COVID-19 information for international students


As COVID-19 measures can change without notice, for the most current information, visit the Government of Canada website. After that, if you still have questions or need support, contact the International Centre for Students. If you are a business student, please contact Gustavson School of Business (GSB) International.

The information below is NOT a comprehensive list of all COVID-19 information relevant for international students. Be sure to review the rest of the COVID-19 students information.

On this page:

Studying inside Canada   Studying outside Canada

For the latest UVic information, please check this website for updates. If you have further questions not covered by these FAQs, please email .

BC COVID-19 Immunization Program

If you are an international student living in BC during the pandemic you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need to be enrolled in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) to get the vaccine. You do not need to be a Canadian citizen or have permanent residency to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the BC COVID-19 Immunization Program website for more COVID-19 vaccine FAQs.

Online registration is open for eligible people currently living or working in BC. Visit the BC COVID-19 vaccines website for  detailed information.

COVID-19 information is available in different languages. For translated content, visit the BC COVID-19 website.


BC Vaccine Card and Canadian Proof of Vaccination

1. BC Vaccine Card

See Proof of vaccination and the BC Vaccine Card for current information.
  • Required for entry to places such as restaurants, pubs, gyms, student housing, and large indoor events. You must show your Vaccine Card and a piece of valid government photo ID to enter these places.
  • Not required for grocery stores, fast food outlets and cafeterias, hotels, banks, health care services, and others.
  • To get your BC Vaccine Card, go to Get the BC Vaccine Card and use your Personal Health Number (PHN) to download your document. Save a digital copy to your phone or print a paper copy.

2. Canadian COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination

See About the Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination for current information.

  • The Canadian Proof of Vaccination will be used to board a plane, train, or cruise ship in Canada.
  • If you travel internationally, be sure to research whether or not your destination will accept this document as proof of vaccination. Every country makes their own decision about what they will accept.
  • Get your document in the same way that you get your BC Vaccine Card. Go to How to get the federal COVID-19 proof of vaccination and use your Personal Health Number (PHN) to download your document. Save a digital copy to your phone and/or print a paper copy.

For more information and Frequent Questions, please see BC Vaccine Card and Canadian Proof of Vaccination.

For a quick guide on how to receive your vaccination proof (both provincial and federal), please see How to get your Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination.


Extending your stay in Canada

If you cannot finish your program at UVic before your study permit expires, you must apply online to extend your stay in Canada.

Visit the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students webpageIf you want to stay in Canada longer” section for up-to-date considerations and special measures.

Foreign nationals in Canada who wish to renew or extend their status should NOT go to the border (known as flag-poling). This is considered non-essential travel.


Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program

Visit the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students webpageHow your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected” section for up-to-date considerations and special measures. 

Open work permits to current PGWP holders with soon-to-expire permits and former PGWP holders

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognizes that, as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian labour market, post-graduation work permit (PGWP) holders may have lost their employment or seen their hours reduced. A temporary public policy has been established to facilitate the issuance of open work permits to current PGWP holders with soon-to-expire permits and former PGWP holders, for a maximum duration of 18 months. For information, visit IRCC’s webpage Apply for an open work permit under a public policy.

Please note, ISS is not able to provide immigration advice about this open work permit as it is out of our scope of practice. If you have questions, you may contact IRCC and if you would like additional assistance, you may wish to use the services of an authorized immigration representative, such as a lawyer or consultant.


Official UVic letter regarding COVID-19 for your IRCC application

International students may request an official letter from the Office of the Registrar, using the following email template. Ensure you include your name, V#, email address and impacted terms. 

Subject: Document request re: COVID-19 impacts on registration

Hello Office of the Registrar,

I am an international student and my registration in the [Spring 2020 and/or Summer 2020 and/or Fall 2020 and/or Spring 2021 and/or Summer 2021 and/or Fall 2021 and/or Spring 2022] term has been impacted or disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 situation. I require an official letter explaining this impact for immigration purposes.

My V# is [V00######]. Please send my letter to [email address].

Thank you,
[FirstName LastName]

If you are using this letter for an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) application and you have questions, contact the International Centre for Students or if you are a business student, please contact Gustavson School of Business (GSB) International.


Social Insurance Numbers (SIN)

The Government of Canada is still processing SIN applications. You have the option to apply online or by mail. We recommend you review the application instructions carefully.

It may be possible to apply for a SIN in person as some of the Service Canada Centres are reopened for in-person services. You must follow the public health advice if you decide to enter the Service Canada Centre offices.


Health insurance

The cost of health care in Canada is very high for those without health insurance. All UVic students are required to have comprehensive coverage for the entire duration of their studies. For information about health insurance, contact the International Centre for Students.

Mandatory temporary medical insurance 

New international students will automatically be enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan upon course registration at UVic and you will be assessed the Mandatory Temporary Medical Insurance (MTMI) fee.

Enrolment in the guard.me@UVic plan is mandatory unless you are covered by one of the following:

  • BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP)
  • Canadian provincial or territorial public health plan
  • Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau-sponsored plan
  • Libyan-North American Scholarship Program-sponsored plan
  • African Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship Program-sponsored plan
  • Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange & Fellowship Program

If you will be outside of Canada for the Fall term (September - December 2021), you will be eligible to opt out regardless of whether you are currently covered by a similar health plan.

BC MSP

Temporary Coverage during maintained status (previously implied status)
If your temporary permits (e.g., study permit or work permit) have expired and you no longer have MSP coverage, you may be provided temporary MSP coverage. Refer to the HIBC's website for detailed eligibility criteria. 

Contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage:
Toll-free: 1 800 663-7100
Lower Mainland: 604 683-7151


Funding

International students may be eligible to receive the BC Recovery Benefit if they meet the eligibility requirements.

We also encourage you to look for support through your home country by contacting your consular office. Some countries have set up specialized funding to offer financial support.


Tips and Considerations

  • Feeling isolated during times of uncertainty can add to your feelings of stress. Find ways to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, get connected and meet new people. Consider getting connected with the UVic Global Community. Join the weekly Global Community Student Social Drop-In and online events and activities facilitated by our Global Community Advisers, Theresa and Cecilia, or participate in our Conversation Partners or Mentorship Program. You are also welcome to contact Theresa and Cecilia to set up an online chat by emailing gcmentor@uvic.ca to coordinate a meeting date.
  • Stay up-to-date by joining our Global Community Facebook Group where we will communicate daily with various tips, resources and messages of support. Also, subscribe to our Global Community Newsletter for important articles, information and highlights.
  • Resources are constantly being updated and developed to help you succeed in an online learning environment. Check out the Learn Anywhere website for helpful resources and information. 
  • Here are some additional tips for studying online (adapted from an article written by Aliyyah Nazeem):
    • Ensure you have a reliable internet connection
    • Have a dedicated area for study
    • Treat online learning like classroom learning – create a schedule, use a calendar to track assignments and exams, set aside time to study
    • Develop a daily and weekly routine
    • Engage and participate in group discussions and activities
    • Make sure you communicate with your instructors regularly
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way
  • As an international student there may be additional considerations when you make your study plans. Your academic enrolment status at UVic and the choices you make related to your program of study may affect your immigration status and your current and future opportunities and ISS can help you when you make your plans. For example, due to COVID-19, you may have questions about how taking online courses, dropping courses, or taking a term off will affect your study permit validity, work authorization, and post-graduation work permit eligibility. Contact issinfo@uvic.ca to connect with an International Student Adviser, if you have questions.

Immigration updates

Please consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website for the latest immigration information.


Travel

Suspension of Flights

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions have been put in place that limit travel to Canada.

Travel restrictions may change with little warning, for the latest COVID-19 travel information, please visit:

Do not travel to Canada if you do not meet the travel exemptions and entry requirementsIf you have questions about travelling to Canada or self-isolation requirements, contact the International Centre for Students.

Before you travel, if you have questions about the timing of your arrival (e.g., arriving to Canada more than 3 weeks prior to the start of classes) you should contact your airline and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for more information. 


Applying for a study permit

As soon as you are admitted to UVic and if you do not already have a Canadian study permit or study permit approval (letter of introduction), you should apply online for a study permit.

Visit the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students webpageApply for a study permit” section for up-to-date considerations and special measures.

If you are a returning student extending your study permit, you may order a new study permit information letter through your UVic Online Tools.


Application processing times

Due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not have accurate estimates for processing times. However, they are still working on processing applications as quickly as possible.


Biometrics

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may require biometrics as part of the immigration application process.

Visit the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Biometrics webpage for up-to-date considerations and special measures.


Study permits and online classes

We look forward to welcoming you to our online classes and community.

If you are an international student engaged in online learning inside of Canada, and your program of study is longer than 6 months, you require a valid study permit.

If you are an international student engaged in online learning outside of Canada, you do not require a study permit. However, we recommend applying for a study permit as soon as possible, as you must have a valid study permit or letter of introduction when you arrive to Canada to engage in your studies if your program of study is 6 months or longer. Some foreign nationals also have a valid entry document to enter Canada (electronic travel authorization or temporary resident visa). 

If you choose to start your program before your study permit application is approved, please note that starting your program of study does not guarantee that your study permit will be approved.

In addition, there may be implications to your post-graduation work permit if you start your program without a study permit or study permit approval (letter of introduction), visit the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students webpage “How your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected section for detailed information.