COVID-19 information for International students

Updated September 27th, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.

Visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) website for more information.

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 want to study at UNBC in September, but I don’t have a study permit. What is the deadline to apply for a study permit?

IRCC continues to accept complete study permit applications for the September term, but a decision may not be made in time for you to start your studies in September. UNBC International recommends that you consider beginning your studies in January 2022, if you have not yet applied for a study permit.

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.

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

Yes, 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, who are not fully vaccinated, 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 have heard 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 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. 

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.

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 2021 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

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.


Am I eligible to enter Canada?

Find out if you are eligible to currently enter Canada by using the Government of Canada's Travel Wizard.

I am fully vaccinated now and have my study permit. I heard that there are different rules for students who are full vaccinated.

Beginning July 5, 2021 fully vaccinated travellers, who are permitted to enter Canada, will not be subject to the federal requirement to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test on day-8. In addition, fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air will not be required to stay at a government-authorized hotel.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a traveller must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Currently, those vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

Travellers must provide the required information in ArriveCAN before arriving at the border, or you won't be considered for the exemption, even if you meet all the other requirements. Please carefully read the content in the link below to ensure you understand the requirements.

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

All air passengers five years of age or older are required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada and a second test is also 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 self-isolation information and support for further information on the 14-day quarantine period.

3) Make arrangements for your 14-day self-isolation

I read that on August 9th there were more changes to travel restrictions. What are they?

Effective August 9th: 

  • The Government of Canada no longer requires international travellers – including international students – to quarantine at government-authorized accommodations while awaiting the results of their on-arrival COVID-19 test before travelling to their final destination.
  • International students, who are not eligible for the quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated travelers, are still required to complete a 14-day quarantine as outlined in designated learning institutions’ COVID-19 readiness plans. Unvaccinated travellers are still required to undergo Day 1 and Day 8 COVID-19 molecular tests.
  • Airlines are still required to ensure passengers have submitted their travel information through the ArriveCan app before boarding flights to Canada.
  • Canada is allowing entry to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel.

I am not studying this summer, but I want to come to Canada as soon as possible. Will this be a problem?

Students should not plan to enter Canada no earlier than 4-weeks prior to the start of classes. UNBC International has been notified that border officers have been barring entry to students that do not have a legitimate reason to be in Canada.

I recently arrived in British Columbia to start my studies, but I don’t have provincial health insurance. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. If you are living in B.C. during the pandemic you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need to be in the BC MSP health insurance program (a BC Services card or public health number) to get the vaccine. You do not need to be a Canadian citizen or have permanent residency to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, you must have a public health number in order to register online. If you do not have a public health number, you need to register for your vaccine by calling the province-wide call centre (1-833-838-2323) or in-person at a ServiceBC office.

Students travelling from India: Special travel measures 

We are aware that the situation is rapidly evolving in India and that this has significant impacts on students who intended to come to Canada. Students travelling directly from India to Canada must have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Indira Gandhi International Airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure of their direct flight to Canada. Prior to boarding, air operators will be checking the travellers’ test results ensuring they are eligible to come to Canada, and that fully vaccinated travellers have uploaded their information into the ArriveCAN mobile app or website. Travellers who are unable to meet these requirements will be denied boarding.

Travellers who are eligible to enter Canada who depart India for Canada via an indirect route will continue to be required to obtain, within 72 hours of departure, a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test from a third country – other than India – before continuing their journey to Canada.

Alternatively, travellers who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 can present a positive molecular test issued by a certified laboratory in India. The date of collection must have been between 14 and 180 days before their scheduled departure to Canada.

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

Currently travellers are 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, 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. Changes to these requirements will take effect on August 9th.

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. 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. 

I was vaccinated abroad. How can I let the Province of British Columbia know this?

You can easily update your vaccination records even if you do not have a Personal Health Number (PHN). This can be done through the link below to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

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. Admissions will then determine if a deferral can be granted.

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.