International Students Eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit


In March 2020, the Government of Canada announced several measures to help Canadians navigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 across the country. Among these is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), designed to provide financial assistance of $2,000 per month for those that have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. 

As of April 3, 2020, the Government of Canada confirmed that some international students would be eligible to receive CERB if they meet the rest of the eligibility requirements. 

Applicants are required to provide their contact information and Social Insurance Number to confirm their eligibility. Students who may have had a job last year and were planning on working this summer do not qualify for the benefit.

To apply for the CERB, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • You must reside in Canada and be at least 15 years old
  • You must have a valid Social Insurance Number
    • If you are not a citizen or a permanent resident of Canada but are an international student or temporary foreign worker, you may be eligible to receive the CERB if you meet other eligibility requirements
  • You must have stopped working due to COVID-19 related reasons or are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) – regular or sickness benefits
  • You had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or the 12-months before the date of applying for CERB
    • This can be from employment, self-employment, maternity/paternal benefits under the EI program, or a combination of those sources
  • You expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the first four-week period
    • For the rest of the benefit period, you expect to have no employment incom.

Here’s what international students residing in Canada need to know before applying: 

  • The benefit only applies to those who have lost their job, income, or ability to work suddenly as a direct result of COVID-19. Those who voluntarily leave employment or who were unemployed for other reasons and looking for a job will not be eligible to receive the CERB. 
  • The CERB is available from March 16 to October 3, 2020 to those who expect to be unemployed or without income for at least 14 consecutive days over four weeks within this date range.. This includes those who may still be employed but must take unpaid time off due to COVID-19 sickness, self-quarantine, or caring for a loved one with COVID-19.
  • Affected and eligible students can apply until December 2, 2020, and would receive retroactive payments to the date of their eligibility. 
  • Eligible applicants should begin receiving the CERB within ten days of applying.

It’s important to note that the CERB will not cover those whose future job prospects have been impacted by COVID-19, such as situations where students had planned to seek employment for the summer months but were not employed up until this point.

To efficiently process the expected influx of applications, the Government of Canada has provided a schedule of dates for eligible persons to apply, based on their month of birth. The schedule is available on the government’s website. The government plans to launch a single online portal for the CERB on April 6, 2020.