Immigration News and Updates

*updated August 4, 2020


Immigration Updates

Updates on Online Learning for International Students: July 14, 2020

  • IRCC will prioritize the processing of study permits for students who have submitted a completed application online so that their permits are processed as soon as possible
  • IRCC is introducing a temporary 2-stage approval process for international students who can not yet submit a completed study permit application and who want to begin their Canadian educational program online. This temporary process is available to students who want to begin their program this fall and who submit their study permit application by September 15, 2020.  For further information, please view the News Release.

Quick Reference Guide for International Students

*List of resources will be updated regularly

Immigration Guidelines


Many answers to your questions can be found on IRCC website

The COVID-19 measures introduced by the Government of Canada, including those affecting travel to Canada, can change from day to day. It is important to keep up to date with these changes by consulting official government websites (links below) regularly. It is possible that the measures in place right now may not be the measures that will be in place in the coming days or weeks. For example, measures related to travel could be more or less restrictive moving forward.

COVID-19 Frequency Asked Questions

What are the self-isolation requirements for students arriving from outside of the Atlantic provinces or internationally?

Information on self-isolation requirements for students arriving from outside of the Atlantic provinces, or internationally, are noted below:

What are the self-quarantine rules when I arrive in Canada?

Currently, you are expected to quarantine yourself for 14 days after entry into Canada, so you are expected to make the necessary arrangements that would allow you to do that. It is important to keep in mind Canadian travel restrictions may change, so if you plan to travel check this website on a regular basis.

Is IRCC still processing applications? How do I start my study permit application?

Yes, the Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is still processing applications outside Canada but only online. While many Visa Application Centres and Panel Physician Offices abroad are shut down or have limited service due to COVID-19, applications continue to be processed with the expectation of delays in processing. You will need to have your official offer of admission/acceptance before you can submit a study permit application online. You will then be required to apply online by creating an account with the IRCC. Learn more on the IRCC website.

On July 14, IRCC announced a new two-step study permit process for students starting in the fall 2020 to allow students to begin studies online, even if you have not been able to submit all documents due to COVID-19. You will first get an approval-in-principle, then a final approval after you are able to submit all remaining documents. 

Qualifications for a study permit approval-in-principle

  • Include a letter of acceptance from Dalhousie University, and
  • Include sufficient proof of financial support, and 
  • Submit your application before September 15, 2020, and
  • Otherwise be eligible for a study permit
  • Biometrics waive at this point but required for final approval

Qualifications for a final study permit approval

  • Submit remaining required documents when services reopen, such as biometrics, medical exams, police certificates, or your new passport, and
  • Be admissible to Canada

An approval-in-principle is not a guarantee that you will receive a final study permit approval or that you will be able to travel to Canada. 

Can my spouse travel to Canada and stay with me?

To manage the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), travel restrictions are in place to limit travel to Canada. Until further notice, most people cannot travel to Canada.

These restrictions stop all non-essential (discretionary) travel to Canada.

To travel to and be permitted to enter Canada, you must prove that you are exempt from the travel restrictions AND that your travel is for an essential reason. For full details please visit the following sites:

Does the Canadian government require incoming international students to be COVID-19 tested or to have “fit to fly” documentation to enter Canada?

No, the Canadian government does not have this type of facilitation requirement. However, the Public Health Agency of Canada provides guidance for travellers to Canada, including quarantine requirements and information related to health, safety and support. 

I am currently in Canada and due to the COVID -19 pandemic, I was forced to reduce my studies to part-time or take a break from studies completely. Can I still work on or off campus?

Students in Canada who were forced to reduce their studies to part-time, or take a break from their studies completely, as a result of restrictions on classroom learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are allowed to continue working on- or off-campus (20hrs per week off campus) if their study permit allows it.

Where can I get a COVID-19 test before returning to my home country?

Students are able to go the Dalhousie's Health and Wellness Centre for COVID-19 testing. 

What are the Face Mask requirements on Dalhousie Campuses and in Nova Scotia?

Study Permit and Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) Information

Do I need a study permit to start my courses online?

Students can engage in online learning from outside Canada without a study permit, however it is recommended that students apply for a study permit before beginning your online studies.  Students require a study permit and, if required, a visa for in-Canada learning.

There are risks associated with starting a Dalhousie program without a study permit as you may be refused. If refused, you:

·       will not be able to join the Dalhousie on-campus community when in-person classes resume, 

·       may not be able to complete your program (assuming that not all programs will be offered online indefinitely), and 

·       are welcome to reapply for a study permit but there will be additional costs.

Also, if you are refused a study permit and you decide not to complete your Dalhousie courses, you may not receive a tuition refund, depending on when you inform the university of this decision.

If you are willing to accept and acknowledge these risks, you are welcome to participate in online courses.

You will receive credit for all courses successfully completed online, regardless of whether you hold a valid study permit.

Post Graduate Graduation Work Permit-PWGP
On July 14, IRCC announced changes to PGWP eligibility.  Students beginning a new study program in the 2020 spring, summer or fall semesters can begin their classes online from abroad without affecting their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit and won’t have time deducted from the length of their PGWP, provided they are able to complete at least 50% of their program in Canada and had an approved in principle study permit notification prior to the start of studies.

Due to COVID-19, IRCC has made temporary policy changes to treat online studies the same as in-person studies with regard to PGWP eligibility and length, but you must have received an approved in principle study permit notification prior to start of your academic program.

All students with questions should connect with the immigration advisors in the International Centre to discuss these risks. 

If I defer my program to next term (January/Winter 2021), when should I apply for my study permit/visa?

If you decide to defer your academic program for next term (Winter 2021), it is strongly recommended that you apply now due to delays in processing. You will be required to apply online by creating an account with the Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Learn more on the IRCC website.

How do I start my study permit application? Are they still processing applications?

Yes, the Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is still processing applications but only online. While many Visa Application Centres and Panel Physician Offices abroad are shut down or have limited service due to COVID-19, applications continue to be processed with the expectation of delays in processing. You will need to have your official offer of admission/acceptance before you can submit a study permit application online. You will then be required to apply online by creating an account with the IRCC. Learn more on the IRCC website.

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit extension application but see that all in-Canada biometrics appointments are cancelled until further notice. What should I do?

On July 15, 2020, IRCC officially announced a temporary public policy exempting applicants in Canada from the requirement to give biometrics. This means that effective immediately, if you are applying from within Canada, you do not need to give biometrics in order for your application to be processed. This applies to new applications as well as applications that are already in progress in Canada.  For details on the exemption, visit the IRCC website.

Under normal circumstances you are required to provide biometrics if you have not done so for an application to come to Canada in the past 10 years (unless exempted). Please note that this is still required if you are applying outside Canada. For more information visit the IRCC website. You can also use IRCC's Check Status Tool to see if you already have valid biometrics on file. 

Please ensure that you submit an application to extend your study permit before your current study permit expires. If you do this you will be able to remain in Canada and continue studying under implied status until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your application, even if your study permit expires while you await processing.

I received the Biometrics Instruction Letter (BIL) as part of my study permit application. How can I complete this?

When biometrics collection resumes, you’ll have to make an appointment at your designated Visa Application Centre or Application Support Centre. You won’t need a new BIL. Your application will remain open for 90 days until you are able to provide the required biometrics. It will not be refused or closed due to COVID-19 closures.

Visit www.canada.ca/biometrics for updates on when biometrics collection will start again.

If my study permit gets approved before September, will I be able to come to Canada?

As of May 8, current travel restrictions prevent new students from entering Canada unless your study permit was approved before March 18, 2020. Before booking your flight, you will need to check the latest travel restrictions update to determine if travelling into Canada at that time is possible. Learn more about Canada’s travel restrictions.

It is important to keep in mind that you may be expected to quarantine yourself for 14 days after entry into Canada, so you are expected to make the necessary arrangements that would allow you to do that. Learn more on the quarantine requirement for travellers into Canada.

If my (initial) study permit is refused do I get back my tuition money?

For tuition and student fee inquiries, please contact Financial Services - Student Accounts at Student.Accounts@Dal.Ca and visit this site for more information.

I want to visit home but have concerns about returning to Canada. Can I return to Canada if my study permit (and if applicable temporary resident visa) was recently approved and issued (after March 18th, 2020)?

There is no difference between a study permit and study permit extension. The extension provides the student with a longer period of status in Canada. Therefore, if a study permit was issued before the March 18th deadline and remains valid (its original duration or through extension) you may be exempt from the border restrictions, so long as all exemption criteria are met. Travel Restrictions and Exemptions

I am a new student to Dalhousie University. How will studying online impact my eligibility to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

IRCC has confirmed that studying online for the fall term-September 2020 due to COVID-19 will not impact your PGWP eligibility, however you must have a valid study permit  (if you’re inside Canada) or have been approved in principle for a study permit (if you’re outside of Canada) before beginning your studies You must also ensure that you complete at least 50% of your program while in Canada.  

If you’ve finished your studies and intend to work in Canada, you’ll need to apply for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to stay in Canada. There are important timelines you should be aware of, such as applying within 90 days of completing your program and while holding a valid study permit, if you want to begin working right away. For details on how to apply please visit Working After Graduation

What is the impact on processing times?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is continuing to process applications. The processing times posted on the IRCC website are estimates based on the average processing time for an application; however, they do not accurately reflect disruptions caused by COVID-19.

On July 14, IRCC announced new measures to prioritize processing complete study permit applications submitted online. We are confident that Immigration will account for these delays and will process study permits as quickly as possible.

If your application is past the published processing time, you can send a webform to request an update. Check the IRCC processing times for your application.

Residence COVID-19 Updates

For residence related updates, such move in dates and self isolation details, please view residence COVID-19 related updates.

Faculty of Graduate Studies COVID-19 Updates

For Faculty of Graduate Studies related updates, please view the Faculty of Graduate Studies COVID Updates.

Dalhousie Univeristy Institutional COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 information and updates for the broader Dalhousie University community students, Faculty, and staff.