IMMIGRATION AND TRAVEL FAQ ON COVID-19 FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Last updated: October 22, 2020

October 20, 2020: More details are now available on the updated travel exemptions for international students

Read the amended travel restrictions and exemptions >

Check the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans >

Review the IRCC backgrounder >

Read our FAQ on this topic >

View Frequently Asked Questions for:

Newly Admitted Students

Travelling to Canada

Current Students

Archived Questions (for previous terms)    

General information and updates

Recent updates:

October 21:

- Added more details on the amended October 20 travel restrictions and exemptions for international students

October 2:

- Added information on October 20 travel restriction updates, following announcement from the Government of Canada

September 25:

- Added question on applying for a co-op work permit outside Canada

September 16:

- Edited information on part-time studies/taking a term off in Fall 2020 for clarity

- Updated information on work eligibility for Fall 2020

- Updated IRCC Client Support Centre hours and added tips on contacting IRCC

- Added Archived Questions section for previous term information

September 1:

- Updated information on documents to carry for travel (removed job offer information as this may be context-specific)

View all updates >

NEWLY ADMITTED STUDENTS

I am an international student and have questions regarding my immigration status (eg, 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 (eg, study permit, work permit, visitor). Please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist at International Services for Students (ISS) to discuss your options.

Updated April 22 

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 a 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.  

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.

Updated July 28

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit application but see that 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

Many 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. IRCC has confirmed that biometrics collection has now been automatically extended until the sites in your area reopen. Your application will not be refused or closed if you are unable to meet the biometrics collection deadline. 

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

Updated July 28

I have been accepted to SFU for an upcoming term and my courses will be online because of COVID-19. I’m unable to travel to Canada now - can I start my program online from my home country? If so, how would 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.

On July 14, 2020, IRCC announced a new two-stage study permit approval process, allowing students who are 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 in Fall 2020 with more confidence, provided they apply by September 15. 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

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 into 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 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.

Updated August 26

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 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 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.  

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.

Updated April 22

I am an international high school student living in Canada and will join SFU in September. 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 will submit an application to extend your study permit within Canada before its expiry date. As long as you apply to extend your study permit prior to its expiry date, you can continue to remain in Canada and start your studies at SFU under 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 with 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.

Updated May 14

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, 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.

Updated July 28

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit extension application but see that all in-Canada biometrics appointments are cancelled until further notice. What should I do?

On July 15, 2020, IRCC officially announced a temporary public policy exempting applicants in Canada from the requirement to give biometrics. This means that effective immediately, if you are applying from within Canada, 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.

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 implied status until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your application, even if your study permit expires while you await processing.

Updated July 16

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

You may apply for your study permit application 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.

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

Updated October 22

TRAVELLING TO CANADA

Will my upcoming travel plan to Canada be impacted by the current travel restrictions?

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 for non-discretionary purposes, if they have the proper immigration documents AND their Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) have an approved COVID-19 readiness plan 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

Amended travel exemptions for international students

Effective October 20, 2020, as an international student, you must meet the following requirements to travel to Canada:

  1. Must be travelling for non-optional and non-discretionary purposes,
  2. Must be attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved before you travel to Canada, AND
  3. One of the following must apply to you:
    • you hold a valid study permit, or
    • you have been approved for a study permit

Please note that SFU does have an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place.  International students who meet the above requirements will be considered as travelling for essential purposes and may be able to come to Canada, regardless of the date of issue of their study permit, the Letter of Introduction issued by IRCC, or the country from which they are travelling.  

The Border Services Officer will make the final decision on whether you are eligible to enter Canada. 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 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 based on your citizenship. An approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel. 

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

The current travel restrictions on entries into Canada directly from the United States are in place until November 21, 2020 and for countries outside the United States, the travel restrictions remain in effect until October 31, 2020. 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 21

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

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act.  If you are exempt from the travel restrictions, upon arriving in Canada, you are required to isolate for a period of 14 days even if you have no symptoms related to COVID-19.  More information about the isolation requirement can be found on the Government of Canada website.  

The Government of BC also requires that all international travelers complete a self-isolation plan prior to or upon their arrival. It is strongly recommended that you complete and submit the self-isolation plan online prior to your arrival in BC. Information regarding additional screening measures taken at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) can be found on the YVR website

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.

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 October 21

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 how they meet the travel exemptions and their purpose of travel is non-optional, including but are not limited to:

  • a valid study permit, or a Letter of Introduction confirming that your study permit has been approved by IRCC ("Approval in Principle/stage 1 approval of study permit" is not sufficient for travel) 
  • new students: a valid Letter of Acceptance(offer letter) from SFU 
  • current/returning student: an updated confirmation of enrollment letter from SFU
  • proof of funds available to support you in Canada
  • a credible quarantine plan for a 14-day period upon your arrival in Canada

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, in addition to those listed above when making a determination, depending 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.

* 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 21

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 their purposes for travel are non-discretionary. Generally speaking, family members who are seeking to accompany and support you during your studies in Canada will be considered to travel for non-optional purposes. For more information on how your accompanying family member may travel to Canada, please visit IRCC's website

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

Non-essential travels to Canada (such as tourism, short-term visitors) are still not permitted for the foreseeable future.

Updated on Oct 21

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

In addition to meeting the travel exemptions, you must also meet the health requirements for all international travellers 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

To prepare for your arrrival in Canada, you must submit mandatory self-isolation information in both the federal app (ArriveCAN), and a Provincial BC Self-Isolation Form prior to travel. Failure to submit the ArriveCAN form in advance may result in being denied boarding by the airlines.

If you will be travelling from outside Canada, you must also register your travel/self-isolation plan with SFU a minimum of 10 days prior to your travel to Canada. SFU has plans in place to support the safe return of international students, including an online 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 accommodations and available supports for SFU students who need to self-isolate, please review our Self-Isolation Guide

If you need assistance in putting together your quarantine plan, please contact student_support@sfu.ca

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

Updated October 21

What about transportation services from the airport?

When arriving in Vancouver, remember that you must go directly to your self-isolation location for 14 days. 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 once arriving to Vancouver. 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 October 22

CURRENT STUDENTS

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

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 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.

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.

Updated July 16

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 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 July 28

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 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 newly-announced 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 December 31, 2020. 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 July 17

As a study permit holder, can I enroll part time or take the term off in Fall 2020? 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 confirmed any flexibility for Fall 2020.

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.

We will continue to update this page if any further announcements are made by IRCC.

Updated September 16

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. If you are currently pursuing 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.  

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

* Restriction to off-campus work hours temporarily removed for essential service work - POLICY EXPIRED AUGUST 31

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. This temporary policy expired on August 31. Click here for archived information on this topic.

Updated September 16

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. Visit the IRCC website for more information.

Updated April 22

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. 

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

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

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. In-person services including SIN applications are not available at Service Canada; however, you may apply to renew your SIN either online or by mail. 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 implied 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 July 28

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

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 Advisors.

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 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

* 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.

Updated July 28

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

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. 

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.  

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.

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.  

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

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:

o    you hold a valid study permit, or

o    you have been approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, or

o    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

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