International Student Services (ISS)

Immigration, Travel, and Employment Information

University of Alberta International continues to work on the many issues impacting international students, including obtaining clarification on immigration and other policies. International students can contact to get in touch with an International Student Advisor for help with any questions or concerns.

Ensure that you update your emergency contact information in Bear Tracks.

Please let us know when you will arrive and where you plan to stay during your 14-day self-isolation period. All registrants receive a welcome package and a personalized check-in.

Register Your Travel Information



  • A. 2-Stage Study Permit Approval Process to Facilitate Online Learning
    Updated July 24, 2020

    To support international students who will be starting a new program of study online this fall IRCC has confirmed the following measures:

    - Give priority to processing study permits of students who submit a complete online application 
    - Implement a 2-stage approval process to reassure students that they can enrol and begin their studies online this fall even when they are not able to submit all the required documents due to pandemic-related closures

    This means, new international students who submit a study permit application online before September 15, 2020:

    - Can expect to receive an “approval-in-principle” from IRCC even if their application is missing documents due to COVID-19 closures in home country (this includes missing biometrics)

    - As long as applicants are able to satisfy all other study permit requirements including admissibility requirements; once they provide the missing documents, they can expect full approval on their study permit application

    Students need to be aware that starting studies online following approval-in-principle is not a guarantee that they will secure a full approval on their application.

    For more information visit:

    Recent IRCC changes to facilitate online learning 
    Measures to support international students during COVID-19 pandemic 
  • B. Biometrics Exemption for Temporary Residence Applicants in Canada

    Updated July 15, 2020

    As a temporary measure, all in-Canada temporary residence applications are now exempt from the biometrics requirement. This applies to all new applications and well as applications already in progress. 

    Students who were issued a Biometrics Instruction Letter in the past but haven’t been able to provide their biometrics due to Service Canada closures can now disregard this request. They can also expect IRCC to process a refund of $85 biometrics fee already paid once their application has been processed.

    Students who are submitting a new application, won’t have to pay the $85 biometrics fee even if the online system asks for it. Students who pay this fee anyway can expect to get a full refund after their application has been processed.

    Click here for more information.

  • C. Travel Restrictions and International Students

    Updated July 31, 2020

    IRCC has confirmed, all “international students who hold a valid study permit (regardless of issue date), OR had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020,  are exempt from the current travel restrictions to Canada." 

    If you determine that you are considered exempt from the travel restrictions, you still need to show that your entry to Canada is for an essential/non-discretionary purpose.

    When preparing to travel back to Canada, exempt students need to consider:

    - Review the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) website for any relevant travel updates

    - Contact CBSA and your airline to confirm your exemption from the travel restrictions prior to booking your flight

    - Have supporting documents that prove your travel to Canada is “essential/non-discretionary”. Examples may include: IRCC confirmation of exemption when possible, verification of enrollment for fall/winter (from Bear Tracks), institutional letter confirming essential travel, a copy of your lease agreement or residence contract.

    - Have the UAlberta Residence Services' confirmation of Isolation Accommodation booking and details to confirm that you have made the necessary 14-day quarantine plan arrangements.  See Travel Updates # D for more information.

    Get the latest information on travelling to Alberta.

    Read Canada's Travel Restriction Measures

    Read Alberta's provincial requirements for self-isolation

    Take the Government of Alberta's Isolation Questionnaire for Returning Travellers

  • D. Work Authorization for International Students Affected by COVID-19

    Updated April 16, 2020

    Under normal circumstances, students are expected to continuously study full-time during all academic terms to meet the eligibility of the Post Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP). However, IRCC will take into account the possibility of disruptions to studying full-time during COVID-19.

    As such, online courses of study or interruptions in full-time study status (i.e., part-time status or no enrollment) for current international students will not affect the student’s eligibility for the PGWP as long as they maintain a valid study permit and meet all other program criteria. For situations where the student is unable to maintain full-time registration status, we recommend the student request a letter of support from their faculty confirming this was a result of the COVID-19 situation. 

  • E. Online Program Delivery and Immigration Implications

    Updated July 24, 2020

    Current Students: 

    International students whose programs have moved to online delivery as a result of COVID-19, and maintain a valid study permit. can continue online in their program without any negative implications on their study permit and/or eligibility for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) if during the online study period they are physically in Canada. 

    If you are doing the online component of your program while residing outside Canada, the online portion will not affect your PGWP eligibility; as long as you have a valid study permit during your online studies, and the online portion is less than 50% of total program length. 

    New Students:

    To reassure students that they can enrol and begin their studies online this fall even when they are not able to submit all the required documents due to pandemic-related closures, IRCC has confirmed that students who have been approved or applied for a study permit for a program starting in the fall, but cannot travel to Canada due to travel restrictions are eligible for the PGWP, as long as they complete no more than 50% of the program while outside Canada.  

    While you are eligible to start your program online before a decision has been made on your study permit application; please note: 

    - You will be expected to pay your tuition fees.

    - Starting your program will not guarantee that your study permit application will be approved.

    - Should your study permit application get refused, you will have the option to re-apply for the study permit after addressing the grounds for refusal. There are no guarantees that you will be approved the second time.

    - You will not be able to continue in the program once in-person program delivery resumes unless you get full approval on your study permit application.


  • A. Travel Restrictions and Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Holders

    Updated July 2, 2020

    The current travel restrictions do not apply to international students who hold a valid study permit or have been approved for a study permit prior to March 18, 2020 and Temporary Foreign Workers who hold a valid job offer and will be able to work once they enter Canada. 

    Students who have applied for and were approved for a PGWP and wish to re-enter Canada may not be eligible for re-entry into Canada under the current travel restrictions if they do not have a current and active offer of employment. 

    The travel back to Canada in this case may be considered “optional or discretionary”. This applies to:

    - A student who applies for a PGWP outside Canada and receives the letter of introduction (approval).

    - A student whose PGWP application is approved in Canada then travels outside Canada.

    For more information on this, visit:

  • B. Travel Restrictions and Dependent Family Members of International Students

    Updated July 24, 2020

    This restriction does not apply to spouses or common-law partners of students and their dependent children. 

    IRCC has confirmed, a foreign national whose travel to Canada is authorized in writing by an officer designated under subsection 6(1) of IRPA for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members (for example, a temporary worker is in Canada, but their spouse and children went home to visit family and now cannot come back). See Family reunification. 

    Students who wish to have their dependent family members join them in Canada are advised to follow the guidelines below before making any travel arrangements: 

    - Review the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website for any related travel updates.

    - Email the IRCC to get written confirmation that your spouse and/or dependent child(ren) is/are exempt from the travel restrictions under "Family Reunification". Send your email to

    - Contact CBSA and your airline to confirm your exemption from the travel restrictions prior to booking your flight.

    - Have supporting documents that may facilitate your dependent family members' entry to Canada. Examples may include: 

    - IRCC's written confirmation of exemption

    - Student's verification of enrollment for fall/winter (from Bear Tracks)

    - Institutional letter confirming essential travel (in the event that the student meets the exemption criteria and will be entering along with dependent family member(s)). 

    - Copy of your lease agreement

    - Written detailed 14-day self-isolation/quarantine plan:

    - If your dependent family member is entering Canada while you are already here, you will need to provide your family member with a written detailed quarantine plan, accompanied by relevant support documents. Examples of such documents may include a lease agreement showing that no one else is sharing the lease with you, a letter confirming that the whole family will be self-isolating without leaving the residence for 14 days and a letter from a family member/friend confirming support during your quarantine for 14 days. You may wish to consider registering your dependent(s) for the Residence Services Isolation Accommodation Program for your spouse if you are unable to follow these guidelines. 

    - If you and your dependent family member(s) will enter Canada together, you are required to register for the Residence Services Isolation Accommodation Program. Once you register, you will receive a quarantine plan letter confirming the quarantine arrangements and details. 

    We also recommend you check for any possible updates on travel restrictions to Canada and your home country for the time you plan to return. 

    Get the Latest Information on Travelling to Alberta

    Read Canada's Travel Restriction Measures

    Read Alberta's Provincial Requirements for Self-isolation

    Take the Government of Alberta Isolation Questionnaire for Returning Travellers

    Learn more about travel restrictions and on the quarantine requirement for travellers into Canada. 

    IRCC Travel Restrictions Measures

    IRCC Non-Optional and Non-Discretionary Travel


  • C. When and How to Contact IRCC to Request Written Authorization for the Purpose of Travel

    Updated July 2, 2020

    If you are a foreign national wanting to reunite with an immediate family member residing in Canada who is NOT a Canadian or PR (study permit and work permit holders) and you meet both of the following conditions:

    1. You hold a valid visitor visa or eTA or you have an application in progress submitted before April 9, 2020, AND 

    2. You are travelling for an essential (IRCC considers family reunification as an “essential purpose”)

    To apply for IRCC’s written authorization follow the guidelines below:

    - Send IRCC an email to the following address:

    Provide with your email all the following information for you and your immediate family member in Canada:

    - Full name

    - Date of Birth

    - UCI

    - Application Number

    - Passport Number

    - Detailed purpose of travel

    Proof of relationship with an immediate family member in Canada

    Proof of immigration status of the immediate family member in Canada

    - Proof of Temporary Resident Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization

  • D. Travellers Without Symptoms Entering Canada During COVID-19

    The Mandatory 14-Day Quarantine Period for All Travelers Entering Canada

    Updated July 24, 2020

    International Students who are exempt from the current travel restrictions and wish to come to Canada are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. 

    Quarantine Requirements:

    - Completed Alberta Isolation Questionnaire
    - Arrangement details from Residence Services confirming your registration for the Isolation Accommodation Program, which includes transportation information
    - Transportation details from the airport to your quarantine location. If you are not symptomatic, you are allowed to travel by taxi from the airport to your quarantine destination (note: this service is included in the University’s Isolation - Accommodation Program (see below))
    - Arrangement details for getting groceries and other essential needs during self-isolation

    NOTE: The University of Alberta's Isolation Accommodation Program is offered for a fee and sets you up with airport-to-accommodation travel and provides you with support during the mandatory 14 day quarantine period. This package includes:

    - Confirmation of your Isolation Accommodation booking with Residence Services (to support your quarantine plan upon arrival)
    - Transportation: from Edmonton International Airport directly to your isolation destination
    - Accommodation: single room with private bathroom (linens, garbage collection & laundry included)
    - Meal delivery

    To book this package contact, Residence Services

    What to Carry with You During your Trip:

    - Quarantine details from Residence Services
    - Completed Alberta Isolation Questionnaire
    - Disposable masks and gloves to use as needed during flights and transit (avoid reusing same mask/gloves when possible)
    - Travel-sized hand sanitizer
    - Thermometer

    What to Expect Upon Arrival:

    - A health assessment will be done by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officer upon arrival at the Port of Entry. If it is determined that you have symptoms of COVID-19, you will be provided a 14-day mandatory isolation order and will not be permitted to board a public conveyance for onward travel, be it a plane, bus, or train
    - If you do not display any symptoms and you can show that your entry is deemed “essential”, you will present your quarantine plan confirmation which you get from Residence Services when you register for their Isolation Accommodation Program
    - You will be expected to follow public health directives until you reach your quarantine destination

    What to Expect During Quarantine:

    - You will be required to remain in your residence during the quarantine period - if this is within University housing you will be required to remain in your assigned room for the full 14 day period.
    - Your compliance may be subject to verification and enforcement by the relevant Government agencies during your quarantine period
    - Monitor your health. If you notice any COVID-19 related symptoms complete the Alberta COVID-19 online self assessment to find out what you need to do (if unable to use the online self assessment tool, call 811)
    - Monitor your mental health. If you experience symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and/or panic please access the support services available or call the Mental Health Help Line, available 24/7, at 877-303-2642
    - Stay connected to university advisors within your faculty and International Student Services
    - Stay connected with friends and family through social media, video calls, texts, etc.

    Penalties and Fines:

    - Students need to be aware that penalties for failure to comply with Canada’s Quarantine Act include:
    - Up to $750,000 in fines and/or
    - Imprisonment of up to 6 months
    -  Being found inadmissible, removed from Canada and banned from entry for 1 year

    What to Expect After Quarantine:

    Students will be expected to follow public health guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus by practicing good hygiene, physical distancing and monitoring symptoms.


  • A. SIN / EI / CERB / Tax Filing / CESB

    Updated April 29, 2020

    Social Insurance Number (SIN): In-person services are currently unavailable at Service Canada Centres.To apply for your first SIN or to extend or renew your SIN, you can apply online or by mail. If your SIN application meets the requirements, you will be sent a letter with your SIN by mail within 20 business days, from the date the application is received.  

    Employment Insurance (EI): International students are eligible for the Employment Insurance (EI) providing all eligibility criteria are met. Eligibility and application information is available on the Employment Insurance website. You are eligible for EI Regular Benefits if you:

     - Were employed in insurable employment

     - Lost your job through no fault of your own

     - Have been without work and pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks

     - Have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter 

     - Are ready, willing and capable of working each day

     - Are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them)

    Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): International students are eligible for the CERB providing all other eligibility criteria are met. Main eligibility criteria, including:

     - You are residing in Canada

     - You have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19

     - You had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months before the date of application

    - You have not quit your job voluntarily 

    When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim. When submitting subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim.

    Eligibility and application information is available on the CERB website. 

    Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

    Updated May 14, 2020

    International students are not eligible for this benefit. 

    Tax Filing: The deadline for individuals to file tax has been extended to June 1, 2020. Students can file taxes at no cost using UFile Online service. ISS is providing online tutorials and support sessions. There are available on the ISS web page.

  • B. Graduate Students and CERB

    Updated May 6, 2020

    Students who have lost their funding as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible for the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) program. If you are a student who was funded through a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) or Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) and you meet all the other CERB requirements, you can apply under this program. 
    If you are a student who was funded through a Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowship (GRAF) you may not be eligible to apply for the CERB. 
    The reason for this is due to the GRA and GTA being an employment relationship between the student and the supervisor; whereas the GRAF is not considered to be an employment relationship. Please refer to the information below that highlights this difference between GRA and GRAF as per the Graduate Research Assistantship Collective Agreement
    Graduate Research Assistantship (GRAs)

    The duties of a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) are primarily in support of a faculty member’s academic research. Such duties may include, but are not limited to: collecting/coding/analyzing data, literature reviews, library research, writing reports, designing conference presentations, and preparing materials for submission to funding agencies. The duties of a GRA are to help prepare the Graduate Assistant for further academic and professional opportunities (Article 9.01).

    - The relationship between the Graduate Assistantship Supervisor and the GRA is an employment relationship. (Article 9.03).  

    Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowships (GRAFs)  

    - A Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowship (GRAF) is a form of financial assistance provided to graduate students to allow them to focus on their education and training, as it relates to their own thesis or directed research project.  (Article 10.01).

    - The relationship between the Assistantship Supervisor and GRAF is not an employment relationship. (Article 10.02).

  • C. Off-Campus Work in Essential Services

    Updated May 7, 2020

    The Government of Canada has temporarily removed the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during academic terms for students who are working in an essential service or function such as health care, critical infrastructure or the supply of food and critical goods. As a result, any international student whose work falls within these categories may now work over 20 hours/week for as long as this temporary rule change applies. 

    View the Government of Alberta list of essential business/services/functions to determine whether a specific job or service is deemed essential. 

    For questions or clarification email the Government of Alberta at

Frequently Asked Questions: Immigration

Connect to an International Student Advisor online to discuss concerns
Please note: Online Advising is available Monday - Friday, 10 am - 4 pm (MST).