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International Students

We've received specific questions from current and prospective international students as it relates to COVID-19. Please review the below FAQ for International Students and navigate by topic.

Please note: These answers are accurate as of November 18, 2020 and include information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), the Government of Nova Scotia and Gallivan & Associates – NSCC's student insurance provider.

Information if you are travelling to Canada WITH family members

Your immediate family members may be able to come with you to Canada. 

  • If they travel with you: They don’t need a written authorization from IRCC to travel with you. However, they must show that their reasons for travel are non-discretionary (non-optional). For example, they’ll help you get established and support you in Canada.
  • If your immediate family member will study or work in Canada: You must submit all of your applications together when you apply online. 
  • If they won’t study or work: They may still need an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa to travel to Canada. If they need a visitor visa, you should include their application when you apply online for your study permit. If they need an eTA, they must apply for one separately. Make sure they follow the special instructions on how to apply for an eTA at this time.
  • If they join you later: If you’re already in Canada, or will travel to Canada by yourself first and your family will join you later, what they need to travel to Canada depends on where they’re travelling from. Find out what they need to join you in Canada. They may also need an eTA or a visitor visa to travel to Canada. See Information for Family Members Not Travelling With You below for more information.
  • View international student information related to travelling during COVID-19

Information for family members NOT travelling with you 

If you plan to travel to Canada with your family, please note they must receive written authorization from IRCC before travelling.

Immediate family members of temporary residents in Canada will still be required to provide evidence that their travel is non-optional or non-discretionary. For these immediate family members seeking to travel to Canada from any country other than the United States, an authorization letter issued by IRCC is required. This letter, issued for the purposes of reuniting immediate family members, should be sufficient evidence that travel is non-discretionary, as letters are only issued by IRCC when travel is for a non-discretionary purpose. 

 

Recommended documentation for travel

Documentation showing their immediate family member’s temporary resident status and their relationship to that family member, and written authorization from IRCC:

  • Copy of the immediate family member’s work permit, study permit, temporary resident permit, or visitor record (please note that a visitor record may not be suitable to meet an exemption in all circumstances)
  • Documentation showing the foreign national’s relationship to the family member in Canada
  • Written authorization from an IRCC officer.

IRCC will provide a letter to the foreign national to demonstrate to the airline that they are authorized to travel to Canada under this exemption. In situations where a foreign national arrives at a port of entry with an IRCC authorization letter for reuniting immediate family members, the purpose of travel will generally be considered non-discretionary as IRCC is only issuing such letters when travel is for a non-discretionary purpose. Foreign nationals must still continue to meet all regular eligibility and admissibility requirements for entry into Canada. As always, the final decision on admission to Canada is made by border services officers at Canadian ports of entry, and in cases where new or conflicting information is provided at entry, border services officers continue to apply their discretion.

 

  • As of November 3, 2020, NSCC is included on the Federal Government’s list of the Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) able to accept international students travelling from outside Canada with a valid study permit. You can now make your plans to travel to Nova Scotia.
  • To be included on the list, NSCC is required by the Federal and Provincial governments to ensure that international students coming from outside of Canada quarantine according to specific rules. The application of these rules varies from institution to institution and from province to province. Please carefully review NSCC’s Safe Travel and Arrival Information.
  • You must follow the quarantine rules outlined by NSCC. If you do not, you will not be allowed to participate in online or on campus learning.
  • Submitting your quarantine plan to NSCC is mandatory.
  • At NSCC, the health and safety of our students, employees and communities is our priority.
  • Please check your NSCC email for an important message from your Student Services Advisor – International Supports (Farhana Afroz, Mike Duggan or Jenny McLean) with detailed information on travelling to Canada and your mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Nova Scotia.


IRCC Announcement – Friday, October 2, 2020


Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) to reopen to international students

Starting October 20, 2020, DLIs with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province or territory will be able to reopen to international students who are currently outside Canada. A new list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans will be available on or before this date.

If you plan to come to Canada as an international student on or after October 20, 2020, your DLI must be on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans before you travel to Canada. This change will apply to all international students, whether you’re travelling from the United States or from any other country.

This change doesn’t affect study permit holders already in Canada.

If you’re already in Canada, you can continue studying at any DLI. If you leave Canada, you may not be able to return if your DLI doesn’t have a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by the province or territory in which you live.

Find out more about this upcoming change (links to Government of Canada site)

An important message from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC):

The travel restrictions exemption for study permit holders/applicants approved on or before March 18, 2020 doesn’t guarantee entry to Canada.

The final decision of entry to Canada is up to the border services officer. You must satisfy that your entry to Canada is for a non-discretionary purpose. You’ll also need a credible plan on how you’ll quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Canada to be allowed to enter.

An essential reason to travel to Canada as a student could include: you’ve already been living in Canada and you’re returning to your current home; your DLI is open and you’re going to be attending classes soon; online studying isn’t an option where you are; your studies require a laboratory or similar facility that you’ll have access to. Learn more about travel exemptions and restrictions for international students

On August 26, IRCC announced changes being implemented to provide more flexibility on eligibility rules for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program for students who need or want to start their Canadian study program online from abroad.

Three changes are being introduced:

  • Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada (if the program is longer than 1 year).
  • Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program with a start date from May to September 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, and who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, may be able to combine the length of their programs of study when they apply for a post-graduation work permit in the future, as long as 50% of their total studies are completed in Canada.

To be eligible for these measures, students must have submitted a study permit application before starting a program of study in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semester, or the January 2021 semester. All students must eventually be approved for a study permit. View announcement from IRCC

Impact on study permits and eligibility for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP): New and Returning Students
NSCC program changes and PGWP eligibility

1-year Online Programs

If a student is confirmed in a 1-year program that has changed to online (scheduled) due to COVID-19, they will qualify for a PGWP, provided that:

  • Students must have a study permit (or study permit approval) OR submitted a study permit application prior to September 15, 2020.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

1-year Blended Programs

If a student is confirmed in a 1-year program that has changed to a blended format (blended format means that students must be on campus to complete in-person classes and also take online classes) due to COVID-19, will qualify for a PGWP provided that:

  • Students must have a study permit (or study permit approval) before the program starts.
  • A blended program means that students must be in Nova Scotia to attend on-campus classes.
  • Students who take at least 50% of their program in a blended format will be eligible to apply for a PGWP. For example:
    • A program that is offered online in Fall 2020 and blended in Winter 2021 means that 50% of the program will be completed in Canada, and therefore students will be eligible to apply for a PGWP (provided the rules don’t change for Winter 2021).

2-year Programs

Students in 2-year programs will be eligible to apply for a PGWP if:

  • They have a study permit (or study permit approval) OR submitted a study permit application prior to September 15, 2020.
  • Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada.

Students in 2 -year programs will not be eligible to apply for a PGWP if:

  • They complete more than 50% of their program outside Canada

*Students who begin studying outside of Canada before they apply for a study permit may still qualify for PGWP, but this time spent studying will not be counted towards the length of the PGWP.

 

Will there be extensions or implied status allowances for international students whose study or work permit will expire in the coming weeks but that are: i. Unable to obtain a new passport from their embassy in Canada. ii. Unable to travel to their home country to get biometrics or apply for a new passport. iii. Unable to access documents needed to apply for a new permit from their educational institution. iv. Unable to access biometrics within the current 90 day period.
Will IRCC accept electronic, unofficial transcripts, as many Canadian institutions are not able to issue official transcripts at this time?

IRCC can’t accept alternative documents, but they will allow students 90 days to send in the required documents. Students should be sure to extend their study and co-op work permits so they can have implied status, which allows them to continue with their studies.

Applications should include an explanatory note detailing the circumstances that are beyond their control and DLIs should be prepared to provide letters of support and/or accompanying documentation.

No application will be refused if incomplete, however, required documents must be submitted within the 90 days. Applications should include an explanatory note detailing the circumstances that are beyond their control and DLIs should be prepared to provide letters of support and/or accompanying documentation.
Do I need to have my study permit before I start my program online at NSCC?
You can start your program online without a study permit; HOWEVER, you must have a study permit, study permit approval or applied for a study permit prior to September 15, 2020 if you want the time you spend studying online to count towards your Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). 
In what time zone will my scheduled online classes be offered?
All scheduled online classes will be offered in Atlantic Standard Time/Atlantic Daylight Savings Time.
If I study online, will I still be eligible to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit?
  • On August 26, IRCC announced changes being implemented to provide more flexibility on eligibility rules for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program for students who need or want to start their Canadian study program online from abroad.

    Three changes are being introduced:

    Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program with a start date from May to September 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, and who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, may be able to combine the length of their programs of study when they apply for a post-graduation work permit in the future, as long as 50% of their total studies are completed in Canada.

To be eligible for these measures, students must have submitted a study permit application before starting a program of study in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semester, or the January 2021 semester. All students must eventually be approved for a study permit. View the IRCC announcement

If an international student is unable to return to Canada in September, would they still be permitted to enrol as a full-time student?

International students who are unable to travel to Canada in the fall are permitted to enrol in a designated learning institution as a full-time student and take online courses outside of Canada. A study permit is not required to start and complete programs of study outside of Canada, however, this time would not be counted towards Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) eligibility or the length of the PGWP issued.

On August 26, IRCC announced changes being implemented to provide more flexibility on eligibility rules for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program for students who need or want to start their Canadian study program online from abroad.

Three changes are being introduced:

  • Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program with a start date from May to September 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, and who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, may be able to combine the length of their programs of study when they apply for a post-graduation work permit in the future, as long as 50% of their total studies are completed in Canada.

To be eligible for these measures, students must have submitted a study permit application before starting a program of study in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semester, or the January 2021 semester. All students must eventually be approved for a study permit. View the IRCC announcement

I am worried about how long it’s taking to process my study permit application.

On July 14, IRCC made a number of temporary policy changes to support and reassure international students and learning institutions.

The new measures include:

  • providing priority study-permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online, to ensure that permits are processed as quickly as possible
  • allowing students to count the time spent pursuing their studies online abroad toward their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit, if they have submitted a study permit application and if at least 50% of their program is completed in Canada
  • providing reassurances to international students who cannot submit all of the documentation needed to complete processing of their applications, and who choose to pursue programs through distance learning, by implementing a temporary 2-stage approval process
The temporary process will allow applicants to count the time spent studying online abroad towards their post-graduation work permit once they receive an approval-in-principle, as long as they are able to satisfy all requirements and receive the full approval of their study permit application at a later date. As services begin to reopen, applicants will be required to submit remaining documents and receive an approved study permit before being allowed to travel to Canada.

This process is available to students starting a program in the fall semester who submit a study permit application before September 15, 2020. This measure will reassure students that they can enrol and begin their studies this fall online, even when they are not able to submit all required documentation due to pandemic-related closures.

It is important for prospective students to note that commencing their studies online from abroad following approval-in-principle of a study permit application is not a guarantee that they will receive a full approval of their study permit application, or be authorized to pursue their studies in Canada. It is still possible that an applicant could receive a negative final decision on their study permit based on factors such as inadmissibility for criminality or security reasons, and the inability to predict how the COVID-19 situation and any associated travel restrictions will evolve.
Impact on off campus work
I am graduating in 2020. When do I have to stop working part-time?
You can continue to work part-time, on or off campus, until you receive written confirmation of program completion from NSCC. You must ensure your study permit remains valid during this period. If the study permit becomes invalid before the student receives the notification of program completion from their institution, the student must cease working the day the study permit becomes invalid.
Insurance Coverage
If I have to get a COVID-19 test, do I have to pay anything? How does our international insurance work for a COVID-19 test?

Please note: Unforeseen emergency expenses related to COVID-19 are covered by StudyInsured plans (provided that the infection occurs in Canada after the effective policy date).

Student benefit plan details:

  • Any pre-existing medical condition, including COVID-19 illness, would not be covered if it has not been stable for the required amount of time before the effective policy date.
  • Expenses incurred in an insured person’s home country are not covered, unless they are travelling on a school trip. Further expenses incurred in Canada related to an illness that originated in the home country would also be excluded.
  • Our Student Benefits Office has updated their website to contain information re: COVID-19.


What to do if you feel unwell: 

  • If you or your family members feel unwell and suspect you may have COVID-19, you can now complete an online self-assessment instead of calling 811.
  • As of October 1 you can do a COVID-19 self-assessment online. This will reduce the wait time to be screened for testing from 12 hours to about 10 minutes.
  • If the online assessment determines that you require a test, the Nova Scotia Health Authority or the IWK Health Centre will call you within 24 to 48 hours to book an appointment.
  • 811 will continue to take calls from people who cannot access the online tool or who wish to speak with a nurse about their symptoms.
  • You can find the COVID-19 self-assessment form here: https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ 

Please connect with the Student Benefits Plan office at 1-866-491-1624,  or refer to the website for further information should it be required.

Last updated on: November 23, 2020 11:45 AM