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

Latest updates

On October 2, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that amended travel restrictions for international students will take effect on October 20, 2020.

The information on this page is based on information available at the time of publishing.

As the COVID-19 situation continues, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and other government departments are constantly revising their policies. Links for the most current information have been provided for each question; however updates may be published elsewhere

  • See the latest information on how COVID-19 is affecting Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 
  • You can also review IRCC program or policy changes due to COVID-19 from the program delivery instructions for officers.
  • Visit this page often as we will continue to update it as the situation evolves.

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 Oct 29, 2020 @ 4:20 pm PDT

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.

See the travel guide

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. 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.

The current travel restrictions will not prevent your study permit application from being processed.

On July 14, IRCC announced a new two-stage study permit process for students starting in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 if you have not been able to submit all documents due to COVID-19 related closures. You will first get an approval-in-principle, then a final decision after you are able to submit all remaining documents. 

To qualify for a study permit approval-in-principle, you must have:

  • Submitted your application before September 15, 2020, and
  • Included a letter of acceptance from UBC, and
  • Included sufficient proof of financial supportand 
  • Otherwise have been eligible for a study permit, such as satisfying an officer’s concerns about family ties in Canada and that you will leave before the end of your authorized stay

Include funds for return transportation, for yourself and any dependents joining you. If you did not include excess funds in your application for return transportation, submit a webform with additional proof of funds.

To qualify for a final study permit decision, you must:

  • Submit remaining required documents when services reopen, such as biometrics, medical exams, police certificates, or your new passport, and
  • Be admissible to Canada, and
  • Satisfy an officer that any information which changed after you received an approval-in-principle does not impact your eligibility

You will be notified of an approval-in-principle in your online IRCC account. An approval-in-principle is not a guarantee that you will receive a final study permit approval or that you will be able to travel to Canada

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 start and your study permit is later approved in the future.  You do not need to wait for your study permit approval-in-principle before beginning studies. Learn more about online studies and the PGWP.

IRCC will prioritize processing complete study permit applications.

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.


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)

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. Although SDS might provide faster processing, we do not recommend delaying your application in order to apply through SDS.

We recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your UBC letter of acceptance, using the regular application process. 

You can improve your chances of getting a study permit (and avoiding any unnecessary delays) through the regular stream 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
  • Provide an IELTS scores of 6.0 or higher in each band
  • 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 decide to wait until course registration to apply through SDS, your tuition amounts will be available for Term 1 and Term 2 in the Student Service Centre (SSC) under ‘Finances’ > ‘Financial Summary’. After making a payment, visit Ask UBC to request a tuition receipt by selecting ‘Graduate’ or ‘Undergraduate’, ‘Currently Studying at UBC’ > ‘Tuition and Fees’. It may take 1-5 days for tuition payment to appear on your account. 


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.

On July 14, IRCC announced a new 2-stage approval process for students starting in the summer or fall who can't provide all required documents at this time.

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 Student Advising 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. Traveling from Canada to the US-Canada border solely for the purpose of applying for a 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 Canada Border Services Agency website for the latest updates on 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.


What is the impact on processing times?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is continuing to process applications. The processing times posted on the IRCC website are estimates based on the average processing time for an application; however, they do not accurately reflect disruptions caused by COVID-19.

We are confident that Immigration will account for these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

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.


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

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

All biometrics collection services in Canada and the US are suspended until further notice, and some Visa Application Centres (VACs) outside of Canada are temporarily closed. The time period to provide biometrics has automatically been extended until the biometrics collection sites near you reopen.

You do not need to request a new Biometrics Instruction Letter even if the letter says you have 30 or 90 days to provide biometrics. Your application will not be refused if you can't provide biometrics due to COVID-19 service disruptions.

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. Do not travel to another country solely for the purpose of providing biometrics. 

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.

Find updates and information on biometrics collection.


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, the time period to complete a medical exam has automatically been extended from 30 to 90 days. If you complete a medical exam within 90 days, you will automatically be given another 90 days.

You do not need to request a new letter or extension, even if your letter says you only have 30 or 90 days. Your application will not be refused because you cannot complete your medical exam due to COVID-19 related closures.

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.

Find out more about medical exams for your immigiration application. 


I am a new student starting in May, September, or October 2020, or January 2021. If my classes have moved online due to COVID-19, can I start my program online from outside Canada?

You can begin your program online starting in May 2020 to January 2021 from outside of Canada, even if your study permit application has not been processed yet.

If you intend to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after you complete your studies, courses completed online outside of Canada can count towards the PGWP if before your courses start:

If you have one of the above, and you are impacted by the current travel restrictions, online courses completed outside of Canada until April 30, 2021 can count towards the PGWP. You will need to complete at least 50% of your program in Canada to be eligible for a PGWP, which is calculated based on the number of courses completed in Canada. You do not need to wait for the study permit approval-in-principle for your studies to count towards the PGWP. 

If during one term you study both in Canada and online outside of Canada, IRCC will consider that the term was completed in Canada. You might need to submit additional documents from UBC confirming which part of your program was completed in Canada.

IF YOU ARE STARTING AN 8-12 MONTH PROGRAM IN SUMMER OR FALL 2020

On August 26, IRCC announced that if you are starting an 8 – 12 month program in Summer Session or Winter Term 1 2020, complete the program 100% online, and finish your program by April 30, 2021, you will still be eligible for the PGWP.

IRCC confirmed on September 30 that programs starting in October are included in this temporary policy, and that online studies outside of Canada until April 30, 2021 can be counted towards the PGWP. If you have not completed your program by April 30, 2021, you will need to travel to Canada by May 1, 2021 to complete your studies in Canada. This might be revised if the travel restrictions will remain in the future.   

Furthermore, you could combine your program with another PGWP-eligible program and request a longer work permit, so long as you complete at least 50% of the combined length of your programs in Canada and complete the second program within 2 years of finishing your first program.    

Contact an Academic Advisor from your faculty or your program’s graduate staff or advisor for your options if you decide to begin your studies late, postpone your start date to another term, or defer your admission. Make any changes as soon as possible, and before your add/drop deadline.

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

Learn about UBC’s approach for the fall term and read about UBC’s response on COVID-19.


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 "implied 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 your study permit became invalid before you applied to extend it, you will need to apply to restore your status. Even if all your courses have moved online due to COVID-19, you will not be able to resume studies until you have received a new study permit. Contact International Student Advising to discuss options. 

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.

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 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, as well as our study permit extension tutorial to learn about documents for current students. If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your application has been approved.

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


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 expires or become invalid (90 days after completion of your studies).

 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 expires. 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 expires. 

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 require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada but it 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.

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. 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 require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your application has been approved.

See the latest updates on work permit applications. 

Check if you're eligible to travel at this time before making travel plans to return to Canada.


Can international students who are abroad travel to Canada?

The travel restrictions for international students have been amended as of October 20, 2020. Before arranging any travels, you'll need to have the right immigration documents, create and submit a self-isolation plan, and know what to do upon arrival at the airport or border.

See the Travelling to Canada guide for more information.


I am in Canada as a visitor or worker. Can I start my studies in Canada online without a study permit?

If your course or program is normally offered 100% online, you are not eligible for a study permit and can study anywhere in the world. Programs normally offered 100% online are not eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). 

If your course or program is normally offered in-person but has moved online due to COVID-19, whether or not you can study in Canada without a study permit depends on the total length of your studies.

STUDIES LESS THAN 6 MONTHS

You can study in Canada without a study permit if your entire program of studies will be completed within 6 months and before your original status in Canada expires.

If you were previously a student and have applied for or hold a PGWP, you can also study in Canada for up to 6 months without a study permit, such as taking a course as an unclassified student for one term. 

STUDIES LONGER THAN 6 MONTHS

If you are planning to study for longer than 6 months, you must have a study permit before you can begin your program in Canada, even if your first course is less than 6 months. Since study permits are required for studies longer than 6 months in Canada, you must receive your study permit before you can begin studies, even if your courses are completely moved online due to COVID-19. If all of your courses for a particular term were normally offered online, you may study in Canada for that term without a study permit.

If you were eligible to apply for a study permit inside of Canada and you applied as a visiting or exchange student while studying in Canada or a preschool, primary or secondary school student in Canada, you can study after you apply for a study permit. If you applied for the study permit as the dependent of a study or work permit holder or a work permit holder in Canada, you can study after your study permit application has been approved.

If you are in Canada and applied for a study permit at a visa office which is outside of Canada, you cannot start studying with a Letter of Introduction (study permit approval) and must not study until your study permit is issued. After you get your Letter of Introduction, you must send IRCC a webform to request your study permit to be issued since it is not possible to go to the border to obtain it at this time. See templates for your webform request.

Some students are study permit exempt


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 and you are eligible to work on and off campus, as a temporary measure due to COVID-19, you can start your co-op, internship, or practicum placement, but only up to a maximum of 20 hours per week. You must be registered in a co-op course to use this exemption.

If you are working remotely for a Canadian employer, you still need a valid co-op work permit. 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.

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


Can I come to Canada if I have a Post-Graduation Work Permit or spousal work permit?

Temporary foreign workers might be exempt from air and land travel restrictions. You can travel to Canada if you have:

  • A valid work permit, or
  • A Letter of Introduction for a work permit issued on any date

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

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

Be sure to bring a current, valid, job offer or proof of current employment with you. 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. 

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). 

Like all travellers to Canada, work permit holders exempt from travel restrictions must travel with a non-medical mask or face covering if arriving by air and must isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. Furthermore, the British Columbia (BC) government legally requires all travelers to submit a self-isolation plan. Please ensure you follow the government rules.

See the latest IRCC updates on travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

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


I am a continuing student 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 on an exceptional basis due to COVID-19 until April 30, 2021 will not affect your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program if:

  • 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 “implied status”, or
  • You study outside of Canada due to travel restrictions and you hold a valid study permit, or
  • You study outside of Canada due to travel restrictions and your study permit (inside or outside Canada) is approved before you resume studies

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 end up completing more than 50% of your program online.

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. 

However, if you intend to apply for a PGWP, you must fall into one of the above bulleted categories in order for those courses 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. See what to do if your study permit will expire soon.

If you are in one of the above bullete categories, and you are impacted by the current travel restrictions, online courses completed outside of Canada until April 30, 2021 will count towards your PGWP. You must complete at least 50% of your program in Canada, which is calculated based on the number of courses completed in Canada.

If you complete a term partly in Canada and partly online outside of Canada, IRCC will consider that the term was completed in Canada. You might need to submit additional documents from UBC confirming which part of your program was completed in Canada.

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


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 enrollment 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 studying full-time for immigration purposes, 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. 


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 could work in Canada unlimited hours on campus and up to 20 hours per week off campus, if eligible. This applied regardless of whether you had a UBC-approved leave of absence. 

You must still have held 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 could not 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 isa@students.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.


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 could remain in Canada so long as you held 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 could not 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 isa@students.ubc.ca for a support letter from UBC.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

You could 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 have returned 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 had to take a break in studies due to COVID-19 in the summer session, you could 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 applied regardless of whether your leave was 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.


If I must drop to part-time studies or take a break due to COVID-19 in Winter Term 1 (September – December, 2020), how will this impact me?

At this time, dropping to part-time or taking a break from studies beyond the 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.


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

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 until August 31, 2020. You can no longer work more than 20 hours per week off-campus during academic sessions. 

To be eligible, you must have:

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.


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

If you are in Canada, Service Canada is gradually reopening Service Canada Offices. If a centre near you is open and you face barriers applying online or by mail, you can request an appointment.

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.


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 implied 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 October that temporary coverage is now available until April 30, 2021. This also applies to your dependents who are currently residents of BC. If you have an MSP Temporary Coverage letter until July 31, 2020 or October 31, 2020, and you are still on implied 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, notify International Student Advising 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 AMS/GSS Health and Dental 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.


I am a current student and I will be outside of 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 months, contact 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.

AMS/GSS HEALTH AND DENTAL PLAN

AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan benefits are only accessible within Canada. Learn about opting-out.

If purchasing private temporary health insurance for coverage outside of Canada, 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 AMS website for the latest update on the impact of COVID-19 on your health and dental plan.


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).

You are also automatically enrolled in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, which you can only use in Canada - learn about opting-out if you will be outside of Canada.

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. Email DCIS immediately to inform them your plans have changed so your coverage can be cancelled. 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 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.

Use the 2020 Winter Term 1 iMED Checklist to stay on track of your iMED enrolment status. 


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. For more details, see information 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.


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.


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, 2020. This includes international programs, student research placements and practicums. 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 faculty's undergraduate academic advisors or graduate program staff to learn about impacts.

This does not impact activities you have organized independently. 


I am under financial distress. Can UBC help?

If you’re facing financial hardship or have questions around your finances during the COVID-19 outbreak, see the "money" section of students.ubc.ca/support then contact an Enrolment Services Advisor for confidential advice.

ES Advisors can help you manage your individual situation and explore options for short-term critical financial assistance due to COVID-19. Enrolment Services will consider each request based on your situation and demonstrated financial need.

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


I will be studying online from outside of Canada. Can I opt-out of the U-Pass, 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-out of the U-Pass until September 21, 2020. 

Be sure to check Studentcare’s FAQs to learn about your options to opt-out of AMS/GSS Health and 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 fundsandgrants@ams.ubc.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.

 

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.


Can I continue working in my on-campus job if it has moved online?

If your on-campus job has moved online due to COVID-19, you can continue to work in this position online as a temporary measure. You should request a document from your employer stating that your work moved online due to COVID-19 in case you need to show this to an officer in the future. Make sure you are eligible to work on-campus.  

Related COVID-19 resources

International Student Guide

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

View the guide

If you have questions

International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

Connect with an advisor

Last updated on Oct 29, 2020 @ 4:20 pm PDT