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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 June 24, 2020 and include information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and Gallivan & Associates – NSCC's student insurance provider
Impact on study permits and eligibility for a Post-Graduate Work Permit: Graduating students
My program has been extended due to COVID-19 - what should I do?
International students in Canada are advised to apply online to extend their status before it expires so they will have implied status which allows them to continue studying and/or working while their extension is being processed.

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.
My study permit and co-op work permit expire before I will complete my program. Should I renew those now?

Yes. If your work placement has been extended, and your permits will expire before the end date, you must renew your study permit and/or co-op work permit.

It is important that both your study and co-op work permits are valid until at least the end of your work placement. If you are planning to apply for your PGWP after graduation, you can request some additional time on your permits to allow you make this application.

You can apply online through your GCKey account – please use NSCC’s guides to help you.

How do the program changes because of COVID-19 impact my plan to apply for a post-graduate work permit?
Once students have completed all the requirements for graduation and their marks are submitted, they can request a copy of their final transcript and a letter of completion. Students can apply for their PGWP once they have their transcripts and letter of completion.
Will a grade of Credit Earned (CE) impact my Post-Graduate Work Permit application?

No. Credit Earned means that you have passed the course. The grade that you received should have no effect on your eligibility for PGWP. The criteria is that you complete the program successfully, which is proven with your letter of completion from NSCC.

Will it be okay to submit an unofficial transcript from NSCC for my PGWP application?

Yes. While it is always preferred to use official documents, if the unofficial transcript contains the same information, and is clearly issued by NSCC, then this can be accepted in your application.

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.
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) before the program starts.
  • At least 50% of the program must be completed in Canada.

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

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) before their program starts
  • They complete at least 50% of their program 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 their study permit is approved 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 or study permit approval 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 May 14, IRCC made temporary and time limited policy changes to the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting or continuing programs outside of Canada in the spring/summer/fall 2020 semesters to have the time spent studying outside of Canada (until December 31, 2020), to count towards PGWP eligibility and length of the PGWP issued, provided that:

  • the student completes 50% of their program in Canada,
  • meets all the other program criteria,
  • and has a study permit or study permit approval prior to commencing their program.
For students whose study permit was expired as of March 18th but had an active extension application; once their extension is approved will they be allowed into Canada?
If you did not have a valid study permit on March 18, 2020 you cannot return to Canada until the travel ban is lifted.

As per the travel ban exemptions, only international students issued study permits or study permit approvals on or before March 18, 2020 can travel to Canada at this time.
It is indicated in IRCC’s new Program Delivery Instructions that Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTAs) or Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs) will only be issued to "foreign nationals who can demonstrate that they need to travel to Canada urgently." Does this include study permit holders who need to return to continue their studies?
The following foreign nationals who are currently outside Canada are exempt from Canada’s travel restrictions and can travel to Canada if they are travelling for non-optional or non-discretionary purpose:

  • Foreign nationals who hold a valid Canadian study permit as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
  • Foreign nationals who received a letter of introduction from IRCC dated on or before March 18, 2020.
  • Document to present to the air carrier: a paper copy or e-version of the letter of introduction dated on or before March 18, 2020.

Like all travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, international students who enter Canada will undergo the necessary health checks and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.
Will international students and temporary foreign workers who access the social assistance (i.e. Canada Emergency Response Benefit) still be eligible to apply for PGWP or PR status in the future?
Accessing CERB would not act as a barrier to a student qualifying for PR in the future.
Will international students entering Canada need to provide proof of health insurance at the border?
Proof of health insurance is not a requirement for study permit applications and there is no expectation that students provide proof of coverage upon arrival at a Port of Entry. 
If an international student is unable to return to Canada in September, would they still be permitted to enroll as a full-time student?
International students who are unable to travel to Canada in the fall are permitted to enroll 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 May 14, IRCC made temporary and time limited policy changes to the PGWPP for students starting or continuing programs outside of Canada in the spring/summer/fall 2020 semesters to have the time spent studying outside of Canada (until December 31, 2020), to count towards PGWP eligibility and length of the PGWP issued, provided that:

the student completes 50% of their program in Canada,

meets all the other program criteria,

and has a study permit or study permit approval prior to commencing their program.
I am worried about how long it’s taking to process my study permit application.
IRCC continues to accept and process study permit applications to the extent possible and they are not refusing applications that lack a necessary document or miss a deadline for providing a document.

Applicants are being advised to apply for their study permit with a letter of explanation for documents they have been unable to provide and to provide them when they are able to. This will allow IRCC to process other parts of an application and be able to finalize quickly when the remaining documents are provided.
Impact on travel
Can I travel back to my home country now that classes are suspended and will likely be delivered remotely after April 3?

Travel outside of Canada is not recommended at this time.

International flights leaving Canada are very limited. Many have been cancelled due to the travel ban. Study permit holders will not be allowed to return to Canada until the Government of Canada re-opens the border.

Your NSCC Emergency Health Insurance Plan will not be valid in your home country, nor will it cover medical expenses related to COVID-19 if is contracted outside of Canada.

Impact on off campus work
In the event that a student’s full-time enrolment is impacted due to circumstances beyond his/her control (i.e. COVID-19), will students continue to be authorized to work on a study permit?

In regards to working on or off-campus, given that COVID-19 is beyond a student's control, international students who were eligible to work on or off-campus can continue to work on or off-campus even if they have been forced to drop to part-time studies or take a break in studies.

However, these students are still subject to the authorized number of hours they would have been permitted had they been full-time students. Therefore, they can work part-time (up to 20 hours a week) off-campus during an academic session and full-time during a regularly scheduled break.

My work placement has been cancelled and I have finished all my assignments for 2019/2020. Can I start working full-time?

The winter term is over on Friday, April 24, with some classes extended up to two weeks beyond this date. After winter courses are complete, many students will be on an official break until classes resume in September.

However, for students who have classes scheduled in the Summer term, your official break will start when this term is over. Please see the NSCC Academic Calendar for more information.


Please note: In order to work full-time over the summer, you MUST be returning to study full-time in September.

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.
I heard the Canadian Government is temporarily allowing international students to work more than 20 hours per week in essential services. How can I learn more?
International students and their employers should consult Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Outbreak to determine if the work the student is doing would allow them to work more than 20 hours per week during the academic session.

We also recommend that you read the news release about this temporary rule change.
Insurance Coverage
If 811 asks me to go get checked, 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:

  • Nova Scotia’s department of health has several recommendations if you’re feeling unwell, including when to call 811.
  • Should you or anyone be referred by 811 to obtain COVID-19 testing, you must go.
  • You should take both insurance cards with you (just in case it is something else that would also need to be treated).

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.
I am in my home country; do I have insurance coverage through NSCC?

No, the NSCC Emergency Health Insurance Plan and the Extended Health and Dental Plan are not valid in your home country. You should contact your local health care system to determine your insurance options while you remain in your home country.

I am travelling outside of Canada but not in my home country. Do I have insurance coverage through NSCC?

Yes, if you are enrolled on the NSCC Emergency Health Insurance Plan and/or the Extended Health and Dental Plan, then you will continue to have coverage while abroad. There are a few conditions which are important to review to determine if they affect your current situation. Please read the following carefully:

If you are:

  • enrolled on the Emergency Health Insurance Plan and
  • currently in the U.S.

You should know that your coverage is valid for 30 days starting from the first day you leave Canada. Review your coverage details at https://www.mystudentplan.ca/nscc/en/mybenefits.

If you are:

  • enrolled on the Emergency Health Insurance Plan and
  • in a country other than Canada, the U.S. or your home country

You should know your coverage is valid for 90 days starting from the first day you leave Canada.

If you previously opted out of this coverage, you do not have access to this coverage.

If you are unsure if you are enrolled, please contact the Benefits Plan Office at  

International students are also enrolled on the Extended Health & Dental Plan, which includes out-of-country travel insurance. This coverage is valid for 180 days outside of Canada. For more information on the travel insurance, please visit https://www.mystudentplan.ca/nscc/en/mybenefits

If you have previously opted out of the Extended Health & Dental Plan, you do not have access to this coverage. If you are unsure if you are enrolled, please contact the Benefits Plan Office at  

*Please note that all other benefits within the Extended Health & Dental Plan (prescription drugs, vision, dental) are not valid outside of Canada.

Is there anything else I should do for my insurance?

If you are currently out of Canada, you should contact NSCC International: international.students@nscc.ca and the Benefits Plan Office to let them know.

Students who are out of the country and have MSI coverage should email MSI directly to notify them of your situation and confirm that your MSI coverage will remain in effect. You can email MSI at  

If you are enrolled in the Emergency Health Insurance Plan, please ensure that you always have your wallet card with you. This card has all the insurance information needed to access your coverage. If you do not have this card, please contact the Benefits Plan Office at  

For more information and updates, please visit https://www.mystudentplan.ca/nscc/en/covid-19

Financial supports
Where can I find information on Employment Insurance and Canadian Emergency Response Benefit?
What are some financial supports I can access?
  • If you pay for your home’s heat, view the Heat Fund as a possible helpful resource.
  • The Province of Nova Scotia has ordered that no tenant can be evicted because their income has been impacted by COVID-19, effective immediately for the next three months. If you feel like a landlord is breaking this rule, it is recommended to contact Nova Scotia Legal Aid If you can afford to pay your rent, please pay it on time.
  • If you are a homeowner, you may be able to defer your mortgage payments for up to 6 months. Contact your lender or bank for more information.
  • Nova Scotia Power has promised that it will not shut off power due to missed payments and late payments. View more information on NS Power
  • The large cell phone companies (Rogers, Bell and TELUS) are starting to waive data overage fees and possibly other fees. Reach out to your cell phone provider to see if you can push payments without penalties.
What are some services I can investigate for food and things I need to pay for now?
  • Your NSCC Campus may have funds to help with food. Connect to your Student Services office or check your email on supports for food that may be available through the Student Association. You also might want to check out Feed Nova Scotia
  • Urgent Aid might also be available through your campus. Contact Student Services to learn more about that aid. View forms and policy information on urgent aid (links to Connect).
Does NSCC have any bursaries or awards I can apply for now to help me out financially during this time?

While our student awards portal is now open and accepting applications, these awards are in support of September 2020 tuition and fees. Students with financial concerns should review details on our Urgent Aid program, which is a fund meant to support students during this time.

Last updated on: June 24, 2020 09:52 AM