COVID-19 IMMIGRATION AND TRAVEL FAQ FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Immigration and travel policies for international students continue to be adjusted in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This page contains information and updates on study permits, visas, work eligibility and travel requirements for newly-admitted and current international students at SFU.

LAST UPDATED: OCTOBER 26, 2021

We will continue to update this page as more information is made available.

Recent Updates

October 26:

October 21:

  • Updated Alert section to reflect upcoming resumption of direct flights from Morocco
  • Added specific testing requirements for students travelling from Morocco to preparing for arrival section

October 20:

September 27:

  • Updated Alert section to reflect extended suspension of direct flights from Morocco

September 22:

  • Updated Alert section to reflect upcoming resumption of direct flights from India
  • Updated information on entry requirements for fully vaccinated travellers, to reflect that September 7 changes are now in effect
  • Added specific testing requirements for students travelling from India to preparing for arrival section

View all updates >

Travel Updates

Updated October 26, 2021

  • Vaccination requirements for travellers departing Canadian airports to take effect October 30
  • Direct flights from Morocco to resume October 29
  • Direct flights from India to Canada have resumed
  • Updated border measures for fully vaccinated travellers are now in effect

Read more:

If you have re-booked your travel:

General information and updates

View Frequently Asked Questions for:

Archived Questions

(for previous terms)

NEWLY ADMITTED STUDENTS

I am an international student and have questions regarding my immigration status (e.g. study permit, work permit, visa). Who should I contact?

SFU international students, recent graduates, and newly admitted students who have questions about their immigration status in Canada, about applications currently being processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), or about applications they will make in the near future, can contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist by live chat, email, virtual appointment, or phone for assistance.  

If you are in Canada and unable to go home because of concerns related to COVID-19, you must maintain your legal immigration status in Canada (e.g. study permit, work permit, visitor record).

Updated April 22, 2020 — Return to top

If you have questions, you can contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist to discuss your options.

I am an incoming student living outside of Canada.  Can I still apply for a study permit?

If you have been accepted to SFU and have an SFU letter of acceptance you should apply for a study permit as soon as possible. You can find general information about applying for an initial study permit from outside of Canada on the ISS websiteIRCC advises all applicants outside of Canada to apply online for a study permit.

Updated July 28, 2020 — Return to top

If you have questions about applying for a study permit after reviewing our online resources, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for assistance.

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit application but biometrics appointments in my country of residence are cancelled until further notice.  What should I do?

You are required to provide biometrics if you have not done so for an application to come to Canada in the past 10 years (unless exempted).  For more information visit the IRCC website. You can check to see if you already have valid biometrics on file using IRCC's check status tool

Some Visa Application Centres (VACs) and Application Support Centres (ASCs) are temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are required to provide biometrics, you can still submit your study permit application and pay the biometrics fee even if the VAC/ASC in your area is temporarily closed.

On April 12, 2021, IRCC announced that deadlines for applicants to provide missing information or documents (including biometrics) will no longer be automatically extended. 

  • If you applied for your study permit before April 12, 2021, you will receive a final letter from IRCC to ask you to give your biometrics within 30 days. 
  • If you applied on or after April 12, 2021, please comply with the deadline indicated on your Biometrics Instruction Letter.

If you are outside Canada and are unable to provide biometrics by the deadline indicated in the instruction letter from IRCC due to COVID-19, you should contact IRCC to request an extension. It is not recommended to travel to another city or country to give your biometrics if your local VAC or ASC is closed. For information on how to request a deadline extension, visit the IRCC website.

Study permit applicants inside Canada are temporarily exempt from the requirement to provide biometrics. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Updated April 19, 2021 — Return to top

Information on biometric collection

IRCC recommends to visit their website for updates on when biometrics collection will start again. You should schedule an appointment to give biometrics as soon as the biometrics collection centres resume normal operations. 

For more information about biometrics enrollment amid COVID-19, please visit the IRCC website

I have been accepted to SFU for an upcoming term and my courses will be online because of COVID-19. Can I start my program online from my home country? If so, how will that impact my post-graduation work permit eligibility?

You may begin your program of study online from outside of Canada without a valid study permit. You will however require a valid study permit for all in-Canada components of your program of study. If you have yet been approved for a study permit, please consider your comfort level with starting your studies before receiving a final decision on your application. Study permit approval is not guaranteed.

You should also factor SFU's deadlines for admission deferral, course withdrawal, and refunds into your decision. Please refer to the following links for deadline information:

The deadlines above will apply if you choose to postpone your studies or withdraw from your online courses due to a delay in processing or refusal of your study permit application.

For students who started their programs in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, IRCC implemented a two-stage study permit approval process, allowing students who were unable to submit certain required documents or complete certain necessary steps to finalize their applications to receive approval-in-principle and begin their studies online with more confidence, provided they applied for a study permit by September 15, 2020 (for Fall 2020 students) or by December 15, 2020 (for Spring 2021 students). For detailed information about this two-stage process, visit the IRCC website.

Note that an approval-in-principle from IRCC is not a guarantee that your study permit application will receive full approval. The final decision regarding your eligibility for a study permit and admissibility to Canada will be made by the immigration officer processing your application, after all the necessary documents have been submitted for your application.

Post-Graduation work permit eligibility for students who begin studies online

On February 12, 2021, the Canadian government announced expanded flexibility on post-graduation work permit eligibility for students studying remotely from outside Canada.

According to the IRCC website:

  • students may complete their entire program from abroad and still maintain eligibility for a post-graduation work permit
  • remote studies completed outside Canada through December 31, 2021 will count toward the length of the post-graduation work permit

This will apply to students who:

  • have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • have started or will start a program between Spring 2020 and Fall 2021, and
    • hold a valid study permit, or
    • have been approved for a study permit, or
    • applied for a study permit before starting your study program (provided the application is eventually approved)

For details, visit the IRCC website.

Updated February 12, 2021 — Return to top

I have already started my SFU studies online but now my study permit application has been refused. What can I do?

Please email an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist at intl_advising@sfu.ca for assistance. We may be able to provide you with some guidance on how to strengthen your next application, should you wish to apply again. Alternatively, you may hire an authorized representative such as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant or lawyer to help you. 

You may continue your online studies from outside Canada if you wish, since a study permit is not required for anyone who is not physically in Canada. However, you will require a study permit for all in-Canada components to your program. 

Updated December 7, 2020 — Return to top

If you prefer to withdraw from studies until you can be approved for a study permit, please refer to SFU's deadlines for withdrawal and refunds:

I am an international student living in Canada and transferring to SFU.  My study permit is expiring soon. Can I apply to extend my study permit from within Canada?

If you are transferring to SFU from another Canadian post-secondary institution you must submit your study permit extension application before your study permit expires in order to begin your studies at SFU. As long as you do this you are allowed to remain in Canada and continue studying until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your study permit extension application under maintained status (formerly known as implied status).  

If you plan to work on or off campus during your studies at SFU and you were not previously authorized to do so you must apply to change the conditions of your study permit to have the appropriate work authorization remarks added. To review IRCC’s work eligibility requirements for study permit holders please visit the IRCC website

Note that if you are holding a valid study permit and are transferring to SFU from another Canadian post-secondary institution, you are required to notify IRCC by completing the online designated learning institution (DLI) transfer.  For instructions on how to complete this process please visit the IRCC website.  

Updated April 9, 2021 — Return to top

How to extend your permit

For instructions on how to extend your study permit or to change the conditions of your study permit please visit the ISS website

If you have questions, you can contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist.

I am transferring to SFU from another post-secondary institution in Canada and my study permit was approved based on my previous institution. What do I need to do to update it?

The steps you need to take will depend on where you are, and whether you are holding a valid study permit or a study permit approval letter. Please follow the instructions below:

IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY HOLDING A VALID STUDY PERMIT:

You must notify Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada of the change to your school 

If your study permit will expire soon and you are:

  • in Canada (or you will return to Canada before the expiry date of your study permit): 
    Apply to extend your study permit from inside Canada before it expires. Make sure to include your SFU Letter of Acceptance (as well as your SFU Confirmation of Enrollment letter, if you have enrolled in classes for the upcoming term) with your application.
  • outside Canada: 
    It is not possible to extend a study permit from outside Canada. If you will not return to Canada before the expiry date of your current permit, you must apply for a new (initial) study permit from outside Canada and wait for approval before travelling back to Canada. Make sure to include your SFU Letter of Acceptance (as well as your SFU Confirmation of Enrollment letter, if you have enrolled in classes for the upcoming term) with your application.

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE CANADA WITH A STUDY PERMIT APPLICATION IN PROCESS OR APPROVED:

IRCC recently issued updated instructions for students who change schools after applying for a study permit. If you have applied for a study permit from outside Canada using a letter of acceptance or enrollment from FIC and

  • your application has not been approved yet: 
    Please submit your SFU letter of acceptance (as well as your Confirmation of Enrollment letter, if you have enrolled in classes for the upcoming term) to IRCC via the web form as soon as possible, and request that your application be updated with this information.
  • your application has already been approved and you are holding a letter of introduction (POE letter) from IRCC: 
    If you did not provide a letter of acceptance or enrollment from SFU with your application, as per the updated guidelines provided by IRCC you will need to submit a new study permit application with these items and wait for final approval and a new letter of introduction before you travel to Canada.

Updated May 3, 2021  — Return to top

I am an international student who attended high school in Canada and will join SFU in an upcoming term. Should I apply for a new study permit?

If you are joining SFU from a Canadian high school, you are not required to apply for a new study permit, provided that your current study permit remains valid. However, if your study permit will expire soon, please ensure that you submit an application to extend your study permit within Canada before its expiry date. As long as you apply to extend your study permit before it expires, you can continue to remain in Canada and start your studies at SFU under maintained status (formerly known as implied status) while waiting for a decision to be made on your application. 

If you plan to work on or off campus during your studies at SFU, you must apply to change the conditions of your study permit to have the proper work authorization imposed. You can’t start working until your study permit has been issued with the appropriate work authorization and you must meet other eligibility requirements.

Keep in mind that you can only extend your study permit from inside Canada. If you are outside Canada and will not return until after your current study permit expires, you will need to apply for a new (initial) study permit and wait for approval before travelling to Canada.

Updated June 2, 2021   — Return to top

Where can I find information on processing times for immigration applications (e.g. study permit, temporary resident visa, work permit)?

You can find information about estimated processing times on the IRCC website. However, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, many of the posted processing times are no longer accurate. If there is a delay in submitting the necessary documents to finalize your application, there may be an increase in the processing time.

According to IRCC, students outside Canada who submitted a complete study permit application by May 15, 2021 should have received a final decision by August 6, 2021. However, processing delays may still occur if you were unable to submit a complete application due to COVID-19 restrictions such as reduced services at visa application centres (VACs) or other providers.

Applications submitted after May 15 will be processed as quickly as possible, but may or may not receive a final decision before the Fall term begins.

Updated August 19, 2021 — Return to top

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit extension application but have not been able to do so. What should I do?

On July 15, 2020, IRCC announced a temporary public policy exempting temporary residence applicants in Canada from the requirement to give biometrics. This means that if you are in Canada applying for a study permit extension or a work permit, you do not need to give biometrics in order for your application to be processed. This applies to new applications as well as applications that are already in progress. For details on the exemption, visit the IRCC website.

Please note that although Service Canada is gradually reactivating biometrics collection services in Service Canada offices, the biometrics exemption for temporary residence applicants in Canada remains in effect at this time.

Under normal circumstances you are required to provide biometrics if you have not done so for an application to come to Canada in the past 10 years (unless exempted). Please note that this is still required if you are applying outside Canada. For more information visit the IRCC website. You can also use IRCC's Check Status Tool to see if you already have valid biometrics on file. 

Please ensure that you submit an application to extend your study permit before your current study permit expires. If you do this you will be able to remain in Canada and continue studying under maintained status (formerly known as implied status) until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your application, even if your study permit expires while you await processing.

Updated April 9 2021 — Return to top

If you are in Canada applying for a study permit extension or a work permit, you do not need to give biometrics in order for your application to be processed.

This applies to new applications as well as applications that are already in progress. For details on the exemption, visit the IRCC website.

Can I go to the border to apply for my study permit at the port of entry?

You may apply for a study permit upon your arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry (e.g. your airport of arrival or land crossing into Canada) if you are:

  • a citizen or permanent resident of the United States,
  • a resident of Greenland, or
  • a resident of St. Pierre and Miquelon

Please ensure that you will have all the supporting documents required to apply for a study permit at the port of entry. Please note that there is no guarantee of approval as the border services officer will make the final decision and determine if you will be eligible to enter Canada as a student. For more information about applying for a study permit at the port of entry, visit IRCC's website.

Updated October 22, 2020 — Return to top

Apply for a study permit online

It is strongly recommended that you apply for a study permit online before travelling to Canada. In general, it is not advisable to apply for a study permit at the port of entry at this time. 

Further easing of border measures

As of September 7, 2021, the Government has opened Canada's borders for discretionary travel by fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific requirements.

Read more:

Will my ability to enter or return to Canada be impacted by the current travel restrictions?

To manage the outbreak of COVID-19, Canada has implemented travel restrictions to stop non-essential travel to Canada by most foreign nationals, with a few exemptions.  For more information about the travel restrictions and exemptions, please visit IRCC’s website.

Determine your eligibility

You may also use the Government of Canada's online assessment tool to help you determine whether you are eligible to enter Canada at this time.

TRAVEL EXEMPTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

As an international student, you must meet the following requirements to travel to Canada:

  1. Must be attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan (e.g. SFU), AND
  2. One of the following must apply to you:
    • you hold a valid study permit, or
    • you have a valid letter of introduction from IRCC showing that your study permit application was approved (note: an approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel)

International students who meet the above requirements will normally be considered to be travelling for a non-optional/non-discretionary purpose. As per the IRCC website, if your program has been cancelled or suspended, or if you are entering Canada for any reason other than studies, your travel won't be considered non-discretionary and you may not be allowed to enter.

A Border Services Officer will make the final decision on whether you are eligible to enter Canada. 

Please do not make plans to travel to Canada until you are sure you meet all requirements for entry, including final approval of your study permit application or a valid study permit, and a valid temporary resident visa or eTA if required.

Please see "What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?" for guidance on how to demonstrate eligibility to enter Canada.

Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the current travel restrictions may be extended and/or changed. Due to the fluidity of the pandemic, we strongly recommend that you closely monitor these in preparation for travel to Canada.

Updated February 24, 2021 — Return to top

Exceptions:


Fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific criteria 
may also enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose. For details on exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers including a full list of requirements, see COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada.

Immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may also enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, provided they will stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Visit the IRCC website for details.

What are the vaccination requirements for entry to Canada? Do I need to be vaccinated before I can travel?

As the rules around travel and entry to Canada continue to evolve and may change without notice, please refer to the Government of Canada website for the most up-to-date information on travel requirements.

Travellers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and who meet specific criteria are exempt from certain quarantine and post-arrival testing requirements. However, vaccination is not required in order to legally enter Canada, for travellers who meet another exemption to the current travel restrictions (such as the exemption for international students) and are travelling for a non-discretionary purpose. 

As of September 7, 2021, all fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific entry requirements may enter Canada for a discretionary (non-essential) reason. Visit the Government of Canada website for detailed information on the requirements to qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller.

Travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated based on the Government of Canada's definition will still be prohibited from entering Canada for non-essential reasons.

As an international student, if you are entering Canada to study at an approved institution (including SFU), your travel is considered essential (non-discretionary) and vaccination is not required for entry; however, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated international students will be subject to quarantine and post-arrival testing requirements.

Updated September 22, 2021 — Return to top

If I meet the travel exemptions and plan to come to Canada, what should I do to prepare for my arrival? 

In addition to meeting the travel exemptions, you must also meet the health requirements for all international travellers to Canada. You can find updated information on preparing for travel on the Government of Canada website. The following checklist provided by the federal government may help to guide you through the requirements:

Step-by-step guidance for SFU students is also available in our Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide.

Jump to section

Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test

All travellers five years of age or older are required to take a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours before the scheduled departure of your last direct flight to Canada or entry at a land border (note: if you will be travelling to Canada from India or Morocco, please see specific testing requirements noted below). Documentation of a negative test result must be presented in order to board a flight or enter Canada, with limited exceptions. If you are arriving by land, your test must be taken in the United States.

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you may provide proof of a positive result for a test conducted between 14 and 180 days prior to your entry to Canada or your scheduled flight.

You can find complete information about testing requirements and available facilities on the Government of Canada website.

Please keep in mind that your negative test result does not exempt you from the quarantine requirement. You will still be required to have a suitable 14-day quarantine plan in place upon arrival in Canada.

Testing requirements for students travelling from India:

For travellers coming to Canada from India, the pre-departure testing requirements will depend on whether you are travelling via a direct or indirect route.

If you are flying directly to Canada from India, you must have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure of your direct flight to Canada. 

If you are travelling from India to Canada via an indirect route, your test must be taken in a third country (i.e. your transit country) within 72 hours of the scheduled departure of your last direct flight to Canada.

Testing requirements for students travelling from Morocco:

For travellers coming to Canada from Morocco, the pre-departure testing requirements will depend on whether you are travelling via a direct or indirect route.

If you are flying directly to Canada from Morocco, you must have one of the following:

  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular pre-departure test result documented in the Moroccan COVID-19 PCR Test Certificate issued by the Government of Morocco and recognized by the European Commission, taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure; OR
  • Proof of a previous positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days before departure to Canada in lieu of a negative test. Travellers who have been in Morocco more than 14 days and have been infected while in Morocco, must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test documented in the Moroccan COVID-19 PCR Test Certificate issued by the Government of Morocco. Travellers who were infected prior to arrival in Morocco must provide proof of previous infection from another country prior to their arrival.

Prior to boarding, the airline will authenticate your Moroccan COVID-19 PCR Test Certificates by scanning the digital QR codes to confirm your identity and test result. They will also ensure that you are eligible to come to Canada, have uploaded your information into the ArriveCAN mobile app or website, and have a mask to wear during travel. Travellers who are unable to meet these requirements will be denied boarding.

If you are travelling from Morocco to Canada via an indirect route, your test must be taken in a third country (i.e. your transit country) within 72 hours of the scheduled departure of your last direct flight to Canada.

Arrange your 14-day quarantine plan

When you arrive in Canada, you will go through a health screening check before you are allowed to leave the port of entry (e.g. airport). For travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated, this screening will include a COVID-19 test. Fully vaccinated travellers will only require a COVID-19 test if randomly selected. Please follow the instructions you are given upon entry.

Travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated are required by law to self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days even if you have no COVID-19 related symptoms.

Fully vaccinated travellers who meet certain criteria may be exempt from the requirement to quarantine. However, all travellers (regardless of vaccination status) are still required to have a suitable 14-day quarantine plan, in case you do not meet the exemption or are symptomatic on arrival. Visit the Government of Canada website for details.

For more information on preparing your quarantine plan, visit our Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide. If you need assistance with your quarantine plan, please email cares@sfu.ca

Pre-register for COVID-19 Arrivals Testing, if required

To expedite your arrival process, you should also pre-register for arrivals testing (if required) at your airport of arrival in Canada:

As of August 9, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers who qualify for entry to Canada do not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test. If this applies to you, you will be notified upon arrival at the port of entry. If you are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, a Day 1 test will still be required.

Submit your information to the Canadian government via ArriveCAN

All travellers to Canada must submit required information through ArriveCAN before travelling to Canada. Your ArriveCAN submission will include:

After submitting your information via ArriveCAN you will be given a receipt: please save this as you will need to show it upon arrival at the port of entry to Canada, and to board your flight (if applicable).

Travellers who do not qualify for the fully vaccinated exemption will also be required to submit information after arrival using ArriveCAN, including reporting your arrival at your place of quarantine and daily symptom self-assessments. See What should I expect when I first arrive in Canada given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? as well as our Self-Isolation Guide for details.

Register your plan with SFU, and get support

If you will be travelling from outside Canada, you must also register your travel/self-isolation plan with SFU as early as possible. 

SFU has plans in place to support the safe return of international students, including an online Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide, that meets provincial and federal requirements and have been reviewed by the Province of British Columbia. For detailed information about self-isolation including information on available supports for SFU students who need to self-isolate, please review our Self-Isolation Guide

You may also contact cares@sfu.ca for support during quarantine or self-isolation. 

Non-medical masks or face coverings required during travel

All international air travellers must use non-medical masks or face coverings to cover their mouth and nose during travel. This is mandatory, with few exceptions.

For all other modes of travel (such as land or marine modes), the operator may require you to wear a mask or face covering. Please ensure you carry one with you. A mask or face covering will be required if you plan to take public transportation upon arrival in Vancouver.

Review additional information

For more information on SFU's COVID-19 readiness plans and protocols, please review the following resources:

Updated September 22, 2021 — Return to top

Register your travel plan with SFU

Students travelling or returning to Canada should register their plan with SFU as early as possible.

Register your plan now

Get self-isolation support with SFU CARES

The CARES program will provide you with a safe and supportive environment, meet necessary Public Health self-isolation guidelines, and help you to feel part of and connected to our community.

CARES information and registration

If I get vaccinated in my home country, will I be exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement?

As of July 5 at 12:01AM ET, fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific criteria may be exempt from the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. Please visit the Government of Canada website for detailed information on eligibility criteria for this exemption, including a list of acceptable vaccines.

Note that all travellers regardless of vaccination status are still required to have a suitable 14-day quarantine plan upon arrival.

As requirements may change without notice, please refer to the Government of Canada website for the most up-to-date information.

Updated July 8, 2021 — Return to top

What should I expect when I first arrive in Canada given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

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At the port of entry

Upon arrival at the port of entry (e.g. airport or land border crossing) to Canada, you will go through a health screening check. For travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated, this screening will include a COVID-19 test. Fully vaccinated travellers will only require a COVID-19 test if randomly selected. Please follow the instructions you are given upon entry.

A border services officer will also assess your eligibility to enter Canada under the current travel restrictions and make a final decision on whether to allow entry.

A government official at the port of entry will also make a determination on your eligibility for the quarantine and testing exemption for fully vaccinated travellers, if applicable.

If you are allowed to enter Canada and are not exempt from quarantine and testing requirements, you may then proceed to your place of quarantine. You will also be given instructions on taking another COVID-19 test on day 8 of your 14-day quarantine period, if required. 

Fully vaccinated travellers who meet certain criteria may be exempt from the Day 8 test as well as the 14-day quarantine requirement. Please visit the Government of Canada website for more information including detailed criteria for the exemption. A final determination regarding quarantine and testing exemptions will be made by a government official at the port of entry. If you are seeking this exemption, please follow the instructions given to you upon arrival.

For more information about what to expect at the Canadian port of entry (airport or land border crossing), please visit the CBSA website. You can also find some general arrival information on our International Student Advising and Programs website.

Submitting information via ArriveCAN after arrival 

After arriving in Canada, travellers who do not qualify for the fully vaccinated exemption must:

  • report your arrival at your place of quarantine or isolation within 48 hours of entering Canada using ArriveCAN or by calling 1-833-641-0343, and 
  • complete and submit a daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessment during your quarantine period using one of the above methods (ArriveCAN or phone)
  • Answer any calls from 1-855-906-5585 and answer all questions truthfullly -- government officials may call you from this number to ensure you are complying with your mandatory quarantine
    • You may also receive a visit from a designated screening officer to confirm your compliance

If you are exempt from having to quarantine, you do not need to submit post-arrival information via ArriveCAN.

Completing your post-arrival COVID-19 test and ending your quarantine

Near the end of your 14-day quarantine period you must undergo another COVID-19 test, following the instructions you were given at the port of entry. You will be responsible for covering any associated costs for this test.

You must continue to quarantine until you get a negative test result and until the 14-day period has concluded. If you test positive, you will need to isolate for an additional 14 days starting from when the test was taken and will need to contact your local public health authority for guidance. 

For more information, see the Government of Canada website on testing to end your quarantine.

SFU Self-Isolation Guide

For detailed information about self-isolation, including information on available supports for SFU students who need to self-isolate, please review our Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide.

Updated August 19, 2021 — Return to top

What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?

General information can be found on the IRCC website. You should always carry your SFU Letter of Acceptance and/or Confirmation of Enrollment letter for entry to Canada.

All international students must carry supporting documents to demonstrate that they meet the travel exemptions and their purpose of travel is non-optional. These documents include but are not limited to:

Please note that the documents you use for travel should be as current as possible. For example, your Confirmation of Enrollment letter should be for the current or upcoming term -- not for a past term.

Depending on your country of citizenship, you may require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) in addition to your study permit in order to travel to Canada. For more information, please visit the IRCC website

To assess if your purpose of travel is non-discretionary, border services officers will consider factors such as the reasons for your travel and your ability to complete a 14-day quarantine period if required, in addition to those listed above. The assessment will depend on your individual circumstances, and thus the above list of documents is not exhaustive.

You may contact the Border Information Service for more information about travel restrictions and exemptions for international students. 

Be prepared to demonstrate that you are exempt from the travel restrictions and are travelling for an essential purpose both at the airport in your departure country and when entering Canada.

For more information about what to expect at the Canadian port of entry (airport or land border crossing), please visit the CBSA website. You can also find some general arrival information on our International Student Advising and Programs website.

Updated August 5, 2021 — Return to top

Exception:

Immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, provided they will stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Do I need a support letter from SFU to travel to Canada?

Under the current travel restrictions, a travel support letter from SFU is not required to enter Canada. However, you should be prepared to demonstrate your enrollment at SFU to show you meet the requirements for entry as an international student. Your official Confirmation of Enrollment letter from goSFU (showing your enrollment in classes for the current or upcoming term) is sufficient for this purpose.

For more information on documents required for travel, please see What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?

If the airline you are travelling with requires additional documents to allow you to board your flight toCanada, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for advice.

Updated August 5, 2021 — Return to top

Can my family members travel with me to Canada? 

Immediate family members (e.g. spouse/common-law partner, dependent children) may be able to come with you to Canada, provided that they have the proper immigration documents and a non-discretionary travel purpose. Generally speaking, family members who are seeking to accompany and support you during your studies in Canada will be considered as travelling for a non-discretionary purpose. For more information on how your accompanying family members may travel to Canada, please visit IRCC's website

Depending on their country of citizenship, your family members may also require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada. 

Most non-essential travel to Canada (such as travel for the purpose of tourism or a short-term visit) is not permitted under the current travel restrictions.

As of September 7, 2021 at 12:01AM ET, fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific criteria are permitted to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) travel. Entry to Canada remains prohibited for all other foreign nationals, unless they are already exempt from the current travel restrictions and are travelling for an essential purpose.

For more information, visit the Government of Canada website for COVID-19 vaccinated travellers.

Updated September 22, 2021 — Return to top

What about transportation services from the airport?

If you are required to quarantine when arriving in Vancouver, remember that you must go directly to your self-isolation location. The self-isolation report that you submit upon arrival to Canada must include information on how you will reach your accommodation. There are multiple transportation options that you can use to get to your accommodations. Wearing a mask or face covering will be required during transportation. Use private transportation to get to your place of quarantine, if possible. Visit SFU’s Leaving the Airport page for more information about your transportation options.

Note that travelers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 after arriving in Canada are not permitted to use public transportation (bus, train, taxi, or ride-sharing service) to travel to their place of isolation. If you have symptoms that may be due to COVID-19, you are only allowed to take private transportation (e.g. a personal vehicle) to get to your place of isolation. More information can be found on the Vancouver International Airport website.

Updated August 19, 2021 — Return to top

I have received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in my home country. Can I receive the second dose in Canada?

Please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website for guidance.

Updated September 3, 2021 — Return to top

I may not be able to get vaccinated in my home country. Will I be eligible to receive a COVID vaccine in Canada? What about my accompanying family members?

Everyone in British Columbia is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of their immigration status. For more information, visit the Immunize BC website.

For details on vaccination for students arriving from outside BC, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Updated September 3, 2021 — Return to top

For more information on COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and support:

SFU Health and Counselling Services COVID-19 website

I heard I will need proof of vaccination and a BC vaccine card to access certain businesses, events and services in BC. How can I get a vaccine card if I received one or both doses outside Canada?

By order of the Public Health Officer, proof of vaccination will be required to access some events, services and businesses in British Columbia. Starting September 13, you must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. By October 24, you must be fully vaccinated. For more details on this requirement, visit the Government of BC's website.

For information on obtaining a BC Vaccine Card if you were vaccinated for COVID-19 outside Canada, see How do I get the BC Vaccine Card if I was vaccinated in another country? on the SFU Student Support and Resources website.

Updated September 3, 2021 — Return to top

For information about proof of vaccination at SFU:

SFU Return to Campus FAQs

What are the vaccination requirements for travel within Canada, or to board a flight leaving Canada?

Starting October 30, travellers departing from Canadian airports, and travellers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel. 

This requirement will apply to travellers age 12 and over who are:

  • Flying on domestic, transborder or international flights departing from airports in Canada (Note: this may include connecting flights within Canada)
  • Rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains
  • Marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels, such as cruise ships, on voyages of 24 hours or more

There will be a short transition period allowing travellers who are still in the process of being vaccinated to travel with proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel. However, as of November 30 proof of full vaccination will be required for all travellers.

For more information on these upcoming changes, please refer to the Transport Canada backgrounder as well as the Government of Canada's COVID-19: Boarding flights, trains and cruise ships in Canada website.

We will continue to update this page as more details are made available closer to the implementation dates. In the meantime, we recommend that you monitor the above links for updates, and plan your travel accordingly.

Updated October 26, 2021 — Return to top

I am a current SFU international student who is outside of Canada.  Can I still travel to Canada?

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented a set of travel restrictions.  You may be able to return to Canada if you meet one of the exemptions to the travel restrictions. 

For more information, please see:

Note that depending on your country of citizenship you may require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) in addition to your study or work permit in order to travel to Canada. For more information please visit the IRCC website.

The most up-to-date information concerning travel restrictions to Canada can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Updated July 28, 2020 — Return to top

Travel restrictions to Canada

The most up-to-date information can be found on the Government of Canada website.

I am a current SFU student in Canada and my study permit is expiring soon.  Can I still apply to extend my study permit from inside Canada?

If you are remaining in Canada you must maintain valid immigration status at all times. You are required to submit an application to extend your study permit before it expires in order to remain in Canada as a student and continue studying at SFU. As long as you apply to extend your study permit before it expires you can remain in Canada and continue studying (and working, if eligible) under maintained status (formerly known as implied status) until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your application, even if your study permit expires while you await processing.

On July 15, 2020, IRCC announced a temporary exemption from the biometrics requirement for applicants in Canada. This means that effective immediately, if you are applying from within Canada, you do not need to give biometrics in order for your extension application to be processed. This applies to new applications as well as applications that are already in progress. For details on the biometrics exemption during COVID-19, visit the IRCC website.

Updated April 9, 2021 — Return to top

Extend your study permit
For instructions on how to extend your study permit please visit the ISS website

If you have questions, you can contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist.

I am a current SFU student who is studying remotely from outside Canada and my study permit will expire soon.  Can I apply to extend it from outside Canada?

Extension of a study permit is an in-Canada process only, so it is not possible to extend your study permit from outside Canada. Instead, if you will not return to Canada before your study permit expires you must apply for a new (initial) study permit which will be processed by the visa office responsible for your region. Click here for information on the study permit application process outside Canada.

As a current student, you should include your current Confirmation of Enrollment letter from goSFU as a supporting document for your study permit application.

Updated March 5, 2021 — Return to top

I need to extend my study permit but my passport is about to expire and I can't obtain a new one in time. What should I do?

You must submit an application to extend your study permit before it expires in order to maintain valid legal status in Canada, even if this means applying with a passport that is also about to expire. Although your study permit cannot be extended beyond your passport expiry date, submitting an extension application within Canada will allow you to benefit from maintained status (formerly known as implied status) while you await processing, which means you can remain in Canada and continue studying (and working, if eligible) until you receive a decision. It may take a few months to process your study permit extension application, which will give you some extra time to obtain a new passport in the interim.

If you are submitting your extension application with a passport that is about to expire, you should include:

  • an explanation detailing the following:
    • why you have not been able to renew your passport
    • when you are expecting to receive it (if known)
    • state your intention to provide a copy of the new passport to IRCC when you receive it, and ask that the processing officer contact you in the event you have not submitted your new passport by the time your extension application is being processed
  • any documents that could serve as evidence of your inability to renew your passport at this time (such as correspondence you have received from your home country regarding suspension of services, embassy closures etc.)

When you receive your new passport, immediately submit it to IRCC via their web form and request that it be attached to your study permit extension application.

Updated April 9, 2021 — Return to top

I am a current SFU student in Canada and my study permit has already expired. What should I do?

If you applied to extend your study permit before it expired

As long as you applied to extend your study permit before it expired you can remain in Canada and continue studying (and working, if eligible) under maintained status (formerly known as implied status) until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your application, even if your study permit has expired while you await processing.

If you did not apply to extend your study permit before it expired

If your study permit has expired or become invalid and you did not apply to extend it before the expiry date, you must apply to restore your status in Canada. Normally an application for restoration must be submitted within 90 days after you lost legal status; however, under IRCC's temporary public policy in response to COVID-19, individuals whose status expired after January 30, 2020 are not subject to this 90-day limit and can apply for restoration until August 31, 2021. Despite this, if your study permit has expired and you wish to remain in Canada we recommend that you apply for restoration as soon as possible. 

To apply for restoration, you must pay an additional fee and provide an explanation. You are also not permitted to study or work in Canada until the application is approved. Please review our website for information on the process.

Students in Canada who are applying for restoration of status are currently exempt from providing biometrics under IRCC's temporary public policy for in-Canada applicants.

Updated April 9, 2021 — Return to top

As a study permit holder, can I enroll part time or take the term off? If so, will that impact my study permit, work eligibility, and/or my eligibility for a post-graduation work permit?

Although IRCC introduced flexibility on enrollment requirements for on-/off-campus work eligibility as well as post-graduation work permit eligibility for students who were forced to drop to part-time enrollment or take time off in Spring or Summer 2020, they have not extended this flexibility beyond Summer 2020. As of Fall 2020, the enrollment requirements for study permit compliance, on- and off-campus work eligibility, and post-graduation work permit eligibility have returned to normal.

Please see our Enrollment Requirements for International Students website for information on the immigration implications of different enrollment decisions, including:

Updated July 8, 2021 — Return to top

Work Permits

International students who wish to work on or off campus in Canada, and those who would like to maintain post-graduation work permit eligibility, should enroll full time in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.

Does COVID-19 impact my eligibility to work in Canada?

In order to work on or off campus in Canada you will need to ensure that you meet IRCC’s requirements for working on and/or off campus.

To pursue an SFU Co-op work term or SFU-approved internship, you will require a valid co-op work permit in addition to your study permit.  

  • In response to COVID-19, IRCC has announced a temporary measure allowing students who are in Canada and have applied for a co-op work permit to begin their co-op or internship work placement using the on- or off-campus work authorization provided by their study permit, provided they meet the eligibility requirements to work on and/or off campus. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Updated March 5, 2021 — Return to top

* Expired Policy - August 31: Restriction to off-campus work hours temporarily removed for essential service work

From April 22-August 31, 2020 IRCC implemented a temporary policy removing the 20 hour/week restriction for international students who are working in an essential service or function off campus during a regular academic session. Click here for archived information on this topic.

Do you have questions about eligibility requirements to work?
If you have questions concerning the eligibility requirements to work in Canada as an international student please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist

Since SFU is delivering courses online, will taking distance learning courses online adversely impact my eligibility for the post-graduation work permit?

IRCC has confirmed that courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID- 19 will not impact eligibility under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program for students in Canada.

If you are currently outside Canada and holding a valid study permit, studying from outside Canada will also not impact your post-graduation work permit eligibility provided you meet all other post-graduation work permit eligibility criteria. Under IRCC's current facilitative measures, time spent studying outside Canada through December 31, 2021 will also be counted when calculating the length of your post-graduation work permit (normally only your studies in Canada count towards this calculation).

For more information, visit the IRCC website.

Updated February 17, 2021 — Return to top

I have submitted an application within Canada. How can I reach IRCC with questions?

IRCC's Client Support Centre has resumed regular hours of operation, although call volumes are high and technical difficulties may occur, which could make reaching an agent more challenging than usual. You may still access pre-recorded information and check application status using the automated phone services via the Client Support Centre. 

Tips when contacting the IRCC Client Support Centre by phone

  • Navigate through the automated system by pressing 3-4-1-0 to speak to an agent
  • Agents are available 8am-4pm local time. Calling early in the morning may help to reduce wait times
  • You may need to make several consecutive attempts in order to be placed in the queue to speak with an agent -- if the lines are very busy you might not be placed in the queue on your first try
  • Once you are in the queue, be prepared to wait on hold for some time
  • Take detailed notes of the conversation, including the name and agent number of the person you speak with and the advice you receive, for your records

Updated September 16, 2020 — Return to top

Contact IRCC for case-specific enquiries

You may also continue to contact IRCC using their online web form for case-specific enquiries.

My SIN is already expired and my study permit has just been extended. How can I apply to renew my SIN? 

You must have a valid study permit or work permit to apply for a SIN. For more information about how to apply for a SIN, please visit the Service Canada website. You can also refer to the SIN handout on our Instruction Guides page for guidance.

Please note that you may continue to work with an expired SIN while holding maintained status (e.g. you applied to extend your study permit or work permit prior to its expiry date and you are waiting for a decision from IRCC on your application).

Updated April 9, 2021 — Return to top

I am a current international student who has been accepted into SFU Co-op but I'm outside Canada right now. Can I apply for a co-op work permit from outside Canada?

If you are outside Canada and need to apply for a co-op work permit, please contact an International Student Advisor to discuss your options. Depending on your individual circumstances and plans, you might need to wait until you have returned and apply from within Canada, or apply for a new study permit and co-op work permit from outside Canada, or there may be other options to consider. An International Student Advisor can help you make an informed decision on how to proceed.

Updated September 25, 2020 — Return to top

Can I go to the border (flagpole) to apply for a work permit (e.g. co-op work permit, post-graduation work permit)?

In general, we strongly advise against applying for a work permit at the port of entry via flagpoling. If you would like to further discuss your options on how to apply for a work permit, please contact an International Student Advisor.

Updated April 19 2021 — Return to top

ARCHIVED QUESTIONS

The questions below are no longer being updated and represent advice that was given in previous terms. They are included here for your reference.

Does COVID-19 impact my eligibility to work in Canada? (Summer 2020)

In order to work on or off campus in Canada you will need to ensure that you meet IRCC’s requirements for working on and/or off campus. If you are currently pursuing a co-op work term you will require a valid co-op work permit in addition to your study permit.  

IRCC has now officially confirmed that international students who were eligible to work on or off campus can continue working even if they have been forced to drop to part-time studies or take a break in studies due to COVID-19 in Spring and Summer 2020 (note: this has not been confirmed for Fall 2020. Click here for Fall 2020 information). Keep in mind that you will still be subject to the authorized number of work hours you would have been permitted had you been a full-time student*.

You must have met the eligibility requirements to work on and/or off campus immediately before COVID-19 impacted your enrollment in order to maintain your work eligibility under the above exception.

You will also be required to provide documentation of the impacts of COVID-19 on your studies in future applications to IRCC. Please retain all documents related to this, including any correspondence from SFU, as you will need them later. In addition, you will need a letter of support from SFU if IRCC asks you for more information when processing a future application. We are aware of this requirement and are working with the relevant units at SFU to ensure this letter will be made available to students who need it. We will share more information on how to access a supporting letter once details are confirmed.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

You may work full time in Summer 2020 if:

  • you were enrolled full time in the Spring 2020 term (even if you were forced to drop to part-time studies or withdraw due to COVID-19), AND
  • you will enroll full time in Fall 2020

GRADUATE STUDENTS

You may work off campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week* and/or work full time on campus in Summer 2020 if:

  • you are on a compassionate leave for Summer 2020 due to COVID-19, AND 
  • you were enrolled full time in Spring 2020 (even if you were forced to drop to part-time studies or withdraw due to COVID-19)

You may work full time in Summer 2020 if:

  • you have been approved for an Academic Break for Summer 2020, AND
  • you were enrolled full time in Spring 2020 (even if you were forced to drop to part-time studies or withdraw due to COVID-19), AND
  • you will enroll full time in Fall 2020

The above exception only applies to students whose enrollment was impacted by COVID-19. In all other cases, please review the typical eligibility requirements for working on and/or off campus as a study permit holder on the IRCC website

If you have questions concerning the eligibility requirements to work in Canada as an international student please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist

Updated July 28— Return to top

* Restriction to off-campus work hours temporarily removed for essential service work

On April 22, 2020 IRCC introduced a temporary rule change removing the 20 hour/week restriction for international students who are working in an essential service or function off campus during a regular academic session. International students who are providing an essential service and who are eligible to work off campus are temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours per week effective immediately and until August 31, 2020.  

To see whether your work is considered an essential service or function please visit the Government of Canada website.

Do you have questions about eligibility requirements to work?
If you have questions concerning the eligibility requirements to work in Canada as an international student please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist

As a study permit holder, can I enroll part time or take the term off in Summer 2020? If so, will that impact my study permit, work eligibility, and/or my eligibility for a post-graduation work permit?

Undergraduate students

From an immigration standpoint, an undergraduate student must maintain full-time enrollment in each Spring and Fall term throughout their program of studies at SFU in order to meet the eligibility requirement to apply for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP). As an undergraduate student, your enrollment status in the Summer term should not impact your study permit, work eligibility, or your eligibility to apply for the PGWP upon completion of your studies. 

Graduate students

Graduate students at SFU are normally considered to have an ongoing, full-time relationship with the University. As such, when you need to interrupt your studies, you must apply for a leave of absence as per Graduate General Regulation 1.4.5.  The Summer term is not a regularly scheduled break for most SFU graduate students.

From an immigration perspective, taking a leave of up to 150 days that has been authorized by SFU should not impact study permit compliance. For more information about taking leave from studies, please visit the IRCC website.

If you were forced to drop to part-time enrollment or take a compassionate leave due to COVID-19 in Summer 2020, IRCC has recently announced that this will not impact your eligibility to work on or off campus. See "Does COVID-19 impact my eligibility to work in Canada?" for more details.

We also anticipate that IRCC will take into consideration the impacts of COVID-19 when assessing post-graduation work permit eligibility for students who took a compassionate leave for this reason in Summer 2020. Please make sure to retain all documentation relating to the impacts of COVID-19 on your studies as you will need to include this with your work permit application.

If you have questions about how taking a term off may impact you, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist.

Updated May 6 — Return to top

How can I prove that my SFU courses will be offered in person? Can SFU give me a letter?

Undergraduate students

If you are an international undergraduate student enrolled in a course with in-person components in the Fall 2020 term (September – December) and intend to travel to Canada, you may request an official letter from the Office of the Registrar.

To request a letter, please email reginfo@sfu.ca from your @sfu email address and include the following information:

  1. Your full legal name
  2. SFU student number
  3. Attach a copy of your valid study permit, or your letter of approval from IRCC issued on or before March 18, 2020. If you are legally residing in the United States, please include a copy of your valid study permit or letter of approval. 

If you have questions about travelling to Canada or require support with your self-isolation planning, please visit our COVID-19 FAQs for international students or contact ISS.

Graduate students

If you are an international graduate student enrolled in a face to face course in the Fall 2020 term (September – December) Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies have emailed you a custom letter. If you have not received one, please contact gradstdy@sfu.ca with your student number and what face to face course you are enrolled in.

If you have questions about travelling to Canada or require support with your self-isolation planning, please visit our COVID-19 FAQs for international students or contact ISS.

Updated August 18 , 2020 — Return to top

Do not travel to Canada if you do not meet the travel exemptions. Receipt of a confirmation of enrollment letter from SFU does not guarantee your ability to travel. It is your responsibility to satisfy all entry requirements.  

Will my upcoming travel plan to Canada be impacted by the current travel restrictions? (before October 21, 2020)

On October 2, 2020, the Canadian government announced an update to travel restrictions for international students. Starting October 20, 2020, international students will be permitted to enter Canada if their Designated Learning Institution has been identified by the provincial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan in place. We are aware of this announcement and will update this page with details as they are made available.

Until the new provisions take effect on October 20, the current requirements remain in place. Please do not make any arrangements to travel to Canada at this time if you do not meet the requirements outlined below.

To manage the outbreak of COVID-19, Canada has implemented travel restrictions to stop non-essential travel to Canada by most foreign nationals, with only a few exemptions. For more information about the travel restrictions and exemptions, please visit IRCC’s website

TRAVEL RESTRICTION EXEMPTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

As an international student, you must meet two requirements to travel to Canada:

  1. You must be travelling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose*, AND
  2. One of the following must apply to you:
    • you hold a valid study permit, or
    • you have been approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, or
    • you are travelling directly from the United States

For details on how non-discretionary travel is assessed at the port of entry, visit the IRCC website. You can also review IRCC's program Delivery Instructions to officers on this topic.

Please see "What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?" for some guidance on how to demonstrate eligibility to enter Canada.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAVEL TO CANADA

As of April 20, all international travellers must use non-medical masks or face coverings to cover their mouth and nose during travel. 

When you arrive in Canada, you will go through a health screening check before you are allowed to leave the port of entry (e.g. airports). You are also required by law to self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days even if you have no COVID-19 related symptoms. In addition, all international travelers returning to BC must submit a self-isolation plan for approval prior to their return or upon arrival to BC. For detailed information about self-isolation, including information on accommodations and available supports for SFU students who need to self-isolate, please review our Self-Isolation Guide

Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the current travel restrictions may be extended and/or changed. Due to the fluidity of the pandemic, we strongly recommend that you closely monitor these in preparation for travel to Canada.

* Exception: immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, provided they will stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Updated October 2 — Return to top

What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada? (before Oct 21, 2020)

General information can be found on the IRCC website. You should always carry your SFU Letter of Acceptance and/or Confirmation of Enrollment letter for entry to Canada.

All travellers, including those coming from the United States, must carry supporting documentation to help demonstrate that your purpose of travel is essential (non-discretionary)*, for example:

  • proof that you are already established, residing and studying in Canada
  • evidence that your SFU courses are being offered in person (if applicable)
  • evidence that pursuing your studies online from outside Canada is not possible due to bandwidth limitations or internet restrictions in your home country, if your courses are being offered entirely online
  • proof that you cannot participate in synchronous (live) online courses from your home country due to time zone differences, if you are enrolled in synchronous courses

Officers may also consider other factors in addition to those listed above when making a determination, depending on your individual circumstances, and thus the above list of suggested documents is not exhaustive.

If you are not sure whether your travel may be considered essential or non-discretionary, contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for an opinion prior to travelling (note, however, that a positive response from the CBSA Border Information Service does not constitute pre-approval and is not a guarantee that you will be allowed entry to Canada).

If you are travelling from a country other than the United States, in addition to the above you will also need to demonstrate that you meet one of the exemptions to the travel restrictions, by carrying one of the following:

  • a valid study permit, or
  • a letter of introduction (also known as a study permit approval letter) issued on or before March 18, 2020

Depending on your country of citizenship you may require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) in addition to your study or work permit in order to travel to Canada. For more information please visit the IRCC website.

Be prepared to demonstrate that you are exempt from the travel restrictions and are travelling for an essential purpose both at the airport in your departure country and when entering Canada.

For more information about what to expect at the Canadian port of entry (airport or land border crossing), please visit the CBSA website. You can also find some general arrival information on our International Student Advising and Programs website.

* Exception: immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, provided they will stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Updated September 1, 2020 — Return to top

I have been accepted to SFU for an upcoming term and my courses will be online because of COVID-19. Can I start my program online from my home country? If so, how will that impact my post-graduation work permit eligibility? (before February 12, 2021)

Note: as of February 12, 2021 the information below is no longer current. We have included it here for reference only. Please see the updated version of this question for the current policy.

IRCC has confirmed that students who will remain outside Canada at this time due to travel restrictions or health precautions may begin classes while outside of Canada without any impact on their post-graduation work permit eligibility, if they fall within one of the following categories:

  • they are holding a valid study permit, or
  • they have been approved for a study permit, or
  • they have applied for a study permit prior to starting their program of study in one of the following terms:
    • Spring, Summer or Fall 2020
    • Spring 2021

If the above situations apply to you, you may complete up to 50% of your program from outside of Canada and maintain your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit.

In some cases, you may complete 100% of your program online from outside Canada and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. This will only apply if you are in one of the situations listed above AND you meet both of the following requirements:

  1. your program of study is between 8-12 months in length (note: your total program length includes all course work and any required Co-op, internship or practicum components)
    • Please contact your Department Advisor or Graduate Program Assistant/Graduate Program Coordinator if you would like to confirm the official length of your program (including any mandatory work components)
  2. you start (or started) your program between May 2020 and September 2020 

In addition, the time spent studying online through April 30, 2021 will not be deducted from the length of the post-graduation work permit for students in the above categories, provided that they are eventually approved for a study permit. For full details, please visit the IRCC website.

As a study permit holder, can I enroll part time or take the term off in Summer 2021? If so, will that impact my study permit, work eligibility, and/or post-graduation work permit eligibility?

As of Fall 2020, the enrollment requirements for study permit compliance, on- and off-campus work eligibility, and post-graduation work permit eligibility have returned to normal. Please see our Enrollment Requirements for International Students website for information on the immigration implications of different enrollment decisions, including studying part time and taking a term off.

For some students, the Summer term may meet the definition of a regularly scheduled break. For details and to see if you are eligible for a scheduled break in Summer, visit the Enrollment Requirements website.

Updated March 5, 2021 — Return to top