COVID-19 Information for Incoming International Students

If you have been offered admission to a uLethbridge program for the Fall 2020 term, 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 your answers here: COVID-19 Information for International Students

Upcoming Webinars and Weekly Sessions

Weekly Session

Wednesdays| 9 - 10 a.m. MDT

This weekly session gives you a place to ask all your questions about the Fall 2020 semester, and a chance to meet other new international students!

Applying for a Study Permit

Yes, we recommend that you apply online for your study permit as soon as possible.  We anticipate that there will be processing delays.   

There may also be delays in your ability to provide biometrics due to the temporary closure of many Visa Application Centres (see below). You may also experience delays due to the availability of an IRCC panel physician to conduct your medical exam, if required.

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 current 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. 

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.   

After submitting your study permit application online, you will receive a biometrics instruction letter, with a deadline of 30 days or 90 days. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has now said that you do not need to provide biomtetrics until the collection service closest to you has opened.  You can use the same Biometrics Instruction Letter you received.

IRCC will not refuse or close any application as a result of an applicant's inability to provide biometrics. 

In July, IRCC announced a temporary measure of a two-stage approval process for study permit applications made outside of Canada. This new two-stage approval only applies to applications submitted:

  • before September 15, 2020,
  • for programs beginning Spring, Summer or Fall 2020.

The two-stage application process is not available for Study Direct Stream applications.

Here is a brief description of the two stages:

Stage 1: IRCC will review your application for eligibility for a study permit.  They will require the following documents to determine eligibility:

  • a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution
  • proof that you have enough money for tuition fees for one year, 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, as well at ties to your home country
  • evidence that you will leave Canada when your authorized stay comes to an end

If you are deemed eligible after stage one, you will receive “approval in principle”.  This will come in the form of a notification letter from IRCC in your online account, indicating that your application has moved to the next stage.  If you are not eligible, you will receive a refusal. Most refusals of study permit applications occur at the first stage.

Stage 2: IRCC will review your application for admissibility to Canada, including:

  • a medical exam, if required
  • police certificates, if needed
  • your biometrics
  • any information that changed after you received first stage approval

Even if you received “approval in principle” after Stage 1, there is no guarantee your application will be approved at Stage 2.  There are risks to beginning your program without approval of your study permit.  The risks are greater if you have not received first stage approval of your permit.


  • 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, as we do not expect to offer programs online indefinitely. 
  • No refunds will be issued for Fall 2020 tuition and fees for any student registered past the extended drop deadline of September 24.

Impact on Post-Graduation Work Permit

Time spent studying online from outside of Canada in Fall 2020 will count towards PGWP eligibility if:

  • your study permit application is submitted by September 15, 2020,
  • your application receives final approval and
  • you complete at least 50% of your program in Canada.

We do not recommend beginning your program from outside Canada if you have not yet received either final approval or first-stage 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 of September 15, you should drop all your classes and if possible, defer to the next possible intake. 

If you have received first stage approval from IRCC, but not final approval, you will need to decide whether you are comfortable with taking on the risks associated with starting your program. This is because a first stage approval is not a guarantee of final approval.


  • 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, as we do not expect to offer programs online indefinitely. 
  • No refunds will be issued for Fall 2020 tuition and fees for any student registered past the the last day for cancellation of course registration (extended drop) for the Fall term, September 24.

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 student 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 is important that you register for Fall 2020 classes as soon as possible, if you haven’t done so already.  

Travelling to Canada

There are currently restrictions in place on who can travel to Canada.  The following groups are exempt from the travel restrictions and may be able to travel to Canada: 

  • International students who already hold a valid study permit 

  • International students who received their Letter of Introduction on or before March 18, 2020. The Letter of Introduction, officially called the Port of Entry Letter of Introduction, is the letter provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that indicates approval of your application to study in Canada. 

All travellers to Canada must also show that their reason for travel is essential, or non-discretionary.  Examples of this might include:

  • Registration in experiential or "in-person" classes or labs.
  • Having an established residence in Canada (i.e. you already live in Canada, and have made it your home)
  • Internet connectivity issues such as low bandwidth or restricted access

International students whose application to study in Canada is approved after March 18 are currently not permitted to travel to Canada.   These restrictions are in place until August 31, 2020, and may be extended.


Students who are entering Canada from the United States are not required to fall into one of the above exempt groups.  However, like all travellers, they must show that their reason for travel is essential.

We only recommend booking your flight if you are exempt from travel restrictions and are thus able to enter Canada. Please see the question above for details. We recommend purchasing cancellation insurance. 

If you have not received approval of your study permit application, or if you have but you are restricted from entering Canada at this time, you should not book flights.

If any changes are made to the Government of Canada's travel restrictions, we ask that you please contact our office prior to making plans to travel to Canada.

Yes, all 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 minimizing all contact with others en route to your location of quarantine. 

Please review our Quarantine Requirements page for further instructions. You can also find more information on quarantine requirements from the Government of Canada here. 

You will likely have two options:

  • To begin your studies in the Fall 2020 term in the online format, from your home country, or
  • To defer your offer of admission to the next available intake, if possible. For additional information, see here for undergraduate students and here for graduate students.
    • Most undergraduate programs will be eligible for a deferral. If you have accepted your Offer of Admission for the Fall 2020 term and are unable to attend, please contact the Admissions team, who will present your options for deferring your admission. If you are eligible for a deferral, your tuition deposit will be transferred to your next term of attendance.  You must notify Admissions of your wish to defer by September 15, 2020.
    • Deferal of admission for graduate programs will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please contact if you have questions.

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. 

If you have applied to live on campus for Fall 2020 and have not received an offer of accommodation, please let the International Centre know by June 15.

Both the Main Campus and the Calgary Campus are currently closed, although classes and services for students are still being provided virtually. Please monitor the University of Lethbridge COVID-19 Response page for any updates. 

What to Expect

On May 19, 2020, the University of Lethbridge announced that Fall 2020 classes will be delivered primarily online.  Some experiential components may still be offered in-person.  A preliminary list of these will be available mid-June. Please consult  frequently the University of Lethbridge COVID-19 Response page for up-to date information. 

Additional details about what to expect in the Fall 2020 term can be found here.

IRCC has confirmed that that for students who have received study permit approval but are not able to enter Canada can begin their programs of study in the summer (May/June) or the fall (September) and will not have their PGWP eligibility  affected. Students in this situation will be permitted to complete up to 50% of their program online from outside Canada, up to December 31, 2020, if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. 

Students who choose to begin their study online prior to approval of their student permit application are doing so at the risk of:    

  • Sacrificing their PGWP eligibility, or the length of PGWP they would normally receive after completing their program.
  • Being refused a study permit after already completing some courses or portion of study online. No refunds will be made to students in this situation after the last day for cancellation of course registration (extended drop) for the Fall term.

Yes, there will be an online New Student Orientation for the Fall term, including specific sessions for international students.  Attending New Student Orientation is a wonderful way to learn what to expect, to gain valuable information and to set yourself up for success in your studies.   

Save the Date: New Student Orientation for undergraduate students will take place August 31 - September 4

Details on how to register and participate will be provided closer to the start of the Fall 2020 term.

You may choose to register as a part-time student for the Fall 2020 term. 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.  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.

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. 


The deadline to submit proof of English language proficiency has not been extended. Please review the Admissions FAQ for information on your options. 

Review this FAQ for some helpful admission information for undergraduate students.

If you have further questions, 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