COVID-19: International Student Information

Our team has been working to provide international students with up-to-date information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essential Services Workers

International Students Providing Essential Services

International students are temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours if you are:

  • A study permit holder in an academic session; AND
  • Eligible to work off-campus; AND
  • Providing an essential service

If you are a worker or student, you have 2 options:

  • If you are no longer working or studying: you can apply to change your status to ‘visitor’ as long as your study or work permit has not expired.
  • If you want to continue working or studying: you may be able to extend your work permit or study permit if you are eligible.

If your study permit has not expired, you can apply online to extend your stay in Canada.

Extend your stay

If you’re a visitor, you can apply for a visitor record to extend your stay in Canada.

Visit: Guide 5551 – Applying to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada – Online application

When you apply, make sure you include a note explaining why you need to extend your stay in Canada.

What is Essential Service?

To see if your work is considered an essential service or function, please visit:

Status Expiry

If your visitor status, study status, or work status has expired

If it has been LESS THAN 90 DAYS since your status expired, you can apply to restore your status.

To restore your status, use the document checklist and guide for extending your stay as a student or worker. When you apply, make sure to select Restore my Status under section 3 at the top of the form.

Include a note explaining the reason you need to extend your stay and include the restoration fee.

If your temporary resident status is restored, you will get a study permit or appropriate permit. Your record or permit will outline the conditions of your stay in Canada. Your temporary resident status in Canada will be extended until a specified date.

New International students

New International students coming to Canada

If you are an international student who has a valid study permit or has been approved for a study permit ON OR BEFORE MARCH 18, 2020, you are exempt from the travel restrictions.

Travelling by air

If you are travelling by air, you need to pass a health check conducted by an airline before you will be allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive

When you arrive in Canada, you will be assessed health-wise before you leave the port of entry.

You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada. This is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms. If you do not have a plan, you will be quarantined in a facility designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

Online courses

Online courses will not affect your PGWPP eligibility

If your in-class courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, you are still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).

If you have a study permit or have been approved for a study permit for a program starting in May or June, but you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, you are still eligible for the PGWPP.

In this situation, you may begin your classes while outside Canada, and complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada if you cannot travel to Canada sooner.

Permanent residence applications

Permanent residence applications that are still being processed

You may not be able to complete some of the steps required for your Permanent Residence Application during this time. This may include submitting your passport or your supporting documents (such as a police certificate) and completing an immigration medical exam.

No application IN PROGRESS will be closed or refused because of documents missing due to COVID-19. IRCC automatically gives you 90 days to complete these steps. Once you are able to, complete the steps as soon as possible to avoid delays.

Biometrics deadline extended to 90 days

Even though your biometrics instruction letter (BIL) says you must complete this step in 30 days, IRCC will automatically give you 90 days. You will not need a new BIL.

Collection of biometrics temporarily stopped

To keep everyone safe, Service Canada has temporarily stopped collecting biometrics until further notice.

All biometrics appointments have been cancelled.

You will have to reschedule your biometrics appointment when Service Canada locations return to normal operations.

Do not go to another location (ie. Canadian port of entry, an Application Support Centre in the United States, or a visa application centre).

C.E.R.B. for international students

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for international students

If you are an international student in Canada who meets the qualification criteria, you are entitled to CA$500 a week for up to 16 weeks. That puts your taxable income at CA$2,000 a month.


  • You are at least 15 years old; AND
  • You are living in Canada; AND
  • You have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN); AND
  • You are unemployed for at least 14 days in a row, and have no source of income for at least 14 consecutive days of the 4-week CERB benefit period; AND
  • You have made at least CA$5,000 from employment, self-employment, government benefits, or a combination of these (not necessarily in Canada) over the past 12 months; AND
  • You did not quit the job voluntarily.

You may also qualify if:

  • You are earning $1,000 or less a month; OR
  • You are expecting a seasonal job that isn’t coming; OR
  • You have run out of Employment Insurance (EI) since January 1, 2020.

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

An international student in Canada does not typically have a SIN. But the government declared that you may still be eligible for this benefit if you meet all the other requirements. As of now, CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) is approving all the CERB applications and will check eligibility at a later time.

Return or repay CERB

You may need to return or repay the CERB if:

  • You return to work earlier than expected, including being paid retroactively; OR
  • You applied for CERB but later realize you are not eligible; OR
  • You applied and received the CERB from CRA and Service Canada for the same eligibility period.

Canada Border Service Agency

Non-essential travel

According to CBSA (Canada Border Service Agency), travel for the purpose of obtaining immigration services is being considered as non-essential.

If anyone in Canada is seeking to travel to the borders in order to make an application for a work permit, study permit, or permanent residence, they are being asked to consider online applications.

You are asked not to travel to any border for these services until further notice.

Support for students & new grads

Support for students and new graduates affected by COVID-19

The proposed CESB (Canada Emergency Student Benefit) is a financial support plan for post-secondary and recent graduates.

The student must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. International students do not qualify for the program.

It will provide a flat-rate benefit of $1,250 a month for up to four months between May and August 2020. Eligible students who have dependents and those with disabilities will receive $500 in additional benefits for a total of $1,750 per month.

The CESB applies to students who are ineligible for the CERB benefit or EI, and who are unable to work full-time due to COVID-19.


Based on currently available information, the benefit will apply to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Post-secondary students who are currently enrolled in an academic institution.
  • Students who are planning to start post-secondary education in September 2020.
  • Recent graduates who graduated from a school (e.g. college or university) in December 2019 and are unable to find work due to COVID-19.


From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

The impacts of COVID-19 have had an effect on operations and the ability to respond to and process applications. IRCC is, therefore, unable to provide processing timelines for specific applications at this time. Their current focus is on priority applications such as Canadians attempting to return to the country, vulnerable populations, and people who perform or support essential services, and they are trying to process those as quickly as possible.

IRCC is working on ways to finalize applications virtually. If you have a file in progress, check the website regularly for the most up to date information on the impacts of COVID on IRCC file processing.