

Yes – see details below. All applications must be submitted online until further notice.

Study and work permits

Yes. You can submit applications for a study permit and/or a work permit online, both inside and outside of Canada. The current travel restrictions will not prevent your application from being processed.

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the US, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, on September 25 IRCC announced that you might be able to apply for a study permit at the airport/border crossing on arrival in Canada. You must still prove that you are traveling for an essential purpose. Visit our Travelling to Canada Guide for details. If you are in Canada, you should apply for a study permit extension online. If you are a visitor or worker in Canada who needs a study permit or your study permit expired and you didn’t apply to extend it, contact International Programs and Services for support.

If you are traveling to Canada from the US, are from a country which does not require a Temporary Resident Visa, and have a current, valid job offer, you might be able to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, co-op work permit or spousal work permit at the airport/border crossing on arrival.

Non-essential travel between Canada and the US is currently suspended. Going to the US-Canada border solely for the purpose of applying for a study or work permit in person (e.g., flagpoling) is considered non-essential travel at this time and you will be turned away from the border.

Visit the student or worker page for the latest updates on applying at the port of entry (flagpoling).

Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs) and Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTAs)

If you hold a study or work permit, you can submit an online application for a TRV or eTA inside of Canada as usual.

If you have already applied or will apply for a TRV or an eTA from outside of Canada, you must complete a few additional steps to show you are exempt from the travel restrictions as a study or work permit holder so that processing for your application is prioritized.

See the latest updates on immigration applications.

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What is the impact on processing times?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is continuing to process applications.

If you are outside of Canada and submit a your completed initial study permit application online by May 15, 2021, you will receive a decision from IRCC by August 6, 2021. See the FAQ topic for details.

IRCC is prioritizing applications from people who are exempt from travel restrictions, such as international students. We are confident that Immigration will account for these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

If you are outside of Canada and may not be able to travel in time for in-person studies, please contact an Academic Advisor from your faculty or graduate program staff to discuss your options to study online outside Canada or postpone your start date if you are a new student. If you are thinking of withdrawing, be sure to check the add/drop deadlines and understand the immigration impacts of withdrawing from courses.

Unfortunately, International Student Advising is not able to influence processing times or contact IRCC on your behalf.

If your application is past the published processing time, you can send a webform to request an update.

Check the IRCC processing times for your application.

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I need to provide biometrics. How does this impact my application?

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

Biometrics (your fingerprints and photo) have been required for study permit applications since 2018. If you applied for a study permit before 2018 you may not have provided them in the past and will need to provide them if applying for a study permit or work permit from outside Canada – this is different from providing your fingerprints at the airport kiosk. If you are not sure, you can confirm if you have valid biometrics.

You must provide your biometrics within 30 days of when you have received your Biometrics Instruction Letter and should book an appointment as soon as possible.

Some Visa Application Centres (VACs) outside of Canada and Application Support Centers (ASCs) in the US are temporarily closed or an appointment may not be available within 30 days. As of April 12, 2021, applications are no longer being automatically extended if documents are missing.

If you are not able to provide biometrics in time, write a letter of explanation to request more time and provide proof of the reason you cannot provide biometrics, such as a PDF or screenshot of the VAC page indicating it is closed or a screenshot of your appointment confirmation, then combine these together into one PDF and submit them in your online IRCC account by the deadline (or send a webform if you do not have a request in your online portal).

Keep checking the Government of Canada’s updates on biometrics on office closures. Schedule your biometrics appointment as soon as offices return to normal operations.

Since applications are typically not processed until biometrics have been provided, the delay in providing biometrics may cause increased processing times. We are confident that Immigration will account for these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

If you travel after submitting your immigration application and a VAC near you is open, contact them to confirm if you can provide biometrics there.

IF YOU ARE IN CANADA

IRCC has temporarily suspended the biometrics requirement for temporary residents who apply from inside of Canada. This applies to both new and previously submitted applications in progress for:

  • Study permit, work permit, and Visitor Record extensions
  • Temporary Resident Visas
  • New study permits, work permits, or Visitor Records
  • Restoration of student, worker or visitor status
  • Temporary Resident Permits

If you are submitting a new application, you do not need to pay the biometrics fee, even if the system is telling you to.

If you have already submitted an application which is in progress and paid for the biometrics fee, you do not need to submit biometrics, even if you got a letter telling you to. Your application will be processed and your biometrics fee will be automatically refunded when your application is finalized. You do not need to take any action steps.

As of November 30, if you are not exempt from having to give your biometrics and you have your Biometrics Instruction Letter, you can once again book an appointment online for biometrics. There are no walk-in services at this time.

Find updates and information on biometrics collection.

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I need to complete my medical exam. How does this impact my application?

Contact your nearest panel physician’s office to confirm they are still performing medical exams. You may not be able to complete an up-front medical exam at this time.

If you submitted an immigration application and received a request for a medical exam, you must provide a medical exam within 30 days of receiving the request. As of April 12, 2021, you will no longer get an automatic extension of the deadline.

If the panel physician’s office near you is closed or you are unable to get an appointment within 30 days, write a letter of explanation  to request more time and combine this with proof of the reason you cannot complete the medical exam, such as a copy of your future appointment confirmation, into one PDF and submit them together in your IRCC account by the deadline (or send a webform if you do not have a request in your online portal).

Since applications are typically not processed until medical exams have been completed, the delay in your medical exam appointment may cause an increase in processing times. Please schedule your medical exam appointment when your nearest panel physician returns to normal operations. We are confident that Immigration will account for these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

If you travel after submitting your immigration application, you can complete a medical exam in any country regardless of where you applied. Do not travel to another country solely for the purposes of completing a medical exam.

If you applied for a new study permit from outside of Canada as a new or returning student and have a Letter of Introduction, or study permit approval, note that medical exams are only valid for 12 months from the date you took the exam and should be valid at the time you travel to Canada. If you will travel to Canada more than 12 months after you took your medical exam, you should complete a new medical exam before travelling to Canada. This does not apply to students who already have a valid study permit.

Find out more about medical exams for your immigration application. 

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I am a new student starting between May 2020 and December 2021. If my classes have moved online due to COVID-19, can I start my program online from outside Canada? Will I be eligible for the PGWP?

You can begin your program online starting between Summer Session 2020 and Winter Term 1 2021 from outside of Canada, even if your study permit application has not been processed yet, since you are not technically required to have a valid study permit for the purposes of simply studying online outside Canada.

However, if you intend to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after you complete your studies, in order for your online courses completed outside of Canada to count towards the PGWP, you must have one of the following before your courses start:

If you have one of the above, online courses completed outside of Canada before December 31, 2021 can count towards length of your PGWP and you can complete up to 100% of your studies outside Canada. You do not need to wait for a study permit approval-in-principle for your studies to count towards the PGWP, but you must continue to meet the other PGWP requirements, such as maintaining full-time enrollment, even while outside of Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new flexible PGWP policies on February 12, 2021, as part of further measures to support international students. Previously, the policies indicated that you ought to travel to Canada by April 30, 2021 and/or complete at least 50% of your program in Canada to be eligible for the PGWP.

If you applied for a study permit before your program started but it was refused, your studies will count towards the PGWP starting from your first study permit application if you reapply for a study permit before your program ends and it is later approved.

If you meet the above criteria and you are in a program which will end before December 31, 2021, you can now complete 100% of your program online outside of Canada and be eligible for the PGWP.

If your program will finish after December 31, 2021, online courses completed outside of Canada after December 31, 2021 will not count towards the length of your program, based on the current policies. For programs undertaken and ongoing between March 2020 and December 2021, you are not required to complete 50% of the program in Canada.

Furthermore, you could combine your program completed online with another PGWP-eligible program and request a longer work permit, so long as:

  • your program was in progress or started between March 2020 and Winter Term 1 2021 and
  • you complete the second program within 2 years of finishing your first program.

If you will complete your program online from outside of Canada

You can apply for a PGWP from outside of Canada if you do so:

  • up to 180 days after your letter of completion first becomes available and
  • within 180 days of your study permit becoming invalid.

Based on the current travel restrictions, you cannot travel to Canada as a student after completing your studies, even if you have a valid study permit. You would need to wait to meet the requirements to travel as a work permit holder before being able to travel to Canada.

See options to apply for a PGWP for details.

For updates on UBC’s approach to Winter Term 1 2021 (September – December, 2021) please see COVID-19 and UBC’s response.

See the latest IRCC updates on the impact of COVID-19 for international students. 

Learn about UBC’s approach for the Summer Session 2021 and read about UBC’s response on COVID-19.

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My study permit will expire soon. What should I do? 

IF YOU ARE IN CANADA

You can apply to extend your study permit online as usual. You must submit your study permit extension application before your study permit expires.

Read more about study permits and how to keep a valid study permit. If you have dependents in Canada, extend their documents as well.

You will have “maintained status” if you’ve applied for a new study permit but your old study permit expired while you are waiting for a new one. In this case, you’ll be able to remain in Canada until a decision is made on your new application.

IF YOU WILL TRAVEL AFTER YOU APPLY

You may use the Canadian mailing address of a trusted friend in your application. Once your study permit is received, ask them to send you a digital copy and mail the original to you.

If you need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and it expires before you plan to return, you can apply for a TRV online from outside of Canada with a digital copy of your study permit. Review our step-by-step TRV tutorial, then review the TRV from outside of Canada guide since your application will be slightly different. Be sure to upload any additional documents required by your visa office in the ‘Client Information’ section — select your country under the ‘apply on paper’ section then see the visa office instructions PDF. Note that processing times for a TRV outside of Canada may be very long and could delay your return to Canada. Depending on processing times, it may be worth considering applying for a new study permit from outside of Canada by May 15, 2021, as you will receive a decision by August 6, 2021 and a TRV will automatically be issued if you apply for a study permit outside Canada. Include a letter of explanation to address why you are applying even though you have a valid study permit.

If you have already or will apply for a TRV or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) from outside of Canada, you must complete a few additional steps.

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

You can apply online for a new study permit from outside of Canada. Review our step-by-step initial study permit tutorial for applications from outside of Canada. If you submit a complete application by May 15, 2021, you will receive a decision by August 6, 2021 – the information for new students would also apply to you as a continuing student— – see the FAQ topic.

Instead of providing your initial letter of acceptance from when you were first accepted to UBC, you should include a current letter of enrollment – see the ‘letter of enrollment’ section of our study permit extension tutorial for details. If you have not previously provided biometrics, you will need to provide them when applying from outside of Canada (see question above). If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your application has been approved. You will need to wait until your application has been processed and meet the requirements to travel to Canada before travelling, which could delay your return.

If you plan to return to Canada, if you are currently enrolled and meet the requirements to travel you could return to Canada before your study permit and Temporary Resident Visa expire then apply for a study permit extension from inside of Canada before your study permit becomes invalid (see the ‘if you are in Canada’ section above).

If you have finished your studies, you cannot travel to Canada as a student based on the current travel restrictions, even if your study permit is still valid. You would need to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit from outside of Canada (see question below) and meet the requirements to travel as a worker before returning, which could delay your return.

If you have been in a designated country for more than 6 months, or intend to work in certain jobs, you will require a medical exam for your study permit application, whether you apply from outside or inside of Canada.

Check travel restrictions to learn about your eligibility to return to Canada and what to prepare.

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I want to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). What should I do?

IF YOU ARE IN CANADA

You can apply for a PGWP online as usual. You must submit your PGWP application before your study permit becomes invalid.

If you do not want to apply for a PGWP but want to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor, make sure you submit the application before your study permit becomes invalid. Include a letter of explanation to address why you need to extend your stay in Canada. If you have dependents in Canada, extend their documents as well.

You’ll be able to remain in Canada until a decision is made on your PGWP if you’ve applied for a PGWP before your study permit becomes invalid.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can begin working full-time after submitting your PGWP application.

If you will travel after you apply

You may use the Canadian mailing address of a trusted friend in your application. Once your work permit is received, ask them to send you a digital copy and mail the original to you. If you apply while inside Canada, note that your work permit start date will typically be the same day it is approved. After finishing studies you will not be able to travel to Canada as an international student and will need to meet the current travel restrictions for workers before returning to Canada, which could delay your return.

If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada, you can continue to use your TRV you received as a student until it expires. If your TRV expires before you plan to return, you can apply for a TRV online from outside of Canada with a digital copy of your work permit. Review our step-by-step TRV tutorial, then review the TRV from outside of Canada guide since your application will be slightly different. Be sure to upload any additional documents required by your visa office in the ‘Client Information’ section — select your country under the ‘apply on paper’ section then see the visa office instructions PDF. Note that processing times for a TRV outside of Canada may be very long and could delay your return to Canada.

If you have already applied or will apply for a TRV or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) from outside of Canada, you must complete a few additional steps.

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

You can apply for a PGWP online from outside of Canada within 180 days after your letter of completion first became available, even if your study permit has expired. Your study permit must have been valid within 180 days before applying for the PGWP. Depending on when your study permit expires, your timeline to apply for the PGWP may be sooner than the 180 day period after receiving your letter of completion. If your study permit is not valid in the 180 day period after receiving your letter of completion, include a letter of explanation in your application referring to the web page for officers which indicates your study permit must have been valid within 180 days of applying.

At this time, there has not yet been clarification on how to apply if you have received a Letter of Introduction and have not travelled to Canada to get your study permit or if your study permit expired more than 180 days prior to your letter of completion becoming available. We expect this will be addressed in future updates.

Review our step-by-step PGWP tutorial, then review the IRCC work permit outside of Canada guide since your application will be slightly different. Be sure to include any additional documents required by your visa office in the ‘Client Information’ section. If you have not previously provided biometrics, you will need to provide them when applying from outside of Canada. If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your application has been approved.

If you have been in a designated country for more than 6 months, or intend to work in certain jobs, you will require a medical exam for your PGWP application.

After you receive your PGWP approval (letter of introduction), your letter will indicate the date by which you need to travel to Canada, which is typically the length of the PGWP for which you are eligible. Once you travel to Canada and present your letter of introduction for your work permit to the officer on arrival in Canada, your work permit should be issued for the full length of PGWP for which you are eligible.

The travel restrictions for work permit holders are different from those for current international students. If you have finished your studies you can no longer travel as a current international student. You will need to wait for your PGWP application to be processed and will not be able to travel until you meet the requirements to travel as a worker, which could delay your return – see travel restrictions for work permit holders for more information.

See the latest updates on work permit applications. 

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Can international students who are abroad travel to Canada?

As of October 20, 2020, international students enrolled at institutions with provincially-approved readiness plans, such as UBC, may travel to Canada. Their travel is considered essential.

Before arranging any travels, you’ll need to have the right immigration documents, create and submit a quarantine plan, get a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time or arrival at the border, and know what to do upon arrival at the airport or border. If you will fly to Canada, it is critical that you book a government-approved hotel for your first 3 nights in advance of travelling.

See the Travelling to Canada guide for more information.

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I received a request from IRCC to provide another document for my application. What do I do?

If you receive a request from IRCC to provide additional documents after you have submitted your application, it is very important to upload the document by the deadline as well as make sure to follow the steps to successfully submit them to IRCC.

PROOF OF TUITION PAYMENT

If you are unable to register and have not paid for tuition, you should write a letter of explanation and combine this with the Confirmation of Tuition Payment Policies (pdf) and upload them together in one PDF.

If you have paid for tuition, get proof of payment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting “Tuition History” under Finances.

UPDATED LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE

If you receive a request for an updated letter of acceptance, contact International Programs and Services and send a copy of the request you’ve received.

If you are enrolled in classes, download a current letter of enrollment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting “Proof of Enrolment Letters” under Grades and Records. Then, combine your updated letter of acceptance and letter of enrollment into one PDF and upload them together.

MEDICAL EXAM

See the FAQ on medical exams.

BIOMETRICS

See the FAQ on biometrics.

Contact International Programs and Services if you receive a different type of request or have any questions.

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I have applied for a co-op work permit but I have not received it yet. Can I start working?

If you are waiting for your co-op work permit to be processed, usually you cannot work until your co-op work permit is approved. However, if you are eligible to work on and off campus with your study permit, then as a temporary measure due to COVID-19, you can start your co-op, internship, or practicum placement, with your on- or off-campus work eligibility from your study permit. You can do this during regular academic sessions (to a maximum of 20 hours per week for all positions off-campus), and you can work full time during scheduled breaks.

If you will be outside of Canada, contact your faculty’s co-op staff or your graduate program staff to learn about impacts to your placement.

Once your co-op work permit is approved, as an exception, you can start working full-time without waiting to receive the original co-op work permit.

Refer to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) May 27, 2020 update on your co-op work eligibility and coop page for officers.

See the latest IRCC updates on the impact of COVID-19 for international students.

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Can I come to Canada if I have a Post-Graduation Work Permit?

Temporary foreign workers may be exempt from the travel restrictions. To travel to Canada, you must have:

  • A valid work permit, or
  • A valid Letter of Introduction (work permit approval) issued on any date

If you are traveling from the US and you do not require a Temporary Resident Visa, you might be able to apply for a work permit upon arrival in Canada. You will need to bring all original documents and outside of Canada application with you to be prepared to apply upon arrival.

Furthermore, you must be coming to Canada for an essential (non-optional) purpose as a worker.

You must have a current, valid, job offer with you and be able to start work after the 14 day quarantine period. If you have a letter of introduction but do not have a current offer of employment and are planning to look for work, travel will be considered non-essential and you should not travel until further notice.

You should not travel if you are planning to come to Canada for purposes other than work, even if you have valid documents.

In addition, you’ll still need a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada (US citizens are exempt).

If you recently finished your program, you will need to wait for your PGWP application inside or outside Canada to be processed and get a job offer before making travel plans, which could delay your return to Canada. Based on the current travel restrictions for international students, if you have finished your studies and are no longer enrolled, you will not be able to travel as an international student, even if your study permit is still valid. See estimated processing times for work permits.

Like all travellers to Canada, you must get a COVID-19 test and quarantine upon arrival in Canada – although some of the information is international student-specific, carefully review our Travelling to Canada Guide which has important details which apply to all travellers.

You should also confirm if your Medical Services Plan (MSP) is valid. If not, purchase private, temporary health insurance which covers COVID-19 testing and treatment for your 3-month MSP waiting period, then apply for MSP when you return to BC. Bring proof of health insurance when you travel to Canada.

See the latest IRCC COVID-19 updates for foreign workers.

See CBSA’s updates on travel for non-Canadians.

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My Post Graduation Work Permit has or is about to expire. Am I eligible for an extension due to COVID-19?

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is usually only available to you once in a lifetime. Due to the pandemic’s disruption which may have jeopardized your ability to obtain Canadian work experience,

IRCC created a temporary policy allowing certain PGWP holders to apply for another open work permit valid for up to 18 months.

Among the eligibility criteria, you must have been in Canada on January 27, 2021, and have had a PGWP which expired on or after January 30, 2020, or will expire within 4 months after you apply. Applications must be submitted online by July 27, 2021.

See the public policy for details on eligibility and how to apply.

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Can you tell me more about the new permanent residency pathway for international students?

On April 14, 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new pathways to permanent residency (PR) for essential workers and international students.

If you graduated from UBC as an international student after January 2017 and you are interested in this new pathway to PR, see the temporary public policy for detailed information. There is also a temporary public policy for French-speaking foreign nationals.

International student advisors at UBC advise on temporary residence immigration issues related to your studies at UBC. We do not advise on permanent residence however, we can share some helpful online resources you may want to consult to begin your process.

See the recording and slides from the latest presentation by IRCC and BC Provincial Nominee Program representatives, as well as tips on finding an authorized immigration representative.

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I am a continuing student who started my program before May 2020 and was enrolled in my program in Winter Term 2 2019 (January-April 2020) and my courses have moved online due to COVID-19. Will this affect my eligibility for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)?

Courses delivered online due to COVID-19 from March 2020 to December 31, 2021 will count towards the length of your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) if you have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020 and:

  • You study in Canada and you hold a valid study permit, or
  • You study in Canada and you held a study permit, applied to extend it and are under “maintained status”, or
  • You study outside of Canada and you hold a valid study permit, or
  • You study outside of Canada and submit a study permit application prior to beginning your program and it is eventually approved.

You must continue to meet the other PGWP requirements, such as maintaining full-time enrollment (see question below), even while outside of Canada.

IF YOU ARE INSIDE CANADA

If your classes were moved online due to COVID-19, as a temporary measure, you are still eligible for a PGWP even if you complete more than 50% of your program online. Make sure to keep a valid study permit at all times (see question above).

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

You can study online outside of Canada, even if your study permit has expired or your application for a new study permit inside or outside Canada has not yet been approved, since immigration regulations requiring a valid study permit are only for studies undertaken within Canada. As such you are not required to have a valid study permit for the purposes of studying online outside Canada. However, if you intend to apply for a PGWP, you must fall into one of the above bulleted categories in order for those online courses completed outside Canada to count towards the PGWP.

However, if you intend to apply for a PGWP, you must fall into one of the above categories in order for those online courses completed outside Canada to count towards the PGWP.

If your study permit will expire while you are outside of Canada, apply for a new study permit as soon as possible, before it expires. See what to do in the question above if your study permit will expire soon.

If you are in one of the above bulleted categories, online courses completed outside of Canada until December 31, 2021 will count towards your PGWP. If you complete your program by December 31, 2021, you are no longer required to complete at least 50% of your program in Canada.

If you are in a program which will end before December 31, 2021, you can now complete 100% of your program online outside of Canada and be eligible for the PGWP.

Under the current policy, if your program will finish after December 31, 2021, online courses completed outside of Canada after December 31, 2021 will not count towards the length of your program and will be deducted from the length of your work permit. For programs undertaken or ongoing between March 2020 and December 2021, you are not required to complete at least 50% of your program in Canada.

Furthermore, you could combine your program completed online with another PGWP-eligible program and request a longer work permit, so long as:

  • your program was ongoing or started between March 2020 and Winter Term 1 2021 and
  • you complete the second program within 2 years of finishing your first program.

If you will complete your program online from outside of Canada and are eligible for PGWP

You can apply for a PGWP from outside of Canada if you apply:

  • up to 180 days after your letter of completion first becomes available and
  • within 180 days after your study permit becomes invalid.

Based on the current travel restrictions, you cannot travel to Canada as a student after completing your studies, even if you have a valid study permit. You would need to wait to meet the requirements to travel as a work permit holder, which could delay your return.

See options to apply for a PGWP below for details.

For updates on UBC’s approach to Winter Term 1 2021 (September – December, 2021) please see COVID-19 and UBC’s response.

See the latest IRCC updates on the impact of COVID-19 for international students.

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Will Credit/D/Fail grading or a late withdrawal with a ‘W’ impact my student status, work eligibility or eligibility for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

CREDIT/D/FAIL GRADING

Your grades do not directly impact your enrolment status, therefore Credit/D/Fail grading will not impact:

However, if you have many failed courses over several terms, an officer may question if you are making reasonable progress towards completing your program.

Late withdrawal with a ‘w’

Withdrawing with a ‘W’ impacts your enrolment status.

If you withdraw for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 and you are no longer full-time for immigration purposes as a result, you cannot work on and off-campus, and your future eligibility for the PGWP may be impacted. If you withdraw from all your courses, learn about taking a break from studies.

If you withdraw due to COVID-19 and drop to part-time for immigration purposes or take a break from studies, as a result, see the relevant term in the questions below for more details.

For more information on grading options, see student resources during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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If I had to drop to part-time studies or take a break due to COVID-19 in Winter Term 2 (January – April, 2020), how will this impact me?

As an exception, if you were full-time for immigration purposes during winter term 2, and had to drop to part-time studies or take a break in studies due to COVID-19, you can work in Canada unlimited hours on campus and up to 20 hours per week off campus, if eligible. This applies regardless of whether you have a UBC-approved leave of absence.

You must still hold a valid study permit or have applied to extend it before the old study permit expires.

Normally, as an international student, you must maintain full-time status in each term to be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP); however, if you are a current student and cannot meet this requirement due to COVID-19, Canadian Immigration will take this into consideration and this will not affect your PGWP eligibility. At the time you apply for PGWP, please email ips.ubco@ubc.ca for a support letter from UBC.

GRADUATE STUDENTS, DIPLOMA IN ACCOUNTING OR LAW STUDENTS

If you have a UBC-approved leave of absence, you can remain in Canada for 150 days after:

  • The day your leave was approved, or
  • The first day of classes of the term in which your leave started, whichever comes last.

Before the 150 day period is over, you will probably need to:

See the latest IRCC updates on international students’ eligibility to work on- and off-campus.

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If I had to drop to part-time studies or take a break due to COVID-19 in the summer session (May – August, 2020), how will this impact me?

You can remain in Canada so long as you hold a valid study permit or have applied to extend it before the old study permit expires.

Normally, as an international student, you must maintain full-time status in each term to be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP); however, if you are a current student and cannot meet this requirement due to COVID-19, Canadian Immigration will take this into consideration and this will not affect your PGWP eligibility. At the time you apply for PGWP, please email ips.ubco@ubc.ca for a support letter from UBC.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

You can work full-time during summer if:

  • You studied full time for immigration purposes at the start of winter term 2, and
  • You had to drop to part-time studies or take a break in studies in winter term 2 due to COVID-19, and
  • You will return to full-time studies in winter term 1.

GRADUATE STUDENTS OR DIPLOMA IN ACCOUNTING AND LAW STUDENTS

Summer session is not considered a scheduled break for you. As an exception, if you have to take a break in studies due to COVID-19 in the summer session, you can work the same amount as during a full time semester, which is unlimited hours on campus and up to 20 hours per week off campus. This applies regardless of whether your leave is formally authorized by UBC.

If you have a UBC-approved leave of absence, you can remain in Canada for 150 days after:

  • The day your leave was approved, or
  • The first day of classes of the term in which your leave started, whichever comes last.

Before the 150 day period is over, you will probably need to:

See the latest IRCC updates on the impact of COVID-19 for international students.

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If I must drop to part-time studies or take a break due to COVID-19 in Winter Session 2020 (September 2020– April 2021), how will this impact me?

At this time, dropping to part-time or taking a break from studies beyond the 2020 Summer Session could affect:

This applies to you even if you will be studying online outside of Canada.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

If you are not enrolled in any courses, you will probably need to:

GRADUATE STUDENTS OR DIPLOMA IN ACCOUNTING AND LAW STUDENTS

If you have a UBC-approved leave of absence, you can remain in Canada for 150 days after:

  • The day your leave was approved, or
  • The first day of classes of the term in which your leave started, whichever comes last.

Before the 150 day period is over, you will probably need to:

See the latest IRCC updates on the impact of COVID-19 for international students.

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I work in essential services – can I work more than 20 hours per week?

At this time you can work no more than 20 hours per week off-campus during academic sessions using your study permit.

Until August 31, 2020, as a temporary measure you could work off-campus more than 20 hours per week if you worked in ‘essential services’, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

To be eligible, you must:

Provincial governments determine which jobs are considered to be an essential service. See the BC list of essential services and contact Service BC if you have questions.

See the latest IRCC updates on the impact of COVID-19 for international students.

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How can I get a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

You must first receive your study or work permit upon arrival in Canada before you apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Unfortunately, you cannot get a SIN before arriving in Canada.

If you have a study or work permit, you can now apply for a SIN online from anywhere in the world.

If you are a new student outside of Canada and are receiving a scholarship, you can apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) from outside of Canada.

If you are in Canada, Service Canada is gradually reopening Service Canada Offices. As of November 30 you can once again book an appointment online for biometrics. There are no walk-in services at this time.

If you are outside of Canada and you have a study or work permit, you can apply online for a new or extended SIN or confirmation of a SIN, even if you do not have a Canadian mailing address.

Visit the Service Canada webpage for the latest updates on service disruptions.

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I am extending my study permit or applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). How is my health insurance affected?

Your Medical Services Plan (MSP) will continue until its expiry date, which is normally your study permit expiry date.

If you apply to extend your stay in Canada and won’t receive your new immigration document before your current document expires, call MSP to request a temporary extension of coverage while you are on maintained status. This is particularly important if you have a pre-existing condition which may not be covered by private health insurance, such as pregnancy.

BC MSP announced in April that temporary coverage is now available until October 1, 2021. This also applies to your dependents who are currently residents of BC. If you have an MSP Temporary Coverage letter until April 30, 2021, and you are still on maintained status, call MSP to request another temporary extension as soon as possible.

If BC MSP says that they cannot cover you while you wait for your study or work permit, please get in touch with International Programs and Services and be sure to purchase private insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan.

As soon as you get your study or work permit, apply to extend your MSP online and maintain private insurance until you receive confirmation you are covered under MSP again.

If you want to make claims under your UBCSUO Extended Health Plan, you must first be enrolled in BC MSP or another basic health insurance plan.

 See the Medical Service Plan Response to COVID-19 for the latest updates.

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Can international students and PGWP holders get the COVID-19 vaccine?

International students, PGWP holders as well as your dependents (if applicable) are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in BC free of charge, even if you are not enrolled in the Medical Services Plan.

Limited personal information will be collected, such as your name, date of birth and address. You do not need to provide proof of a Social Insurance Number or proof of immigration status.

If you receive your first dose outside of BC (inside or outside of Canada) then travel to BC, bring a vaccination record indicating which vaccine you received and when it was administered. A doctor will determine the appropriate second dose.

If you bring a vaccine dose with you, a doctor will determine if it can be administered in BC.

Visit the BC government website to learn when and how you can get vaccinated.

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I am a current student and will be outside Canada due to COVID-19. How is my health insurance affected?

BC MEDICAL SERVICES PLAN (MSP)

If you will be outside Canada for less than six months, you have the option to keep or cancel MSP.

If you will be outside of Canada for more than six monthscontact BC MSP to confirm your eligibility. You might need to cancel your MSP coverage, or you might be given the option to keep MSP.

If you’re eligible and you decide to keep MSP, you do not have to reapply and have a three-month waiting period when you return.

If you cancel MSP, you have to reapply when you return to BC. You will need to get private health insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan before you return to Canada to cover you during the three-month waiting period.

Before purchasing private temporary health insurance, make sure that you will have adequate coverage as some private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 testing and treatment expenses.

See the Medical Service Plan Response to COVID-19 for the latest updates.

UBCSUO HEALTH AND DENTAL PLAN

If you are in your country of origin, you are not covered under the UBCSUO Extended Health Plan please check with the UBCSUO for opt out options.

Review the BC MSP updates and UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan COVID-19 FAQs for details and ensure you are covered by health insurance wherever you are.

If purchasing private temporary health insurance, make sure you have adequate coverage as some private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 testing and treatment expenses. Ensure you have adequate health insurance wherever you are.

Visit the UBCSUO website for the latest update on the impact of COVID-19 on your health and dental plan.

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I am a new student starting in Winter Term 1. How is my iMED health insurance affected?

After you arrive in British Columbia (BC), you must apply for the BC government-run Medical Services Plan (MSP). When you register for courses, UBC automatically enrols you for the iMED temporary private health insurance, to cover you during the 3-month MSP waiting period if you have not previously studied at UBC.

Ensure you’ve been charged for iMED fees by checking your account through the Student Services Centre (SSC).

See health insurance details for international students.

 

IF YOU WILL STUDY IN CANADA

You will receive an email from David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) with information related to your iMED health insurance and a request for you to confirm your arrival date in Canada. You must confirm your arrival date with DCIS by following the instructions provided in the email. This applies to you whether you will start Winter Term 1 in Canada or if you will start your program online outside of Canada and will travel at a later date.

If you do not know when you will arrive in Canada, this is not a problem. You do not need to take action until 3 weeks before or after your arrival, and can travel until December 31, 2021.

We recommend that you confirm your arrival date before you travel by providing your scanned flight tickets to DCIS starting from 3 weeks before your arrival date.

You can also confirm your arrival with DCIS up to 3 weeks after you’ve arrived in Canada by providing your scanned flight tickets, boarding pass(es), study permit, passport stamp, or landing documents.

Once you confirm your arrival with DCIS, you will receive your iMED card by email. If you don’t receive your iMED card, please email DCIS at info@david-cummings.com.

Confirm the iMED coverage period on your iMED card is correct. iMED coverage should start from the month you arrive in BC plus two months to cover the BC MSP waiting period, or cover the full duration of your program of studies if you are a one-term student.

If your arrival plans change, you can request an adjustment of your iMED coverage period. Once you know your new arrival date, submit an iMED date arrival confirmation form online through DCIS website before December 31, 2021. You will receive a new iMED card by email with a new coverage period.

If you will arrive before August 2020, request advanced coverage.

IF YOU WILL COMPLETE YOUR FULL PROGRAM ONLINE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

If you will complete your full program online outside of Canada and will not travel to Canada, you might qualify to opt-out from iMED and have your iMED fees refunded. The timeline to opt-out from iMED is as follows:

Programs starting Winter Term 1 2020 can opt out

  • One-term programs: December 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021
  • Eight-month (one academic year) programs: April 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021
  • Twelve-month programs: June 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021
  • Thirteen-month or longer programs: December 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022

Programs starting Winter Term 2 2020 can opt out

  • One-term programs: April 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021

IF YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR PROGRAM START DATE

If you defer your program and withdraw from all courses in which you registered for Winter Term 1 before the add/drop deadline, your iMED fees will automatically be removed. When you register in the future, you will automatically be enrolled in iMED again.

If you  will study outside of Canada

I will be studying online from outside of Canada. Can I opt-out of health insurance and other student fees?

You might be eligible to to opt-out of some student fees.

The deadline to opt-out of certain student fees is September 18, 2020. 

You can apply to opt into the U-Pass at any time 

Be sure to check Studentcare’s FAQs to learn about your options to apply for the UBCSUO Health & Dental Plan. You’ll need to provide proof of alternate coverage or documentation showing your status as an international student, such as a study permit or a copy of the letter IRCC issued stating they received your study permit application. If you have questions about coverage outside of Canada or documentation to opt-out, contact Studentcare. The timeframes to apply are:

  • September 8 – 29, 2020 for students starting in Winter Term 1
  • January 4 – 25, 2021 for new students starting in Winter Term 2
  • July 5 – 19, 2021 for students who stayed outside of Canada

For questions on opting-out of the above student fees, please contact office@ubcsuo.ca

If you are a new student, the iMED fee is due at the same time as your first term’s tuition fees, then you can use your iMED coverage until December 31, 2021. You must inform the insurance company of your arrival date starting from 3 weeks before you travel, then your iMED coverage period will be adjusted to match your arrival. If you will not study in Canada you can opt-out. See the iMED FAQ for details. You do not apply or pay for the BC government-run Medical Services Plan (MSP) until you arrive in BC.

If you are a current student who has MSP, see the MSP FAQ for information on your options.

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I’ve lost my job due to COVID-19. Is there financial assistance available for me as an international student?

If you lost your job because of COVID-19, you may be eligible to apply retroactively for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which has now ended, and/or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) or Employment Insurance (EI) as an international student or work permit holder – see details on the new benefits. Among other eligibility criteria, you must reside in Canada and have a valid Social Insurance Number. If you have questions, contact Employment and Social Development Canada.

If you are eligible for CERB, you might also be eligible for a one-time $1000 payment through the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers and can apply until December 2, 2020. The B.C. Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) has now ended. Please contact the relevant BC government agency directly if you have any questions.

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Can I work or be paid for a scholarship, award, teaching, or research assistantship, if I am outside of Canada?

Canadian immigration laws only apply to those inside of Canada. However, there may be obstacles to employing or paying you outside of Canada, such as WorkSafe BC requirements, taxation, needing a valid Social Insurance Number, or other complexities.

Please contact your supervisor or employer to learn about potential impacts.

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Can I still travel abroad for research, study abroad, co-op, or other university activities?

In line with guidance from Global Affairs Canada and the British Columbia’s Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC), UBC has cancelled all student travel for university purposes until December 31, 2021. This includes international programs, student research placements and practicums. If you want to do co-op outside Canada, you will need to contact your co-op office. More information on what constitutes student travel for university activity can be found in the Student Safety Abroad Policy.

If you were meant to travel abroad for university activities, please contact your academic advisors or graduate program staff to learn about impacts.

This does not impact activities you have organized independently.

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I am in financial distress. Can UBC help?

If you are experiencing financial distress related to COVID-19 (or any other situation), contact Student Services to speak to a representative.

If you have questions around how COVID-19 impacts your awards, loans or tuition, read the FAQ.

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Will I be able to access course materials if they are not permitted in my home country?

Equity and academic freedom are two fundamental values of our UBC culture. Moreover, UBC is not subject to foreign censorship laws. Every effort is and will be made to ensure that UBC students living abroad are provided access to the same materials and digital learning spaces as domestic students. As long as students use institutionally-provisioned learning tools and applications (such as Canvas, UBC email and other such systems), students can expect to exercise their academic freedom whether they are in Canada or abroad.

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International Student Guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

If you have questions

International Programs & Services is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada. To connect with an advisor please email: ips.ubco@ubc.ca.

Please be sure to include your student number when you email us. We will not be providing in-person service until further notice. Take care, stay healthy, and we’ll see you soon.