New travel regulations for international students

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that starting October 20, 2020, Canadian universities (Designated Learning Institutions or DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province or territory will be able to reopen to international students who are currently outside Canada. The University of Saskatchewan has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan.

Updates will be provided on this page when available. This change doesn’t affect study permit holders already in Canada.

All students planning to travel to Canada must email international.students@usask.ca and confirm your exact travel date, your flight details as well as your intended location for quarantine (including the specific address). This information is required so that USask can provide necessary support to students upon arrival and during quarantine.

Travelling to Canada

As of October 20, international students at the University of Saskatchewan are permitted to travel to Canada if they possess the required documentation.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that Canadian universities (Designated Learning institutions or DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province or territory will be able to reopen to international students who are currently outside Canada.

USask's readiness plan has been approved by the Government of Saskatchewan. All final decisions regarding a student's entry to Canada are made by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA).

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you must meet 2 requirements:

Your travel to Canada will be considered essential (non-discretionary) if you have all of the required documents and your DLI is on the approved list. Again, USask is an approved DLI.

As a student, your travel to Canada won't be considered essential (non-discretionary) if

  • your study program has been cancelled or suspended
  • you're entering Canada for any reason other than to study

Despite the removal of travel restrictions, students traveling to Canada are responsible for ensuring they have the necessary documents for travel and entry to Canada.

When the border services officer greets you, they assess several factors including

  • your reason for travelling to Canada
  • your ability to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • if you either
    • have time to complete your quarantine before you physically attend classes, or
    • can study online during your quarantine

You must bring

  • a valid passport
  • a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
  • a valid study permit or a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit
  • a valid letter of acceptance from a DLI with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory
  • a confirmation of enrolment from PAWS demonstrating course registration for current and future semesters
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • students are recommended to have emergency contact information while traveling
  • quarantine plan (see below)

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

A border services officer will make the final decision on whether you're eligible to enter Canada when you arrive.

Students should only arrange to travel to Canada after October 20, 2020.

Students are encouraged to only travel to Canada during a semester of active study, or as near to their program start date as possible.

Travellers should be aware of the following information when planning travel to Canada:

  • A majority of academic programs at the University of Saskatchewan will be delivered remotely for 2020 Fall Term (September to December) and 2021 Winter Term (January to April). Students should speak with their academic unit to learn if their program will be offered on-campus, or remotely.
  • Currently, a majority of university services – including all services provided by the International Student and Study Abroad Centre (ISSAC), etc. – are only available remotely.
  • Limited in-person supports at USask, the City of Saskatoon, and places of worship will be available for your settlement to Canada due to service changes related to COVID-19.
  • Canadian winter weather from November to April has temperatures below zero degrees Celsius, and as low as -40 degrees Celsius. Please keep this in mind when making plans for the winter term, particularly since public transit and other services could be limited due to COVID-19.
  • Public health guidelines in Saskatchewan related to COVID-19 may limit your ability to socialize and make new friends. Current guidelines restrict the sizes of social gatherings.
  • All international travelers will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms at the port of entry when they first arrive in Canada. Symptomatic travelers may be denied entry, which is at the discretion of the Canada Border Services Agency.
  • Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there may be limited employment opportunities available to international students.
  • It is important that international students purchase a travel insurance that covers them for medical care while en route and until they can apply for a Saskatchewan Health Card.
  • It is important that international students familiarize themselves with current Government of Canada guidelines for international travelers. Travellers are asked to wear a mask until they reach their quarantine location and to bring their own hand sanitizer.

When you arrive in Canada, a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) agent will assess your health before you leave the Port of Entry. If you're a foreign national, and you have symptoms of COVID-19, you may not be allowed to enter Canada.

You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada, including:

  • a place to stay
  • detailed information regarding how you will
    • get to your destination
    • get your groceries/food while in quarantine
    • access essential services and medical care

This plan is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms. If you don't have a plan, you should not travel to Canada. Otherwise, you may not be allowed to enter Canada. A Canada Border Service (CBSA) agent will determine if you can enter the country.

The penalties for not following your quarantine plan once you're in the country can include

  • a fine of up to $750,000
  • 6 months of jail time
  • being found inadmissible, removed from Canada and banned from entering for 1 year

Please read below to learn about USask supported quarantine options. International students are strongly advised to arrange their quarantine through the university.

There are two self-funded quarantine options available through the University of Saskatchewan for international students arriving to Canada.

Please note that the below options are self-funded and all applications and arrangements must be made before students begin their travel to Canada/Saskatoon.

On-Campus Option: USask Student Residence

The USask Student Residence provides a safe and inclusive housing for students at all times and particularly during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The quarantine option at the Student Residence is available to all arriving international students. Students will be provided with move-in instructions outlining their specific quarantine protocol, which can be presented to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) as part of a plan for quarantine.

Please be advised that:

  • Student Residence is currently only able to facilitate move-ins during regular business hours (8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday). For students who may be arriving after office hours or on weekends, ISSAC and the Student Residence have a protocol in place to secure the room keys for students.

To book a room, please email conference.services@usask.ca. Once a booking request is received, a Residence staff member will coordinate directly with students to book their stay and plan their arrival. For information on room rates, available amenities, etc., please see the attached USask Residence quarantine option for international students information sheet. For other information on USask Residence, please visit Residence online.

Off-Campus Option: Park Town Hotel

The Park Town Hotel is a full-service hotel located in downtown Saskatoon along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. The hotel is about 1.9 miles (15 to 20-minute walk) from the University of Saskatchewan.

Park Town Hotel offers international students the choice to quarantine off-campus. To request for off-campus quarantine, email heather@parktownhotel.com. When making your reservation, indicate that you are a University of Saskatchewan student. For information on room rates, available amenities, etc., please see the attached Park Town information sheet. Please note that all payments must be completed prior to arrival to Park Town Hotel.

We encourage all students to consider using USask quarantine arrangements listed above. If you choose to arrange for your own quarantine, please keep in mind that incoming travelers will be asked to show proof of their quarantine plan at the port of entry. Students who make their own arrangements for where to quarantine are advised to inform ISSAC at international.students@usask.ca or +1-306-966-4573 so that ISSAC can offer them the necessary supports.

New or returning international students will be offered a free taxi ride from the Saskatoon airport to their chosen quarantine location in the city whether they choose a USask option or make their own quarantine arrangements. While in quarantine, a free taxi ride to COVID-19 testing sites and back to a quarantine location will also be made available to students if the need arises.

If you are conducting quarantine in Residence or Park Town, you will be contacted upon the completion of your booking about transportation to your quarantine location and other important details. If you decide to quarantine independently, please contact international.students@usask.ca to request for transportation from the airport to your accommodation.

Students can use the ArriveCAN mobile app to speed up their arrival process in Canada and spend less time with border and public health officers. Submit your information easily and securely using the app within 48 hours before arriving in Canada. The app helps you to:

  • provide mandatory information that's required for entry into Canada
  • reduce your wait time and points of contact at the border
  • provide the Government of Canada with voluntary updates on your quarantine compliance and the development of any symptoms during the 14 days after arriving in Canada

Download the ArriveCAN app (iOS, Android or web format).

In addition, students should consider downloading the COVID Alert app which provides updates on all possible COVID-19 exposures in Canada.

International students should not apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry at this time. You must apply online for a study permit before you travel to Canada.

Only certain people can apply at the port of entry at this time. You may be able to apply at the port of entry if you're a

  • U.S. citizen
  • lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
  • resident of Greenland
  • resident of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon

If you meet one of these requirements, you must have all the documents required to apply for a study permit with you when you arrive at the border. The border services officer who greets you will determine if you're eligible to enter Canada as a student.

If you're already in Canada and you try to apply at the port of entry, you may need to quarantine for 14 days if the border services officer approves you to re-enter Canada.

Again, we highly discourage any students to apply at the port of entry and advise to apply online instead at www.cic.gc.ca.

Studying remotely (students who start their programs in fall 2020 and winter 2021 terms)

Students not required to come to Canada at this time, or who would prefer to continue studying remotely should be aware of the implications remote study may have for your study permit.

  • You can begin your program remotely from your home country in the 2020 Fall Term and 2021 Winter Term even if your study permit has not been processed or approved yet. However, a study permit is required to conduct any in-person program requirements in Canada.
  • It is each student's responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) when they apply for a study permit. All decisions regarding study permit eligibility and application requirements are made by IRCC and USsask cannot influence the decision-making process of IRCC.
  • If your study permit is rejected and you no longer want to take USask classes, drop/withdraw your classes through the Registration channel in PAWS. To be refunded some or all of your tuition, you must drop/withdraw your classes before the registration/withdrawal deadlines.
  • If you would like to wait until your study permit application has been approved before you begin your studies, please contact us to let us know about your plans and to inquire about deferring your admission to a later term:

Post-graduate work permit eligibility

Whether you're studying in Canada or remotely from back home, all international students should be aware how COVID-19 may be impacting their post-graduate work permit eligibility.

If you're eligible for the post-graduation work permit program, you'll still be able to get a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) if

  • your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format and you had to begin or will continue 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

 

If you're starting your studies outside of Canada (online), you're still eligible for a post-graduate work permit if you can't travel to Canada at this time and one of the following applies to you

  • you have a study permit
  • you've been approved for a study permit
  • you applied for a study permit before starting your study program in the spring, summer or fall 2020 semester, or
  • you will apply for a study permit before starting your study program in the January 2021 semester

If you're in this situation, you can begin your classes while outside Canada.

Any time spent studying online from outside Canada since Spring 2020 now counts toward the length of a PGWP. (Before, only the time spent studying online after you were approved for a study permit counted.)

You won't have time deducted from the length of your PGWP for studies you complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021.

How much of your program you can complete online depends on when you started studying and how long your study program is.

  • You're taking a short-term program that started between May and September 2020
    • You can complete 100% of your program online. Your program must be between 8 and 12 months long, and you must have started your studies between May and September 2020.
  • You're taking a program that is 12 months or longer, or you started a short-term program before May 2020
    • You can complete up to 50% of your program online (until April 30, 2021). You must complete the other 50% of your program in Canada.
  • You're completing 2 study programs
    • You can complete up to 50% of your total studies online (until April 30, 2021). To be able to do this
      • you must complete both study programs from an eligible DLI within 2 years
      • one of the programs must have started between May and September 2020, and
      • each program must meet all PGWP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months long
      • you must complete at least 50% of the combined length of the 2 programs in Canada

IRCC has confirmed that courses delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID-19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility. For more information visit this IRCC webpage.

You should remain mindful of timelines and eligibility for the PGWP. Learn more in the International Student Guide.

Working during your studies

You can continue to work even if COVID-19 has forced you to become a part-time student or to take a break in your studies, as long as

  • you're registered as a full-time student, and
  • your study permit says you're allowed to work while you study.
  • If you work off campus, you can work up to 20 hours per week during an academic session. You can work full time during scheduled breaks in the academic year.

Study permit compliance and extensions

Continuing USask international students residing in Canada

Taking courses online due to COVID-19 will not affect your study permit compliance whether you study inside or outside of Canada. However, it is your responsibility to extend your immigration documents and status before they expire. Keep them valid and up to date at all times while in Canada.

Visit our International Student Guide or contact ISSAC to learn about extending your study permit in Canada.

As a temporary measure, temporary resident applications – including study permit extensions – are exempt from the requirement to give biometrics if you apply from within Canada.

Exempt applicants include:

  • extending your stay as a student, worker or visitor
  • restoring your status as a student, worker or visitor
  • applying for a work or study permit
  • applying for a visitor visa
  • applying for a temporary resident 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
  • IRCC's online application system asks you to pay a biometric fee (CAN$85)

This temporary measure does not apply if you're outside Canada.

Biometrics fee for in-Canada applicants

An applicant does not have to pay the biometric fee when they submit their application in-Canada – even if the system indicates that pay is necessary.

If an applicant paid the biometric fee for an existing application:

  • IRCC will automatically refund the fee once the application is finalized
  • the online application system will automatically send a biometric instruction letter (BIL) telling an applicant how to give their biometrics
    • do not give biometrics and you can ignore this letter

You are still able to renew your Social Insurance Number (SIN) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Service Canada Centres are closed for in-person applications, but applications can be made online or via mail.

Your SIN is still valid if you submitted a study permit extension, or post-graduate work permit application and are now in implied status or have the right to work per IRPR s 186(w) (having submitted your PGWP application before the expiry of your study permit). You will need to apply to renew your Social Insurance Number once you receive your new study permit or post-graduate work permit.

Extending your stay in Canada

If you want to stay in Canada longer you must apply to legally extend your status in Canada before the expiry date. You must apply online to extend your stay in Canada.

If you're a student, you have 3 options:

  • you may be able to extend your study permit, if you want to continue studying
  • you may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), if you completed your study program
  • you can apply to change your status to visitor, if you're not studying or applying for a PGWP

You must submit an application for 1 of these options before your study permit expires, or you may need to leave Canada.

If your study permit expires before you apply to extend it, you've lost your status as a student in Canada. You may be able to restore your status.

You can apply online for a study permit if you're already in Canada as a visitor.

When you apply, you must follow the instructions for applying from outside of Canada. IRCC will process your application in the same amount of time as though you'd applied from your home country, outside of Canada.

If IRCC approves your application and sends you a port of entry letter of introduction, you need to contact IRCC to have your study permit sent to you in Canada.

You can't start studying until you receive your study permit.

Family traveling to Canada

Although the border is closed to most foreign nationals, immediate family members of temporary residents and immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may be able to reunite with their immediate family member in Canada.

As is always the case, any foreign national coming to Canada must have the necessary entry documents: temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA). Only citizens of the United States do not require a TRV or eTa. Learn more on our International Student Guide.

If you are planning to bring family members with you to Canada, please contact ISSAC for further guidance.

Health coverage in Canada

All students should have adequate health coverage for their time in Canada. In-Canada students may be eligible to apply for the Saskatchewan Health Card to access the Saskatchewan public health care system.

Any questions regarding health coverage can be directed to ISSAC at international.students@usask.ca.

Saskatchewan Health has confirmed that international students with expired Saskatchewan Health Cards who have implied status can apply for a six-month extension to their Saskatchewan Health Card.

Every student who currently has implied status with an expired SK health card is asked to do the following:

Instructions to receive a 6-month extension during implied status

Submit the following to eHealth Saskatchewan for a six-month extension on their health card without losing coverage. The application can be done electronically via the eHealth Saskatchewan online portal.

  • Complete the updated immigration document form found on eHealth website.
  • Provide proof of the following from your IRCC account:
    1. payment for study permit extension application (e.g. payment receipt)
    2. proof of submission of your study permit extension
  • Provide a short cover letter explaining that you are currently applying for your study permit extension and would like to temporarily extend your health card for 6-months during your implied status period
  • Submit all documents through your eHealth account by creating a request under Submit an Updated Immigration Document

After receiving your new study permit

If your study permit extension has been approved, you must send a copy of your new study permit to eHealth Saskatchewan to extend your SK health card through the online portal by creating a request under Submit an Updated Immigration Document.

International Student and Study Abroad Centre

The International Student and Study Abroad Centre (ISSAC) is closed but offering remote services. Visit the ISSAC page for more information.

International student guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at the University of Saskatchewan including immigration matters and information on working and living in Canada.