Immigration information

International and exchange students are temporary residents in Canada. It is therefore important to learn about the procedures and documentation necessary to enter and study in Canada. Immigration is regulated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a department of the Canadian federal government.

Immigration law

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, educational institutions such as the University of Ottawa cannot give advice on immigration questions. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has up to date information about how to study in Canada. If you have questions, including about IRCC services and programs or your application, contact the IRCC client support centre.

The University of Ottawa cannot contact IRCC on your behalf, for example, to speed up the processing time or to inquire about your immigration application.

Outside experts available to you on campus

While we are not authorized to give immigration advice, we do bring in outside experts to offer information and advice.


Immigration Consultant

We offer appointments with a certified immigration consultant who can answer questions from students about temporary residence in Canada. To make an appointment with him, email us at

If you have questions on permanent residence or Canadian citizenship, contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Student advising with our consultants is limited to temporary residence in Canada.

Immigration Workshops

We often invite experts to give workshops about immigration. Here are some typical

Workshops are announced on our Facebook page (UOttawa Bureau International Office). Not all workshops are offered every year.

Impact of changes to your immigration status

Tuition fees at the University of Ottawa vary according to your immigration status in Canada. If you change your status, you must submit proof of your new status to InfoService to update your information in our database and possibly qualify for Canadian tuition fees. For more information on tuition, see the rules governing university fees.

If you are in the process of obtaining permanent residency status, we require a letter from
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirming that it has received your complete

Changes to your status will affect your University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) coverage. You
must make sure that there are no gaps between the end of your UHIP coverage and the start of your provincial coverage. Normally your provincial coverage starts three months after the change to your status.

For more information about insurance coverage and deadlines to make any changes or apply
for refunds, speak to the information officer at the International Office in person (Tabaret
M386) or email

Travel outside Canada

Your Canadian study permit or student visa does not guarantee entry to any other country. If
you would like to travel to another country during your stay in Canada, you must contact its
consulate or the embassy to find out which documents you need to travel there.

Here is a list of consular offices in Canada.

Our immigration consultant is able to offer advice only on Canadian immigration matters and
cannot help you with your application for a visa to another country.

Newly admitted international students

Can I begin my studies outside Canada with or without a study permit?

International students studying online from outside Canada do not need to hold a valid study permit.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that international students can study online outside Canada without an approved study permit. IRCC also confirmed that if you have a valid study permit or been approved for a study permit for a program starting in the spring-summer 2020, fall 2020 or winter 2021 terms, or have applied for a study permit before the start of your program (I.e., before classes begin), but you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) will not be affected.

If you’re in this situation, you may: 

  • Begin your classes while outside Canada, and 
  • If you started your studies between May 2020 and September 2020 and they are 8 to 12 months in length you may complete up to 100% of your program outside Canada. 
  • If your studies are more than 12 months in duration you may complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada. 
  • If you have already started your studies between May 2020 to September 2020 or if you start your studies in winter 2021, you won’t have time deducted from the length of your future post-graduation work permit for studies you complete while outside Canada up to April 30, 2021.
Can I still apply for my study permit? Is IRCC continuing to process applications in spite of the situation?

IRCC has confirmed that they are continuing to receive and process study permit applications. They have indicated on their website that Visa Application Centres (VACs) won’t accept or process paper applications for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit until further notice. You must apply for your study permit online.  Some VACs have reopened with limited-service capacity, please consult the IRCC website to find out about VACs reopening. If you have all the documents required to submit your application, we encourage you to submit your application now. If you are not able to include a specific document because of measures in place due to the COVID-19 (e.g. digital photo, IELTS results, etc.), we still encourage you to submit your application. However, for every document you are not able to provide due to COVID-19, you should instead provide a letter of explanation detailing the reasons you are unable to provide it and mentioning that you will provide the missing documents as soon as you are able to using the IRCC web form

International students are still required to provide biometrics, undergo a medical exam, and submit original travel documents when required to have an application fully approved. International students whose study permit applications are approved are now able to travel to Canada, as per the measures detailed by IRCC on Oct 20, 2020. Travel to Canada by international students studying at the University of Ottawa is now considered non-discretionary and non-optional. We encourage you to submit your study permit application online as soon as possible if you have not already done so. As a reminder, a study permit is required for studies completed in person in Canada. 

Please know that IRCC is working tirelessly on processing study permit applications and understands how important it is for students to be able to begin their studies on time 

I’ve received a Biometrics Instruction Letter; however, all offices that collect biometrics are temporarily closed, and I am unable to provide them. What should I do?

The deadline to provide biometrics was extended until further notice. IRCC has indicated on their website that you don’t have to give your biometrics until the sites reopen. This applies to you, even if your biometrics instruction letter (BIL) says you have 30 or 90 days.” You will be able to make an appointment when sites reopen, and you are not required to inform IRCC you cannot meet the deadline. Please note that IRCC has also confirmed that applications won’t be refused or closed if an applicant can’t give your biometrics due to COVID-19 closures.

Please note that if you have received a BIL and you are currently inside Canada, you must inform IRCC in order to get exempted as all biometric offices in Canada are currently closed to temporary residence applicants. Please communicate with us if you are unsure of how to inform them. 

What will be the status of my application if I am not able to submit biometrics, additional documents or send my passport?

You are required to complete all steps of your application despite the current situation. IRCC has extended deadlines to submit additional documents and biometrics. Please note that IRCC has confirmed that: “applications will not be refused for non-compliance, and all applications currently in progress at IRCC offices abroad, at case processing centres and within the Domestic Network will continue to be processed but may experience delays.” If you are not able to complete all the steps, your application will remain pending until you are able to complete it. Please note that the current processing times may not reflect the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

I am eligible to apply for the Student Direct Stream, but I cannot submit all required documents, such as the International English Language Testing System results and proof of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate. How can I apply for SDS

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is available for residents of China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, Senegal and Morocco. 

IRCC has confirmed that international students who do not have the required documents for the SDS upon submitting their application should be directed to apply through regular study permit channels or apply through the SDS once services resume and they are able to submit the required documents. 

What happens if my study permit is refused?

There is no guarantee that IRCC will approve your study permit application, even if you receive an approval in principle. This will depend on the strength of your application. You can find more information about how officers assess a study permit application on IRCC’s website. If you begin your studies through distance learning and receive a refusal from IRCC on your study permit application, you will have three options:   

  1. Reapply for a study permit: If you feel that the reasons for the refusal can be overcome, reapply for a study permit. Remember that a study permit is required for in person classes in Canada. 

  1. Finish the term and receive uOttawa credits: Since IRCC has confirmed that a study permit is not required for online courses taken while Outside Canada, you can finish your Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 courses. Even if your study permit is refused and you choose not to reapply for a study permit, you can receive the credits if you successfully pass the courses. 

  1. Drop courses before the reimbursement deadline: If you receive a refusal of your study permit application before the deadline to withdraw from a course or an activity and receive a financial credit (less administrative fees), which is February 5th, 2021 for the Winter 2021 term, you can drop your courses and request a refund. If you withdraw from your courses after this deadline, you will not be able to request a reimbursement. If you want to opt for this option and still plan on studying at uOttawa at a later term, please contact the Admissions Office (undergraduate students) or your academic unit (graduate students) to enquire about the impact on your offer of admission and your options.   

Current international students

Can we leave Canada and return to our home country?

We strongly advise avoiding all non-essential travel outside of Canada due to multiple factors including the difficulty for international students to be able to re-enter Canada after a short trip. When deciding whether you should stay in Canada or leave, there are multiple factors that may influence your decision. 

For instance, the most important factor is your health and safety. We strongly recommend verifying your destination’s safety situation as well as the countries in which you are transiting if it is not a direct flight. Additionally, students need to ensure they are well enough to travel so as not to present a risk to themselves or others. Check the Frequently Asked Questions section on the  how to protect yourself section on the university’s Coronavirus website to learn more about what to do to protect yourself and others around you should you decide to travel. 

Furthermore, make sure to check the entry/exit requirements put in place by your home country or countries where you plan to transit to see if you are legally able to enter and exit those countries with the current situation. Canada also announced that it has closed its borders to non-citizens or non-permanent residents of Canada arriving by air with some exemptions. As an international student you are exempt from travel restrictions and can be allowed to enter Canada if you satisfy the following conditions: 

  • You hold a valid study permit or received a letter of introduction from IRCC; and. 
  • You are attending a DLI who is on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans  

We encourage you to consult the  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) webpage  for the most updated information and further details. Academic integrity and continuity remain a priority. Our goal is to ensure that students can complete all courses in which they are currently registered and receive their evaluations and credits without any interruption.  

For the fall 2020 and winter 2021 terms, all our courses, with some exceptions, will include a distance-learning option. Whether you are an international student or a Canadian who cannot come to Ottawa, you will be able to learn from home without having to be physically present on campus. 

Another factor to consider, secondary to your health and safety, is if you can continue to study outside of Canada. As an example, you need to make sure that you can access your courses and exams from the country you are traveling to. 

The situation continues to change, and we cannot guarantee you will be allowed to enter Canada in the near future. The institution is not able to act and override any measures or restrictions imposed by the Government of Canada as the situation evolves. We encourage you to consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) webpage for the most updated information.

How will this situation impact my post-graduation work permit (PGWP)?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released instructions regarding the impacts on your immigration status due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Furthermore, IRCC has released specific measures relating to post-graduation work permit

IRCC has confirmed that the effects of COVID-19 will be taken under consideration when assessing Post-Graduation Work Permit program eligibility. Although under normal circumstances, in order to be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, international students must maintain their full-time student status during each academic session of the program or programs of study they complete and submit as part of their Post-Graduation Work Permit application, if an international student is unable to meet this criteria due to reasons related to COVID-19, they will still be considered eligible for the PGWP, provided they meet all the other program criteria. 

Therefore, your  post-graduation work permit  will not be negatively impacted at this time if: 

  • Your in-person classes in Canada are being 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 because of COVID-19 during the winter or spring-summer 2020 terms. 

If you’re outside of Canada right now, you’re still eligible for a post-graduation work permit if you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions and you have a valid study permit. If you’re in this situation you can take your classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of your program online (until April 30, 2021) if you complete the other 50% of your program in Canada. You won’t have time deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit for studies you complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021. 

In order to apply for your PGWP you will need: 

  • an official letter that confirms you’ve completed your study program (Undergraduate students may obtain this letter from their Faculty. Graduate students may obtain this letter from InfoService.) 
  • an official transcript, or a copy of your transcript accessible through your uoZone account 

The Canada Border Services Agency has also confirmed that traveling to the border for the sole purpose of processing immigration documents is not considered non-optional/non-discretionary travel. If you are currently in Canada, do not visit a land border (flagpole) to apply for immigration documents until further notice.

What is the impact of studying part-time for an international student?

Here are the immigration impacts of studying part-time: 

Actively pursuing studies: From an immigration standpoint, you may study part-time and still be considered to be actively pursuing your studies and therefore, meeting the conditions of your study permit.  

Work during the academic term: In order to be eligible to work on campus or off campus on a part-time basis during an academic term, you must be a full-time student.  Please note that if you're in the last semester of your study program and you don’t need a full course load to complete your program, and you were a full-time student in your program in Canada up until your last semester, you may continue to work and your eligibility for the Post Graduation Work Permit will not be affected.   

Work during a scheduled break (reading week and spring-summer term): In order to be eligible to work full-time during a scheduled break, you must be enrolled full-time in the term preceding and the term immediately following the break. 

Working after your studies: One of the eligibility criteria for the Post Graduation Work Permit is to have continuously studied full-time during an entire program of study. We recommend that you keep copies of all relevant documents if you plan to apply for this type of work permit in the future, in order to justify and explain your part-time studies. 

For the impact on your University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), please contact the International Office:

What is the impact of a leave from studies for an international student?

Please consult your faculty or academic unit about their leave of absence and leave from studies policies. Here are the immigration impacts of a leave from studies: 

Leave from studies and study permit: According to the guidelines from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on study permits, you have no action to take regarding your immigration status if your leave from studies is less than 150 days or if you leave Canada. Your study permit remains valid until the expiry date indicated on the permit. If you decide to leave Canada, we encourage you to access the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Government of Canada websites for the most up to date information, as the situation is constantly changing due to the evolving situation with COVID-19. If your leave from studies will be more than 150 days and you wish to remain in Canada, you must apply to change your status to visitor or worker

Work during your studies: You will no longer be authorized to work on or off campus during a leave from studies or during a scheduled break following a leave from studies (for example, the spring-summer term or holiday break). You must be enrolled as a full-time student in order to be authorized to work using your study permit. You can learn more about on campus and off campus work on IRCC’s website.  

Unauthorized Study/work: As stated on IRCCs website: Non-compliance with study permit conditions or engaging in unauthorized work or study may also negatively affect future applications that are made under the IRPA and IRPR. For example, a subsequent study permit or work permit may not be issued until a period of 6 months has passed, since the cessation of the unauthorized work or study or failure to comply with a condition, per section R221 and subsection R200(3)

Post-graduation work permit: One of the eligibility criteria for the Post Graduation Work Permit is to have continuously studied full-time during an entire program of study (exception applies on your last term). For this reason, we recommend that you keep copies of all relevant documents if you plan to apply for this type of work permit in the future in order to justify and explain your leave from studies in a future application. You can learn more about the eligibility requirements for this type of permit on the IRCC website

IRCC Compliance Reporting: If you take a leave from studies, the University will report your academic status as “no longer enrolled” or “authorized leave” in the next compliance reporting period with IRCC. You may receive an email from IRCC at a future date asking for clarification on your leave from the University. We encourage you to keep copies of all supporting documents to this end. 

For the impact on your University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), please contact the International Office:

Can I work full-time during the spring-summer term?

This depends whether or not the spring-summer term is considered to be a regularly scheduled break based on your program of study. Please see the two options below. 

Undergraduate students: Your study permit authorizes you to work full-time during regularly scheduled breaks (i.e. reading week, etc.) if you are registered as a full-time student in the period preceding and following the break. In order to determine if the spring-summer term is a regularly scheduled break, you must consult the suggested course sequence for your program of study. If the sequence indicates that you are expected to take courses during the fall and winter terms only, the spring-summer term (from May 1 to August 31) is considered a regularly scheduled break. For more information on work authorizations and taking courses during a scheduled break, please visit IRCC’s website. Note that should you decide to take courses during a regularly scheduled break, it is still considered a break and the requirement to study full-time therefore does not apply. 

Graduate students: Your study permit authorizes you to work full-time during regularly scheduled breaks (i.e. reading week, etc.) if you are registered as a full-time student in the period preceding and following the break. If your academic program does not have any scheduled breaks and requires continuous enrolment, you will only be eligible to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week off campus. We encourage you to check directly with your Academic Unit to see if you are expected to enroll during the spring-summer term. 

Please note that the University has a policy where graduate students can only work up to 10 hours a week. If you wish to work more than this, you must request for an exception to this rule in your uoZone account. You can find more information on how to request the exemption on the University website

Both my study permit and study visa will expire soon. What should I do to extend them?

IRCC has confirmed that students already in Canada must apply to extend their study permit in order to continue their studies in Canada even if their program has been shifted to an online format. If you are outside Canada and need to extend your study permit, we recommend that you book an advising appointment to discuss your options in detail. 

Study Permit Extension: Information on the study permit extension process is available on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website. You must submit your application online. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you apply. Therefore, it is always recommended that you renew your immigration documents in the following order: 1- passport, 2- study permit 3- visa. Due to the high processing times and the disruptions, we are currently experiencing, we recommend you apply for an extension up to 6 months before the expiry date of your current permit. If your permit expires in less than 6 months, please apply as soon as possible. 

Documents to apply: We recommend international students include three academic documents in their application: an official enrollment verification letter, a transcript and the original Offer of Admission. You can request official academic documents from InfoService. The document you should request is called Official Enrollment Verification. You must ask them to add a remark that indicates where you are in your program of study (for example, that you are in your second year of a four-year program). You can also request a remark that confirms the date enrolment opens for the upcoming term if you are not enrolled in courses. 

Please note that in person services are currently closed. InfoService accepts document orders online through your uoZone account, as usual. There is a tutorial available on their website that can help you with your document request. For students who are not able to order their documents online, InfoService is accepting document requests by email at If you decide to send your request by email, you will be asked to fill out the Request for Documents form and send in a scanned copy. 

Missing documents: If there are any documents that you are unable to include in your application due to COVID-19 (for example, a passport), you will need to instead upload a letter of explanation detailing why you are not able to obtain the document at this time (and attach proof of your inability to obtain the document if available) and informing them that you will provide the missing document using the IRCC Web form as soon as it is available. Your application will remain pending until you are able to provide the missing documents and you will benefit from implied status until a decision is made on your application. Implied status will allow you to continue working and/or studying while you wait for your study permit. 

Proof of financial support: There are several options you can use as proof of financial support. As a reminder, you must demonstrate that you have the minimum funds necessary to support yourself as a student. 

TRV Application: Information on applying for a new temporary resident visa (TRV) is available on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website. You may submit an application online, as soon as you receive your study permit. Please note that a TRV is solely a travel authorization. You are not required to have a valid TRV unless you have plans to travel outside of Canada and return. 

Information session: Please note that we held an information session on how to apply for a study permit extension where we go over all of the steps. You may view the recording of the session on the International Office’s YouTube channel:

Processing of the application: Please note that IRCC has confirmed that applications will not be refused for non-compliance, and all applications currently in progress at IRCC offices abroad, at case processing centres and within the Domestic Network will continue to be processed but may experience delays. The current processing times may not reflect the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Biometrics: IRCC has announced that students who are applying for a study permit, or extending their study permit, or restoring their status as a student within Canada are currently exempted from giving biometrics. This exemption applied to all new applications and applications that are already in progress. IRCC has also confirmed that students are currently not required to pay biometrics fee. For those who paid the biometrics fee, a refund will be processed when IRCC finalizes the application. Please note that this temporary measure does not apply if you are outside Canada. If you are outside Canada, you are still required to provide biometrics. 

I have applied to extend my study permit, but I have not received an answer yet. My current study permit expires soon. What should I do?

If you applied before the expiry date of your current study permit, you benefit from implied status until a decision is made on your application and have no additional action to take. As indicated on IRCC’s website: “If a temporary resident applies for renewal of their work or study permit and their permit expires before a decision is made, paragraph 186(u) and section 189 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) (the right to continue working or studying under the same conditions pending a determination of their application for renewal) apply only as long as the person remains in Canada.” In order to benefit from implied status, you must apply to extend your status before the expiry date indicated on the permit.

What happens if my study permit expires and I was not able to apply for an extension before the expiry? 

According to IRCC, temporary residents who are inside Canada and who were not able to extend their stay before the expiry date of their last permit may restore their status within 90 days from the expiry date of their legal status. Visitors,  students and workers whose  status expired, or expires, between January 30, 2020 and May 31, 2021 and were not able to apply for a restoration of their status before the 90-day timeline, will have until August 31, 2021 to restore their status.  Unlike implied status, visitors, students and workers applying for restoration have lost their status and may not continue to work or attend school until their status has been restored and a new work or study permit has been issued.

Visitors, workers and students are outside Canada and whose status has expired are ineligible for restoration and encouraged to submit an application for a new study or work permit from outside Canada.

If you have questions regarding your immigration status and the impacts, we encourage you to contact an immigration advisor at the International Office by e-mail at or attend a Virtual "SOS Immigration" Drop-in Session. You may also contact IRCC directly using the Web form


Do I need a work permit, or a study permit to work remotely from abroad?

You do not need to have a work permit for remote work done from outside of Canada. Note that each employer will have their own internal hiring processes and requirements; however, for immigration purposes no work permit nor study permit is required if you are not physically in Canada. 

I have a valid study permit, but my study visa is expired. I need a new one urgently. What should I do?

In order to prioritize your application with IRCC, you must contact them directly at to indicate how you meet the travel exemption criteria, why you are travelling for a non-discretionary/non-optional purpose and provide acceptable documentation. 

Traveling to Canada

I am a student who is outside Canada. Can I travel to Canada?

Since October 20th, 2020, international students who satisfy certain conditions may travel to Canada. 


Exemptions to travel restrictions

Canada announced that it has closed its borders to non-citizens or non-permanent residents of Canada arriving by air from a country other than the United States with some exemptions. In addition, the Canada-US borders are also restricted to non-optional or non-discretionary travel until December 21, 2020 and may be extended beyond this date. As an international student, you are exempt from travel restrictions and can be allowed to enter Canada if you satisfy the following conditions:    


Accompanying family members 

Certain family members may also be eligible to travel with you. Although IRCC mentions that immediate family members do not need a written authorization from IRCC to travel with you, we have seen several students experience issues with airlines. We are therefore recommending to everyone who will be travelling with family members to request a letter of authorization just to be safe. You may send your request to this email address: and read more about this authorization on the IRCC website.  

Mandatory COVID-19 Test 

All passengers five years of age or older are required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling by air from another country to Canada. Documentation of a negative COVID-19 laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular test, and must be taken within 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada.  

For more information on the testing requirement and exceptions please visit this website.  

ArriveCan App 
Starting on 21 November 2020, all travellers coming to Canada will need to use the ArriveCan app to provide mandatory travel information. Please note that if you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air, regardless of their nationality.   

Please note that the use of a non-medical mask or face covering to cover your mouth and nose is mandatory during travel on all flights arriving and departing from a Canadian airport. When you arrive in Canada, officers will assess your health before you leave the airport. They will also question you on your plans to self-isolate. It is mandatory that you isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. You must declare to the border officer: “I/we acknowledge that I/we must self-isolate for 14 days to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.” For more information on how to isolate effectively, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s online resource and our own website. You  must also download the ArriveCAN mobile app or print out your Arrive Can declaration as mandated by the Canadian Public Health Agency   

Supporting documents when travelling 

To travel to Canada as an international student, you must have the following documents in addition to your usual electronic travel authorization (eTA) or temporary resident visa (TRV) (visa stamp):    

  • 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 admission and a confirmation of attendance (official enrollment verification letter) from uOttawa for a program that has not been suspended or cancelled.    
  • Proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.    
  • A plan for your 14-day quarantine (shared via the ArriveCan app)  



As part of the COVID-19 readiness plan all students must register their quarantine plans with the University and follow the directions given on how to quarantine effectively.   
Students in Ontario are required to go for a COVID-19 test during their quarantine  

If your quarantine plan is not considered satisfactory, you may be sent to a designated place chosen by the border officer at your own expense.  

Last review by a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC): 01-11-2021


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