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Impacts of COVID-19 on international students

What it means for the immigration process and for health and hospitalization insurance

For information on all the steps, visit our Immigration page.

Immigration process

Initial Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ) application (updated: 2021-02-16)

CAQ applications must be submitted online (along with payment of applicable fees), and supporting documents must be submitted electronically in Arrima.

When you apply for a CAQ, if you are enrolled in taking distance learning courses from outside of Canada, you must provide, in addition to your offer of admission, a letter (dated and signed) explaining your situation as well as proof of enrolment for the current semester and/or for the upcoming semester (available through monPortail for CAN$8). If you have already finished one or more semesters, please also include your transcript (order through monPortail for CAN$9).

CAQ validity in case of deferred admission

Your CAQ remains valid if you defer your admission for the fall 2020 semester to the winter 2021 semester. In all other cases of deferral, you must apply for a new CAQ.

Initial study permit application (updated: 2021-02-16)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has temporarily modified the study permit application process. Until further notice, you have to apply for your study permit online.

When you apply for a study permit, if you are enrolled in taking distance learning courses from outside of Canada, you must provide, in addition to your offer of admission, a letter (dated and signed) explaining your situation as well as your proof of enrolment for the current semester and/or for the upcoming semester (available through monPortail for CAN$8). If you have already finished one or more semesters, please also include your transcript (order through monPortail for CAN$9).

In addition, IRCC is offering flexibility to applicants who, because of circumstances beyond their control, are unable to provide all documents when they apply. Their application will remain on hold until the missing documents are provided. Because of the current global situation, if you are unable to get certain documents that IRCC is asking for, such as the CAQ, we encourage you to submit a letter (dated and signed with a pen) explaining why certain documents are missing. If you are missing the CAQ, please attach proof that MIFI is processing your temporary selection for studies application (for example, provide a screenshot or proof of payment). 

However, your study permit application cannot be finalized until you submit the missing documents. As soon as you get them, it is very important that you submit them through the IRCC Web form, email them to the Canadian visa office that is processing your application, or, when an IRCC officer asks you to, submit them through your MyCIC online account. 

If what is missing are your biometrics, you should make an appointment as soon as the visa application centres (VACs) open. Even if IRCC’s letter says you have only 30 or 90 days to make an appointment to give your biometrics and even after that time expires, you do not have to contact IRCC because the time limit will be extended automatically.

If you started a program in fall 2020 and you applied for a study permit before September 15, or if you started a program in winter 2021 and you applied for a study permit before December 15, 2020, your study permit application may be processed through IRCC’s 2-stage temporary approval process:

  • You will be notified if you pass the initial approval of eligibility stage. This does not guarantee the final approval of your application.
  • When you are able to meet the biometrics, police certificate and medical exam requirements, your application will be assessed for final approval. 

If you would like to apply for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream (SDS), you must have all of the required documents.

Study permit approval validity in case of deferred admission

If your application is approved and you have received approval from IRCC, deferring your application has no impact on the document’s validity. The important thing is that you enter Canada before the deadline indicated on the IRCC letter of approval. When you enter Canada, it is best to have on hand your most recent letter of admission, proof of enrolment for the current semester (if applicable) - available through monPortail for $8, your CAQ, and recent proof of financial support.

If you receive a new letter of admission while your study permit application is being processed, you must send it to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through this online form.

Study permit renewal (updated: 2020-12-10)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) has set out special measures to offer flexibility to applicants who, because of special circumstances beyond their control, are unable to meet requirements.
 
When you renew your study permit, if you are unable to provide a document that IRCC is asking for (renewed passport, etc.) because of the current global situation with COVID-19, you may submit a letter of explanation instead of the required document. You can do this to avoid submitting an application after your permit expires. The letter (signed and dated with a pen) should explain why you are unable to submit the document, the attempts you have made to get the document, and proof of your efforts. 

As soon as you get the document, submit it to IRCC through the IRCC Web form. Your application should not be refused because of a document that is missing due to the current situation with COVID-19. Instead, IRCC should ask you to provide the document when processing your application. A decision will be made on your application only when the application is found to be in order. However, please note that a study permit cannot be issued until your entire file is complete.

If you have applied to renew your study permit before your current permit expires, you will have implied status, allowing you to stay in Canada and continue with your studies (and work) until a decision is made on your application, even if your study permit expires while your renewal application is being processed. 

Biometrics

As of July 15, 2020, those who have temporary status (a study permit, a work permit, a visitor visa, etc.) or are awaiting restoration of their temporary status and who would like to extend their stay are exempt from giving their biometrics until further notice, if they are in Canada when they apply. This practice is temporary and aims to ensure that pending applications are fully processed and that decisions on applications are given.

Restoration of student status (updated: 2021-01-08)

Students whose status has expired usually have 90 days to apply for restoration of their status.

As an exception and only until August 31, 2021, if it has been more than 90 days since your status expired, you can apply to restore it, if:

  • your previous study permit was valid on or after January 30, 2020
  • your permit expired on or before May 31, 2021
  • you are still in Canada

Post-graduation work permit (updated: 2021-02-19)

To maintain your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP), you must register full-time—for 12 or more credits—for all your semesters, unless it is your last semester. This applies whether you are in Canada or outside of Canada. Being registered part-time may result in having your post-graduation work permit application refused at the end of your program.

Students in Canada 

Your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) will not be affected if, because of the current situation: 

  • Your courses are all now distance-learning courses and you are taking them online because of COVID-19.
  • You have gone from full-time to part-time status in the winter or summer 2020 semesters because the courses offered in your study program meant you could no longer be registered full-time.

If this is your situation, we recommend that you ask your program director for a letter stating that you are unable to be registered full-time or that you are required to take courses remotely. The letter will have to be included with your post-graduation work permit application at the end of your studies.

Students outside of Canada

You will still be eligible for the post-graduation work permit if you started or you intend to start a PGWP-qualifying study program between the summer 2020 semester and the fall 2021 semester and if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You have a valid study permit. 
  • Your study permit application has been approved.
  • You applied for a study permit before starting your program in one of the following semesters: Summer 2020, fall 2020, winter 2021, summer 2021, or fall 2021. Your study permit application will need to be approved at a later date.

In addition, you must meet all other eligibility criteria for the post-graduation work permit. 

If you meet these conditions, you can do 100% of your studies online from outside of Canada. All time spent studying online from outside of Canada between March 2020 and December 31, 2021, will be counted toward how long your post-graduation work permit will be valid. 
 

Further information

Post-graduation work permit – Students completing their program at the end of the fall 2020 semester (updated: 2020-12-18)

To apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you must have met all the requirements of your study program.

To apply for a PGWP, you must, among other things, provide proof of graduation from your program director as well as a transcript that includes your marks from the fall 2020 semester. (The transcript does not have to indicate the degree received.)

These documents will be available after December 31, 2020.

Under the circumstances, if your study permit expires on December 31 2020 because of the measure taken by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) due to the COVID-19 pandemic [French only], which automatically extended some Certificats d’acceptation du Québec [Québec acceptance certificates] (CAQs) to December 31, 2020, we recommend that you submit your PGWP application online before December 31, 2020, and include with your application a letter of explanation [French only] instead of proof of graduation and your transcript. Also, when answering the questions to set up your online application in MyCIC, you will need to answer “Yes” to the question “Do you have an official letter from your school that confirms you have completed your study program, as well as a copy of your final transcript?”

Once you have these documents (proof of graduation and transcript), you will need to send them to IRCC right away using the IRCC Web form so that your PGWP application can be finalized. 

Post-graduation work permit – Temporary option of getting an open work permit after it expires (updated: 2021-02-16)

The Government of Canada has implemented a temporary public policy allowing certain people who have or used to have a post-graduation work permit to get an open work permit that could be valid for up to 18 months if they apply online before July 27, 2021.

To be eligible to apply, you need to meet certain criteria, including the following:

  • You have to have a post-graduation work permit that:
    • expires on or after January 30, 2020 
    • expires within 4 months of submitting your application for an open work permit 
  • You have to have resided in Canada on January 27, 2021, and have been in Canada since then.
  • You have to have a valid temporary status or have applied for restoration of status.

Visit this website to see the other criteria and to learn how to apply for an open work permit under this policy. 

Travelling to the Canada-U.S. border (updated: 2021-02-19)

Under the current circumstances, it is best to apply online for an immigration document.

Going to the border to apply for an immigration document (co-op work permit, post-graduation work permit, etc.) is strongly discouraged. Still, if you do attempt to do this, be sure to plan your trip well and make sure that you have all the necessary documents with you (passport, valid study permit, documents needed to support your application, proof of insurance, quarantine plan, proof of financial support, etc.). Regardless, it is always possible that the document you want will not be issued. Also, you may be subject to COVID-19 testing and/or a mandatory quarantine when you come back into Canada, especially if you or another person in the vehicle has to leave the vehicle when you cross the border.

Entering Canada

Students wanting to enter Canada must find out whether they can be exempt from travel restrictions. Check out the International Students: All you need to know site. It tells you the different steps you need to follow to prepare for your arrival. 

Students travelling to Canada for the first time will have to tell Université Laval about their arrival using the “Entering Canada as a Université Laval international student” form.

We encourage you to take a look at the steps involved in entering Canada by air and land during COVID-19.

Requirements for international students to be allowed to travel to Canada (updated: 2021-02-19)

Here is a summary of actual travel restrictions. 

Université Laval is on the list of designated learning institutions (DLIs) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. Because of this, travel to Canada for our international students is possible at this time.

To be able to enter Canada, whether it is your first time entering Canada or you are a returning student, you must meet the following conditions:

1. You have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit.

  • For U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the U.S.: Although you can apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry, it is strongly recommended that you apply for a study permit online and that, when you arrive in Canada, you have on hand a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit.
  • For student with implied status when they left Canada: To be allowed to enter Canada, you must have a valid study permit (original copy) and intend to continue your studies when you return.

2. You are travelling to Canada for essential reasons—that is, for reasons that are not optional or discretionary.

Since Université Laval is on the list of designated learning institutions (DLIs) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan, your travel to Canada should be considered essential, even if all your courses are being offered through distance learning. You will be able to demonstrate that coming to Canada is essential by showing your letter of admission from Université Laval and/or your proof of enrolment for the current semester and/or for the upcoming semester (available through monPortail).

Please note that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may consider arriving for a reason other than your studies or too early before the start of your studies to be a non-essential or discretionary reason.  

3. You have a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (except citizens of the United States and other minor exceptions). 

4. You have valid proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test that was taken in a lab at least 72 hours before boarding and that meets Canadian government criteria.

5. You have a credible plan to quarantine when you arrive in Canada, even if you received a negative COVID-19 test result.

6. You have a prepaid booking confirmation for a three-night stay in a government-authorized hotel in the Canadian city you first arrive in.

7. You have a non-medical mask or face covering.

8. You have your ArriveCAN receipt (an ArriveCAN confirmation receipt, or take a screenshot or print your confirmation if you sign in online).

These requirements will be checked before boarding a flight to Canada, and they will be checked again when you arrive at the port of entry in Canada. 

However, please note that meeting all of those requirements does not guarantee you entry into Canada. When you arrive in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will determine whether you meet the various requirements for entering Canada.

We also encourage you to check out the International Students: All you need to know site. It tells you the different steps you need to follow to prepare for your arrival in Canada.

Families of international students (updated: 2021-01-22)

If you are planning to travel with your family members, you must ensure that they have the necessary legal documents (visitor visa, eTA, work permit approval letter, etc.) and that they too are allowed to enter Canada. 

If they travel with you:

  • the written authorization from IRCC is not required.
  • their reasons for travel must be non-discretionary (non-optional). For example, spouses may come to Canada to support the principal applicant during their studies, and one parent of an international student over the age of majority may be allowed into Canada at the discretion of the border services officer if they demonstrate that they will help their child settle in and that their travel is essential (for example, to help their child with a disability move in). For parents of international students who are minors, this requirement will be easier to meet. 

If they join you after your arrival in Canada:

  • a written authorization from IRCC is required if they are coming from a country other than the United States.
  • their reasons for travel must be non-discretionary (non-optional). For example, they will help you get established, and support you in Canada.

For more information on the immigration procedures they have to follow, check out the “Obtaining permits for family members” page.

If your spouse has a valid work permit or approval for a work permit and a job offer, they may be allowed to enter Canada as a temporary worker.

Mandatory quarantine (updated: 2021-02-19)

When you arrive in Canada, you must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days. This includes the first three-days in a gouvernment-authorized hotel. For more information, consult the Mandatory quarantine page. 

If you do not have a plan, you should not travel to Canada. 
 

Requirements to be allowed to return to Canada when your studies are completed (updated: 2021-02-19)

If you have completed your studies and you still have a valid study permit, you cannot return to Canada on that permit, since you are not planning to study at a designated learning institution (DLI) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. Trying to return to Canada on that permit may make it impossible to board a flight to Canada or enter the country.

Before you can re-enter Canada, you must wait until you have your valid post-graduation work permit in hand or until you have a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a work permit and that you will be issued a work permit on arrival in Canada.

When you return to Canada, you must follow the travel requirements for foreign workers. You have to demonstrate the following: 

1. You have a valid work permit or a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a work permit and that you will be issued a work permit on arrival in Canada.

2. You are travelling to Canada for essential reasons—that is, for reasons that are not optional or discretionary. You can demonstrate this with a valid job offer, for example. If you have a valid post-graduation work permit, you can demonstrate that your travel in essential if you can prove that you ordinarily live in Canada.

3. You have a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (except citizens of the United States and other minor exceptions). 

4. You have valid proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test that was taken in a lab at least 72 hours before boarding and that meets Canadian government criteria. 

5. You have a credible plan to quarantine when you arrive in Canada, even if you received a negative COVID-19 test result.

6. You have a prepaid booking confirmation for a three-night stay in a government-authorized hotel in the Canadian city you first arrive in.

7. You have a non-medical mask or face covering.

8. You have your ArriveCAN receipt (an ArriveCAN confirmation receipt, or take a screenshot or print your confirmation if you sign in online).

These requirements will be checked before boarding a flight to Canada, and they will be checked again when you arrive at the port of entry in Canada. 

However, please note that meeting all of those requirements does not guarantee you entry into Canada. When you arrive in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will determine whether you meet the various requirements for entering Canada.

Families of graduates

If you are planning to travel with one or more family members, you have to make sure that they have the required legal documents (temporary resident visa, eTA, work permit approval, etc.) and that they are also allowed to enter Canada.

If they are travelling to Canada with you and have approval for an open work permit as a spouse or a valid open work permit as a spouse, they do not need to also have a written authorization from IRCC.

If they are joining you after you arrive in Canada, if they do not have approval for an open work permit as a spouse, or if they do not have a valid open work permit as a spouse, they will need to have a written authorization from IRCC in addition to the required legal documents.

Government information and services

Websites to visit (updated: 2021-02-19)

For the latest updates, check the Canadian and Québec government websites. 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Learn how the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is affecting services
Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students

Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration (MIFI)
See MIFI’s general notice and information regarding various services

Information on travelling to Canada
Health Canada
ArriveCAN
Entering Canada by air during COVID-19
COVID-19 testing for travellers coming into Canada
Boarding flights ton and within Canada

Health and hospitalization insurance

Université Laval group health and hospitalization insurance plan through Desjardins Insurance (updated: 2021-02-19)

Winter 2021 semester insurance start date

Coverage for the winter 2021 semester will start after you arrive in Québec and are registered for courses or other educational activities, but no earlier than December 15.

Arrival in Quebec between February 18 and April 14, 2021: 

•    The insurance coverage takes effect on the date of arrival in Quebec indicated on the Entering Canada as a Université Laval International Student form.  

If you plan to arrive in a Canadian province other than Québec and stay there before you arrive in Québec, in the event of an accident, you won’t be entitled to benefits under the insurance.

It is your responsibility to take out comprehensive travel-health insurance and emergency medical insurance that covers the costs related to COVID-19. The insurance would need to cover you for the duration of your journey until you arrive in the province of Québec and for the entire period of your quarantine outside the province of Québec. It would also need to be able to be extended in case you contract COVID-19 or develop COVID-19 symptoms. 

The insurance coverage is individual and does not include dependants. Any accompanying family members must also have adequate insurance coverage for the duration of their stay in Canada. Among other things, you can get insurance coverage for your family members through Desjardins Insurance too. For more information, see Visitors to Canada Insurance.

To receive confirmation of insurance coverage for your steps in the immigration process, write to assurances@reg.ulaval.ca.

Maintaining insurability: Current international students studying from outside of Québec or Canada during the fall 2020 and winter 2021 semesters

Desjardins will not change the insurability of students who were already insured with them during the 2019–2020 year and:
- who left Canada after winter 2020;

AND

- who are studying remotely from outside of Québec or the rest of Canada during the fall 2020 semester and/or the winter 2021 semester

These students do not have to pay the insurance premium for the fall and/or winter semester if they are outside of Québec or Canada because they are not receiving insurance coverage. However, when they return to Québec City, their full coverage will resume with the associated premium. 

Keeping your insurability the same while you are outside of Québec or Canada means that, when you return to Québec City, you can go back to receiving full insurance coverage without the insurer invoking the pre-existing medical condition clause—a clause that reduces the scope of coverage very significantly. 

If you are in this situation, you should write to assurances@reg.ulaval.ca.

Reference: brochure

For more information:

•    FAQ Group insurance for international students – Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Régie d'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) (updated: 2021-02-19)

If you are a student covered by a social security agreement with Québec and, therefore, by the RAMQ, you will find all the relevant information you need under the “Exemptions from the group health and hospitalization insurance plan” section of the page Enrolling in the health and hospitalization insurance plan for international students.

If you plan to arrive in a Canadian province other than Québec and stay there before you arrive in Québec, it is your responsibility to take out comprehensive travel-health insurance and emergency medical insurance for the duration of your journey until you arrive in the province of Québec.

Access to COVID-19 testing (updated: 2021-01-22)

For students in Québec

The Québec government provides everyone (regardless of your immigration status or whether you have health insurance) free access to designated clinics for COVID-19 testing and free access to any medical care needed to treat COVID-19 (if not covered by your home country, by a federal program, or by an insurance policy). If you have symptoms, call 1-877-644-4545 for a referral.

If you test positive for COVID-19, it is not grounds for removal from the country. If you have complied with the conditions of your residence permit, there is no reason for the Canada Border Services Agency to remove you from Canada, and information should not be passed on to them by the health authorities.

For more information: RAMQ - Questions and answers about our services during the pandemic  

To get tested for COVID-19 at the request of a third party (airline, etc.) when you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you have to make an appointment at a private clinic (fees vary): 

For students wanting to come to Canada

Go to the Flying to and within Canada page to learn more about the tests you need to be able to fly to Canada.

The Immigration section of this website is intended to provide general information on current procedures, which may change at any time without notice. The laws and regulations in force in Québec and Canada, as well as the websites of Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration [Québec’s ministry of immigration, francisation, and integration] (MIFI) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), take precedence over this page.

Last updated on: 2021-02-16