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 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 July 27, 2020 @ 8:45 am PDT

Frequently Asked Questions

Search the topics below to filter and get specific information:

  1. Immigration applications
  2. Travel restrictions
  3. Work eligibility
  4. Health insurance
  5. Financial assistance
  6. New students

Search by topic

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 to allow students to begin studies online, even 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:

  • Include a letter of acceptance from UBC, and
  • Include sufficient proof of financial support, including funds for return transportation - if you did not include excess funds in your application, submit a webform with additional proof of funds, and 
  • Otherwise be 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, and
  • Submit your application before September 15, 2020

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 your study permit is later approved in the future. Learn more about online studies and the PGWP.

After you submit all remaining required documents and your application is complete, IRCC will prioritize processing complete study permit applications.

 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 fall.

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the US, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you can not apply for a study permit at the airport/border crossing on arrival in Canada due to COVID-19. All applications must be submitted online, in advance. 

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 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 around 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.

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 or September. 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 Summer Session or Winter Term 1 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 and 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, you can complete up to 50% of your program online while outside of Canada if you are unable to travel sooner. You will need to complete at least 50% of your program in-person, in Canada to be eligible for a PGWP. 

If you are starting in September in an 8-12 month program, in Winter Term 2 your program is still online or you are unable to travel to Canada, and IRCC does not allow these courses to count towards the PGWP, you might not be eligible for the PGWP.   

If you do not have one of the above or you are not impacted by the current travel restrictions, taking online courses outside of Canada may impact your PGWP depending on the length of your studies in Canada:

  • If the in-Canada portion of your program will be two years or more, and you complete at least 50% of your program in-person in Canada: You will still be eligible for a three-year PGWP.
  • If the in-Canada portion of your program will be less than two years, and you complete at least 50% of your program in-person in Canada: Courses completed outside of Canada will not be counted towards determining the length of your PGWP until you have submitted your study permit application. If you will complete more than 50% of your program outside of Canada or online, you will not be eligible for a PGWP.

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 for updates on Winter Term 2.


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. Include a letter of explanation to address why you need to extend your stay in Canada. 

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 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 keep the original document safe, or have it mailed 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 include any additional documents required by your visa office in the ‘Client Information’ section under ‘Optional Documents’.

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.

See the latest updates on immigration applications.


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 keep the original document safe, or have it mailed  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 include any additional documents required by your visa office in the ‘Client Information’ section under ‘Optional Documents’.

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 under ‘Optional Documents’. If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your application has been approved.

See the latest updates on immigration applications.


Can international students who are abroad travel to Canada?

You must fulfill two requirements to be eligible to travel to Canada at this time:

Criteria Requirements 
1) Valid document*
  • If you already hold a valid study permit, you will need the original, paper copy, which can be issued on any date, or
  • If you are traveling from the US, your initial study permit must be approved before traveling, or
  • If you are traveling from any country other than the US, your initial study permit must be approved on or before March 18, 2020 
2) Travel for an essential purpose to study in Canada
  • Your program must have an in-person component such as: in-person courses, on-campus research, co-op, internship or practicum, or
  • If your program has moved 100% online, you must have other documented reasons to be in Canada to study, such as: teaching or research assistantship for which you must be in Canada to receive funding, internet restrictions or bandwidth limitations in your home country, or if you were already a resident in Canada and are returning "home" to Canada

Note: A study permit approval-in-principle is not sufficient to travel to Canada.

Current students: If you applied for a study permit extension inside of Canada then left and your extension was later approved, you will need a trusted friend to mail your original study permit to you so that you can travel with it. If you applied for a study permit from outside of Canada and your Letter of Introduction, or study permit approval, was issued after March 18, 2020, you will not be exempt from the travel restrictions at this time. 

If all your studies have moved 100% online due to COVID-19, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will utilize their discretion as to whether or not your travel will be considered "essential" depending on your individual circumstances and supporting documents shared when you arrive in Canada. For example, if your primary residence is in Canada and you can document that you are returning "home" to Canada, travel is likely "essential". 

As proof that you are traveling for the purpose of studying in Canada:

  • Bring a letter of enrolment which you can download from “Grades and Records” within your Student Services Centre (SSC) after you’ve registered for courses for September. If you’re unable to enroll before traveling, contact your faculty or program for a customized enrolment letter stating your future registration date
  • Bring any other documents which support that your travel to Canada is essential to actively pursue studies, such as:
    • A letter from your program/department if you need to be in Canada for academic purposes, such as attending in-person courses, accessing subjects or facilities, research, payment for your research or teaching assistantship, etc.
    • Emails from UBC about classes being offered in person
    • If you are returning to Canada, your lease or residence contract for your residence that you've maintained while you were on a trip abroad 
    • A letter from your co-op department about your mandatory co-op in Canada, and a copy of your job offer, if you have one
    • Documents relating to issues with internet restrictions or bandwidth limitations in your location abroad

If you are a new student, having secured a place of residence in Canada is not sufficient proof that your travel is ‘essential’.

Unfortunately, there is no process to obtain pre-approval from CBSA. You could try contacting the following for advice

If you do not meet both the above criteria, you will not be able to travel to Canada and should not make travel plans until further notice from the Canadian government.

Additionally, 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 travelers to Canada, international students 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 detailed self-isolation plan. You are responsible for arranging your own self-isolation plan. See UBC Housing's self-isolation accommodations options. Bring documents relating to your self-isolation to present on arrival. 

If you are a new student, visit Coming from Abroad to prepare for your arrival.

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

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


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.

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.


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 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

You must still complete at least 50% of your program in Canada to be eligible for a 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 to learn about your options to apply inside or outside of Canada. 

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 categories in order for those courses to count towards the PGWP. 

If you are in one of the above categories, and you are impacted by the current travel restrictions, you can complete up to 50% of your program online while outside of Canada if you are unable to travel sooner. 

If you are not in one of the above categories, or you are not impacted by the current travel restrictions, taking online courses outside Canada may impact your PGWP depending on the length of your studies in Canada:

  • If the in-Canada portion of your program will be two years or more, and you complete at least 50% of your program in Canada: You will still be eligible for a three-year PGWP.
  • If the in-Canada portion of your program will be less than two years, and you complete at least 50% of your program in Canada: Courses completed outside of Canada will not be counted towards determining the length of your PGWP until your new study permit inside or outside of Canada is approved. This may result in a shorter work permit. If you will complete less than 50% of your program in Canada, you will not be eligible for a PGWP. 

Refer to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) April 7, 2020 update on your post-graduation work permit eligibility. 

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 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 isa@students.ubc.ca for a support letter from UBC.

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:

Refer to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) March 20, 2020 update and April 23, 2020 update on international students’ eligibility to work on-and-off campus.

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 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 isa@students.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:

Refer to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) March 20, 2020 update and April 23, 2020 update on international students’ eligibility to work on-and-off campus.

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: 

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:

Refer to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) March 20, 2020 update and April 23, 2020 update on international students’ eligibility to work on-and-off campus.

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

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.


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

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

Service Canada offices are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but you can now apply for a SIN online or by mail.

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

I have to stay in Canada longer than expected. 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 continuous coverage immediately. 

You might not be able to get coverage past July 31, 2020. If BC MSP says that they cannot cover you while you wait for your study or work permit, 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.

The AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan  will continue until August 31, 2020. If you want to make claims under your AMS/GSS Extended 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 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 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

If you are in your country of origin, you are not covered under the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan travel coverage.

If you are not in your country of origin, you might be able to make a claim as long as you have BC MSP or another basic health insurance plan. 

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 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 the summer session. How is my iMED affected?

After you arrive in BC, you must apply for the BC government-run Medical Services Plan (MSP). When you register for courses, UBC automatically enrolls you for the iMED temporary private health insurance to cover you during the 3-month MSP waiting period.

See health insurance details for international students.

IF YOU WILL STUDY IN CANADA

Ensure you've assessed your iMED fees by checking your UBC tuition account and your email for your iMED card.

If your coverage period does not match your first 3 months in Canada, request an iMED date change, or advanced coverage.

IF YOU WILL STUDY ONLINE OUTSIDE OF CANADA OR WILL CHANGE YOUR PROGRAM START DATE

You may need to take action since your iMED coverage is based on starting your program in Canada in May.

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

You will need to request changes if you are:

  • Starting your program online outside of Canada and you want your iMED fee moved to a future term or
  • Deferring your program after the add/drop deadline and want your iMED fee removed or
  • Studying outside of Canada as a one-term VIRS student and want your iMED fee removed

The deadline for all change requests is July 31, 2020. Send a detailed email to isa@students.ubc.ca along with your student ID number. In the subject of your email, please add ‘iMED’ and the type of change you are requesting.


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 change request 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.


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 for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as an international student or work permit holder. Among other eligibility criteria, you must reside in Canada and have a valid Social Insurance Number. CERB will provide temporary income support to those who are eligible in the amount of $500 per week. If you have questions about the CERB, contact the Canada Revenue Agency.  

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. If you live off-campus, you might be eligible for the B.C. Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) for up to $500 a month as well. Please contact the relevant BC government agency directly if you have any questions. 

International students are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Student Response Benefit (CESB).


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 ‘emergency financial support’ section of students.ubc.ca/covid19 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.


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.


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 July 27, 2020 @ 8:45 am PDT