International students

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 September. By completing this survey we will then be able to best put in place services and supports for our international student body.

Expanded work rights for international students

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced new temporary rule changes to facilitate expanded work rights for international students.

At present, international students are limited to working a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session. This rule will be waived to enable international students who are already in Canada to contribute to essential services during the COVID-19 outbreak such as health care, critical infrastructure, food supply or other critical goods.

This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.

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 am not in Canada, but I do have a study permit allowing me to enter Canada because it was issued on or before March 18th, 2020 and I plan to return to Canada to study this fall. 

In late July, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada updated the guidelines on who would be allowed to enter Canada and who would be turned away, even if you have a study permit that allows you to study in Canada. 

When entering Canada, Canadian Border Services Agency Officers will assess your need to enter Canada and consider, for example, whether any of the following apply:

  • You are already living in Canada
    • If you  are already living in Canada and this is your primary residence, your return is non-discretionary  
  • You are able to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • You are expected to begin studying after completing your quarantine
  • You need to be in Canada for your program (such as for laboratories or workshops)
  • Pursuing online studies is not an option at your school or program or not possible from your home country (for example, due to internet restrictions or bandwidth limitation)

You will require proof that you’re exempt from the travel restrictions and that you’re travelling for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose.

You must also bring:

  • a valid study permit, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit, if you’re coming from the United States, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, if you’re coming from any other country

If you cannot provide strong proof of the above:

  • you should strongly consider not travelling until you can provide this proof, or 
  • the rules change regarding who can enter Canada.

If you cannot provide proof, you will be held by the CBSA at the airport until such time that you can return to your home country. This could take many days AND you will be responsible for these costs. UNBC would not be able to assist you in any manner.

Before you travel, you can contact the Border Information Service for more information.

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.

My study permit expired after March 18, but I had applied for an extension before then. Can I enter Canada with my new study permit?

No, you will not be allowed into Canada as you will fall outside the exemptions in relation to the Quarantine Act. You will need to study online, until the Government of Canada changes the rules.

I want to start studying this fall, 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 September 2020 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 Fall 2020 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 need to be on-campus this fall for academic reasons. Will UNBC write me a letter of support to prove this?

Students who are required to be in Canada for academic reasons (such as for laboratories of workshops) should contact their academic supervisor and make a request for a letter of support. Proof of a valid study permit, or proof of approval for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020 will be required before the letter will be issued. 

After your request has been assessed and approved, this letter will then be issued by the Office of the Registrar.

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 travel restrictions are lifted and 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. If the travel restrictions change in the middle of the September term, should I travel to UNBC as soon as I am allowed 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 in the fall term, 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.

Deposit and financial matters

What is UNBC doing to help International students with financial relief?

UNBC has made steps to try and help all students whenever possible, including fee reductions and elimination for this semester.

UNBC acknowledges that some international students, by virtue of being international, are not eligible, for some, or all of the financial relief measures available to other students.

For international students who are currently registered and experiencing significant financial hardship please contact us at for guidance.

What will happen to my deposit if I decide to defer to the September 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 this fall 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 September. What happens to my letter of acceptance and what do I need to do?

If you wish to defer your admission to September 2020, 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.