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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: 2021-03-11)

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 from the fall semester to the next winter semester. In all other cases of deferral, you must apply for a new CAQ.

Initial study permit application (updated: 2021-06-10)

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 official transcript (order through monPortail for CAN$9) or a printout or screenshot of your unofficial transcript on Capsule if you don’t have an official transcript yet.

You must submit all the required documents with your study permit application. If you don’t have a document, give a reasonable explanation for why you can’t get it at this time. The explanation should be accompanied by evidence showing that it has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of April 12, 2021, IRCC no longer automatically gives more time to submit missing documents and information. However, IRCC will continue to extend the deadline for people who are still unable to provide the required documents because of the disruption caused by COVID-19. You should not travel to another city or country to get the requested supporting documents.

As soon as you get the missing document, it is very important that you submit it through the IRCC Web form, email it to the Canadian visa office that is processing your application, or, when an IRCC officer asks you to, submit it through your IRCC online secure account. 

If what is missing are your biometrics, you should make an appointment as soon as the visa application centres (VACs) open. Appointment slots fill up quickly, and some offices have reduced hours. If your local biometric collection service point is closed, you must provide evidence of this to IRCC and ask for an extension for giving your biometrics. The biometrics instruction letter will remain valid.

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

Processing time

IRCC has announced that all those who submit their complete study permit application for the fall 2021 semester by May 15, 2021, will get a decision by August 6, 2021. Also, until May 15, you can submit your study permit application with proof you have applied for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec [Québec acceptance certificate] (CAQ). That way, you don’t have to wait for your CAQ to be approved. Once your CAQ is approved, you will need to submit the approval letter through your online account or the IRCC web form. You must submit it by June 30, 2021 to have your application processed in time for the fall semester. Your study permit application won’t be finalized without that document. In addition, we encourage you to give your biometrics as soon as possible, ideally before May 15.

IRCC will process applications it receives after May 15 as quickly as possible. If you aren’t approved for a study permit in time to come to Québec for the start of the fall 2021 semester, you may be able to start your semester through distance learning from outside of Canada. By choosing distance learning courses, you will be able to come to Canada after the start of the semester once you have received your CAQ and your letter of introduction from IRCC showing that your study permit has been approved.
 

Study permit approval validity in case of deferred admission

If you receive a new letter of admission and the start of the program is delayed for more than 150 days (5 months), but your study permit application is being processed, you must send it to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through this online form.

If your study permit application has been approved (you have been issued the letter of introduction from IRCC) and if the start of the program is delayed for more than 150 days (5 months), it is better to file a new study permit application with a new acceptance letter and pay the required fees online. Otherwise, you may be refused entry into Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would make that decision.

Study permit renewal (updated: 2021-09-02)

You must submit all the required documents with your study permit application. If you don’t have a document, give a reasonable explanation for why you can’t get it at this time. The explanation should be accompanied by evidence showing that it has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of April 12, 2021, IRCC no longer automatically gives more time to submit missing documents and information. However, IRCC will continue to extend the deadline for people who are still unable to provide the required documents because of the disruption caused by COVID-19. You should not travel to another city or country to get the requested supporting documents.
 
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 try to 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, explain the attempts you have made to get the document, give evidence of your efforts , and ask IRCC for an extension so you can provide the missing document. As soon as you get the document, submit it to IRCC through the IRCC Web form or, when an IRCC officer asks you to, submit it through your IRCC online secure account.

If you have applied to renew your study permit before your current permit expires, you will have maintained status (previously called 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.

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: 2021-03-11)

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

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. 

Please note that you must complete the form Entering Canada as a Université Laval International Student before you arrive in or return to Canada. This form must be completed as soon as possible. This requirement applies to international students arriving in Canada for the first time, those returning after staying in another country, as well as regular international students and international students on exchange.

We encourage you to take a look at the steps involved in entering Canada by air and land during COVID-19 as well as the requirements checklists for flying and driving to Canada.

Requirements for international students to be allowed to travel to Canada (updated: 2021-09-14)

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.

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:

Study permit

You have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit, unless you are exempt and you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with vaccines recognized in Canada and you are asymptomatic when you arrive in Canada.

  • For U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the U.S.: 

    - Arriving by air: You must have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit.

    - Arriving by land: 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 maintained status (previously called 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.
Essential reasons

You are travelling to Canada for essential reasons—that is, for reasons that are not optional or discretionary - unless you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with vaccines recognized in Canada and you are asymptomatic.

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 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.  

We recommend that you plan to arrive in Canada no more than 4 weeks before the start of your first semester.

You should also be aware of the policy start date for the group health and hospitalization insurance plan for international students and research interns so that you can arrange for personal insurance coverage if necessary. 

Visa or eTA Depending on your nationality, you have a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (except citizens of the United States and other minor exceptions). 
Medical exam

If you have a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit and if you had to get an immigration medical exam, you must ensure that your exam results are still valid:

  • Your exam results are valid for 12 months from the day you had your exam.
  • The results must be valid the day you enter Canada.
  • The case processing centre may extend the validity period of a medical exam. You can check with them through the IRCC web form.
  • If your results expire before you enter Canada, you must get another medical exam before you travel to Canada.
COVID-19 testing You have valid proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test (PCR test) that was taken in a lab at least 72 hours before boarding and that meets Canadian government criteria (antigen tests are not recognized).
Quarantine plan You have a credible plan to quarantine when you arrive in Canada, even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and you believe you are exempt form the quarantine requirement.
ArriveCAN You have your ArriveCAN receipt (an ArriveCAN confirmation receipt, or take a screenshot or print your confirmation if you sign in online).
Mask You have a non-medical mask or face covering.

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 and the important documents and items to have on hand when you travel to Canada.

Families of international students (updated: 2021-09-15)

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. 

Travellers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for more than 14 days with vaccines recognized in Canada and who are asymptomatic can enter Canada for discretionary travel.

If members of your family are not fully vaccinated with vaccines recognized in Canada, the will need to demonstrate that their stay in Canada is essential. Here's how:

If they travel with you:

  • the written authorization from IRCC is not required, but it make things easier to have it when boarding your flight to Canada.
  • 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: 2021-09-15)

When you arrive in Canada, you must have a plan to quarantine, even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 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: 2021-08-18)

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: 

Work permit 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.
Essential reasons 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.
Visa or eTA You have a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (except citizens of the United States and other minor exceptions). 
COVID-19 testing 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. 
Quarantaine plan You have a credible plan to quarantine when you arrive in Canada.
ArriveCAN You have your ArriveCAN receipt (an ArriveCAN confirmation receipt, or take a screenshot or print your confirmation if you sign in online).
Mask You have a non-medical mask or face covering.

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. Your dependent children need a written authorization from IRCC.

If they are joining you after you arrive in Canada, or if they are travelling to Canada with you but hey 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. Your dependent children need a written authorization from IRCC, whether they are travelling with you or coming later.

Government information and services

Websites to visit (updated: 2021-06-18)

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

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

Information on travelling to Canada
Health Canada
Flying to Canada requirements checklist
Driving to Canada requirements checklist
Entering Canada by air during COVID-19
 

Health and hospitalization insurance

Université Laval group health and hospitalization insurance plan through Desjardins Insurance (updated: 2021-08-30)

Fall 2021 semester insurance start date

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

If you are registered for courses or other educational activities and arrive in Québec after the semester starts, your health and hospitalization insurance may be adjusted to reflect the date indicated on your Entering Canada as a Université Laval International Student form depending on your situation.

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, winter 2021 and fall 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 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:

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.

Vaccination, proof of vaccination, and COVID-19 testing

Vaccination (updated: 2021-09-10)

In Québec, vaccines are distributed through the Québec Immunization Program. You cannot obtain doses on the private market. The vaccine is available free of charge to anyone living in Québec regardless of their status or insurance coverage. This includes study permit holders and people waiting for decisions on their legal status.

Once in Québec, you can book an appointment to receive the vaccine. Although the vaccine is free, there may be administrative fees if you get vaccinated in a pharmacy. So we advise you to book an appointment at a vaccination centre. You can also get vaccinated at the vaccination centre on campus, in the Alphonse-Desjardins building, with no appointment necessary. Bring your student ID card. You do not have to have a RAMQ number (Québec public health insurance number) to get vaccinated. We encourage you to bring your passport to your vaccination appointment to ensure proper identification.

The appointment for the 2nd dose will be made when you get the 1st dose. If you are thinking of leaving Québec before receiving the 2nd dose, call 1 877 644 4545 to check whether you are eligible to receive the 1st dose.

If you got one or more COVID-19 vaccine doses before you arrived in Québec, you must register the vaccine doses you received outside Québec and meet with a health professional. They will assess your vaccination coverage. Depending on the vaccines you received, they may recommend an additional dose to increase your protection against COVID-19. To register the vaccine doses you received outside Québec, you can: 

  • Book an appointment at a vaccination centre through Clic Santé by choosing the “COVID-19 Vaccine - Troubleshooting” service. You can have your appointment at the vaccination centre on campus (Alphonse-Desjardins building) if you wish.
  • Visit the public health kiosk next to the Accueil Plus kiosk at Montréal Airport when you arrive in Québec (between August 1 and September 10, 2021, only).
  • Book an appointment at a vaccination centre over the phone by calling 1 877 644 4545.

For more information, visit the COVID-19 vaccination campaign website.

Access to COVID-19 testing (updated: 2021-08-24)

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 Canada: COVID-19 testing page to learn more about the tests you need to be able to fly to Canada.

Proof of vaccination (updated: 2021-08-27)

Starting September 1, 2021, a vaccination passport will be introduced in Québec. This passport is an official and free tool that certifies that a person is adequately protected againts COVID-19.

You can register the vaccine doses you received outside Québec and get electronic proof of vaccination from Québec (a QR code). To register the vaccine doses you received outside Québec, you can:

  • Book an appointment at a vaccination centre through Clic Santé by choosing the “COVID-19 Vaccine - Troubleshooting” service. You can have your appointment at the vaccination centre on campus (Alphonse-Desjardins building) if you wish. 
  • Visit the public health kiosk next to the Accueil Plus kiosk at Montréal Airport when you arrive in Québec (between August 1 and September 10, 2021, only). 
  • Book an appointment at a vaccination centre over the phone by calling 1 877 644 4545. 
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: 2021-09-15