FAQs for International Students about COVID-19

Latest Updates

Canada has suspended all passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days (April 22 2021)

Ontario declares State of Emergency and Stay at Home Order (April 8 2021)

Government of Canada expands restrictions to international travel by land and air (Feb 12 2021)

Government of Canada introduces further restrictions on international travel (Jan 29 2021)

Mandatory Testing of Travellers arriving at Pearson International Airport (Jan 29 2021)

Temporary Changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) have been updated and expanded (Feb 12 2021)

Pre-departure COVID test required of all air travellers coming to Canada

**Toronto is included in the Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order . With the rise in COVID cases in the province, we understand that you may be concerned about your health and safety.  We strongly encourage you to consider delaying your travel plans until numbers of cases decrease in Ontario. 

Please also continue to check York University's COVID-19 updates for the latest information relevant to the whole York U community.

Quarantine and Entry to Canada

I am currently in Canada and studying for the Winter 2021 semester. Can I travel internationally and come back?

Please avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada

As you probably know, the Government of Canada has a global travel advisory against all non-essential travel until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. We understand that this is a difficult time for many students who are missing home and their families, however, we recommend you avoid travel if at all possible.

Your decision to travel must also factor in that travel restrictions are changing quickly and may be imposed by countries with little advance notice. This means that you run the risk of remaining outside of Canada longer than expected.

IRCC offers the following reminders and suggestions concerning travellers departing Canada at this time:

It's important to remember that if you choose to travel abroad:

  • your trip may become much longer than you planned
  • you may have reduced access to quality health care
  • you could be subject to the measures of other countries

If you're still considering travel outside of Canada, you should:

  • understand the risks to your safety and security abroad
  • check the pandemic travel health notice before travelling
  • know the health risks and travel restrictions and requirements for your destination
  • make sure you have enough money and necessities, including medication, in case your travel is disrupted

If you must travel abroad and return please take note of the following

  1. York University does not issue any documentation to students seeking to depart the country. It is your responsibility to check with your airline(s) and the country you are traveling to regarding any required documentation or other actions necessary for travel and entry to your destination.
  2. Please visit the York Quarantine Information Page for detailed information on requirements for re-entry to Canada and quarantine.

I am outside of Canada, can I travel to Canada right now?

Beginning October 20, 2020, Immigration, Refugees Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that international students are exempt from travel restrictions and are able to travel to Canada for their studies if they meet all requirements and have all authorizations for travel.

According to these current travel restrictions, to enter Canada as a student, you must meet 2 requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit.*
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory.**

*Stage 1 approval/AIP does not count as final approval.

**York University has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place.

CURRENT TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS AND AUTHORIZATIONS 

Please visit the York Quarantine Information Page for detailed information on requirements for entry to Canada and quarantine.

If you have any questions, you can contact one of our immigration specialists at York International, or through Schulich School of Business International Relations for Schulich students.

I am outside of Canada, can I travel to Canada even though all my courses are online?

Yes. The fact that your studies are online do not prevent your entry to Canada. However, you must ensure that you meet the requirements indicated in the current travel restrictions.

Please visit the York Quarantine Information Page for detailed information on requirements for entry to Canada and quarantine.

If you have any questions, you can contact one of our immigration specialists at York International, or through Schulich School of Business International Relations for Schulich students.

Can I quarantine at York when I enter Canada?

Please visit the York Quarantine Information Page for detailed information on requirements for entry to Canada and quarantine.

If you have any questions, you can contact one of our immigration specialists at York International, or through Schulich School of Business International Relations for Schulich students.


New International Students

I am a new student and I have a visa. Can I come to Canada?

To come to Canada as a student, you must have a study permit or a letter of introduction (LOI) as well as a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Due to COVID-19, only international students who meet the travel restriction exemptions set forth by IRCC can travel. Do not make travel plans until you know you are exempt.

Starting October 20th, 2020 students attending an institution with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan and have a valid study permit or a final approval (not an AIP/first-stage approval) may travel to Canada. York University has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. See the full list of approved institutions. If you do not meet these guidelines, you are not exempted from the current travel restrictions and should not travel to Canada at this time.

Before planning to travel, see IRCC’s information for international students about COVID. If you have any questions, you can contact one of our immigration specialists at York International, or through Schulich School of Business International Relations for Schulich students.

In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must wear a mask to enter Canada and have a concrete plan to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada. Air travelers must have a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours of boarding their flight.

Please refer to the IRCC website for more details.

I am a new student and my study permit application has just been refused. Can I take online courses instead?

International students do not need a study permit to legally start a program from outside of Canada, however, you will need one to begin studying in Canada once you are able to travel.

If you are unsuccessful in receiving a study permit approval, book an appointment with one of our immigration specialists at York International, or through Schulich School of Business International Relations for Schulich students, to help you review a second application submission. If your application is still refused, you may be eligible for a tuition refund if you apply by the deadline. Learn more about the regular refund process and the New International Student tuition refund process.

I am a new student and my study permit application is still in process. What should I do?

IRCC continues to process applications submitted online, even if the Visa Application Centre in your country may be closed.  On July 14, 2020, IRCC announced temporary policy changes to facilitate online learning for international students.

Check with your local Visa Application Centre for details on your application and make sure to keep up to date on COVID-19 updates in your country and in Canada. Visit the York University Coronavirus Information and Update frequently.

A study permit is not required to take online courses from abroad. Students can count the time spent pursuing their studies online abroad toward their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit, if they submit a study permit before the program starts. For full details, see how your PGWP eligibility is affected.

You may also be able to request to defer your admission. Not sure if you should defer? Please connect with our immigration advisors to via email iadvisor@yorku.ca or book an online appointment.


Post Graduation Work Permit

Will taking online courses affect my eligibility to apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

The PGWP is an important pathway for international students to gain valuable Canadian work experience after graduation, which can help to eventually obtain permanent residency in Canada.

Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada recently announced temporary PGWP eligibility rules, which allow 100% of your studies completed online from outside of Canada between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021, to be counted toward the length of your PGWP. This also applies to students completing two study programs.

Previous rules that required half of the program to be completed inside of Canada and indicated that online studies would count only up until April 30, 2021, are replaced by the updated rules announced on February 12, 2021, which is summarized below.

According to the IRCC’s updated PGWP rules, if you are outside of Canada, 100% of online studies completed between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021 count toward a PGWP if:

  • You are enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • You have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021and
  • You have a study permit, or
  • You have been approved for a study permit, or
  • You applied for a study permit before starting your study program and your study permit is eventually approved.

If you are completing two study programs, the programs must have been ongoing or started between March 2020 and fall 2021, and

If you are inside Canada, it remains that 100% of online studies count toward PGWP if your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19.

Whether you are inside or outside Canada, you must also meet all other PGWP requirements.

Immigration FAQ

I am a current student in Canada, do I need to enroll in courses in the summer 2021 term?

This depends on your program requirements.

To determine whether you are required to enroll this summer please confirm with your academic advisor whether the summer term is a regularly scheduled break in your program OR whether it is mandatory. For most undergraduate programs, the summer term is considered a scheduled break.

If your academic advisor confirms that the summer term is, in fact, a break term (i.e. it is optional to enroll in courses) then you are also not required to enroll from an immigration perspective.

If your academic advisor states that the summer term is a regular academic semester in your program, then to follow your study permit conditions, you must be enrolled at minimum as a part-time student.

Note that if you have questions about work authorization in the summer, please see below under "Summer 2021 work authorization".

I am a current student in Canada, do I need a study permit to take courses that have been moved online due to COVID-19?

You are required to have a valid study permit throughout the duration of your program while you are in Canada, regardless of the format classes are delivered. During academic sessions, you are still required to comply with your study permit conditions.

I am a current student in Canada, how can I extend my status if my study permit will soon expire?

You must apply online to extend your stay in Canada. If you’re a student, you have 3 options:

  1. If you want to continue studying, you may be able to extend your study permit if you’re eligible. If you are a current student at York, you should be providing proof of enrolment as opposed to letter of acceptance for study permit extension application, and the proof of enrolment should show your enrolment for the next academic sessionTo obtain an enrolment letter, please click here and choose “Standard Confirmation”, then choose the session you enrolled in, and log in with your Passport York to print/save the “Detailed” version. 
  2. If you’re no longer studying and not applying for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you can apply to change your status to visitor, as long as your study permit has not expired.
  3. If you completed your program of study, you may be eligible to apply for a PGWP.

I am a current student in Canada, what if my study permit has already expired?

If you are inside Canada and your study permit has expired, you have lost your status. You cannot study or work until you have restored your status. IRCC announced a temporary extension for temporary residents to restore their status. If your status expired on or after January 30, 2020, you now have until August 31, 2021 to submit your application instead of the normal 90 days.

If your status has expired, please book an appointment to receive advice from an international student advisor before submitting your application.

Will there be any processing delays in my application (study or work permit, permanent residence application, etc.) during COVID-19?

IRCC continues to process applications submitted online, however, disruptions due to COVID-19 may affect processing times. You can check the current processing times to find out how long it will take to process your application.

I need to give biometrics but the collection locations are temporarily closed. What should I do?

Applicants in Canada

On July 15, 2020, IRCC announced a temporary biometrics exemption for temporary residence applicants from within Canada, until further notice. You would qualify for the temporary exemption if you are applying for one of the following:

  • an extension of a work permit
  • a new work permit
  • an extension of a study permit
  • a new study permit
  • a visitor visa
  • a visitor record to allow you to stay in Canada as a temporary resident
  • restoration (extension) of temporary resident status
  • a temporary resident permit

If you have not yet submitted your application, do not pay the $85 biometrics fee even if the system asks you to pay for it.

If you have a pending application for which you have paid the biometrics fee, you do not need to give biometrics and will receive a refund of $85 once your application is processed.

Applicants outside Canada

If the site closest to you is closed, you will receive an automatic extension of time to give your biometrics. You don’t have to give your biometrics until the sites start offering collection services again. This applies to you, even if your biometrics instruction letter (BIL) says you have 30 or 90 days.

You don’t have to contact IRCC for this extension, and you don’t need a new BIL to make another appointment when sites reopen. Bring your original BIL to your new appointment to show proof of payment.

Can I submit visa and immigration applications (study or work permit, permanent residence application, etc.) during COVID-19?

Due to service disruptions, IRCC is experiencing difficulties receiving and processing applications submitted by mail or in person at a VAC. At this time, if you’re applying for a visitor visa, study permit, work permit or permanent residence, apply online.

I'm waiting for a decision on my study permit extension. Can I return home?

Your study permit will be mailed to the Canadian address that you indicated on your application form. Make sure that someone you trust is checking the mail there.

Once your new study permit is approved, you can apply for a new Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) (if required) from outside Canada.

How can I get a study permit if my study permit will expire while I am outside Canada, and I did not apply for an extension before I left Canada?

We recommend you apply for a new study permit online, even if your local Canadian visa office/embassy is open. To apply online, please click here to register for an IRCC account, and follow the steps as instructed. If you cannot apply online and your local visa office/embassy is open, you may apply with a paper application. The instructions and the entire application package for paper applications can be found here, and you can click here for the specific visa office you should send your application to.

If I leave Canada, will I be able to return?

With travel restrictions around the world constantly and quickly changing, you could get stuck outside Canada. You should avoid travel if possible. International students who meet the travel restriction exemptions set forth by IRCC can travel. Do not make travel plans until you know you are exempt.

Starting October 20th, 2020 students attending an institution with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan and have a valid study permit or a final approval (not an AIP/first-stage approval) may travel to Canada. York University has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. See the full list of approved institutions.

Before planning to travel, see IRCC’s information for international students about COVID. If you have any questions, you can contact one of our immigration specialists at York International, or through Schulich School of Business International Relations for Schulich students.

If you do not meet these guidelines, you are not exempted from the current travel restrictions and should not travel to Canada at this time.

In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must wear a mask to enter Canada and have a concrete plan to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada. Air travelers must also have a negative COVID-19 test result from within 72 hours of boarding their flight.

Please refer to the IRCC website for more details.


Health

Should I get tested for COVID-19?

If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care.

Does UHIP cover COVID-19 testing?

You have access to COVID-19 screening free of charge, regardless of OHIP status (unless you need the test for travel reasons). You should provide your UHIP card if asked. If you do not have your UHIP card, please complete click here to request a UHIP card. If Sun Life (insurance company that handles UHIP claims) receives the claim, they will work with the provider to resolve the issue.

 

Service Who pays?
  • Medical services primarily for COVID-19 screening (symptomatic or otherwise) at any testing location

 

This includes but is not limited to emergency rooms, campus clinics, the local testing centre, or designated pharmacies.

Publicly-funded system
  • Emergency services and hospitalization related to COVID-19 (e.g. inpatient hospital and physician charges, lab work)

 

Members should follow guidance from Ontario Health on when to go to the emergency department.

UHIP

 

Before going to a screening location, members should take the self-assessment on the Ontario Government website.

Need a COVID test for travelling outside Canada? Please see the FAQ below this one.

Does UHIP cover COVID-19 testing for travelling outside Canada?

As of Dec 11, 2020, the Ontario government has announced that they will no longer cover COVID testing for outbound international travellers. This announcement can be found here. UHIP will also not cover COVID testing for outbound international travellers.

If you need a COVID test for travelling outside Canada, some pharmacies like Shoppers Drug Mart* and labs like LifeLabs* are offering these tests at a cost.

*NOTE: It is your responsibility to check with your airline to confirm the COVID testing requirements for your flight.

Does UHIP cover the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are 18 years of age or older living in one of the hotspot postal codes, you can get your COVID-19 vaccine through one of two methods:

Method 1: If you are 18 years of age or older living in a hotspot postal code, you can now book your COVID-19 vaccine through the Ontario website here. Once you input your information and click "No Ontario health card", it will prompt you for two ways to book your vaccine: 1) Call the telephone number, 2) Visit the pharmacy to book a vaccine. You can now get your vaccine at a phramacy if you are over 18 years old in a hotspot!

Method 2: Residents aged 18 and above who are living in COVID-19 hotspot areas are also eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine through mobile teams and pop-up clinics. If you are living on York’s Keele campus with the M3J postal code or other Toronto hotspot postal codes, information regarding how to get your vaccine will be communicated to you directly by Toronto Public Health. For regular updates about how and when you can get your vaccine, please visit the Toronto Public Health site. If you are living in the Peel Region, please visit the Peel Public Health site for updates. For Peel Region, you may be able to book an appointment here. Appointments get booked very quickly but keep trying. If you are living in the York Region, please visit the York Region site.

The following are some other links where you can book your vaccine:

For an up-to-date count on available vaccines in the GTA, click here. You can click on the clinic, which will take you the site to book your appointment.

For vaccine sites in Toronto, click here.

For vaccine sites in Peel, click here. For appointments through the William Olser Health System in Brampton, click here. For appointments through the Trillium Health Partners in Mississauaga, click here.

For vaccine sites in York Region, click here.

For vaccine sites in Durham region, click here.

How will the UHIP enrollment process work for 2020/21?

Normally, international students who are registered as active in a degree program are automatically enrolled under UHIP. However, this year, since a lot of international students are studying from their home countries, only students who are in Canada this year will be enrolled or charged for UHIP. So, if you are not in Canada, you should not be charged for UHIP. If you are not in Canada but you have been charged, please click here to update your UHIP status.

New Summer Start Students coming to Canada: Please make sure you follow the quarantine protocol and complete the required forms. You can find information regarding quarantine here. You will be enrolled under UHIP accordingly based on your date of arrival in Canada.

New Summer Start Students who stayed in Canada: Please click here to confirm that you are currently in Canada. You will be sent your UHIP card accordingly.

Fall and Winter Start Students who did not receive their UHIP card: Please click here to confirm that you are currently in Canada. You will be sent your UHIP card accordingly.

I am a Canadian citizen or PR arriving in Canada from abroad. How do I get health insurance?

Normally, there is a three-month waiting period for OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) eligibility. However, due to COVID, as per https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-ohip-and-get-health-card,

Ontario is waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. We will also cover the cost of COVID-19 services if you are uninsured and do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage.”

If you are self-isolating and cannot go to ServiceOntario to register for coverage, please contact ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-866-532-3161. INFOline staff will advise on next steps as appropriate.”

For information regarding where to apply for OHIP and which documents you will need to take, click here.

I have decided to stay in Canada. Am I still covered under UHIP? How can I get my UHIP card? Where can I get more information?

If you are in Canada for the this year, please click here to confirm that you are currently in Canada. You will be notified via email.

I am leaving the country. Will UHIP cover fees for COVID-19 testing and treatment outside Canada?

UHIP covers very minimal costs out of country and you will likely not be covered under UHIP if you are not in Canada. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you purchase a travel plan for the duration of your stay in the other country. Your extended health and dental plan most likely has a travel component. You may check with them to see if that is sufficient or purchase a private travel plan for additional coverage. For more information regarding your extended health plan, please visit: http://www.yfs.ca/health-dental-plan (if you are an undergrad student) or http://yugsa.ca/services/health-plan/ (if you are grad student).


Academics & Financial Support

How will courses be offered in the 2020-2021 academic year and Summer 2021?

The York Courses website has been updated with course offerings for Fall/Winter 2020-2021. Fall, Winter and Summer term courses will be offered, for the most part, through online/remote delivery. To the extent possible and in accordance with expert guidance from our public health authorities, we may be able to offer selected in-person smaller classes and tutorials, experiential activities such as studio and labs, and re-establish access to our research facilities. When you are looking at a course in the York Courses website, assume that it is being offered online and that you do not need to commute to campus unless you see a notation otherwise in the Notes section.

Please visit the York University's Response to COVID-19 page for more updates regarding the fall and winter academic terms.

I heard there is a new International student award to help with my tuition fees. How does it work? Do I have to apply for it?

We’ve introduced three financial awards for international students in the 2020-21 academic year.  All international undergraduate students enrolled in courses for Fall/Winter 2020 will receive one of these financial awards of $2,000.  With all international undergraduate students receiving one of these awards based on academic achievement, York hopes to alleviate some of the financial pressures that many international students face, so you can focus your academic and personal success. 

You won’t need to apply for this award.  If you have enrolled in Fall courses, it will be automatically applied to your account near the end of the summer or early in the Fall term.  If you don't see the award on your account by early September, please contact Student Financial Services at rscheck@yorku.ca. 


Support

I feel alone, how can I connect with others?

York International is hosting daily Coffee Breaks where you can meet domestic and international students on Zoom. Every day there are different topics and themes, you can find out by visiting the York International Events Calendar for virtual events and workshops. Currently, public health officials are recommending we take social distancing measures. They recommend that everyone stay home when possible. You may want to connect with friends and family online or over the phone more frequently. You can also connect with York International on Instagram and Facebook.

If you need support for mental health or would like to talk to a counsellor, Student Counselling and Development is available to support over the phone. Please call 416-736-5297.

You can also access a variety of supports online and over the phone:

  • Good2Talk: Call 1-866-925-5454 or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868
  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline: 416-863-0511
  • Burlington Distress Centre: 905-681-1488
  • Distress Centers of Greater Toronto: 416-408-HELP (4357)
  • Durham Crisis and Mental Health Line: 905-666-0483
  • Gerstein Centre Crisis Line: 416-929-5200
  • Oakville Distress Centre: 905-849-4541
    Scarborough Health Network Community Crisis Line: 416-495-2891
  • Spectra Distress Line: 905-459-7777
    York Community Crisis Response Services: 1-855-310-COPE (2673)
  • 24/7 Crisis Support Peel Dufferin: 905-278-9036

How can I contact the Office of the University Registrar?

Contact email Questions

study@yorku.ca

Live Chat also available 10am-noon and 1-3pm at https://futurestudents.yorku.ca/contact-admissions

Prospective or new students
rscheck@yorku.ca Registrarial services, Student Financial Services

Yorknow@yorku.ca

This email is monitored M-F 8:30am-4:30pm

Anything to do with Student Records (enrolment, grades, program changes, immigration changes, reactivations, etc)

 

As an international student do I qualify for any benefits from the Government of Canada?

International students may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. If you are living in Canada and lost your job due to COVID-19, see https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html for full details.

We encourage you to look for support through your home country as well.

I’m not receiving email updates from York. How can I fix this?

Make sure your contact information is up to date on your student account. Check that your email is correct as this will be one of the main ways we contact students.


Graduate Students

What information and support is available for graduate students?

The Faculty of Graduate Studies is committed to completing the term and will support faculty and graduate students through the transition related to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the regular functions of the Faculty of Graduate Studies are fully operational. 

  1. Information about Grad Studies matters relevant to COVID-19 can be found on their page here.
  2. Information about how to book a wellness consultation available to graduate students can be found on the wellness page here.  The Wellness Consultation Service continues to be available to graduate students through phone and videoconferencing options.