International students

Updated November 30 at 10:30 a.m.

International student COVID-19 survey

UNBC cares deeply about the health and safety of all members of our community. To ensure the safety of our community we are asking our international students to complete a short survey about their intentions for this January. By completing this survey we will then be able to best put in place services and supports for our international student body.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

Given the challenges of COVID-19, UNBC will accept the following online options to meet English Language Proficiency Requirement for admissions purposes.

Questions and answers

Study and work permit

I read that students who are studying outside of Canada can now return. Is this true?

Yes. As of October 20th, because UNBC has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan, we can welcome you back. You are required to have a valid study permit, or have been approved for a study permit to travel to Canada. This change does not affect study permit holders already in Canada.

Students returning to Canada will still be required to self-isolate for 14-days and follow all Federal and Provincial health guidelines.

If I studied at UNBC, or at another DLI, in the January semester, and I can't attend the September term because of COVID-19, what happens to my study permit?

If there is a gap in studies of greater than 150 days, you must either apply to change your status (for instance, change it into visitor status) or leave Canada. This means you also need to stop working if you are presently employed.

I want to start studying next semester, but I don’t have a study permit. If I study without a study permit, will this time contribute to my Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) Programme eligibility?

Time spent studying without a study permit will not contribute to your PGWP. A study permit, or a study permit approval, is required, for this time spent studying to contribute towards PGWP programme eligibility. 

I need to renew my study permit. Are there any changes because of COVID-19? Will the expiry dates change?

The study permit renewal process has not changed. It is also important to note that the expiry date on your study permit remains the same. Processing times for renewals are in excess of three months so it is important to start this process well in advance of the expiry date.

I applied for my study permit, but because of COVID-19 it has not been issued. What should I do?

The Government of Canada has given special consideration to this. Please read below for detailed information on the measures being taken to help you.

Because this term’s courses have been moved online, how does this impact my study permit and future Post-Graduate Work Permit application?

Due to the exceptional circumstances, there will be no impact to the terms and conditions of your study permit for this term. According to IRCC, “Courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID 19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility.”

Because in-class courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, will this change my eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit?

No. According to IRCC, “Courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID 19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility. This includes students who have been approved for a study permit for a program starting in May or June but who are unable to travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions. International students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and may complete up to 50% of their program while outside Canada if they cannot travel to Canada sooner."

Will taking courses online due to COVID-19 affect my eligibility for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)?

Courses delivered online due to COVID-19 will not affect your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program if either of the following apply:

  • You are a current student with a valid study permit or you are under “implied status” and have remained in Canada.
  • Your initial study permit application for a program starting in May or June is approved and you are unable to travel to Canada at this time.

You must still complete at least 50% of your program in Canada.

If you are starting a program in September, IRCC has announced that you will be able to complete up to 50% of your program online from outside of Canada without impacting your eligibility for the PGWP if you cannot travel to Canada sooner. 

What happens to international students’ offers of admission if they fail to acquire a study permit in the future?

All international students must have a valid study permit to study in Canada. UNBC encourages you to keep up-to-date of application processes, timelines etc. The UNBC International Office can help – email
All regular semester dates remain in effect, including refunds and withdrawal dates. Students who are unable to obtain a study permit for study in Canada, will have any balance on their account refunded after relevant charges have been applied. The offer of admission will then be withdrawn.

Are international students able to register for courses and begin study in January 2021 from their home countries without a study permit if their courses are available online? 

International students can register for online classes from their home countries without a study permit. International students can begin their classes online from abroad in January 2021 and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. 

I have heard that I do not need to give biometrics if I am applying to renew my study permit from within Canada. Is this true?

As a temporary measure, you’re exempt from giving biometrics if you’re applying from within Canada to extend your stay as a student, restore your status as a student, or apply for a new study permit. This applies to all new applications as well as applications already in progress.
It applies even if:

  • Your application form for a work permit, study permit or visitor visa says it’s for applicants outside Canada
  • Our online application system asks you to pay a biometric fee (CAN$85)

This temporary measure does not apply if you’re outside Canada.

I am a new student and I am in the process of applying for my study permit from outside Canada, but I can’t give my Biometrics because all the sites close to me are closed. What should I do?

If the site closest to you is closed, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will automatically extend your deadline 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. There is not need 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. If you can’t give your biometrics due to a location closure near you or a service disruption, don’t go to another biometrics collection site unless IRCC tells you to. This includes:

  • Canadian POEs
  • Other international biometrics collection locations, like a VAC


I am flying to Canada. Do I need to take a COVID test prior to flying?


Effective January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, all air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada.

Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.

Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine. Please visit the UNBC International website for further information on the 14-day quarantine period.

Before I travel to Canada, are there any steps that I need to take?

As of November 21, 2020, travelers coming to Canada by air will be required to use the ArriveCAN Application before boarding their flight. Travelers will need to provide travel and contact information, a quarantine plan, and a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. Travelers will need to be ready to show their ArriveCAN receipt when seeking entry into Canada; a border services officer will verify that they have submitted their information digitally. 

Before this time air travelers can expect to be reminded by their air carrier of the need to submit COVID-related information digitally through ArriveCAN prior to boarding their flight to Canada.

Are there any steps that need to be taken once I am in self-isolation?

There are several steps that will need to be taken. As of November 21, 2020, travellers will be required to confirm within 48 hours that they have arrived at their place of quarantine or isolation. 

Travelers in quarantine must complete a daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessment during their quarantine period. You will be able to submit information through the ArriveCAN app or by calling a toll-free number (1-833-641-0343).

I can't travel to Canada because of the COVID-19 restrictions. Should I wait for the restrictions to be lifted and then apply for my study permit?

We suggest that you apply for your study permit as soon as possible because processing times for study permits are expected to be longer than normal because of COVID-19. Once your study permit application has been approved you would then be able to travel to Canada and begin your studies on campus.

I am a new graduate student studying from outside Canada. Because the travel restrictions have been changed, should I now travel to UNBC for my classes, or should I remain in my home country and study from there?

If you are allowed to travel to Canada and are enrolled in classes this semester, we suggest that you consult with your supervisor on what the most suitable approach is for you. 

Will I need to self-quarantine when I come to Canada?

Yes. All new arrivals to Canada must self-isolate for 14-days. This requirement is current as of March 23, 2020.​ The Province of British Columbia has created a quarantine plan that can be completed online prior to your arrival. 

Please visit the Government of Canada website to learn more about self-isolation and how to submit this plan online.

I understand that when I return to Canada from abroad I will need to self-quarantine for 14-days. What if I can’t do this? Am I still allowed to enter Canada? Will UNBC help me with a quarantine plan?

When entering Canada, you will need to satisfy the Canadian Border Services Officer that you have a plan to quarantine for 14-days. This is mandatory. If you do not have an adequate place to quarantine (self-isolate), the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada will designate a facility where you must remain for 14 days.

Please visit the Government of Canada website for complete information on the requirements for travellers returning to Canada.

I have heard that when I enter Canada I will need to provide proof of health insurance at the border. Is this true?

No. At this time there is no expectation that students provide proof of coverage upon arrival at a Port of Entry.

I will be completing my studies soon. Will I need any special paperwork from UNBC to leave Canada?

UNBC is not aware of any particular exit requirements. However, before travelling it is important to be aware of the entry restrictions to your home country prior to travelling.

Changes to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions 

The Canadian government announced changes to its COVID-19 travel restrictions, including amendments that will allow more international students into the country. 

Starting October 20, 2020 international students who are currently outside of Canada and who will be attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place will be provided entry into Canada.  

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has a list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 plans on its website. UNBC’s reopening plan has received approval from the Ministry of Advanced Education. 

Deposit and financial matters

What will happen to my deposit if I decide to defer to the January 2021 term?

Your deposit will remain on your account. You do not need to do anything.

What will happen to my deposit if I decide to not study at UNBC because of the COVID-19 outbreak?

UNBC will cancel your Letter of Acceptance and then notify Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada that your letter of acceptance has been cancelled. Your deposit would then be refunded. Please visit the Finance website for other answers about deposits and refunds. You would need to re-apply for admission at UNBC and apply for your study permit should you decide to study at UNBC in the future. However, we recommend admitted students to defer their admission. 

Have Admissions deposit refund processes changed due to COVID-19?

Admission deposit processes have not changed as a result of COVID-19.

I am not studying in Canada. Can I opt out of my extended healthcare benefits from NUGSS or NBCGSS?

A retroactive opt-out will be available for students who are unable to come to Canada to study. Please note the retroactive opt-out will not begin until July 2021. Charges for extended healthcare will appear on your account and a refund will be paid, or credited to your student account, after July 2021, if you choose to opt out.

For full details on the retroactive opt-out, please contact NUGSS or NBCGSS for further details.


I want to defer my start date to January. What happens to my letter of acceptance and what do I need to do?

If you wish to defer your admission to January 2021, please send a request to indicating your wish to defer and we will issue a new Letter of Acceptance as well as waive the deferral fee.

In the subject line please clearly state that you want to defer and include your student number. Please use your UNBC email for all communication with UNBC.

I am a graduate student. I want to defer my start date because of COVID-19. What happens to my letter of acceptance and what do I need to do?

To request a deferral students must send an email to

When requesting a deferral please include your 9-digit UNBC student number in the subject line and indicate what term you would like to defer your admission to, if applicable.

Please note that deferrals are not automatically approved. The program will review each request and must approve it. A $250 deferral deposit is required within 30 days of approval.