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Study permit applications during COVID-19

Study permit applications during COVID-19, including study permit extensions, are subject to temporary restrictions and provisional rules. Because some of the visa application centres have been closed or have limited their operations, study permit applicants may have difficulty to comply with biometrics and medical examination requirements. The good news is that Immigration Canada will not reject an application for non-compliance while the provisional COVID-19 rules are in force. The above, however, will contribute significantly to longer processing times and you will not be allowed to travel to Canada unless you fall under of one of the exemptions.

Who may travel to Canada?

You may travel to Canada if

  1. you have a valid study permit, or
  2. you received a letter of introduction on or before March 18, 2020.

All other applicants will have to wait until the travel restrictions are lifted. If you are considering to apply for a Study Permit during the current COVID-19 restrictions, please read carefully the provisional rules explained below.

Provisional rules regarding outstanding documents

Your application should not be refused if you have failed to provide a document, e.g. a police clearance. Your application will remain open and you will receive a request letter allowing additional time to supply the required documentation or to comply with biometrics and medical examination requirements. This rule now applies to all temporary residence, permanent residence and citizenship applications. Until further notice, your application will not be refused for non-compliance.

Rules for Student Direct Stream (SDS) applications

If you don’t have all documentation required for an SDS application (such as upfront medical results, a police certificate, a guaranteed investment certificate, proof of full payment of tuition for the first year of study, language test results, educational transcripts, etc.), you should instead consider applying through a regular study permit stream or wait until you are able to submit the required documents.

Temporary measures for study permit extensions in Canada

If you are unable to obtain a letter of acceptance or proof of enrolment from your college/university due to your school closure, you are now allowed to submit an application without these documents. However, you must submit a letter of explanation indicating that you are unable to obtain the documents because your school is closed. The same rule applies to those who need to restore their status.

While you are waiting for a new study permit, you must remain enrolled and continue to actively pursue your studies online. If you need to change schools because your school has been permanently closed, you must do so within 150 days from the date the school closed. If you do not wish to enrol in a new program and you are unable to return to your home country, you must apply for a visitor record or a work permit.

Off-campus work

You now may continue to work on or off campus even though you may have been forced to switch to part-time studies or take a break from your studies due to COVID-19, but you must not exceed the authorized number of hours you would have been allowed to work as a full-time student: 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full time during regularly scheduled breaks.

Applications for a Post-graduation work permit (PGWP)

As mentioned above, you may apply for your PGWP with a letter of explanation instead of a letter of completion or final transcript. Once the application is submitted, you are allowed to start working full time without a work permit until a decision is made on your PGWP application. The rule does not apply to those applying for a restoration of status.  

Normally, to be eligible for a PGWP, you must provide proof of full-time studies. This requirement has been waived for the winter and summer 2020 semesters and you may change your status from full time to part time, including online studies, and remain eligible for a post-graduation work permit upon graduation. Furthermore, you may start your studies online if you are unable to travel to Canada. Your eligibility for a PGWP will not be impacted if at least half of your total program of study is completed in Canada and you either have a valid study permit or approval on your study permit application (a letter of introduction).

For more information about study and work permits, please feel free to contact us.