International Student Services (ISS)

Planning to Come to UAlberta

Start your study permit application as soon as you receive your UAlberta acceptance letter. 

Students Starting Online Fall 2020 or Winter 2021:

Implications to Online Studies in Fall 2020 and/or Winter 2021 on Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP):
As long as you have applied for your study permit before starting your program, any time spent studying online from outside Canada counts toward the length of a PGWP. 

For this time to count, you must:

  • Complete at least 50% of your program in Canada
  • Apply for a study permit before you start your program for fall 2020 or winter 2021

You won't have time deducted from the length of your PGWP for studies you complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021

IRCC 2-Stage Processing of Study Permits

IRCC now has a new two-stage study permit process for students starting in fall 2020 to allow students to begin studies online, even if you have not been able to submit all documents due to COVID-19 related closures. You will first get an approval-in-principle, then a final approval after you can submit all remaining documents. 

To qualify for a study permit approval-in-principle, you must:

  • Include a letter of acceptance from UAlberta, and
  • Include proof of sufficient funds to cover the cost of studies, living expenses, and transportation (without working in Canada)], including funds for return transportation
  • Submit your application before September 15, 2020

To qualify for a final study permit decision, you must:

  • Submit remaining required documents when services reopen, such as biometrics, medical exams, police certificates, or your passport, and
  • Be admissible to Canada, and
  • Satisfy the visa officer that any information which changed after you received an approval-in-principle does not impact your eligibility

Implication of Your Approval In Principle:

Your online courses completed outside of Canada can count towards your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) starting from when you submit your study permit application as long as your study permit is later approved in the future. 

After you submit all remaining required documents and your application is complete, IRCC will prioritize processing complete study permit applications.

You will be notified of an approval-in-principle in your online IRCC account. An approval-in-principle is not a guarantee that you will receive a final study permit approval. Approval-in-principle is not an authorization to travel to Canada. 

Who is Eligible to Travel to Canada? 

International Students

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

  1. Your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) must be on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans. 
  2. You must hold a valid study permit or a Letter of Introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit. 

As part of the University's COVID-19 Readiness Plan, all international students wishing to travel to Canada on or after October 20, 2020, need an approved quarantine plan either by booking the Isolation Accommodation Program or by signing up to the Off-Campus Travel Registry.

This change doesn’t affect study permit holders already in Canada. 

Criteria for Non-Discretionary Essential Travel 

Your travel to Canada is considered non-discretionary as a student if:

  • Your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans. 
  • You hold a valid study permit or a Letter of Introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit (final approval). 
Since the border officer makes the final decision on whether you are eligible to enter Canada, during questioning at the Port of Entry, students may wish to point out the following to support their entry into Canada, where applicable:


  • your approved quarantine plan and your ability to complete your quarantine as soon as you arrive
  • your ability to study online during your quarantine OR will have time to complete your quarantine before you physically have to attend classes where applicable
  • you’ve already lived in Canada since the start of your program (for returning students) 
  • you need to be in Canada for your program (for laboratory work, workshops, or similar)
  • your school isn’t offering online study options
  • you can’t study online from your home country because of internet restrictions or bandwidth limitations
  • you can’t participate in live online classes from your home country because of the difference in time zones


Immediate Family Members of International Students:


IRCC defines Immediate family members as:

  • Spouse or common-law partner
  • Dependent child
  • Parent or step-parent
  • Guardian

Immediate family members are also exempt from current travel restrictions. What they need to show for their exemption depends on whether they will be travelling with you or at a later time.

If they will be travelling with you:

They don’t need a written authorization from IRCC to travel with you. However, their immigration application must be approved (work or study permit and/or visa/eTA), and they need to show that their reasons for travel are non-discretionary. For example, they will help you get established and support you in Canada.
If they will join you later:

If you are already in Canada or will travel to Canada by yourself first and your family will follow you later, they will still need to have an approved immigration application (work or study permit and/or visa/eTA) and need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • If a family member is travelling from the US: they don’t need written authorization from IRCC; however, they need to show that their reasons for travel are non-discretionary. For example, they’ll help you get established and support you in Canada.
  • If a family member is travelling from a country other than the US: they will need to have written authorization from IRCC to fly to Canada. Family members are advised not to book a flight to Canada before they receive written authorization. Learn how to request written authorization from IRCC.

To be able to board a flight to Canada, immediate family members need:

  • a valid visitor visa or eTA
  • a valid passport
  • to tell the airline that they’re exempt from the travel restrictions
  • to show an immigration officer that they’re coming for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose, such as to live with their spouse, common-law partner or family member
    • Authorization will be refused if an officer finds that the family member will be travelling for an optional or non-essential (discretionary) purpose, such as for tourism, entertainment or recreation.
  • to have their health checked by airline officials to confirm that they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough and difficulty breathing
    • Anyone showing symptoms will not be allowed to board a flight to Canada.
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