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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 important notes and recent announcements below as well as the FAQs for international students.

Please note: These answers were updated on May 20, 2021 and include information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and the Government of Nova Scotia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Travelling to Canada
Travel exemptions and restrictions (IRCC website)
NSCC is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) that can accept international students

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.

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. View Government of Canada's ‘Information for Family Members Not Travelling With You’ for more information.

Information for family members not travelling with you

If your family plans to travel to Canada without you, 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.

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

On February 12, IRCC announced further measures further measures to ensure that international students won’t miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the pandemic. With the prospect of many international students continuing online learning from abroad for several more months, temporary changes to the PGWP Program put in place earlier in the pandemic are being extended and expanded.

These measures will assist international students by ensuring that studies completed outside Canada will count towards a future PGWP, and by allowing international students to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP. The measures apply to all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria.

These measures apply to all international students who

  • are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program
  • began, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020
  • have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved
  • meet all other PGWP criteria

Blended Programs

If a student is confirmed in a 1-year or 2-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, they 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.
If you can't provide required documents for your application

Upload a letter of explanation explaining why you can’t submit the required documents (like your biometrics, proof of enrolment, final transcripts, or others). For example, you may not be able to get these documents because offices are closed.

You must provide a letter of acceptance from a DLI when you apply. IRCC won’t process applications that are submitted without this document.

IRCC won’t reject your application if you can’t submit the required documents, other than your letter of acceptance, because of COVID-19.

When IRCC starts processing your application, they’ll ask for the missing documents and give you an extension to provide them, if needed.

How is my post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility affected by program changes and travel restrictions due to COVID-19?

If you’re inside Canada

You’re still eligible for the PGWP if:

  • your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format and you are taking your classes online because of COVID-19, or
  • you had to put your studies on hold, or study part-time, during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters because of COVID-19

As of the fall 2020 semester, you must be studying full-time to be eligible.

If you’re outside of Canada

If you can’t travel to Canada at this time and you’re taking your classes online, you’re still eligible for a PGWP.

To be eligible, you must:

  • meet all the other PGWP requirements
  • and have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021, and
    • you have a study permit, or
    • you’ve been approved for a study permit, or
    • you applied for a study permit before starting your study program
      • your study permit must eventually be approved

How much of your studies count toward a PGWP

You can complete 100% of your studies online from outside Canada.

All your time studying online outside Canada between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021, counts toward the length of a PGWP. This applies even if you’re completing 2 study programs.

If you’re completing 2 study programs, you can finish 100% of your studies online if the programs were ongoing or started between March 2020 and fall 2021, and

Time spent studying outside Canada after December 31, 2021, won’t count towards the length of a PGWP.

If I study online, will I still be eligible for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?

On February 12, IRCC announced further measures to ensure that international students won’t miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the pandemic. With the prospect of many international students continuing online learning from abroad for several more months, temporary changes to the PGWP Program put in place earlier in the pandemic are being extended and expanded.

These measures will assist international students by ensuring that studies completed outside Canada will count towards a future PGWP, and by allowing international students to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP. The measures apply to all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria.

These measures apply to all international students who

  • are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program
  • began, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020
  • have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved
  • meet all other PGWP criteria
Do I need to have my study permit before I start my program online at NSCC?

You can start your program online if you have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021 without a study permit; However, you must have a study permit, study permit approval or applied for a study permit prior to starting your program if you want the time you spend studying online to count towards your Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). Please note that your study permit must eventually be approved.

Has the process for applying for a study permit changed?

Processing study permit applications for the fall 2021 semester

If you submitted your complete study permit application (including your biometrics and immigration medical examination results) by May 15, 2021, you should get a decision by August 6, 2021, in time to attend the fall semester.

IRCC will process complete applications submitted after May 15, 2021, as quickly as possible—but they can’t guarantee that you’ll get a final decision before the fall semester begins.

Some applications take longer to process and may not be finalized by August 6, 2021, such as those that: 

  • are incomplete 
  • require the officer to request more information from you

Apply online

If you’re applying for a study permit, you should apply online, whether you’re outside of Canada or already in Canada.

When you apply, you should submit:

How IRCC processes applications

IRCC will process your application if you:

If you meet the requirements, you may be able to travel to Canada and:

  • begin your studies, or
  • continue your studies, if you’ve already started studying online

View information for international students

Immigration officers will allow more time for the applicant to provide missing information and documents:

  • If the officer sent a request for additional documentation, but the applicant was unable to meet the original deadline, officers should bring forward the application and allow an additional 90 days for the applicant to respond.
  • If clients are unable to provide missing documents such as biometrics, medical examinations, police certificates, passports, official civil documents), officers should continue bringing forward the applications to allow applicants 90 days to submit missing documents. Until further notice, applications may not be refused for missing the above documents due to COVID-19.
  • If clients are unable to provide supporting documents or information requested by the officer, such as family information, client information, language test results, proof of funds, school transcripts or a new letter of acceptance due to deferred enrolment for more than 150 days, and provided no explanation with their application stating that they are affected by the service disruptions due to COVID-19, officers may use their discretion to either grant an extension or make a decision with the information on file.

View more details about students and processing 

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

Since the onset of the pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been working to better serve clients. IRCC will continue to provide deadline extensions to clients who are still unable to provide required documentation due to COVID‑19 disruptions. 

Over the coming months, IRCC officers will contact citizenship, permanent residence and temporary residence applicants, on a case-by-case basis, to request that they provide supporting documents or a reasonable explanation of how a COVID‑19-related disruption prevents them from obtaining this information.

What you need to do if you still have to provide a document in support of your application

  • Check the last email or letter you received from IRCC to confirm what documents you need to provide. As it can take time to get this information, it’s important to start collecting the documents now, so you will be able to submit them on time when IRCC asks for them.
  • You’ll receive another request from IRCC in the coming weeks or months and will have 30 days from the date you receive this new request to submit the supporting documents.
    • If you need to provide your fingerprints and photo (biometrics), book an appointment with your local VAC or ASC as soon as possible. Appointment slots fill up quickly, and some offices are operating with reduced hours of service.
    • Check IRCC’s website to find out if your local VAC or ASC is open and book your biometrics appointment. At your appointment, follow all local public health requirements and bring a copy of your biometric instruction letter.
  • After the 30day deadline, an IRCC officer will make a decision on your application, where possible.

Even if you receive a confirmation of permanent residence or visitor visa, you likely will not be able to travel to Canada. Only foreign nationals who are exempt from the travel restrictions are eligible to travel to Canada at this time.

What you need to do if you’re still affected by a COVID19 restriction or disruption

If you can’t provide the requested documents, IRCC officers will be as flexible as possible.

  • You must provide a reasonable explanation of how you’re affected by a COVID‑19 disruption within 30 days from the date you receive our request.
  • Examples of a reasonable explanation include:
    • the temporary closure of the VAC or ASC in your region, which prevents you from providing your fingerprints and photo (biometrics)
    • a regional or city-wide pandemic lockdown that prevents you from obtaining supporting documents, such as a police certificate, or undergoing a medical examination

If your request for an extension:

  • is reasonable, based on the explanation provided, IRCC will extend your deadline for an additional 30 days
  • isn’t reasonable, IRCC will make a decision on your application, where possible, based on the information we have on file, which could result in your application being refused

IRCC will inform you of our decision. You will not need to contact them.

If IRCC doesn’t hear from you by the 30‑day deadline, they will make a decision on your application, where possible, based on the information we have on file. This could result in your application being refused.

If IRCC determines that a large number of clients is affected by a pandemic lockdown or a service-related disruption, such as a temporary closure of a VAC or ASC, IRCC will not contact you to request the supporting documents until the situation is resolved.

Keep checking the IRCC website for updates, including when the travel restrictions will be eased.

Last updated on: May 20, 2021 01:49 PM