Immigration Guidance during COVID-19 Pandemic
Last Updated: September 1, 2020
Please see King’s International Immigration Webinar slides from August 2020 here.
Below are some frequently asked questions concerning COVID-19:
If I leave Canada, will I be able to return?
To return to your studies in Canada, you need a valid study permit or a port of entry letter of introduction that shows that you were approved for a study permit before or on March 18, 2020. You also need a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). In addition, you will need to prove to the border officer that your travel is essential: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/service-delivery/coronavirus/temporary-residence/study-permit.html. It will be up to the border officer to determine if your reasons for wanting to enter Canada are strong enough.
Your travel to Canada may be considered non-discretionary as a student if
- you already live in Canada
- you need to be in Canada for your program (for laboratory work, workshops, or similar)
- your school isn’t offering online study options
- you can’t study online from your home country because of internet restrictions or bandwidth limitations
- you can’t participate in live online classes from your home country because of the difference in time zones
A border services officer will make the final decision on whether your reason for travelling to Canada is non-discretionary or non-optional.
You can request a letter of support from King’s by selecting “COVID 19 International Student Return to Canada Letter” here: http://forms.kings.kucits.ca/Forms/Statement-Letter-Request-ADO-ES. Shortly after submitting the form, you will receive an email from King’s International with further details.
Stay informed on developments around COVID-19 both in Canada and in your home country. Find out what you need before you travel to Canada.
If I decide to travel to Canada, what do I need to know or do upon arrival?
If you decide to travel to Canada, it is recommended you download the ArriveCAN app to submit your information to the Canada Border Services Agency prior to arriving. It is mandatory that you register your 14-day quarantine plan with King’s/Western here: https://uwo.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1Y1n6xQ6JwbFE2N. Quarantine service is available for King’s students through Maple Assist.
New regulations also deems it mandatory for you to receive a COVID test during your quarantine. You must complete your 14 day quarantine, even if you receive a negative COVID test before your quarantine period is over. In order to complete your quarantine, you must have self-isolated for 14 days, have received a negative COVID test, and not display any COVID symptoms.
If you completing your quarantine in London, Western will be in touch with you regarding setting up a COVID test appointment after you register your quarantine plan at the above link.
Those who are completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine outside of London should read and follow the instructions below:
- You will need to arrange for testing at an assessment centre in your city. Testing is provided free of charge at Ontario assessment centres. Some assessment centres may require you to book an appointment first or have certain restrictions (for example, some are unable to test young children) For locations and more information visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-assessment-centres
- You will need to either email a copy of their test to email@example.com; or inform the assessment centre to fax a copy of the results to Dr.Malone 519-661-3380.
- Only those with OHIP are able to access their results electronically, so we recommend that you either request a copy of your results be FAXED to Dr.Sonya Malone, Western Student Health Care at 519-661-3380 OR email a copy of their COVID-19 test results to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is also recommended that you download the Canada COVID Alert mobile app available in Ontario to facilitate contact tracking. If you are feeling ill, you should stay home. Please see the Middlesex London Health Unit’s website for more information on COVID-19 measures and regulations in London.
Do I need a study permit to take courses that have been moved online due to COVID-19?
If you have left Canada and will be completing your term remotely, you may continue your studies online. You are required to have a valid study throughout the duration of your program while you are in Canada. During academic sessions, you are still be required to comply with your study permit conditions.
If you are overseas, you may complete your courses online at King’s without a study permit. A study permit, or a study permit approval, is required, however, in order for your studies to count towards PGWP programme eligibility. IRCC’s temporary two-stage study permit approval process (effective July 14, 2020) is available to students starting a program in the fall semester who submit a study permit application before September 15, 2020.
Will my Post-Graduation Work Permit eligibility be affected if I have gaps in my studies or need to drop down to part-time enrolment for reasons related to COVID-19?
If you graduated or will graduate from a DLI that offers PGWPP-eligible programs, you’re still eligible for a post-graduation work permit if
- your in-class courses in Canada are moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, or
- you had to put your studies on hold or study part-time because of COVID-19 during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters (if you decide to drop to part-time studies or take a gap year, please contact email@example.com for further information)
If you’re outside of Canada
You’re still eligible for a post-graduation work permit if you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions and
- you have a study permit
- you’ve been approved for a study permit
- you applied for a study permit before starting your study program in the spring, summer or fall 2020 semesters, or
- you will apply for a study permit before starting your study program in the January 2021 semester
If you’re in this situation, you can begin your classes while outside Canada and
- complete 100% of your program online if
- your program is between 8 and 12 months in length, and
- you started your studies between May and September 2020
- complete up to 50% of your program online (until April 30, 2021) if you complete the other 50% of your program in Canada
- complete up to 50% of your studies online (until April 30, 2021) if
- you’ll graduate from 2 different eligible study programs within 2 years of each other
- 1 of the programs started between May and September 2020
- each program is at least 8 months long, and
- you complete at least 50% of the combined length of the programs in Canada
If you apply 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 post graduation work permit. (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 post-graduation work permit for studies you complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021.
If my full-time enrolment is impacted due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e. COVID-19), will I continue to be authorized to work on a study permit?
In regards to working on or off-campus, given that COVID-19 is beyond a student’s control, international students who were eligible to work on or off-campus can continue to work on or off-campus even if they have been forced to drop to part-time studies or take a break in studies.
However, these students are still subject to the authorized number of hours they would have been permitted had they been full-time students. Therefore, they can work part-time (up to 20 hours a week) off-campus during an academic session and full-time during a regularly scheduled break.
International students may require a letter from King’s if they are required to explain how COVID-19 impacted their full-time status.
This change is in effect until August 31, 2020.
What should I do if my study permit is about to expire?
You should apply online to extend your status before it expires; this will give you implied status and will allow you to continue studying and/or working (subject to the same conditions listed on your current study permit) while your extension is being processed. Applications will not be refused for being incomplete (i.e., if you are unable to obtain all the documents you need); however, you should include an explanatory note detailing any circumstances that are beyond your control. International students may require a letter of support from King’s.
I am required to give biometrics, but biometric collection services are unavailable. What should I do?
IRCC will automatically extend all biometrics deadlines and no application will be refused or closed if you aren’t able to give your biometrics within the period indicated on your Biometric Instruction Letter (BIL).
As biometrics collection resumes, you’ll have to make a new appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or Application Support Centre (ASC). You won’t need a new BIL. Check the VAC or ASC website the day of your appointment to make sure it’s open.
When biometrics collection resumes, you can give your biometrics, even if you can’t travel to Canada yet. VACs and ASCs are starting to reopen slowly.
Keep visiting canada.ca/biometrics for updates on when biometrics collection will start again. You should book an appointment as soon as the site closest to you starts offering the service again.
Due to COVID-19, anyone in Canada applying for temporary residence is exempt from giving biometrics. This temporary measure applies to you if you’re both of the following:
- in Canada
- applying or have an application in progress
- to extend your stay as a student, worker or visitor
- to restore your status as a student, worker, or visitor
- for a work or study permit
- for a visitor visa
- for a temporary resident permit
I am a graduating student who is applying for my PGWP. Can I apply for my PGWP and have implied status (ability to work) even if I don’t have all the required documents?
Due to school closures, many international students may be unable to obtain a letter of completion or final transcript. As a temporary facilitation measure, applicants who apply for a post-graduation work permit will be allowed to submit an application without their letter of completion or final transcript. Applicants should submit a letter of explanation indicating that they are unable to submit the requested documents due to school closure. Once these documents become available, applicants should submit the documents using the IRCC Web form. If no documents are submitted by the time the case processing centre is ready to process the application, the documents will be requested by the processing officer as per the above procedures.
Applicants who need to restore their status will also be eligible to apply without their letter of completion or final transcript.
Applicants who submit their application before the expiry date of their study permit but without their letter of completion or final transcript are still eligible to work without a work permit until a decision is made on their application. Applicants may start working full time as soon as they submit their application. Applicants who need to restore their status are not eligible to work while IRCC processes their application.
My status expired more than 90 days ago, but I am unable to go home. What should I do?
As of July 14, IRCC has implemented an extension for temporary residents applying to restore their status:
“As a result of the pandemic and its associated challenges, a new public policy has been implemented that provides an extension to apply for restoration beyond the current 90-day timeframe for foreign nationals in Canada. Former workers, students and visitors whose status expired after January 30, 2020, and who remained in Canada will now have until December 31, 2020, to apply to restore their status, provided they meet the requirements for the type of status and authorization they are applying to restore.”
International students may experience the disruption of their immigration and academic status due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19):
- Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented special immigration measures for certain countries. Therefore, we encourage international students to monitor their website for the most up to date information.
- In order to renew travel documents outside of Canada, we encourage international students to consult their Embassy/Consulate for alternatives. For example, issuance of an alternative travel document instead of a passport, or the remote request of a new passport using an Embassy located outside of Canada.
- International students who are not able to return home may extend their stay in Canada by changing their status to visitor or worker.
- International students who are at the end of their studies and are planning to return home or planning to travel abroad in general, should visit the travel information page of this website for more details.
If you have questions regarding your immigration status, we encourage you to contact King’s International at firstname.lastname@example.org
Students may also contact IRCC directly.
Does UHIP Cover COVID-19 Testing?
Students should do a self-assessment first following the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-self-assessment.
Students who need to visit an assessment centre for testing should take a paper copy of their UHIP card and a copy of a claim form with them. The claim form can be found here: https://uhip.ca/Content/Assets/_Uploads/en_UHIP_ClaimForm.pdf
Reminder: What should you do if you start to have symptoms of COVID-19?
If you start to develop symptoms of COVID-19, please isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible. Immediately call a health care professional or the public health authority.
Once in contact with health authorities, you will be asked to describe your symptoms and travel history. Health care professionals will provide you with advice on what you should do.
DO NOT GO TO THE HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED TO DO SO BY RELEVANT PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITIES.
Student Health Contacts & Resources
- King’s COVID-19 updates
- IRCC COVID- 19 updates
- Weekend health-related inquiries
Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000 or Toll-free TTY: 1-866-797-0007.
- Health-related inquiries:
Student Health & Wellness, Western Student Experience at 519-661-3030 email@example.com
Mon - Fri, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- Canada COVID Alert mobile app
- ArriveCAN app
- Middlesex London Health Unit