COVID-19 Information for Incoming International Students

Last updated: September 23, 2021 at 4:25pm

If you have been offered admission to a uLethbridge program, you no doubt have many questions. Please review these FAQs for answers to the most common questions. If you have a question that isn't answered here, please let us know.

For general information for the uLethbridge community, please review the uLethbridge COVID-19 Response page.

If you are a current international student, you'll find more answers here: COVID-19 Information for International Students


Upcoming Webinars and Drop-in Sessions

Drop-in Session

9 - 10 a.m. MST | Every Wednesday until December 22

If you are planning to begin your studies in an upcoming term, join this weekly drop-in session to have your questions answered by the International Student Advisors.

Applying for a Study Permit

Yes, we recommend that you apply online for your study permit as soon as possible.  You should expect processing delays.  IRCC is currently unable to provide accurate processing times for study permit and other types of applications.

There may also be delays in your ability to provide biometrics due to the temporary closure of many Visa Application Centres (see below). Expect delays to continue even once VACs open as they work through the backlog and observe distancing requirements.

You may also experience delays due to the availability of an IRCC panel physician to conduct your medical exam, if required. 

You can submit your application for a study permit prior to completing biometrics or a medical exam.

Depending on the country from which you are applying, you may also need to consider a deferral of your admission to Spring 2022. If you are concerned about timelines and your ability to arrive in Canada on time for Fall, please contact us.

If you have a valid Letter of Acceptance from uLethbridge, you should apply for your study permit immediately.  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is recommending that you apply as soon as possible for your study permit, even if you are not able to provide all required and/or recommended documents.  If there is a document you are unable to obtain because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should include with your application a note of explanation as to why you have not be able to access that document, and if possible, a timeline for when you will be able to.  Once you are able to access the document, you should provide it to IRCC to be considered with your application by using the IRCC Webform. This will allow IRCC to process study permit applications more efficiently. 

If your offer of admission is for Fall 2021, and you have not yet applied for your study permit, you may need to consider a deferral of your admission to the Spring 2022 semester (if possibe). If you have questions or concerns regarding your ability to arrive for Fall, please contact us.

All students (except U.S. citizens) who apply for a study permit are required to provide biometrics (i.e. fingerprints and photo). Usually, this is done at a Visa Application Centre abroad. However, many Visa Application Centres are temporarily closed or are still experiencing long wait times for appointments.

After submitting your study permit application online, you will receive a biometrics instruction letter, with a deadline of 30 days or 90 days. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) your application will not be refused or closed if you cannot provide biometrics due to COVID-19 service disruptions.  When the VAC closest to you re-opens for biometrics appointments, request an appointment. You can use the same Biometrics Instruction Letter you received, even if it has "expired".

 

The University of Lethbridge is encouraging all students to be in Lethbridge or Calgary for the Fall 2021 semester. There will be a significant return to campus, with only 9% of classes being offered in an online format. This means that if you do not receive your study permit in time to make travel plans and/or complete a quarantine by the  add/drop deadline for your first term of study,  you may want to consider a deferral of your studies. Please contact us for more information.

You can begin your studies online from outside of Canada this Fall 2021 term if you are able to enroll in at least 3 online courses (9 credits), even if your study permit application has not been processed yet. However, there are risks associated with starting online before obtaining approval of your study permit.

We do not recommend beginning your program from outside Canada if you have not yet received final approval of your study permit application. If you have not received a positive response from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by the add/drop deadline for your first term of study, you will need to decide whether you are comfortable with taking on the risks associated with starting your program prior to the approval of your study permit application.

Risks

  • If you receive a refusal, there may be impacts to the length of post-graduation work permit you may be eligible for upon completion.
  • If you receive a refusal, you may be unable to complete your program.
  • No refunds will be issued for tuition and fees for a term for any student registered past the last day for cancellation of course registration (extended drop) for that term.

If you have recently completed another post-secondary program in Canada, make sure to apply to extend your stay in Canada as a student within 90 days of completing your previous program.  This applies to students completing high school as well.  Please reach out to us for advice on the application to extend your stay in Canada as a student.

If you are transferring to uLethbridge, but haven’t completed a program at another institution, you must notify Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) of the change in your institution.  You can find instructions here

If you haven’t already, please send a copy of your current study permit (and if applicable, proof of your application to extend) to us for our records at international.new@uleth.caIt is important that you register for your first term classes as soon as possible.

Travelling to Canada

We recommend reviewing the Quarantine Requirements page for up to date information regarding travel to Canada.

As an international student, you can now travel to Canada if:

  • Your Designated Learning Institution has a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by the provincial authority (you can find uLethbridge on the list here
  • Your study permit is valid, or your application to study in Canada has been approved, and you have a valid Letter of Introduction indicating that approval, along with the required entry document: TRV or eTA (U.S. citizens do not require an entry document) 

Travel to Canada to attend the University of Lethbridge (or any school on the approved list) will be considered non-discretionary or essential, and additional letters or documents will not be required to indicate essential travel. Travel to Canada for other reasons (example, for tourism) will not be considered essential.  Students should plan their arrival date accordingly. 

Additional Requirements for Travellers: 

  • For students travelling on or before August 9, 2021 will need to have reserve a 3-night stay at a government-authorized hotel prior to their departure to Canada and all travellers will need to take a COVID-19 test on arrival at the airport.
  • For students travelling on or after August 10, the 3-night stay will no longer be required. For unvaccinated students, a 14 day quarantine will still be required. 
  • All travellers to Canada are required to present a detailed quarantine plan upon arrival. Please see here for guidance on creating your quarantine plan. 
  • A negative COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure is required for all travellers 5 years and older, as of January 7, 2021. Additional details can be found on the Government of Canada website
  • You must submit your travel and contact information, quarantine plan and COVID-19 self-assessment information via the ArriveCan appbefore checking in at the airport. 

Documents you must bring: 

  • Your valid study permit or letter of introduction from IRCC indicating approval of your study permit application
  • Your valid passport that you used to apply for your study permit (and temporary resident visa, if applicable)
  • Your quarantine plan
  • Proof of your negative COVID-19 test result
  • Your Letter of Acceptance to uLethbridge 
  • A Verification of Enrolment from the Bridge showing your registration at uLethbridge, for the current or upcoming term, as applicable
  • valid medical exam (Please note: medical exams are valid for twelve months from the date of the medical assessment. If your medical exam has expired, please undergo a new medical exam prior to your travel.If you have any questions regarding medical exam validity, you may contact our office for assistance. When emailing our office, please include your student ID#, copy of your medical exam assessment receipt and your question.) 
  • Proof of finances, demonstrating that you have sufficient resources to support yourself and any family members accompanying you to Canada
  • ArriveCan app receipt confirming submission of your travel and quarantine plan information. You can show this receipt on your phone or bring a printout. 

Note: As of July 5, 2021, there will be exemptions made for students entering Canada who are fully vaccinated. Please see our Quarantine Requirements page or Government of Canada website for more information.

If you do not have a valid study permit or final approval of your application for a study permit, you cannot travel to Canada at this time. 

Please note the Canada Border Services Agency officer makes the final decision on who is permitted to enter Canada. It should also be noted that CBSA has indicated that students should not travel more than 4 weeks in advance of the start of classes.

We only recommend booking your flight if you meet the requirements to be able to travel to Canada (see above).

If you have not received final approval of your study permit application, you should not book flights.

We ask that you please contact our office so we can review your quarantine plan/proof of vaccination and provide a support letter before you make plans to travel to Canada.

If you are not enrolled in any courses during summer (May-August), we would advise that you do not travel more than 4 weeks prior to the start of your classes in Fall 2021 term as there is a possibility that a Border Services officer may not allow you entry into Canada if you are travelling months prior to the start of Fall term classes.

If you have further questions on travelling to Canada during summer, you may email or call the Canada Border Service Agency for assistance. When calling, please ask the Border Service Officer to provide you their name and badge number and take detailed notes of your conversation with the officer. It is important to note that the final decision regarding your eligibility to enter Canada is made by the Border Officer you will meet when you enter Canada at the airport or land border.

Note: Canada has continued its suspension of direct flights from India until September 26, 2021. At this time we are encouraging our students from India to consider flying to Canada via an indirect route. Please note that a PCR COVID test will need to be administered prior to your departure to Canada from the country of departure.

 

Yes, all unvaccinated international travellers are required by law to quarantine for 14 days after arriving at their destination. This means having a plan in place for where you will safely quarantine and minimize all contact with others en route to your location of quarantine. Travellers that are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine may be eligible for a quarantine exemption. Regardless of vaccination status, all incoming students will still need to submit a quarantine plan in addition to the proof of vaccination. 

If a quarantine is necessary upon arrive, we recommend planning adequate time to arrive in Canada and complete the isolation period prior to the start of classes. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will look to see that you either have time to quarantine before the start of any in-person classes.

For more information, please visit our Quarantine Requirements page.

A negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure is required for all travellers 5 years of age and older. 

If you have a connecting flight:

  • the test must be conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your last direct flight to Canada
  • you may need to schedule a test in your transit city

Additional details can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Testing requirements remain the same regardless of proof of vaccinations.

  • Your valid study permit or letter of introduction from IRCC indicating approval your study permit application
  • Your valid passport that you used to apply for your study permit (and temporary resident visa, if applicable)
  • Your quarantine plan
  • Proof of your negative COVID-19 test result
  • Your Letter of Acceptance to uLethbridge 
  • A Verification of Enrolment from the Bridge showing your registration at uLethbridge, for the current or upcoming term, as applicable
  • valid medical exam (Please note: medical exams are valid for twelve months from the date of the medical assessment). If your medical exam has expired, please undergo a new medical exam prior to your travel. If you have any questions regarding medical exam validity, you may contact our office for assistance. When emailing our office, please include your student ID#, copy of your medical exam assessment receipt and your question.)
  • Proof of finances, demonstrating that you have sufficient resources to support yourself and any family members accompanying you to Canada
  • Proof of vaccinations (if applicable), in English or a certified translation
  • ArriveCan app receipt confirming submission of your travel and quarantine plan information. You can show this receipt on your phone or bring a printout. 

 

If you do not have a valid study permit or final approval of your application for a study permit, you cannot travel to Canada at this time. 

Please note the Canada Border Services Agency officer makes the final decision on who is permitted to enter Canada.

  • They may be able to travel to Canada with you, but will need to demostrate that their reason for travel is non-discretionary (essential).
  • They may be able to travel to Canada to join you if you are already here, but may need to have authorization from IRCC.
  • They may not travel to Canada before you do.

In all cases, your accompanying family members will need to have their applications to come to Canada (either as a worker, student or visitor) approved by IRCC before they travel.

See here for additional details. Contact your International Student Advisors if you have any questions.

Once you have determined that you are eligible to travel to Canada, you should consider your arrival date.

You should plan to arrive no earlier than weeks prior to the start of classes, which should be sufficient time to complete your 14-day quarantine period, and take care of essential settlement tasks such as finding a place to live, opening a bank account, registering for Alberta Health Care, etc. If the border services officer determines that you are entering Canada for any reason other than to study (for example, for tourism), you may be refused entry to Canada.

If you are unvaccinated, the latest that you should plan to arrive for Fall 2021 is August 25, 2021 (two weeks prior to the end of the add/drop period for Fall 2021) to allow time to complete the 14 day quarantine and ensure your classes are in order. The earliest that you should arrive is August 8, 2021 (4 weeks before the start of the Fall 2021 semester).

If you have further questions on travelling to Canada during the summer, you may email or call the Canada Border Service Agency for assistance. When calling, please ask the Border Service Officer to provide you their name and badge number and take detailed notes of your conversation with the officer. It is important to note that the final decision regarding your eligibility to enter Canada is made by the Border Officer you will meet when you enter Canada at the airport or land border.

A travel support letter is not required for your entry to Canada, but it may help you assure the Canadian Border Officer that the reason for your travel to Canada is essential and that you have a detailed quarantine plan that has been approved by our office.

To receive a letter of support for your travel, you must submit your quarantine plan (regardless of vaccination status) to the International Centre for review. Once approved, you will receive further instructions and a Letter of Support for your travel.

You may qualify for certain quarantine and testing requirements exemptions if you:

Those who meet the requirements may be exempt from:

  • quarantine
  • day-8 testing requirement

For Lethbridge Campus students: Yes. Starting November 1, 2021, all students, faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to access the Lethbridge Campus. Rapid testing can be done every 72 hours in place of proof of vaccination but only until November 1 -  at which point everyone must be able to provide proof of vaccination.

For Calgary Campus students: Yes. All students and employees must be fully vaccinated before October 22, 2021 to access Calgary Campus.

Some exemptions (medical or protected under the Alberta Human Rights Act) may be considered in order to access campus.

You are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 14 days after receiving the recommended number of doses of a Health Canada approved vaccine, OR
  • 14 days after receiving one dose of a Health Canada approved mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) in addition to a non-Health Canada approved vaccine (Sinovac, Sinopharn, Gamalaya, Bharat Biotech, etc.)

More information on accessing campus and the vaccination requirement can be found here.

Campus Questions

Yes!  You’ll find lots of valuable information and the online application at the Housing Services website.  On-campus housing is in-demand and we recommend applying as soon as possible. 

What to Expect

The University of Lethbridge expects a significant return to in-person activities for the Fall 2021 semester. There are currently around 9% of courses offered online. Available courses for Fall 2021 can now be viewed on the timetable and registration for the Fall 2021 semester begins May 4. Check the Bridge for your registration date. We encourage you to begin familiarizing yourself with the registration process now and to be prepared for when registration opens for you. Attend our registration session on May 27 for more help and support with the registration process!  

It will be challenging to begin a program online outside of Canada for the Fall 2021 semester as we are having a near complete return to campus. 

However, according to IRCC, study outside Canada will not impact your PGWP eligibility if:

  • you have a valid study permit, study permit approval or applied for a study permit prior to the start of your program (and your study permit application is eventually approved) and
  • all of the online studies take place between March 2020 and up until December 31, 2021 and
  • the remaining eligibility requirements for the PGWP are met

New Student Orientation for Fall 2021 will contain both online and in-person components. Details for how to register and what to expect will be available during the later summer months. Watch your @uleth email for more details!

You may choose to register as a part-time student. However, we recommend always registering as a full-time student (at least 9.0 credit hours, usually 3 classes for undergraduate students) in every Fall and Spring term, beginning with your first term.  In order to be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit, you must be a full-time student for the duration of your program. This is true even for online classes or classes taken outside of Canada.

Most graduate students are considered full-time students in every Fall, Spring and Summer terms as long as they are registered.

Once you enter Canada and your study permit is issued, you will be eligible for a Social Insurance Number, provided your study permit indicates you are able to work in Canada.  SIN applications can be made online.

Admission

If you have questions regarding Admissions, contact:

The content of this FAQ has been prepared by a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA).

Important Links

Quarantine Requirements

All travellers to Canada are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival

Pre-Departure Information

Review general pre-departure information for when you are able to travel to Canada

International Student Guide

Learn about what to expect as a student at the University of Lethbridge

Want to speak with an International Student Advisor?

Book an appointment via Microsoft Teams to speak to an International Student Advisor for support with a variety of matters. We can help you with your study permit application, as well as provide assistance with non-immigration topics. 

If you have not yet applied for admission to the University of Lethbridge and have questions about admission requirements or the application process, book a virtual appointment with an International Recruitment Officer. International Student Advisors cannot provide enrolment support. 

Study Permit Application Support

Ask any questions about applying for your initial study permit.

Study Permit Refusal Consultation

Discuss your recent study permit refusal and get advice on how to improve you next application. 

New Student Check-in with an International Student Advisor

Meet with an International Student Advisor to introduce yourself, ask questions and receive great information and advice.