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

The information on this page is based on information available at the time of publishing. Visit this page often as we will continue to update it as the situation evolves.

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

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 Mon, Jul 25, 2022 at 9:23 am PT

If you are planning to travel to Canada

If you're an international student planning to come to UBC, 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.

If you have not applied for your study permit yet, we urge you to apply as soon as possible. 

Be sure to carefully review our step-by-step initial study permit tutorial to prepare your application. Although processing times are longer than normal, we are confident that Immigration is aware of these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

If you have registered in courses and have paid for tuition, include proof of tuition payment in the ‘proof of means of financial support’ section of your document checklist along with your other financial documents. You can get proof of tuition payment from the Student Service Centre (SSC) by selecting ‘Tuition History’ under Finances. It may take 1 to 5 days for tuition payment to appear on your account.

Applications should be complete at the time you apply. It is our understanding that a ‘complete’ application includes all the required documents in your online application checklist in your MyCIC account, in addition to documents listed in the Visa Office Instructions from the visa office that is responsible for your country/region. 

If you submitted an incomplete study permit application, as soon as you receive your outstanding document, you should send it to IRCC through a webform and request that the document be added to your application. If IRCC sends you a request for documents after you apply, see the FAQ topic for more details

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 want to apply through the Student Direct Stream (SDS). What should I do?

If you are currently a legal resident of Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam, you have two pathways available for a study permit application – the regular stream and the Student Direct Stream (SDS).

If you have all the documents required for SDS at the time of application and provide your biometrics as soon as possible (if required), the SDS stream typically provides faster processing times. Please note that the SDS estimated processing times are not guaranteed. You should apply for your study permit as soon as possible. Read the FAQs on the impact on processing times and what to do if you can’t travel by the start of term for guidance. 

One of the eligibility requirements for SDS is proof of upfront tuition payment. As of February 28, 2022, UBC offers pre-payment of tuition for SDS-eligible international students starting in any future term. You will need to submit a Student Direct Stream pre-payment application

Students studying in the Diploma in Accounting program are not eligible to prepay tuition until you register for classes.

We recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your UBC letter of admission. If your registration date has already arrived you can pay your tuition and apply through the SDS stream. If you have already registered for courses, your tuition assessment is available in the Student Service Centre (SSC). You can view your Term 1 and Term 2 tuition amounts in 'Financial Summary' under Finances. After making a payment it may take 1-5 days for tuition payment to appear on your account. You can get proof of payment from your SSC by selecting 'Tuition History' under Finances.


Can I submit an immigration application now?

Yes - read details below.

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. If you are in Canada and have a valid study or work permit, you can apply to extend it inside Canada. If you are outside Canada and have a study or work permit, you can only apply for a new document, not an extension. 

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, on September 25, 2020, IRCC announced that you can apply for a study permit at the airport/border crossing on arrival in Canada. 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 considering applying for a work permit at the land border or airport, see IRCC’s updated instructions.

Visit the student or worker page for the latest updates on applying at the port of entry (flagpoling).

Check 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 where some applications may be processed faster, and others may take longer than the published processing time. You can also check your application status. We are confident that Immigration is processing study permits as quickly as possible.

You may be experiencing delays with your study permit or TRV application, including an application through the SDS. Unfortunately, there is no option to get rushed processing and 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.

If you might not be able to make it in time for studies, see the “What if I can’t travel to Canada by the start of term” FAQ below. 

Check the IRCC processing times for your application.


What if I can't travel to Canada by the start of term?

You may be experiencing delays with your study permit or TRV application (learn how to follow up on your application), or you may have other reasons why you are unable to travel to Canada at this time. 

Need to explore your next option(s)?

  • If you take courses online, consider taking enough courses to be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). To maintain eligibility for a PGWP you must study full-time for immigration purposes, even if you are outside of Canada.  The temporary COVID-19 policy allowing online courses completed outside Canada to count towards the length of a PGWP ends on August 31, 2022. Check the FAQ for new students (program start Summer Session 2020 or later) or continuing students (program start Winter Term 2 2019 or earlier) for details. If you take courses online in Winter Term 1 2022 and the policy is not extended, note that your studies will not count towards the length of a PGWP.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor from your faculty or your graduate program staff to ask about the possibility of arriving late, online options, starting another term, or deferring.
  • If you are thinking of withdrawing from courses, make sure to do so before the add/drop deadlines. If you need to withdraw from all courses:
    • If this is not your first term at UBC, you might be eligible for a leave. Learn about taking time away from studies.
    • If you are an undergraduate student and this is your first term at UBC and you remain registered in Winter Term 2 (January to April) but not in Winter Term 1 (September to December) by the last day to drop courses without a W, you would be considered to have deferred enrolment for immigration purposes. You would not need and would not be eligible for a leave. If in your first term in your program you withdraw from all courses after the course change dates with a W, you might qualify for the Academic Leave Policy. The leave would start on the day you withdraw.
  • If you are a new student and withdraw before the add/drop deadline, your iMED fees will be automatically removed. If you re-enroll in the future, your iMED fee will be added again. If you are an undergraduate student and withdraw from Term 1 courses, but remain enrolled in Term 2, your iMED fees will be automatically adjusted to January. 
  • If you have questions about tuition refunds, contact an Enrolment Services Advisor. For information about refunds of student fees, check the academic calendar.
  • Arrange for housing wherever you will live during your study gap and change any housing arrangements you made for your UBC studies. If you have on-campus housing, contact UBC Housing to ask about your options.
  • If you are registered in Jump Start orientation and will not be able to make it, please email orientations.jumpstart@ubc.ca to let them know.
  • If you can’t study this term, how can you invest your time to help yourself, family or friends? Can you study a special interest such as a new language or a life skill such as public speaking? Can you gain workplace experience by working or volunteering? Can you help care for your family? Can you make a difference in your community? Can you promote a cause that matters to you? 
  • Review the taking time away from studies page and keep supporting documents, such as your flight tickets leaving and returning to Canada or a letter confirming your internship or volunteer experience. 

Before making travel plans, carefully review the Travelling to Canada Guide.


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

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE OF CANADA

Biometrics (your fingerprints and photo) have been required for study permit applications since 2018. If you applied for a study permit before 2018, you may not have provided them in the past and will need to provide them if applying for a study permit or work permit from outside Canada - this is different from providing your fingerprints at the airport kiosk. If you are not sure, you can confirm if you have valid biometrics.

You must provide your biometrics within 30 days of when you have received your Biometrics Instruction Letter and should book an appointment as soon as possible.

Some Visa Application Centres (VACs) outside of Canada and Application Support Centers (ASCs) in the US are temporarily closed or an appointment may not be available within 30 days. As of April 12, 2021, applications are no longer being automatically extended if documents are missing.

If you are not able to provide biometrics in time, write a letter of explanation to request more time and provide proof of the reason you cannot provide biometrics, such as a PDF or screenshot of the VAC page indicating it is closed or a screenshot of your appointment confirmation, then combine these together into one PDF and submit them in your online IRCC account by the deadline (or send a webform if you do not have a request in your online portal).

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 is aware of 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. IRCC advises not to travel to another country solely for the purposes 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.

As of November 30, 2020, if you are not exempt from having to give your biometrics and you have your Biometrics Instruction Letter, you can once again book an appointment online for biometrics. There are no walk-in services at this time.

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, you must provide a medical exam within 30 days of receiving the request. As of April 12, 2021, you will no longer get an automatic extension of the deadline.

If the panel physician’s office near you is closed or you are unable to get an appointment within 30 days, write a letter of explanation to request more time and combine this with proof of the reason you cannot complete the medical exam, such as a copy of your future appointment confirmation, into one PDF and submit them online in your IRCC account by the deadline (or send a webform if you do not have a request in your online portal). 

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. IRCC advises not to travel to another country solely for the purposes of completing a medical exam.

If you completed a medical exam for an application, such as a new study permit from outside of Canada as a new or returning student, or a Temporary Resident Visa or Post-Graduation Work Permit, note that medical exams are only valid for 12 months from the date you took the exam and should be valid at the time you travel to Canada. If you will travel to Canada more than 12 months after you took your medical exam for your application, you should complete a new medical exam before travelling to Canada.

If you are a current student outside of Canada with a valid study permit and have lived in a designated country for more than 6 months in the past year, are a medical student, or will work in jobs which require a medical exam, you must complete a medical exam before travelling to Canada, as well as apply to change conditions to work in jobs which require a medical exam, if required. If IRCC or a CBSA officer specifically requests that you complete a medical exam it is important that you submit a copy of your e-medical by the deadline provided.

Find out more about medical exams for your immigration application. 


I was a new student starting between May 2020 and August 2022. If my classes moved online due to COVID-19, could I start my program online from outside Canada? Will I be eligible for the PGWP?

You can begin your program online starting between May 2020 and summer 2022 from outside of Canada, even if your study permit application has not been processed yet, since you are not required to have a study permit for the purposes of studying online outside Canada.

However, if you intend to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after you complete your studies, in order for your online courses completed outside of Canada to count towards the PGWP, you must have one of the following before your courses start:

If you have one of the above, online courses completed outside of Canada before August 31, 2022 can count towards the length of your PGWP and you can complete up to 100% of your studies outside Canada. You must continue to meet the other PGWP requirements, such as maintaining full-time enrolment, even while outside of Canada.

If you began online studies before IRCC received your study permit application, your studies will only count towards the length of your PGWP after your application was received.

If you applied for a study permit before your program started but it was refused, your studies will count towards the PGWP starting from your first study permit application if you reapply for a study permit and IRCC receives your application before your program ends and it is later approved.

If you meet the above criteria and you are in a program which will end on or before August 31, 2022, you can now complete 100% of your program online outside of Canada and be eligible for the PGWP. 

If your program will finish after August 31, 2022, online courses completed outside of Canada after August 31, 2022 will not count towards the length of your program for PGWP purposes. For programs undertaken and ongoing between March 2020 and August 31, 2022, you are not required to complete 50% of the program in Canada.

Furthermore, you could combine your program completed online with another PGWP-eligible program and request a longer work permit, so long as:

  • Your program was in progress or started between March 2020 and summer 2022 and 
  • You complete the second program within 2 years of finishing your first program.

IF YOU WILL COMPLETE YOUR PROGRAM ONLINE FROM OUTSIDE OF CANADA AND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR PGWP

See options to apply for a PGWP below inside or outside of Canada.

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


My study permit will expire soon but my program is not finished. 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 becomes invalid

When you apply for a study permit extension in Canada, after you've received your new study permit, you must submit a separate application for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), if required, since it is not issued automatically when you apply for a study permit in Canada. In general, if you will be abroad when your current TRV expires, it is best to get your new TRV before leaving Canada so that you can return with your new documents. 

If you will leave Canada after you apply for study permit extension

You may use the Canadian mailing address of a trusted friend in your application. It must be a friend who does not live in UBC student housing since your mail will be returned to sender. Once your study permit is received, ask a friend 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. Select your country under the "apply on paper" section, then see the visa office instructions PDF. Make sure to write a letter of explanation and make it clear that you apply for a TRV in order to return to Canada to continue to study. Note that current processing times for a TRV outside of Canada may be very long and could delay your return to Canada.

If you have already applied or will apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) from outside of Canada, you may need to complete a few additional steps depending on your situation.

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. If you have not applied yet, it's important to submit a complete study permit application as soon as possible. 

For the 'letter of acceptance' document request, you should include a current letter of enrollment—see the ‘letter of enrollment’ section of our study permit extension tutorial for details. In addition, you should include your initial letter of acceptance from when you were first accepted to UBC and combine these in one PDF, with the current letter of enrollment as the first page. Furthermore you should order a PDF transcript and include it in your ‘client information’ section. You will need to provide proof of funds for one year of tuition fees plus a minimum of $10,000 for living expenses (more if you have dependents).

If you have not previously provided biometrics, you will need to provide them when applying from outside of Canada (see question above). If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your study permit application has been approved. 

If you plan to return to Canada, and if you are currently enrolled and meet the requirements to travel, you could return to Canada before your study permit and Temporary Resident Visa expire, then apply for a study permit extension from inside of Canada before your study permit becomes invalid (see the ‘if you are in Canada’ section above). 

If you have finished your studies, you could apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit from inside or outside of Canada (see FAQ on options inside or outside Canada). You must be fully-vaccinated and have a valid TRV or eTA to travel to Canada.

If you have been in a designated country for more than 6 months, intend to work in certain jobs, or are a medical student, you will require a medical exam for your study permit application, whether you apply from outside or inside of Canada. Be sure to add a section to your letter of explanation to request conditions allowing you to work in these jobs, if applicable.

Check the Travelling to Canada Guide to learn what you need to return to Canada.


I want to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). What are my options?

IF YOU ARE IN CANADA

You can apply for a PGWP online as usual. See our PGWP page for important information on timing to apply, eligibility to work before and after applying, and more. 

After you’ve received your PGWP, you must submit a separate application for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), if you are from a visa-required country and your TRV expired or will expire soon, since it is not issued automatically when you apply for a work permit in Canada. However, if your TRV is still valid, you can use it until the expiry date. In general, if you will be abroad when your current TRV expires, it is best to get your new TRV before leaving Canada so that you can return with your new documents.

If you will leave Canada after you apply for PGWP

You may use the Canadian mailing address of a trusted friend in your application. It must be a friend who does not live in UBC student housing since your mail will be returned to sender. Once your work permit is received, ask a friend to send you a digital copy and mail the original to you. If you apply while inside Canada, note that your work permit start date will typically be the same day it is approved and mailed to the address included on the application form. Learn about returning to Canada after applying for the PGWP

If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada, you can continue to use your TRV you received as a student until it expires. If your TRV 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—select your country under the "apply on paper" section then see the visa office instructions PDF.  Note that processing times for a TRV outside of Canada may be very long and could delay your return to Canada.

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 is no longer valid
  • You received a Letter of Introduction for a study permit and have not travelled to Canada to get your study permit

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 — select your country under the "apply on paper" section then see the visa office instructions PDF. If you have not previously provided biometrics, you will need to provide them when applying from outside of Canada (see question above).  If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your application has been approved.

If you have been in a designated country for more than 6 months, or intend to work in certain jobs, you will require a medical exam for your PGWP application. Be sure to add a section to your letter of explanation to request conditions allowing you to work in these jobs, if applicable. 

After you receive your PGWP approval (letter of introduction), your letter will indicate the date by which you need to travel to Canada, which is typically the length of the PGWP for which you are eligible. Once you travel to Canada and present your letter of introduction for your work permit to the officer on arrival in Canada, your work permit should be issued for the full length of PGWP for which you are eligible. 

The travel restrictions for work permit holders are different from those for current international students. Learn more about travel restrictions for work permit holders in the question below for more information. 

If you are someone who does not require a Temporary Resident Visa and you are fully vaccinated with a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or are a US citizen, you might be able to apply for a work permit at the Canadian border or airport when you return to Canada. You will need to bring all original documents and an outside of Canada application with you to apply upon arrival. 

See the latest updates on work permit applications. 


Can international students who are abroad travel to Canada?

As of October 20, 2020, international students enrolled at institutions with provincially-approved readiness plans, such as UBC, may travel to Canada if they have the right documents. Their travel is considered essential.

Before arranging any travels, carefully review all pages of the Travelling to Canada guide for more detailed information on how to prepare for your trip. We will continue to keep this up-to-date as travel restrictions change.


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 online options or 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.

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 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. Also note that applications submitted through the outside of Canada process do not give you status in Canada, and you must always ensure you have valid status in Canada, such as applying to extend your stay as a visitor before your status ends.

After you get your Letter of Introduction, contact International Student Advising to discuss how to get your study permit.

Some students are study permit exempt.


I am an exchange, Visiting International Research Student, unclassified student, or visiting student. Do I have to apply for a study permit if I will study for less than 6 months?

If you are fully vaccinated, you will study for less than six months and your studies will end within the time for which you are authorized to stay in Canada, you do not need a study permit to study in Canada and could study as a visitor. 

In February 2022 IRCC confirmed that applicants who are eligible to study in Canada without the requirement to obtain a study permit (e.g., those enrolled in short-term courses) are able to travel to Canada provided they meet all other travel requirements.

If you qualify as fully vaccinated, you must have a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to travel to Canada. Travel may be possible even if you applied for a study permit and a decision is not reached on your application before you travel. 

If you will study for less than 6 months but you want to work, you may consider applying for a study permit, which allows you to work in Canada if you meet the requirements. Having a study permit also makes it easier to extend your stay if you might extend your studies.

If you will study for 6 months or more, a study permit is required and you should apply as soon as possible. You should not travel until your study permit is approved. 

If you are a US citizen or permanent resident you can apply for a study permit at the airport or border when you enter Canada. 


I received a request from IRCC to provide another document for my application. What should I do?

If you receive a request from IRCC to provide additional documents after you have submitted your application, it is very important to upload the document by the deadline as well as make sure to follow the steps to successfully submit them to IRCC. 

PROOF OF TUITION PAYMENT

If you have registered and paid for tuition, get proof of payment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting "Tuition History" under Finances.

If you are not able to register yet please contact International Student Advising for support.

UPDATED LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE

If you receive a request for an updated letter of acceptance, contact International Student Advising through the online form and send a copy of the request you’ve received. 

If you are enrolled in classes, download a current letter of enrollment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting "Proof of Enrolment Letters" under Grades and Records. Then, combine your updated letter of acceptance and letter of enrollment into one PDF and upload them together. 

MEDICAL EXAM

See the FAQ on medical exams.

BIOMETRICS

See the FAQ on biometrics.

Contact International Student Advising through the online form if you receive a different type of request or have any questions. 


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, usually you cannot work until your co-op work permit is approved. However, if you are eligible to work on and off campus with your study permit, then, as a temporary measure due to COVID-19, you can start your co-op, internship, or practicum placement with your on- or off-campus work eligibility from your study permit. You can do this during regular academic sessions (to a maximum of 20 hours per week for all positions off-campus), and you can work full time during scheduled breaks. You must be registered in a co-op course to use this exemption.

If your co-op placement is starting soon but you have not received your work permit yet and you must work full-time off-campus during an academic term or are not eligible to work during a scheduled break, contact International Student Advising for support.

If you will be outside of Canada and unable to participate in your in-Canada placement, 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.

If you have not applied for your co-op work permit yet, be sure to review our new co-op application reviews on Canvas.

Refer to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) May 27, 2020 (pdf) update on your co-op work eligibility and co-op page for officers.

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 (PGWP)?

See the COVID-19 foreign workers page for information on current impacts.

Check the latest requirements. As of January 15, 2022, you will need to be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada. There are a few exemptions for certain occupations.

If you are fully vaccinated, as of September 7, 2021, you can travel to Canada for non-essential purposes and do not require a job offer before travelling to Canada.

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). If you received a TRV as a student you can continue to use this TRV until the expiry date, even if you are no longer studying. Although some of the information is international student-specific, carefully review our Travelling to Canada Guide which has important details which apply to all travellers.

If you do not require a Temporary Resident Visa and you are fully vaccinated, you might be able to apply for a work permit at the airport/border upon arrival in Canada. You will need to bring all original documents and an outside of Canada application with you to apply upon arrival.

You should also confirm if your Medical Services Plan (MSP) is valid. If not, purchase private, temporary health insurance which covers COVID-19 testing and treatment for your 3-month MSP waiting period, then apply for MSP when you return to BC. Bring proof of health insurance when you travel to Canada.

See the IRCC's COVID-19 updates for foreign workers.


I was enrolled in my program in Winter Term 2 2019 (January-April 2020) and my courses moved online due to COVID-19. Will this affect my eligibility for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)?

Courses delivered online due to COVID-19 from March 2020 to August 31, 2022 will count towards the length of your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) if you have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020 and:

  • 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 before expiry date and are under maintained status, or
  • You study outside of Canada and you hold a valid study permit, or
  • You study outside of Canada and submit a study permit application prior to beginning your program and it is eventually approved.

You must continue to meet the other PGWP requirements, such as maintaining full-time enrolment even while outside of Canada.

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 complete more than 50% of your program online. Make sure to keep a valid study permit at all times (see question above). IRCC recommends that you take in-person courses when they are available. 

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, since immigration regulations requiring a valid study permit are only for studies undertaken within Canada. As such you are not required to have a valid study permit for the purposes of studying online outside Canada. However, if you intend to apply for a PGWP, you must fall into one of the above bulleted categories in order for those online courses completed outside Canada to count towards the PGWP. 

If your study permit will expire while you are outside of Canada, consider applying for a new study permit out of an abundance of caution. See what to do in the question above if your study permit will expire soon.

If you are in one of the above bulleted categories, online courses completed outside of Canada until August 31, 2022 will count towards your PGWP. If you complete your program by August 31, 2022, you are no longer required to complete at least 50% of your program in Canada. 

If you are in a program which will end before August 31, 2022, you can now complete 100% of your program online outside of Canada and be eligible for the PGWP. 

Furthermore, you could combine your program completed online with another PGWP-eligible program and request a longer work permit, so long as:

  • Your program was ongoing or started between March 2020 and August 2022, and 
  • You complete the second program within 2 years of finishing your first program.

Under the current policy, if your program will finish after August 31, 2022, online courses completed outside of Canada after August 31, 2022 will not count towards your PGWP and will be deducted from the length of your work permit. For programs undertaken or ongoing between March 2020 and August 2022, you are not required to complete at least 50% of your program in Canada.

IF YOU WILL COMPLETE YOUR PROGRAM ONLINE FROM OUTSIDE OF CANADA AND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE PGWP

See the question below for options to apply for a PGWP inside or outside of Canada for details.  

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


My Post-Graduation Work Permit expired or is about to expire. Am I eligible for an extension due to COVID-19?

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is usually only available to you once in a lifetime.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, a temporary policy allowed students to apply for another open work permit until July 27, 2021.

Starting in summer 2022, former international students who are in Canada and have a PGWP expiring between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022, will qualify for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months. See the April 22 news release and tweet for more information. This page will be updated when more information is available.


If I had to drop to part-time studies or take a break due to COVID-19 in Winter Term 2 2019 (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 were a current student and could not meet this requirement due to COVID-19, Immigration will take this into consideration and this will not affect your PGWP eligibility. At the time you apply for PGWP, if your program was not available online during COVID-19, please contact an Academic Advisor from your faculty or graduate program staff to request a letter, then contact International Student Advising for support with your application.

GRADUATE STUDENTS, 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 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 2020 (May - August, 2020), how will this impact me?

You could remain in Canada so long as you held a valid study permit or had applied to extend it before the old study permit expired.

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 were 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, if your program was not available online due to Covid-19, please contact an Academic Advisor from your faculty or graduate program staff to request a letter, then contact International Student Advising for support with your application.

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, 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 had to drop to part-time studies or take a break due to COVID-19 in Winter Session 2020 (September 2020 – April, 2021) or Summer Session 2021 (May - August 2021), how will this impact me?

Dropping to part-time or taking a break from studies in Winter Session 2020 or Summer 2021 could affect: 

This applies to you even if you were studying online, outside of Canada.

Learn about the immigration impacts of withdrawing from courses.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

If you were not enrolled in any courses, you probably needed to:

GRADUATE STUDENTS, DIPLOMA IN ACCOUNTING, AND LAW STUDENTS

If you had a UBC-approved leave of absence, you could 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 came last.

Before the 150 day period was over, you probably needed to:

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


If I need to drop to part-time studies or take time away from studies in Winter Session 2021 (September 2021 to April 2022) or later, how will this impact me? Can I take a leave of absence?

Dropping to part-time or taking a break from studies after the 2020 Summer Session could affect: 

Graduate students, diploma in accounting students, 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.

If you are not returning to studies, before the 150 day period is over, you will probably need to:

Undergraduate students

Part-time studies

If you would like to study part-time for immigration purposes (less than 9 credits in a winter term) this would impact your current work eligibility and future eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit. Learn about the immigration impacts of withdrawing from courses

Taking a break from studies

Beginning in the 2021 Winter Session, UBC offers a procedure to allow continuing UBC international undergraduate students to take time away from studies and still be considered to be actively pursuing studies, maintaining the conditions of your study permit and maintaining eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit program for leaves up to 150 days. UBC Vancouver’s Academic Leave Policy enables students in good academic standing to take up to a year away from studies without having to reapply for admission. If you want to prove to IRCC that you were on an authorized leave, you must request the leave and receive a letter from UBC confirming that you are authorized to take the leave.

If Winter Term 1 was your first term in your program and you dropped all courses by the last day to drop courses without a W, and you were registered in Term 2, you would be considered to have deferred enrolment for immigration purposes. You would not need and would not be eligible for a leave in Term 1.

If in your first term in your program you withdrew from all courses after the course change dates without a W, you might qualify for the Academic Leave Policy. The leave would start on the day you withdraw.

If it is not your first term in your program and you dropped all courses:

  • by the last day to drop courses without a W, your leave would start on the first day of classes for that term, or
  • with a W, your leave would start on the day you withdrew from all courses.

If you withdraw after the last date to withdraw with a W, you will not be eligible for an authorized leave for that term.

If you have a letter documenting your undergraduate leave, you can remain in Canada for 150 days after the date on which the letter indicates your leave began.

Leaves longer than 150 days affect your Post-Graduation Work Permit eligibility and status in Canada. If you are not returning to studies before the 150 day period is over, you will probably need to:

If you withdraw from courses on time, you can apply for a leave letter at any time. 

If you are in Canada, note that you cannot use your study permit or co-op work permit to work in Canada while on leave, and are not eligible to work during the scheduled breaks immediately preceding or following your leave. You will not be eligible to work until you resume full-time studies and meet all requirements to work in Canada. There may also be other non-immigration impacts of taking time away from studies.

To request a leave letter:

  1. Consider carefully whether you will take Term 1, Term 2 or both terms away from studies. Check your program requirements  and contact your Academic Advising office with any questions about your program.  
  2. Carefully review how taking time away from studies impacts your immigration, particularly if you will be on leave for more than 150 days and will be in Canada during your leave .
  3. After you withdraw from all courses in Term 1, Term 2 or both terms, send a request to your Academic advising by their normal communication methods. Tell them you are requesting a leave and for which term(s). 
  4. If they agree, the Academic Advising office will email you a letter which you can find on the Message Centre of the Student Service Centre (SSC). 
  5. The leave will not appear on your transcript. Include the authorized leave letter with future IRCC applications as needed. 
  6. Regardless of the amount of leave taken, you must meet all academic regulations of your program.

As of June 2022, authorized leave for undergraduate students is available on an ongoing basis. Check taking time away from studies for more information. 


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

At this time you can work no more than 20 hours per week off-campus during academic sessions using your study permit.

Until August 31, 2020, 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.

To be eligible, you must have:

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


Can international students and PGWP holders get the COVID-19 vaccine? Am I required to be vaccinated to travel to Canada? How do I get a BC Vaccine Card?

Traveling to Canada

As of January 15, 2022, international students must be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada. Exceptions include international students under the age of 18 studying at approved institutions such as UBC.

Review the Travelling to Canada guide for details on COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements.

UBC campus requirements

All members of the UBC community are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as they are eligible. See COVID-19 and UBC’s response for more information on UBC’s approach and for latest updates.

If you live in UBC student residence, learn about COVID-19 residence rules.

You can pick up a free rapid antigen test kit if you need one.

If you are not vaccinated

Everyone 5 years and older is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in BC free of charge, even if you are not enrolled in the Medical Services Plan and do not have a BC Personal Health Number (PHN). However, you are encouraged to get a PHN to use the online vaccination booking system—you can call 1 833 838 2323 from 7 am to 7 pm, seven days a week to get a PHN. Translators are available.

Limited personal information will be collected, such as your name, date of birth and address. You do not need to provide proof of a Social Insurance Number or proof of immigration status.

Visit the BC government website to learn when and how you can get vaccinated. You can walk-in to any of the current COVID-19 drop- in vaccination clinics without an appointment for your first or second dose. Appointments are required for booster doses or for children ages 5-11. If you have to self-isolate upon arrival in Canada, you must complete any self-isolation requirement before you get vaccinated in Canada.

If you were vaccinated outside of BC

If you received your first or both COVID-19 vaccination doses outside of BC (inside or outside of Canada) then travel to BC, bring a vaccination record indicating which vaccine you received and when it was administered.

The BC government recommends that you:

  1. Register with the Get Vaccinated provincial registration system.
    • If you do not have a Personal Health Number (PHN), call 1 833 838 2323 from 7 am to 7 pm, seven days a week, to get a PHN. Translators are available.
  2. Submit proof of an official vaccination record for one or two doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be entered into the Provincial Immunization Registry. This can take 4-7 days.

See BCCDC guidance on if it is recommended to get an additional COVID-19 vaccination in BC.  A doctor will determine the appropriate dose.

If you need a second dose or booster, after completing the above steps, you will receive an invitation to book your second dose or booster once your record has been updated and you are eligible.

BC proof of vaccination

In BC, proof of vaccination is no longer required to access events, services and businesses. However, individual businesses and event organizers can choose to require proof of vaccination. Visit BC’s response to COVID-19 for the latest information.

Travelling within Canada and Leaving Canada

As of June 20, 2022, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required to board flights and trains in Canada.

Learn more about boarding flights, trains and cruise ships in Canada.

For travels within Canada, check if there are provincial or territorial restrictions before travelling as well as any provincial or territorial proof of vaccination requirements.

A Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination for travel within Canada and internationally is now available from the province of British Columbia.

If you are in Canada and plan to travel internationally, make sure you have the right COVID-19 vaccination documentation and visit our Travelling to Canada Guide for guidance on travelling and to check the requirements to return to Canada.


I am a current student and I will be outside of Canada due to COVID-19. How is my health insurance affected?

Ensure you have adequate health insurance wherever you are.

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 in a calendar year, 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 nor will you have a 3-month waiting period when you return.

If you cancel MSP, you have to reapply when you return to BC. You will need to get temporary private health insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan before you return to Canada to cover you during the MSP 3-month waiting period.

Before purchasing temporary private health insurance, make sure you will have adequate coverage as some private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 testing and treatment expenses.

AMS/GSS HEALTH AND DENTAL PLAN

For the 2020/21 and the 2021/22 policy years, AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan benefits were accessible within Canada only. If you are studying online outside Canada during the 2022/23 policy year, please contact Student Care.

If purchasing temporary private health insurance for coverage outside of Canada, make sure you will have adequate coverage as some private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 testing and treatment expenses.


I am a new student who started in 2020/21 Winter Session to 2021 Summer Session (September 2020 - August 2021). 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). MSP has a 3-month waiting period, so when you register for courses, UBC automatically enrols you for the iMED temporary private health insurance to cover you during your first 3 months in Canada, 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).

IF YOU WILL STUDY IN CANADA

You should have received 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 started your program In Canada or if you started 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 iMED can cover you for an arrival in Canada as late as January 31, 2023.

We recommend that you confirm your arrival date before you travel by submitting an Arrival Date Confirmation / Coverage Dates Change Form and providing your scanned flight tickets to DCIS starting from 3 weeks before your arrival date.

You may also confirm your arrival with DCIS as soon as possible 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 imed@david-cummings.com. In your email, write “Missing iMED card” as the subject line, and in the message you must include your name, student number, and date of arrival in BC. Allow for one to four weeks to receive your iMED Card.

Confirm the iMED coverage period on your iMED card is correct. iMED coverage should start from the month you arrive in Canada 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, email DCIS immediately to inform them that you will not arrive as originally scheduled so DCIS can deactivate your iMED Card. Then once you know your new arrival date, submit an updated Arrival Date Confirmation / Coverage Dates Change Form through the DCIS website before January 31, 2023. You will receive a new iMED card by email with a new coverage period.

Use the iMED Checklist WS20 SS21 (pdf) to stay on track of your iMED enrolment status.

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 deadline to opt out has now passed. Contact International Student Advising to discuss your situation.

IF YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR PROGRAM START DATE

If you defer your program and withdraw from all courses in which you registered for 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.

You were automatically enrolled in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, which you can only use in Canada. It was possible to opt-out if you were outside of Canada until July 19, 2021.

See health insurance details for international students.


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.


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 financial emergencies, 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.


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 opt out of some student fees. Learn about how to opt in or opt out of AMS fees.

AMS/GSS HEALTH AND DENTAL PLAN

If you have questions about coverage outside of Canada or eligibility to opt out of AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, contact Student Care.

iMED HEALTH INSURANCE

If you will not study in Canada for the full duration of your program of studies, contact International Student Advising to see if you are eligible to opt out.

BC MEDICAL SERVICES PLAN (MSP)

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.

See CBIE’s September 11 2020 (pdf) update and IRCC’s page for officers for details.

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 Mon, Jul 25, 2022 at 9:23 am PT