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International Student FAQ

COVID-19 FAQ (Updated: January 5, 2021)


STUDY PERMIT QUESTIONS

If Fall/Winter term course delivery is online, can I attend online courses from home?

Yes, as per IRCC temporary changes, international students can leave Canada to attend courses online until April 30, 2021 without affecting their study permit or future post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility. However, there is a limit imposed that only 50% of the total courses in the program can be completed online from outside Canada.

As an admitted University of Winnipeg student, you are eligible to take online courses from your home country, and will receive university credit for successful completion. The University of Winnipeg recommends that you do not register in courses without a valid Visa, as registering in courses does not guarantee you will be issued a Visa for future terms.

The majority of classes will be offered through online delivery for the Winter 2021 term, and as many as possible will be offered through asynchronous delivery.

If I go home to attend courses online, will I be able to return Canada?

Yes, students with a valid study permit (Visa or an eTA, if applicable) can go home and return to Canada.

Two to three weeks before you plan to travel to Canada, we recommend you email iirss@uwinnipeg.ca to request a travel support letter.

When you return, there are health and safety measures in place from the Government of Canada which require students to complete a mandatory 14 Day Quarantine.

Students have an option to quarantine in a university facilitated quarantine in the UWinnipeg Residence, or in the Holiday Inn.

For details about residence quarantine, contact housing@uwinnipeg.ca.

For details about hotel quarantine, email iirss@uwinnipeg.ca.

What are the changes to student employment conditions during COVID-19?

Working conditions remains same except in two situations:

1. If you were forced to become a part time student (not registered during a regular term due to school closure or classes not available), you may continue to work under the current conditions, i.e. part time or full time, if you were previously authorized. You would need to request a letter from International Immigrant and Refugees Student Services (IIRSS) by emailing iirss@uwinnipeg.ca.

2. International students working in essential services/functions related to COVID-19 were exempted from the 20 hours per week limit set by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada while a full-time student in a regular term between April 22, 2020 to August 31, 2020. (There have been no further updates that students can work beyond this date as of September 1, 2020). Examples of such services/functions include health care workers, caregivers, and food suppliers. However, students must be authorized to work first.

To confirm if your work comes under this exemption, ask your employer or check the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada website.

Note: Students are encouraged to speak to a UWinnipeg immigration advisor before changing their working hours.

My study permit/visa is about to expire, what should I do?

IRCC is accepting online applications (using a paper application can delay the process).

Processing time may be longer than usual; however, renewing a visa/study permit before expiry triggers “implied status” which allows students to continue studies and work under current conditions.

Students are encouraged to make use of the reference guide on the IIRSS website for online applications.

From within Canada, a student can submit an application with missing documents such as enrolment letters or transcripts, passport etc., if they are unable to obtain these documents due to closures or delays. However, they should make an effort to submit missing documents as soon as possible to receive a final decision, which will only be made once all required documents have been submitted.

I have been accepted into a study program but cannot apply for visa as offices are closed. What should I do?

If you are outside Canada, we encourage you to still submit an online application as soon as you can.

Once the application is submitted, you may be asked by IRCC to give biometrics or medical exam results.

Time to provide biometrics and medicals has been extended from 30 to 90 days (and beyond) where offices remain closed.

Not applying now could further delay your visa, as offices re-open and your application joins the processing queue.

For in-progress applications with IRCC, you can use the use the IRCC web form to request an update if it is past the  standard processing time.

IRCC had introduced a two-stage application process to help international students start Fall Term courses online from outside Canada. This process has been discontinued after September 15, 2020 until further notice.

Students who still receive their AIP (stage-1) approval may start studies online. However, travel is not possible unless your study permit has been approved.

Can I start courses online without a study permit/visa, if I am outside Canada?

In general, a study permit/visa is not required for online courses.

However, studying without a visa or AIP could affect your future post-graduation work permit (PGWP), which students apply for after graduation.

Time spent taking online courses without a valid study permit/visa application started/in process or approved, will not be counted towards validity of your PGWP. Therefore, students are advised to start online courses only if they have been approved for stage-1 (AIP).

I have applied for a study visa/ extension; however I cannot provide required documents (e.g Passport/ Medical results/ Bio-metrics) due to office closures. What do I do?

If your study permit or visa is expiring or near expiry and you do not have required documents (passport/medical test results/biometrics), you may still submit an application with an explanation.

This will trigger implied status that allows you to continue studies/work under current conditions. Required documents can be updated during application process using the IRCC web form

Can I still work if I am in Canada with a valid study permit?

Yes, working conditions remains same as pre-Covid-19 conditions for most international students, unless you were forced to become part-time or did not register during a regular term (see employment conditions above).

Online courses do not affect study permit conditions, including work authorization.

If you are a full-time student in the Fall term (i.e. registered in at least 9 credit hours), you can work part-time off campus.

For detailed working conditions please refer to IIRSS reference sheet.

Will online courses affect my Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Eligibility?

Students in Canada will not have their PGWP eligibility affected by taking online courses due to shifts in the course delivery method due to COVID-19, or if they were forced to drop the term or become part-time students in Winter/Spring/Summer term.

Students outside Canada can start online courses if they have a valid study permit or a study permit application that is submitted/in process or has been approved. These students can:

  • Complete 50% of studies online prior to April 30, 2021, if the other 50% are completed in Canada
  • Complete 100% of studies online if the program duration is between 8 to 12 months and started between May and September 2020.

Disclaimer: It is recommended that students contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or an IIRSS immigration advisor to review their specific case. Canadian immigration regulations, policies, and procedures may change without notice. For the most current information, please visit the IRCC Website at www.cic.gc.ca. For appointments with an IIRSS immigration advisor contact IIRSS: (204) 786-9469; iirss@uwinnipeg.ca  – Revised December 7, 2020. 

TRAVEL/QUARANTINE QUESTIONS:

Can I travel to Canada for my studies?

Travel and border restrictions are determined by the Government of Canada

To be able to enter Canada as an international student, you must meet 2 requirements:

  1. Attend a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with an approved Covid-19 readiness plan, AND
  2. Must have a valid study permit, or have been approved for study permit (applies to all students, including those coming from the US)

You may also be asked by airlines to show proof that you are exempt from travel restrictions. Therefore, students are advised to request a travel support letter from International Immigrant and Refugees Student Services 2-3 weeks before departure by contacting iirss@uwinnipeg.ca. The letter will mention your enrolment in the current/future term, health insurance coverage through The University of Winnipeg and confirm that you are coming to attend a DLI that is approved for COVID-19 readiness plan.

Effective January 7, 2021 travelers to Canada are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result to airlines before boarding. Please contact an accredited lab in your country to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test no earlier than 72 hours before departure. Note that for some countries in Latin America/the Caribbean region, tests may be taken up to 96 hours in advance, until January 14. For full details about COVID-19 pre-departure testing and air transport, see Transport Canada.

The University of Winnipeg is on the Approved DLI list, and is eligible to welcome international students. You must be registered for courses in current/upcoming term (recommended) to travel Canada at this time. If you have deferred your start date, do not make any travel plans yet.

A border services officer will make the final decision on whether your reason for travelling to Canada is non-discretionary or non-optional. For more details, visit their website.

The ArriveCAN app has been made mandatory to enter travel information / quarantine plan / COVID-19 symptoms before departure and after entering Canada. The quarantine plan provided through the app should support information provided to border officers upon arrival in Canada.

If you travel to Canada under an exemption, you will be subject to a mandatory 14 day  Quarantine. These updates are as of January 7, 2021. Students are encouraged to visit IRCC website for the most up to date information.

What dates should I be aware of before starting Winter Term?

Please keep these important dates in mind if you have not received a final decision on your study permit application:

January 6: Classes begin. Students registered in courses may start classes online if they are waiting on study permit/visa final decision.

January 19: Final date to add/drop courses. Students registered in courses who began classes online and do not get a decision on their study permit applications should have dropped all courses by now (recommended). This is to avoid financial penalty in case visa your visa is refused.

When will the university campus residence be available?

For the most up to date information on residence, please visit Campus Living’s website.

I have a class that requires a textbook, but the book is not available in my country (I am studying from outside of Canada).  What do I do?

Please visit the UWinnipeg Bookstore's online textbook search tool to see what materials are required for each class.

If you are studying outside of Canada, we recommend ordering an e-book if it is available for your classes. Shipping costs to countries outside of Canada can be expensive, and is charged as an extra fee for any physical textbooks.

Where can I get more information?

If you have questions about travel restrictions, immigration rules, health coverage, or anything else related to your studies, please contact iirss@uwinnipeg.ca.

Do the above answers also apply to students applying to the English Language Program?

If you are a prospective student in our English Language Program, the answers may be different for you. Email infoelp@uwinnipeg.ca to confirm details relating to your studies.