In the Know: Pre-Arrival Checklist

UVic Global Community Newsletter: December 07, 2020

In the Know: Advice for international students is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seeking, incoming exchange, and incoming study abroad/visiting.

If you are a new international student starting your program from abroad, the University of Victoria (UVic) welcomes your virtual presence!

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to stay compliant with the Public Health protocols, the University of Victoria spring term (January – April 2021) courses will be predominantly offered online. While this is may not be the start to your time at UVic that you expected, we are all here to support you and to help you make the most out of your program.

Please review the following pre-arrival checklist to connect with UVic virtually. It contains important information that will help when starting your UVic journey.

Before you arrive to Canada

Connect with International Student Services (ISS)
ISS is a centralized resource providing international services, information and programs for undergraduate and graduate students from pre-arrival to degree completion. We support students with:

  • immigration (e.g. study permit, work authorization) and settlement questions (e.g. banking, mobile phones)
  • socio-cultural programming for students to make connections through the Global Community Mentorship and Conversations Partners Program and fun events
  • student exchanges

Join the UVic Global Community!
Our Global Community Facebook group provides daily updates. Our bi-weekly newsletter helps you stay informed. And our Global Community Conversation Partners and Mentorship programs support your transition to UVic.

Immigration and travel

Apply for a study permit.
As a new international student, you will need a study permit to study in Canada. Even if you are starting your program of study online outside of Canada, we recommend applying for your study permit as soon as possible because the application process for a study permit can take weeks or even months.

If your spouse, common-law partner, or dependent children are accompanying you to Canada, they can apply for a temporary resident document at the same time that you apply for your study permit.
Notify IRCC you are transferring to UVic from another Canadian post-secondary institution.

If you have a valid Canadian study permit and are coming to UVic from a high school, college, university, or language school in Canada, you can continue to use your current study permit, as long as it is still valid. However, you must notify IRCC that you have changed post-secondary institutions.

Check the current travel restriction and exemptions before making travel plans.
In order to manage the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Canada has implemented travel restrictions with only a few exemptions.

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you MUST meet 2 requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a valid letter of introduction that shows you are approved for a study permit. An approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel. 
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory. UVic is a DLI with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan.

Your travel to Canada will be considered essential (non-discretionary) if you have all of the required documents and your DLI is on the approved list. You will note that UVic is on the list.

If you have not read our Travel Considerations and Self-isolation article, we highly recommend you to follow the tips we provided in the article to plan your arrival. 

Please note that information can change as the pandemic evolves. We ask that you monitor the IRCC website closely in preparation for your travel to Canada.

Prepare the documents needed to travel to Canada

When the border services officer greets you, they look at several factors, including:

  • your reason for travelling to Canada
  • your ability to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • if you either:
    • have time to complete your quarantine before you physically attend classes, or
    • can study online during your quarantine

At the airport and the Canadian Port of Entry, be prepared to present:

  • a valid study permit or a valid letter of introduction that shows you are approved for a study permit An approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel. 
  • a valid letter of acceptance (study permit information letter) and verification of enrolment (You can order these letters through UVic My Page.)
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • a plan for your self-isolation (quarantine) and your ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper)
  • valid entry document (temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization, if required)
  • valid passport or other travel document 
  • typed list of all items you are bringing into Canada, including items sent separately

Plan for your self-isolation and register your self-isolation plan with UVic.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act. Quarantine is mandatory, even for people with no symptoms. When you arrive in Canada, you must isolate for a period of 14 days even if you have no symptoms related to COVID-19. 

To help support you, as a UVic student, make the necessary arrangements for arriving in Canada and self-isolation. UVic has created a Self-Isolation Program (SIP). 

Learn about academic enrolment status at UVic.
Your academic enrolment status at UVic, and the choices you make around program planning, will have a direct impact on your temporary resident status in Canada. When you are in Canada with a study permit, you must be enrolled at a designated learning institution, like UVic, and make progress towards completing your program of study.

Another area where program planning can have a direct impact is if you would like the opportunity to work or be eligible for the post-graduation work permit, you will need to maintain full-time enrollment.

Health Insurance

Learn about your Canadian health insurance coverage.

For international students, the cost of health care in Canada is very high if you do not have health insurance. Having both primary and extended health insurance provides you with comprehensive coverage and ensures that medical issues will not cause financial difficulties or compromise your academic progress. While most domestic students and returning international students have access to primary insurance through a provincial health plan, most NEW international students will be enrolled in mandatory temporary medical insurance, the plan, to ensure they have coverage at the start of the term.

Purchase health insurance for your accompanying family members, if applicable.

Opt-out of the plan,if you will not be in Canada for the spring term (January – April 2021).
Most international students are automatically enrolled in the Mandatory Temporary Medical Insurance (MTMI), the plan, when they begin a program of study at UVic. Students who are eligible to opt out must complete the opt-out process during the change-of-coverage period.

Extended Health and Dental Plans
All students are also automatically enrolled into an extended coverage plan, which is supplementary to and BC MSP.  The coverage offered by this plan does not replace the need for primary health insurance. 

If you are an undergraduate student and have questions about the coverage for this plan or opting out, please connect with the Undergraduate students should visit the UVic Studentcare website or call 1-877-789-8714 for more information and discuss options before January 22, 2021.

If you are a graduate student and have questions about the coverage for this plan or opting out, please connect with the Graduate Students Society (GSS) Health Plan Coordinator at or +1 250-721-8816 before January 30, 2021 to discuss options.

Note: If you will not be in Canada for the spring term 2021, you may be eligible to opt out from the UVSS or GSS plans if you do so before the deadlines.

Get Connected

Register for the virtual International Student Welcome event and other orientation events.
The International Student Welcome will introduce you to UVic staff and students who will help you settle into your learning at UVic and navigate your unique experience transitioning to university life.

  • Make new connections with your peers while discovering important campus resources
  • Meet the International Student Services team
  • Learn about Canadian culture
  • Get help with immigration documents, health insurance and other important tasks

Connect with your campus.
Don’t forget to register for other orientation programs too! In order to support new students in their learning, meet other new students and start the year off on the right foot, UVic Orientation runs a number of different orientation events. 

All undergraduate students who are new to UVic should complete the online Pre-Arrival Program before the first day of classes. This program is not intended for graduate students. 

If you’re new to online learning, you may find it valuable to work through UVic’s Orientation to Online Learning course.

In addition to the support for learning with technology, there are many more supports and services at UVic designed to improve your academic writing, keep yourself organized or maximize your educational experience. Refer to the Academic Life page for information about these specific programs.

For academic advising support, consult your Academic Advising Unit early and often and follow the UVic Important Dates to manage your program of study and course registration.

Learn about Canada.
There are many things to learn about Canada. You may find it helpful to visit the Global Affairs Canada website for some facts and insights about this large and diverse country.

If you have questions, please contact International Student Services.

Want to know what else is going on? Join the to receive regular updates about opportunities and events.