International student FAQ

COVID-19 FAQ (Updated: October 7, 2020)


If Fall term is online, can I leave Canada to go home to attend course online?

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 work permit (PGWP) eligibility. However, there is limit imposed that only 50% of the total courses in the program can be completed online from outside Canada.

If I go home to attend courses online, will I be able to return Canada with a study permit and visa?

Students with a valid study permit may enter Canada. However, if you go home and your study permit expires while outside Canada, you may not be able to return until travel restrictions are lifted for all international students. Border restrictions are also currently in a state of flux, so there are no guarantees that you will be able to re-enter.

What are the changes with 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

2. International students working in essential services/functions related to COVID-19 are exempt from the 20 hours per week limit while a full-time student in a regular term. This is effective from April 22, 2020 by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada until 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 has introduced a two-stage application process to help international students start Fall term courses online from outside Canada.

At stage-1, students will be assessed for basic eligibility (acceptance letter/proof of funds/bona fides) and informed of the AIP (Approval in Principle).

At this point, students can feel confident to start studies online with low risk of being refused at stage-2 (which will require them to pass admissibility requirements related to health and security submitting biometrics/medical test results/police reports (if applicable) and passport).

Travel is not possible unless your study permit has been approved and travel restrictions are removed.

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

For students outside Canada, stage 1 & 2 has been introduced to accommodate the missing documents in situations where student cannot get medical test results, give biometrics at visa offices abroad, or provide their passport in time. For more details on the new process, e view the link from IRCC here.

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 For appointments with an IIRSS immigration advisor contact IIRSS: (204) 786-9469;  – Revised September 1, 2020. 


Can I travel to Canada for my studies?

There have been some exciting updates to travel restrictions for international students, and we look forward to welcoming many more of you very soon!

If you are planning on traveling to Canada, please note the following:

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced new changes for international students traveling to Canada. Students from Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), that have an approved COVID-19 readiness plan will be able to enter Canada under 'non-discretionary purposes' of entry. Travel restrictions such as a visa/study permit approval before March 18 will not be applicable to these students.

New changes will take effect on October 20. The University of Winnipeg has been approved as a DLI with a Covid-19 readiness plan. Therefore, students may not require a support letter to travel Canada.

Please note, students who have not received a final decision about their study permit/visa are not able to travel yet (i.e. those who received stage-1 approval, also called Approval in Principle-AIP only). You must wait until you get final approval about your study permit application/visa before making any travel plans.

However, all students and accompanying family members will be subject to a 14 day mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Canada due to health and safety measures enacted by the Government of Canada. Until new changes take effect, current travel restrictions remain in place for those planning to travel to Canada, as found on the IRCC website.

These updates are as of October 7, 2020. Students are encouraged to visit IRCC website for the most up to date information.  

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

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 to confirm details relating to your studies.