Starting or continuing your program at USask

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) will be delivering a majority of its programming remotely for the Fall 2020 semester (September to December).

All incoming international students – whether you’re starting your program or returning to continue your program – should be aware of potential immigration implications resulting from Covid-19, remote learning and online courses delivery.

Immigration and Travel during COVID-19

The Government of Canada is only permitting entry to international students who meet both of the following criteria:

  • you are exempt from the travel restrictions OR traveling directly from the United States; and
  • you are travelling for a non-discretionary/non-optional purpose.

Students should not travel to Canada if you do not fulfill the above criteria. Read more about the criteria below.

In addition to the two criteria explained as follows, as always, must also be in possession of a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) to enter Canada (except for citizens of the United States who do not require a TRV or eTA).

International students are exempt from the travel restrictions if

  • you are an international student who has a valid study permit or
  • you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020

To demonstrate that you meet these criteria, you must present one of the following when arriving at the border:

  • a valid study permit, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction (also called a letter invitation) that shows you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, if you’re coming from any other country

If you are traveling directly from the United States you exempt from travel restrictions.

With that said, you must still establish your travel is essential/non-optional as detailed below. It is not possible for American citizens to complete study permit applications at the border. An application for a study permit must be completed online.

Along with being exempt from the travel restrictions, all international students entering Canada must demonstrate that they are traveling to Canada for non-discretionary/non-optional purposes.

For international students, IRCC defines non-discretionary/non-optional travel as the following:

  • you’re already living in Canada
    • If you’re already living in Canada, your return is non-discretionary
    • You will likely need to provide proof of residency
  • you need to be in Canada for your program (for laboratories, workshops)
  • pursuing your studies online is not an option at your school or not possible from your home country (due to internet restrictions or bandwidth limitation)

It is the student’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet the criteria for non-discretionary/non-optional travel.

Students are encouraged to visit the IRCC Website here for the most up-to-date information or contact the International Student and Study Abroad Centre (ISSAC) for advice on how to prepare for travel to Canada, including which types of supporting documents you are best to support your travel exemption and non-discretionary/non-optional travel to Canada.

Please note that CBSA has the final authority accessing your entry to Canada.

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 won’t 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 contact the International Student and Study Abroad Centre to learn about USask assistance with quarantine measures. If you meet the above exemption criteria and are planning to travel to Canada, you may also inquire about on-campus housing and quarantine supports by visiting the Residence website.

Each individual international student is responsible for having adequate documentation to demonstrate that they are exempt from the current Covid-19 travel restrictions and are traveling for non-discretionary/non-optional purposes. When arriving at the Port of Entry, international students should be prepared to provide all of the following documentation to the CBSA agent:

  • Letter of Admission to USask (even if you are a current student); and
  • Confirmation of enrolment with registration for the 2020 Fall Term; and
  • Proof that you are exempt from travel restrictions (as discussed above); and
  • Proof that you are traveling to Canada for non-discretionary/non-optional purpose (as discussed above); and
  • Quarantine plan

Students starting their program in the 2020 Fall Term (September to December)

All international students planning to start their studies in the 2020 Fall Term should submit their initial study permit application as soon as they receive a Letter of Acceptance from the University of Saskatchewan. Expect considerable delays in processing due to COVID-19.

As a result of COVID-19, IRCC understands that at this time students may not be able to provide all necessary documents when applying for their initial study permit. For example, you may not be able to obtain financial information because your bank is closed due to COVID-19.

If you cannot provide all necessary documents, please do the following:

IRCC will review incomplete applications in two stages.

Note: If you submit a complete application, it will be processed and the below stages will not apply to you.

If your initial study permit application from outside of Canada is incomplete, IRCC will review the application in the following stages.

Stage 1: IRCC reviews your eligibility
At this stage, an immigration officer reviews your application for

  • a letter of acceptance from the University of Saskatchewan
  • proof that you have enough money for your
    • tuition fees;
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada; and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
  • any family ties you may have to Canada
  • evidence that you'll leave Canada when you no longer have legal status

If your application passes this first stage, IRCC will let you know in your online account. This is only a stage one approval and not a guarantee the application will be approved.

Stage 2: IRCC reviews your application for admissibility and any changes to your eligibility
In this stage, an immigration officer reviews your application for

  • a medical exam, if needed
  • police certificates, if needed
  • your biometrics
  • any information that changed after the stage 1 review

If your application passes this second stage it will be approved.

This 2-stage process will only apply to study permit applications

  • submitted by September 15, 2020, and
  • for programs that start, or have started, in Spring, Summer or Fall of 2020.

Many biometric collection centres around the world are closed due to COVID-19. If the site closest to you is closed, IRCC will automatically extend the deadline for you to give biometrics.

You don’t have to give biometrics until collection centres reopen. Do not travel to a biometric collection site that is not close to you. This applies to you, even if your biometrics instruction letter has expired.

You don’t have to contact IRCC to extend your biometric instruction letter and a new one will not be issued. Expired biometric instruction letters will be accepted to make an appointment when sites reopen. Bring your original biometric instruction letter to your new appointment to show proof of payment.

You can begin your program remotely from your home country in the 2020 Fall Term even if your study permit has not been processed or approved yet.

Please also be aware that a study permit is required to conduct any in-person program requirements in Canada, if the COVID-19 situation later allows.

Students who are starting their program online from outside Canada due to travel restrictions are still eligible for a PGWP and can count their online studies toward their PGWP validity if:

  • they have a study permit; OR
  • have been approved for a study permit; OR
  • applied for study permit before September 15, 2020.

If you’re in this situation, you may

  • begin your classes while outside Canada, and
  • complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada and still be eligible for the PGWP.

Any time spent studying online from outside Canada counts toward the validity length of a PGWP.

These measures are in place until December 31, 2020.

It is each applicant'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.

There is currently no IRCC policy that states starting studies remotely without a study permit will negatively affect your study permit application.

The University of Saskatchewan cannot guarantee that your study permit application will be successful and cannot influence the decision-making process of IRCC.

No. The University of Saskatchewan will not refund your tuition if your study permit application is rejected. If you study online beyond the Tuition and fees deadline dates, you will be responsible for paying those tuition and fees even if your study permit application is later rejected.

Please keep in mind that the University of Saskatchewan cannot guarantee that your study permit application is successful. Please consider how the completion of your studies would be affected if you are not approved for a study permit, particularly for any later in-person program requirements in Canada you may not be able to complete.

Knowing this information, 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:

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.

Extending your stay in Canada

If you want to continue studying, apply to extend your study permit before your current study permit expires.

If you are no longer studying but wish to stay in Canada longer:

In all cases, you can apply within Canada without crossing a border.

You can extend your stay in Canada as a visitor (visitor record) before your current authorized stay ends. Your authorized length of stay in Canada is normally up to 6 months from the date you entered Canada or as dictated by information provided by the Canada Border Service agent in your passport.)

However, you can only study up to 6-months without a study permit and the program of study must be less than 6 months. If you wish to study a program that is 6-months in length or longer, you must apply for a study permit before beginning your program. Contact the International Student and Study Abroad Centre for more information first.

You can apply to extend your stay as a visitor (visitor record) within Canada, without crossing a border.

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
  • our 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.

Your temporary resident visa (TRV) – the counterfoil document in your passport – or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) are entry documents and not relevant in determining your length of stay.

Those who have applied to extend their status as a student, worker or visitor and their immigration document expires before a decision is made on the application, receive implied status and can remain in Canada until a decision is made on their application.

The current federal travel restrictions prohibit traveling to a border crossing to extend or to apply for an immigration document (commonly known as flag poling). No one should do this. Study permit extensions, post-graduation work permits, temporary resident visas and visitor status extensions must be made online.

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.

IRCC defines immediate family as the following:

  • spouse or common-law partner
  • dependent child
  • dependent child of a dependent child
  • parent or step-parent
  • guardian or tutor

To be eligible to enter Canada at this time, your family members – like all foreign nationals to Canada – must meet both the following two (2) criteria:

If you are traveling to Canada from anywhere other than directly from the United States, you must meet one of the following exemptions from the travel restrictions:

  • Hold a valid work permit;
  • Hold port of entry letter of introduction (also called a letter invitation) that shows you were approved for a work permit;
  • Have a valid temporary resident visa or eTA AND written authorization from IRCC that you can fly to Canada

How to request written authorization

Email IRCC at the address below only if you're reuniting with an immediate family member who is living in Canada temporarily (for example on a study permit or work permit). IRCC won't respond to any other inquiries.

IRCC.COVID-TravelExemptions-Exemptionsdevoyage-COVID.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

When you contact IRCC, you must provide your

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • unique client identifier (UCI)
  • passport number
  • detailed reason for travel
  • proof of relationship with an immediate family member in Canada
  • proof of immigration status of your immediate family member in Canada (copy of their study permit or work permit)
  • proof of temporary resident visa or eTA

If you don't have written authorization and only hold a temporary resident visa or eTA, you won't be allowed to board your flight to Canada, even if you have a valid visitor visa or eTA.

To be eligible to travel to Canada on a TRV or eTA, you need all of the following:

  • a written authorization from IRCC confirming that you’re exempt from the travel restrictions
  • a valid visitor visa (if you're from a country whose nationals require a visa) or an eTA (if you're from a country whose nationals are visa-exempt)
  • a valid passport
  • to tell the airline that you're exempt from the travel restrictions
    • Provide your written proof of travel authorization
  • to show an immigration officer that you're coming for a non-optional/non‑discretionary purpose, such as to live with your spouse, common-law partner or family member
    • You'll be refused an authorization if an officer finds that you're travelling for an optional or non-essential purpose, such as for tourism, entertainment or recreation.
  • to have your health checked by airline officials to confirm that you don't have symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, a cough and difficulty breathing
    • Anyone showing symptoms will not be allowed to board a flight to Canada.

Whether or not you are travelling to Canada on a work permit, with a letter of introduction showing your work permit was approved or on a temporary resident visa or eTA with a written authorization – you must be able to demonstrate to the Canada Border Service Officer that you are traveling for a non-optional and non-discretionary purpose.

Please contact the International Student and Study Abroad Centre to get further information.

If you are the immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident, your travel is deemed essential/non-discretionary if you are coming to Canada for 15 days or longer.

Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents are exempt from the travel restrictions.

To board your flight to Canada, you must

  • follow all airline requirements and pass a health check conducted by airline officials to confirm that you don't have symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, a cough and difficulty breathing
    • Anyone showing symptoms will not be allowed to board a flight to Canada.
  • tell the airline that you're exempt from the travel restrictions
  • make sure you have a valid travel document (visitor visa or electronic travel authorization [eTA]) and a passport that is valid to come to Canada
  • present proof to show that you're an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident
  • Provide evidence that you will stay in Canada for at least 15 days
  • You do not need a written authorization from IRCC confirming that you're exempt from the travel restrictions.

Documents to use as proof that you're an immediate family member
You must have 2 types of documents:

  • one that shows your immediate family member's status as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • one that shows your relationship to that family member

Documents that show your immediate family member’s Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status
These documents include

  • a Canadian passport
  • proof of Canadian citizenship, such as a citizenship certificate, citizenship card, or provincial or territorial birth certificate
  • a Canadian permanent resident card
  • a Canadian permanent resident travel document

Documents that show your relationship to that family member
Examples of documents include

  • a marriage certificate or proof of common-law status (documents showing a shared address)
  • a birth certificate
  • a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) for one of the following:
    • the family class (the COPR category under Application Details will be FC)
    • the one-year window of opportunity provision (coded OYW under Special Program)
  • other documents that show an immediate family connection, for example
    • correspondence from us showing a spousal sponsorship application in progress
    • documents that show a shared home address

Working during studies

Taking courses online will not affect your eligibility to work off or on campus as long as you still meet the eligibility criteria.

Note: Taking courses online does not mean you are on an academic break. You can still only work the allowable number of hours as per the eligibility criteria outlined:

Eligible study permit holders who have been forced to drop to part-time studies or take a break in their studies due to COVID-19 can continue to work on or off campus. They are still subject to the authorized number of hours they would have been permitted to work as a full-time student.

For instance, full-time students during the winter 2020 semester who were forced to drop to part time are authorized to work off campus for up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full time during the University’s regularly scheduled breaks.

If the spring/summer period was to be a regularly scheduled break, students can work full-time. If it was to be an academic session, they can continue to work off campus up to 20 hours a week.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has lifted off-campus work hour restrictions for international students if their employment is considered an essential service.

Eligible study permit holders are now permitted to work more than 20-hours per week during academic session if they meet eligibility criteria for off-campus employment and the employment is for an essential service. This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.

To find out if your employment is considered an essential service, please visit Public Safety Canada online or the provincial government of Saskatchewan.

Under the regular legislation, study permit holders who have a regularly-scheduled break from May 1 to August 31 are permitted to work more than 20-hours per week if they were full-time student in the semester before and the semester after the regularly scheduled break.

Please contact the International Student and Study Abroad Centre at international.students@usask.ca if you have any questions.

Post-graduate work permit applications for students completing their program

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.

Due to school closures, many international students may be unable to obtain a letter of completion or final transcript from their DLI.

As a temporary facilitation measure, applicants who apply for a post-graduation work permit will be allowed to submit an application without their letter of completion or final transcript. Applicants should submit a letter of explanation with their initial application and indicate that they are unable to submit the requested documents due to school closure.

Once these documents become available, applicants should submit the documents using the IRCC Web form. If no documents are submitted by the time the application is ready to process, the documents will be requested by the processing officer.

Money and finances

Students experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 should contact ISSAC at international.students@usask.ca to be connected to additional resources.

  • Interest-free loans from Student Central. Please contact askus@usask.ca to learn more
  • International students may be eligible for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. They must meet the eligibility criteria
  • Your bank may have relief programs in place due to COVID-19
  • Your country of citizenship may have relief programs available for students abroad
  • The City of Saskatoon has a deferral plan for utility payments
  • Contact your family back home including extended family
  • If you have family or friends in Canada who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens, they may be able to co-sign a bank loan for you
  • If you work in healthcare, you may be eligible for the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program
  • Not all supports are financial – browse the Covidsupportyxe.ca page for information on food hampers and other supports
  • Contact your landlord and see if a payment schedule can be arranged. Keep in mind that all evictions in Saskatchewan are currently suspended due to COVID-19. You would still be responsible for rental payments at a later date.

Lastly, the University of Saskatchewan announced that a majority of courses will be delivered remotely in Fall 2020. That means you may be able to study from back home if that is more financially feasible. You would have to assess personal and public health risks that come with air travel and COVID-19.

Scams targeting international students

There are phone, email, and text message tax scams that claim to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and other federal departments. It is important to learn how to recognize these potential scams in order to avoid giving your personal information or money to fraudulent individuals.

According to the Government of Canada, the employees of the Canadian government will never ask for the following via email, phone or text message:

  • give or ask for personal or financial information and ask you to click on a link
  • email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
  • send you an email with a link to your refund
  • demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence

We encourage all students to learn how to spot cybercrime and phone scams. Review the university's Information Security website to learn how to avoid being the victim of cybercrime. For more information on how to protect yourself from internet, email and telephone scams, please visit the Canadian government website.

Be mindful of fraudulent job postings as well. Student Employment and Career Centre has a great resource to help spot fraudulent job posts. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Health coverage

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:

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

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.