COVID-19 information

Information 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 International Student Services. 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:


Immigration updates

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

Request for Study Permit Information Letter for Students Admitted to September 2020

International students admitted to UVic for September 2020 whose study permit information letter has expired and who have not applied for a study permit may request an updated letter from the Office of the Registrar using the following template.

Subject: Updated study permit information letter

Hello Office of the Registrar,

I am an international student who was admitted to UVic for the September 2020 term and my study permit information letter has expired. I require an updated letter to apply for a study permit outside of Canada.

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

Thank you,

[FirstName LastName]

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


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 to process applications as quickly as possible.


Biometrics

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) often 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. You must also have a valid entry document to enter Canada (electronic travel authorization or temporary resident visa, if required).

Please note, 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), please see Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program information below.


Extending your stay in Canada

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. 


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] 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 International Student Services 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.


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 International Student Services.

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 2020), you will be eligible to opt out regardless of whether you are currently covered by a similar health plan.

BC MSP

Implied status
In response to COVID-19, Health Insurance BC has put in place a special considerationIndividuals who are currently in BC, who were previously enrolled in MSP as a deemed resident, and their MSP has expired, may be provided temporary MSP coverage. This temporary coverage will be valid until April 30, 2021.

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

If you were previously issued a Temporary Coverage letter that is set to expire on October 31, 2020 and you remain in B.C. with implied status, you can contact Health Insurance BC to request a new letter valid until April 30, 2021.


Travel

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. 
  1. 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.

As a student, your travel to Canada won’t be considered essential (non-discretionary) if

  • your study program has been cancelled or suspended
  • you’re entering Canada for any reason other than to study

ArriveCAN

As of November 21, 2020, you must use ArriveCAN before checking in at the airport or crossing the border to submit your

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessment

Please bring your ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper) with you to show the border services officer upon arrival.

When you travel to Canada

When the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) 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

The onus is on you to prove your travel to Canada is non-discretionary. A Canadian Border Services officer will make the final decision on your eligibility to enter Canada when you arrive.

 You must bring:

  • a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit. An approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel. 
  • a letter of acceptance (study permit information letter) and Verification of Enrolment (You can order these through your 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) including the ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper)
  • valid entry document (temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization, if required)
  • valid passport or other travel document

If you’re travelling by air, you may need to pass a health check conducted by airlines before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 may not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada your health will be assessed before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory. Learn more about UVic’s self-isolation program.

Please do not make travel arrangement until you meet the travel exemptions. Before you travel, you can contact the Canada Border Services Agency for more information.

Self-isolation

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act. Self-isolation is mandatory, even for people with no symptoms.

International students arriving from abroad are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, and must have a self-isolation plan in place, prior to their arrival. A plan must be submitted to the Government of Canada through the ArriveCAN app, to the BC Government, and to the University of Victoria.

If you are travelling to Canada, you will need to provide your plan to the University of Victoria, and confirm compliance with your plan through a series of check-ins. ISS team members are here to support you throughout your time in self-isolation.

The information and resources on our Travelling to Canada webpage are to support you, as a UVic student, make the necessary arrangements for arriving in Canada, self-isolating on arrival, and ensuring a successful start to your studies.

If you have questions, please contact UVic Self-isolation Program at uvicsip@uvic.ca.

All international travellers arriving in British Columbia (BC) must follow the instructions on the Government of BC’s website to submit your self-isolation plans for approval prior to their travel to BC, or upon arrival (unless they qualify for an exemption). 

Official UVic letter regarding Face-to-Face classes

If you are an international students enrolled in a face-to-face class in the Fall term (September – December) 2020 and planning to travel to Canada, you may request an official letter from the Office of the Registrar using the following email template. Ensure you include your name, V#, and email address. 

Subject: Registration in Face-to-Face classes for Fall 2020

Hello Office of the Registrar,

I am an international student registered in face-to-face classes for the Fall 2020 term. I require an official letter of support explaining that I am required to attend classes in person in Victoria, BC.

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

Thank you,

[FirstName LastName]

Do not travel to Canada if you do not meet the travel exemptions. If you have questions about travelling to Canada, contact International Student Services.


Funding

International students may be eligible to receive the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers if they meet these 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 joining the Online Global Community Conversation Café and other online events and activities facilitated by our Global Community Advisers, Sara and Cecilia.  You are also welcome to contact Sara and Cecilia to set up an online chat, Email 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.
  • Course delivery at UVic will be offered mainly online for the Fall (September-December) term. This may or may not be a new experience for you. 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 for the fall term.  Your academic enrolment status at UVic and the choices you make related to your program of study 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.

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