International students

Updated March 15 2021 at 11:00 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. 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.”

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

If you are inside Canada:

You’re still eligible for the PGWP if:

  • your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format and you are taking your classes online because of COVID-19, or
  • you had to put your studies on hold, or study part-time, during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters because of COVID-19

 As of the fall 2020 semester, you must be studying full-time to be eligible.

If you are outside Canada,

On February 12th, 2021 the Government of Canada announced that students will be able to complete 100% of their studies online from outside Canada. 
To be eligible, you must:


  • Have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • Have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021,and
    • You have a study permit, or
    • You’ve been approved for a study permit,
    • You applied for a study permit before starting your study program
      • Your study permit must eventually be approved

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 studying 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 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


Before flying to Canada there are a number of steps you must take.

1) Complete an ArriveCan Application before boarding your flight

All 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 as well as their quarantine plan. 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. The ArriveCAN Application will also be used after entry to Canada to report COVID-19 symptom self-assessments

2) Complete a COVID-19 test prior to flying

On January 29th, 2021, it was announced that 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 and a second test will also be mandatory and administered upon arrival.

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.

3) Make a reservation at a government-authorized quarantine hotel

With limited exceptions, air travellers, will also be required to reserve, prior to departure to Canada, a 3-night stay in a government-authorized hotel. Travellers will be able to book their government-authorized stay starting February 18, 2021. These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travellers.

I plan to enter Canada by crossing at a land crossing from the United States. Are there any special requirements? 

As of February 15, 2021, travellers, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.

My flight to Canada was booked before these changes were announced. What should I do? 

All international flights must now land at one of four international airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. Please check with your airline if you are impacted by this change. If you have a connecting flight within Canada, please check with your airline to make the necessary changes.

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. 

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.

I understand that UNBC’s COVID-19 readiness plan has been approved. Where can I see this? 

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 a future 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 a future term. What happens to my letter of acceptance and what do I need to do?

If you wish to defer your admission to a future term, 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.