Immigration, Travel, and Employment FAQs

Important Update

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 make an appointment 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


Updates

Immigration

A. Medical Exam Requirement for First Time Entry to Canada

Updated April 25, 2022

Students who have been approved for a study permit outside Canada and are planning to enter Canada for the first time are required to have a valid medical exam and the other required documents upon entry into Canada for the first time. 

If your medical exam expires before your scheduled entry to Canada, you must re-take your medical exam by completing an upfront medical at a Panel Physician.

Once you complete your medical exam, you will be given an e-Medical form by your Panel Physician. The Panel Physician is responsible for sending your medical exam results to IRCC directly. Once your medical exam results are received by IRCC, you will see an update regarding this in your IRCC account.

Returning students who hold a valid study permit and visa and have been living in a designated country for more than six months in the past 12 months are advised to do an upfront medical exam before their proposed travel to Canada. You may be asked for confirmation of this at the Port of Entry.

For more information on documents to have upon entry and other relevant information, visit Travel to Canada During COVID.

B. Biometrics Exemption for Temporary Residence Applicants in Canada

Updated April 25, 2022

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 provided their biometrics due to Service Canada closures can now disregard this request. They can also expect IRCC to process a refund of the $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.

D. Post Graduation Work Permit eligibility for International Students Affected by COVID-19

Updated April 25, 2022

Usually, to meet the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) requirements, students must continuously study full-time throughout all academic terms (except scheduled breaks and final academic term), and at least 50% of their program must be completed in-person. However, the IRCC has taken into account the possibility of disruptions to students' studies during COVID-19.

As such, interruptions in current students' full-time study status (i.e., part-time status or no enrollment), which may have happened as a direct result of COVID-19 during the spring or summer 2020 terms, does not affect the student's eligibility for the PGWP. So long as they maintain a valid study permit and meet all other program criteria. For situations where the student could not maintain full-time registration status due to COVID-19, a letter of support from their faculty confirming this is needed.

For detailed information, please review the information posted on the IRCC website.

D. Online Program Delivery and Immigration Implications

Updated April 25, 2022

Current Students:

International students whose programs have moved to online delivery due to 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 they are physically in Canada during the online study period. If in-person courses are available, students must enroll in in-person courses to maintain eligibility for the PGWP program.

If you are doing your program's online component while residing outside of Canada, the online portion will not affect your PGWP eligibility. If you meet all other PGWP requirements and:

  • have been in a program that was in progress in March 2020, and
  • have a valid study permit during your online studies

The online portion you completed outside of Canada between spring 2020 and August 30, 2022, will count towards your PGWP.


New Students:

To reassure students that they can enroll and begin their studies online, IRCC has confirmed that students who have been approved or applied for a study permit before the start of their program that started between spring 2020 to summer 2022 but cannot travel to Canada due to travel restrictions are eligible for the PGWP. To be eligible, you must meet all other PGWP requirements and:

  • have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and summer 2022, and
    • you have a study permit, or
    • you’ve been approved for a study permit, or
    • you applied for a study permit before starting your study program
      • your study permit must eventually be approved

If the above applies to you, you can complete 100% of your studies online from outside Canada up to August 31, 2022, and still have that time count towards the length of the PGWP.

Important Notice

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 regardless of the decision on your study permit application.

- 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.

If your second study permit gets approved after the refusal of the first, the time studying online after the submission of the first application will count towards your PGWP.

- 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.

Travel

A. Travel Restrictions and International Students

Updated April 25, 2022 

The current travel restrictions do not apply to fully vaccinated international students and partially or unvaccinated minor students under the age of 18 who hold a valid study permit or have been approved for a study permit and are current UAlberta students.

Important note: At the port of entry, a government representative makes the final determination regarding access based on the information presented to them at the time of entry into Canada.

For more information on this, visit: 

IRCC Travel Restrictions Measures Web page

B. Travel Restrictions and Dependent Family Members of International Students

Updated April 25, 2022

Travel restrictions do not apply to fully vaccinated travelers.

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

- a valid visitor visa or eTA
- a valid passport
- to show proof to the airline that they meet eligibility requirements to enter Canada (proof of their vaccination status)

An officer at the Port of Entry makes the final decision regarding a travellers eligibility to enter Canada

- 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.

Visit Travel to Canada During COVID for more information on what to consider when preparing to travel to Canada.

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

IRCC Travel Restrictions Measures

Employment

A. SIN / EI / Tax Filing

Updated April 29, 2020

Social Insurance Number (SIN): In-person services are available at Service Canada Centres. To apply for your first SIN or to extend or renew your SIN, you can apply online, in-person 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)


Tax Filing: The deadline for individuals to file tax is April 30, 2022. Students can file taxes at no cost using UFile Online service. ISS is providing online video tutorials, watch now How to File Your Taxes Online.

B. Graduate Students and GRA, GTA and GRAF

As per the Graduate Research Assistantship Collective Agreement, GRA and GTA are both considered an employment relationship between the student and the supervisor; whereas the GRAF is not considered 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. A GRA's duties 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)

- Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowship (GRAF) is a form of financial assistance provided to graduate students to focus on their education and training, related 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 October 8, 2020

Between April 22 and August 31, 2020, you were temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours per week during an academic session if:

- you worked in an essential service or function, and

- you had a valid study permit that allowed you to work off-campus

This change no longer applies.

If, on a future application, an officer asks you about work you performed during this time, let them know what essential service or function you worked. You could ask your employer for a letter of support to confirm this.

Find out if your work was considered an essential service or function.

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

Frequently Asked Questions: Immigration

A. How do I start my study permit application? Are they still processing applications even though Visa Application Centres are closed and I can't provide my biometrics?


You will need to have your official offer of admission before you can submit a study permit application. You will then be required to apply online by creating an account with Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC). IRCC continues to process study permit applications during COVID. Learn more on the IRCC website.

Now that many Visa Application Centres and Panel Physician Offices abroad have resumed services during COVID-19, IRCC has returned to pre-pandemic processing. As a result, the automatic 90-day extensions given when students submitted their study permit applications with missing documents (such as their biometrics) due to COVID-related closures will cease.

All applicants will now have 30 days from receiving biometrics notification to provide their biometrics. Applicants who have a reasonable explanation why they need an extension beyond the 30 days can contact IRCC to request an extension during the 30 days given.

Click here for more information.

B. Do I need a study permit to start my courses online?

You do not need to have a valid study permit or have been approved for a study permit to start your program online in the Fall.

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

- Any period of online study time spent after submitting your online study permit application will be considered when assessing your eligibility under the PGWP up to 100% as long as you had applied for the study permit prior to the start of your program and the online study period outside Canada was completed between spring 2020 and August 31, 2022

- Starting your program before receiving final approval will not guarantee that your study permit application will get full approval

- 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.

- Suppose your application is refused after you start your program and you decide to re-apply. In that case, the time already spent studying will be considered under the PGWP program only if your second application gets approved.

- You will not be able to continue in the program once in-person program delivery resumes unless your study permit application has received final approval.

Please note, that students are expected to pay tuition fees when they start their program regardless of whether their study permit is approved.
C. If my study permit is approved, can I come to Canada even if my classes will continue to be delivered online?

As long as you have been approved for a study permit or have a valid study permit and visa upon entry, you can enter Canada.

When to enter Canada will depend on flight availability and when you can have the necessary arrangements in place, allowing you to meet the mandatory travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

If you plan to come to Canada, you should not plan to enter too soon before the start of your courses if your entry will be when you do not have any course registration.

More importantly, when planning for your entry to Canada, make sure that you review our Travel to Canada During COVID pages to learn more about the travel restrictions that apply to you.

It is important to note that you will be required to follow and pay for the new travel restriction requirements in place upon entry.

Read Travel to Canada During COVID for more information.

D. When I submitted my study permit extension application, I got a Biometrics Instruction Letter (BIL). It has been over 90 days with biometrics services closed in Canada; what do I do?
As of July 15, 2020, IRCC has confirmed that all new and in progress application for extension of temporary residence status in Canada (study or work permit extension, TRV, PGWP applications, etc.) are now exempt from the biometrics requirement.

If you have already paid the $85 biometrics fee, you can expect a refund. For students submitting new applications, you are no longer to pay the $85 biometrics fee when you apply online even if the system asks you to pay it. Those who pay it anyway can expect a refund for that amount from IRCC.

This temporary measure only applies to IN-CANADA applications. All applications submitted outside Canada are not exempt from the biometrics requirement.
E. My temporary residence status in Canada is about to expire, but I cannot leave due to the current travel restrictions; what should I do?

If you are a temporary resident who is unable to leave Canada and your status has not yet expired, you can apply online to extend your stay in Canada.

If you are a visitor, you can apply to extend your stay as a visitor in Canada.

If you are a worker or student, you have a few options:
- If you are no longer working or studying, you can apply to change your status to "visitor," as long as your study or work permit has not expired
- If you want to continue working or studying, you may be able to extend your work permit or study permit if you're eligible.

In both cases, when you apply, make sure you include a note explaining the reason you need to extend your stay in Canada.

F. My temporary residence status expired less than 90 days ago. What should I do?
You can apply to restore your status.

When you complete the application form, make sure you do all of the following:

- Select Restore my status under section 3 at the top of page one of the applicable form.
- Include a note explaining the reason you need to extend your stay.
- You must also pay the restoration fee.

If your temporary resident status is restored, you'll receive the appropriate permit, which will outline the conditions of your stay in Canada. Your temporary resident status in Canada will be extended until a specified date.
G. My temporary residence status expired over 90 days ago, but I cannot leave Canada due to COVID-19. What should I do?

Even if it has been more than 90 days since your status expired, you are not eligible to apply to restore your status from inside Canada. If you are in this situation, you must leave Canada immediately and apply to return back from outside Canada.

H. How can I make sure that I can access all the relevant updates and information during the COVID-19 pandemic?
International students should register with their home country's government. This ensures you receive relevant updates from your consular services representatives in Canada.

Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is responding to the many issues that are arising as a result of Canada's response to COVID-19.

IRCC policy updates are posted online, see:

- How COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport services

- COVID-19: Visitors, foreign workers and students

Read information for travellers entering Alberta from outside Canada.

Read the University of Alberta's COVID-19 updates.

Questions? Email advising@ualberta.ca with your concerns.

I. What do I need to be able to work on- or off-campus in Canada?

Once you are able to travel to Canada, you will need to get your study permit issued upon entry with the required work conditions that clearly state your eligibility to work on- and off-campus. You will then be required to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You will need to have your passport and your study permit with the required work conditions to apply for a SIN.

You should be aware that you will need to maintain full-time registration during academic terms and not work more than 20 hours/week off-campus during academic terms. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work on-campus.

J. If I am studying online while in Canada, will I be eligible to work on- or off-campus?

If the program delivery is being offered online due to the COVID-19 situation and if you meet the following requirements, you will be eligible to work during your online studies:
- Hold a valid study permit with required work authorization remarks,
- Hold a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and
- Meet all the other conditions for working on- and off-campus as per Immigration

Refugee Protection Regulations 186(f) and 186(v) which include:
- Full-time registration
- Registered in a degree-seeking program
- Work no more than 20 hours/week during academic terms

K. I applied for a co-op work permit; however, I may not get the co-op work permit in time for the start of my work placement due to the current COVID-19 processing delays. Can I begin my co-op placement if my co-op work permit has not been issued by then?

In normal circumstances, international students must have a valid co-op work permit when they start their co-op placement. 

However, the Government of Canada announced temporary measures that provide students with the opportunity to begin their co-op work placement before their co-op work permit has been issued.

The measures differ depending on where the student will be when starting their co-op placement.

Students Who Will be Outside Canada:

If the student is outside of Canada at the start of their co-op placement, they can start their co-op placement if both their school and employer agree.

They can either:

  • accept a Canadian work placement and begin working remotely from their home country
  • work for a company in their home country
Students Who Will be Inside Canada:
Students who are already in Canada, and have applied for a co-op work permit, may start their co-op placement using their on-campus and off-campus work authorization, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements. 

On-Campus Co-Op Placements:
Students may start working full-time if their co-op placement is on campus and they are a full-time student as per [R186(f)].

Off-Campus Co-Op Placements:
Students may start working a total of 20 hours per week during Fall and Winter terms as per [R186(v)]. While working a total of 20 hours/week during the co-op placement, the student should not have any other off-campus employment.

Students may start working full-time if their co-op placement takes place during regularly scheduled breaks.

Important Note: If the co-op application is refused, students must stop their co-op work immediately.

L. How can I connect with an advisor for my immigration questions?

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