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COVID-19 FAQs:
International Students Studying at Canadian Schools

As COVID-19 continues to remain a part of our daily lives, ApplyBoard understands that it can be a challenging and confusing time for international students studying at Canadian institutions. With that in mind, we’ve compiled answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about studying in Canada during COVID-19.

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Q. I’m an international student. Can I travel to Canada?

A. To be eligible to enter Canada, an international student must:

Q. How much of my program can I complete online outside of Canada for it to still count towards a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

A. At this point in time, you can study online from outside of Canada until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future PGWP, as long as 50% of your program of study is eventually completed in Canada, either in-person or online.

If you started a program between 8–12 months long in Spring, Summer, or Fall 2020, you can complete your entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP.

If you completed two consecutive short programs, 50% must be completed within Canada to be eligible for a future PGWP.

Learn: How to Get Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit

Q. How is it determined whether 50% or more of my program has been completed in Canada?

A. This is determined by the number of courses completed in Canada. If a portion of a semester was completed in Canada and the rest online from abroad, the course will be considered completed in Canada.

Q. If I study part-time, either in Canada or from abroad, am I still eligible for a future PGWP?

A. Students studying part-time within Canada or from abroad during the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 semesters are still eligible for a future PGWP. However, as of the Fall 2020 semester, students must study full-time to remain eligible for a future PGWP.

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Q. I applied for a study permit, but it has not yet been approved. Will my program still count towards a future PGWP?

A. If you applied for a study permit to begin a program in Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, or Winter 2021, began your program abroad, and are later approved for a study permit, you are still eligible for a future PGWP as long as you meet all program requirements.

Q. How often will the list of schools with approved COVID-19 readiness plans be updated?

A. The list of schools with approved COVID-19 readiness plans will be updated every two weeks. Please click here for an up-to-date list of ApplyBoard partner schools with approved COVID-19 readiness plans.

Q. Do I need a study permit if I’m coming to Canada for a course or program of study that is six months or less?

A. Under normal circumstances, international students travelling to Canada for a course or program of study that is six months or less do not require a study permit. However, under the current travel restrictions, all foreign nationals coming to Canada for study purposes must have a valid study permit, regardless of the length of their program.

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Q. What if I cannot complete a Co-Op work term because of COVID-19 and have to take a break from my Studies?

A. In this instance, an officer will determine whether you complied with the conditions of your study permit. The study break, or “leave,” cannot extend beyond 150 days, and your school must confirm that it was approved and you were unable to complete your Co-Op term or any other courses during the leave. You may still be eligible for a PGWP if the officer determines that you actively pursued studies during your leave.

Q. I have a Co-Op work permit. Does it exempt me from travel restrictions?

A. No, you must comply with all travel restrictions currently in effect for international students outlined above.

Q. I’m a Co-Op Student but Haven’t Received My Co-Op Work Permit Yet. Can I Still Participate in My Work Term?

A. Under normal circumstances, Co-Op students require a valid Co-Op work permit. However, students who are eligible to work off-campus are temporarily allowed to work up to 20 hours a week and full-time during scheduled breaks while waiting for their Co-Op work permit to be approved.

Q. Do I need to provide a quarantine plan upon entering Canada?

A. Yes, all travellers entering Canada must present a quarantine plan, although it doesn’t have to be in writing. When asked by a border officer, you must provide information about the location of your 14-day quarantine period, and how you plan to access essential services, any medical care, and get your groceries.

Read more about quarantine requirements.

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Q. How long will it Take for My Study Permit to Be Processed?

A. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working its way through the backlog of study permit applications as quickly as possible, and can’t give accurate processing times. Please note that the processing time of your study permit application depends on your country of residence and your ability to provide the documentation required. 

If you’re eligible for the Student Direct Stream (SDS), you may experience faster processing of your study permit.

Read: How to Apply for a Study Permit Through the Student Direct Stream (SDS)

Q. I’ve paid my tuition fees and have begun my studies online. What happens if my visa is rejected?

A. Refunds are at the school’s discretion where you’re studying and depend on their refund policy. Please contact your school for more information.

For the most up-to-date information regarding travelling to Canada and COVID-19, visit the Government of Canada website.