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COVID-19 FAQ for international students

As the COVID-19 situation is continually evolving, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to make updates and revisions to their policies and procedures. While SAIT strives to keep this page as updated as possible, for the most recent updates please continue to monitor the following resources for the latest information as it is made available directly from IRCC and other government departments.

Applications and admission

How can I take my English Language Proficiency test during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Duolingo English Test has been added to SAIT’s list of acceptable options to demonstrate English Language Proficiency (ELP) for Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 admission. SAIT has also extended the timeline during which it will accept existing ELP test scores to two years.

SAIT advises international applicants that if they are unable to produce documentation to confirm their ELP, they will be tested on campus when operations once again support in-person attendance, and their program/academic completion date may be adjusted accordingly. Please see the temporary adjustments to AC.3.1.1 Grading and Progression procedure for more information.

Study and work permit

I don't have my study permit or my study permit approval notification. Can I start classes online and am I still eligible for the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?

You don’t need to have a valid study permit to start online classes for your Fall 2020 semester.

However, based on the latest updates from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), students who don’t hold a study permit or have their study permit approved prior to starting classes are not considered eligible for the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) program while they study outside of Canada.

This means, if you start a program without a study permit/study permit approval, you will likely not meet the eligibility requirements for a PGWP, or may not get the full length of your PGWP. Please review the latest updates from IRCC to help you make your decision.

If you have a study permit, or have been approved for a study permit for a program starting in the spring, summer or fall, but you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, you’re still eligible for the PGWP if you:

  • begin your classes while outside Canada, and
  • complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada, if you can’t travel to Canada sooner.

If you start your studies online in Fall 2020, you won’t have time deducted from the length of your PGWP for studies you complete while outside Canada before December 31, 2020.

Can I drop classes and go to part-time studies due to COVID-19? If so, can I still work?

If you need to drop classes because of a direct result of the COVID-19 situation — such as, you’re sick or your class has been cancelled — you can do so.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will require SAIT to provide a letter explaining this change for you to include with your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) application.

If your decision to drop from full-time to part-time studies is not related to COVID19 and is not supported by a letter from SAIT, this would be considered as not fulfilling conditions to qualify for the PGWP program.

Given the extreme nature of the COVID-19 situation, if you were eligible to work on or off-campus, you can continue to work even if you have to drop to part-time studies or take a break in your studies.

What happens with my study permit when we return to in-class delivery?

All international students will need to have a study permit by the time SAIT returns to in-class delivery. Please note, it’s the student’s responsibility to make sure they’re eligible to apply for a study permit. You won’t be able to continue in your program when it resumes in-person if you don’t have your permit.


Am I able to travel to Canada as a current student?

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), some international students are exempt from current travel restrictions to Canada. If you have a study permit, or were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, you’re exempt from travel restrictions if you’re travelling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose. View the full updateThe decision regarding allowing you to enter Canada depends solely on the discretion of the CBSA officer so we strongly encourage you to follow below mentioned instructions as the CBSA officer will look beyond March 18 study permit approval and require to see below mentioned documents before making the final decision.

There has been no update about study permit holders who received their study permit, or were approved for a study permit, after March 18, 2020. If you were approved for a study permit after March 18, 2020 you are currently not eligible to enter Canada. We will keep you informed of any changes.

When travelling to Canada as a student, you must bring:

  • a valid study permit or a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit before or on March 18, 2020 and
  • you must also prove you are travelling for an essential purpose.

What is considered “essential travel” will be determined by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). CBSA may consider the following to be essential travel:

  • Study permit holders whose primary residence is in Canada (you can prove that you reside in Canada and provide documentation such as a copy of lease agreement, proof of Canadian address, etc.)
  • Study permit holders returning to continue studies with an implication that they reside in Canada and have a home here.

If you’re a current student who intends to travel outside of Canada, please note that the International Centre does not recommend travelling at this point, and any travel and attempted return to Canada will be at your own discretion.

Please also keep in mind all travelers to Canada must isolate for 14 days upon arrival and have a plan ready to show to the CBSA officer indicating how their self-isolation will be executed.

Before travelling to Canada, please contact the Border Information Service for more information if your travel circumstances will be considered essential. We also recommend that you contact IRCC by email at ircc.covid-travelexemptions-exemptionsdevoyage-covid.ircc@cic.gc.ca and obtain an authorization prior to booking a flight/boarding a plane. If you obtain a written authorization from IRCC, please also bring it with you when you travel.

When travelling to Canada as a new student (starting program in Fall 2020 with a study permit approved before March 18), we strongly recommend:

  • to contact IRCC through the above mentioned email AND
  • once confirmed your travel is essential, you book your flights close to the beginning of the new semester (arriving too early in summer could be considered as non-essential).
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