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Covid19 Updates from International Student Services
All ISS services are now remote. For immigration questions, please fill in an advising request form. If you have questions on your international health insurance plan, please email international.health [at] mcgill.ca. Please visit our Covid19 resources page for the latest news and resources from ISS.

 

Immigration FAQs - Covid19

Please review the official government resources before reviewing the FAQs. Many answers to your questions can be found on Immigration Canada's and Immigration Quebec's websites.

General FAQs

I have applied for my CAQ. More than four weeks have passed since I sent my supporting documents and I have still not received any communication from MIFI (Immigration Quebec). Should I be worried?

Under normal circumstances, the standard processing time for the CAQ is 20 business days from the day Immigration Quebec confirms in your online portal that they have received your supporting documents. However, due to delays caused by COVID-19, the processing times for the CAQ may be longer than normal.

We do not recommend that you resubmit your supporting documents. You should continue to monitor the information on your CAQ online portal to verify if any updates have been made in your file.

If more than 8 weeks have passed, you may wish to contact Immigration Quebec to follow up on your application.

I am applying for my CAQ, can I submit my supporting documents electronically?

As per the announcement made by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), students will now be able to submit their CAQ supporting documents electronically by using MIFI’s online system, Arrima.

All students must first complete an online CAQ application. After you submit the online application and pay the processing fee, you will receive a CAQ document checklist. The checklist will provide instructions on how to submit your supporting documents to MIFI electronically using the Arrima online system. You still have the option to submit your CAQ supporting documents to MIFI by mail if you prefer.

Only the following students should use the online system, Arrima, to submit their CAQ supporting documents:

  • Students who have not yet applied for their CAQ;
  • Students who have applied online for their CAQ, but who have not yet mailed their documents; OR
  • Students who have received a letter from MIFI requesting additional documents.

MIFI has create a tutorial video (available in French only) that explains how to submit CAQ supporting documents electronically. There is also a webform that students can use to ask technical questions.

*Note: Students who have already mailed their supporting documents to MIFI should NOT resubmit their supporting documents through the online system Arrima.

My courses will now be held online, can I study part-time?

Under the current conditions for CAQ holders, international students must make their studies their principal activity. This means that in order to respect your CAQ conditions, you must maintain a full-time student status every term for the duration of your program, with the exception of your last term.

Under the current eligibility requirements to work on-campus and off-campus, international students must maintain a full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

Under the current eligibility requirements for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP), international students must maintain a full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

Until further notice, we are currently encouraging all international students* to maintain a full-time student status for the duration of their program with the exception of their last term, so as not to compromise their ability to extend their CAQ, maintain authorization to work on and off-campus or their eligibility for the PGWP. *This applies to newly admitted and current students studying inside of Canada or from outside of Canada.

If the CAQ conditions or PGWP eligibility requirements change, we will update our website.

If you must be part-time due to course cancellations as a result of COVID-19, please contact us so that we may best advise you.

I am applying for my CAQ but due to Covid-19, I cannot obtain my printed official transcript and/or other original documents as required in my CAQ checklist. What should I do?

You now have the option of submitting your CAQ documents either electronically or by mail. See our General FAQs “I am applying for my CAQ, can I submit my supporting documents electronically?” for full details on how to submit documents electronically through the Arrima online system.

The Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) is exceptionally allowing international students to submit photocopies and non-certified copies of their documents if their are unable to provide originals or certified true copies where required, see MIFI’s website.

If you will be submitting your documents by mail and will be submitting photocopies of documents in lieu of original documents where required, make sure to include a cover letter that explains why it is not possible for you to provide the original document(s).

NOTE FOR OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT:

Service Point is currently not able to provide printed official transcripts due to the COVID-19 related campus closure. Since we do not know when Service Point will resume printing transcripts, we are recommending that students apply for their CAQ with all of the following documents instead of their printed official transcript:

  1. A cover letter explaining that you are providing a copy of the electronic official transcript instead of the printed official transcript. You can mention that the electronic version of the official transcript is the only version available since the Registrar’s Office is closed to the public due to COVID-19 and is therefore not issuing printed official transcripts. If you will be submitting your documents:
    • By mail: You should mention in your cover letter that when the electronic transcript is printed, the word “COPY” (watermark) automatically appears on the transcript.
    • Electronically (via Arrima): It is possible that the "COPY" watermark will appear on the eTranscript when you combine the eTranscript with other documents into one PDF, when you save the eTranscript to your computer, and/or when the immigration agent opens the file. You should mention this possibility in your cover letter and also ensure that you view/save your eTranscript according to the instructions provided by the National Student Clearinghouse when you order your eTranscript. 
  2. A copy of your official eTranscript (order an electronic official transcript)
  3. A copy of your unofficial transcript (from Minerva)
  4. A copy of McGill’s Student Records webpage confirming that printed official transcripts are currently not available

If you will be sending your supporting documents to MIFI by mail, you must include all of the above documents instead of the printed transcript in the same package as all of your other CAQ documents.

If you will be submitting your supporting documents to MIFI electronically through Arrima, you should combine and save all of the above documents into one PDF and upload the PDF file in the transcript section of the checklist.

Please contact us if you receive an Intention of refusal letter from MIFI requesting that you provide them with additional documents.

My appointment to submit biometrics at a Service Canada Center has been cancelled. What can I do?

If you decide to remain in Canada, you will have to wait for the Service Canada Centers to re-open to provide your biometrics. Unfortunately, you are not eligible to provide your biometrics at an airport or any port of entry (land border).

If you choose to return to your home country, then you may be able to submit your biometrics from there if the Visa Application Center (VAC) in your home country is opened and allows you to do so. For information about the VAC in your home country, please see IRCC’s website.

*Please review IRCC resources on impact of COVID-19 on biometrics*

I am a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident who is currently outside of Canada and my CAQ application has been approved. Should I apply online for my study permit now or should I wait and apply for my study permit at a Port of Entry (e.g. airport or land border) in August before the Fall 2020 term begins?

Given the impact of COVID-19 on services at ports of entry and travel restrictions, we are currently recommending that students who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents apply for their study permit online as soon as their CAQ is approved. *NOTE: U.S. permanent residents applying for a study permit will have to give their biometrics. See the latest information on biometrics in the resources above.

*Please review IRCC resources on travel restrictions and exemptions*

New Students FAQs

I have been admitted to McGill and would like to start the process of applying for my immigration documents. Can I apply for my study permit before I receive my CAQ?

In order to study in Quebec, you must have a valid certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) issued by Immigration Québec and a valid study permit issued by Immigration Canada. In order to apply for your study permit, you must include a valid CAQ. For more information on how to apply for the CAQ, you can attend one of our pre-arrival webinars or review our application guide. Please note that you may use the electronic CAQ approval letter to apply for your study permit. You do not have to wait to receive the physical CAQ certificate by mail to apply for your study permit.

I have been admitted to a program that starts in the Fall 2020 semester and my courses will be held online. If my CAQ and/or study permit applications are not approved before the Fall 2020 start date, may I begin my courses online from outside of Canada?

Yes. You may begin your courses online from outside of Canada without a valid CAQ and study permit. 

You must wait for the approval of your CAQ and study permit before making plans to travel to Canada and follow instructions regarding travel restrictions and quarantine that will be in effect at that time. Please see our Travel FAQs and our Covid-19 Immigration Resources (with links to official government websites) for more information.

Please note that beginning online courses from outside of Canada without a valid study permit or study permit approval letter may have an impact on your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) and on the overall validity (length) of your PGWP - in particular if you are in a program that is 2 years or less in duration. 

We therefore strongly encourage you to apply for your CAQ and study permit as soon as possible. Once your courses return to an in-person format, you must have a valid CAQ and study permit to study in Canada.

As per the current guidelines in place, you must have a valid study permit or study permit approval letter if you want your Fall 2020 studies to count towards the length of your PGWP.

For more information please see IRCC’s website, which states:

If you have a study permit, or 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 also still eligible for the PGWPP.

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, if you can’t travel to Canada sooner.

If you start your studies in fall 2020, you won’t have time deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit for studies you complete while outside Canada between fall 2020 and December 31, 2020.

I am a newly admitted student and I would like to defer my studies. Will this impact the validity of my CAQ and/or study permit?

If you are admitted to the Summer 2020 term and you defer the start of your studies until Fall 2020, you will not need to apply for a new CAQ or study permit.

If you are admitted to the Fall 2020 term and you defer the start of your studies until Winter 2021, you will not need to apply for a new CAQ or study permit. However, if you defer the start of your studies to Summer 2021 or Fall 2021, you will need to apply for a new CAQ before you begin your program. You will not need to apply for a new study permit and you can use your study permit approval letter to travel to Canada to begin your Summer 2021 or Fall 2021 semester as long as you do so within the validity period indicated in the letter. Your actual study permit document will be issued to you at your Port of Entry.

I have been admitted to a program that starts in the Summer 2020 term and my study permit application has not yet been approved. May I begin my courses online from outside of Canada?

Yes. You may begin your summer courses online from outside of Canada without a valid CAQ and study permit.

However, you should be aware that beginning online courses from outside of Canada without a valid CAQ or study permit approval letter may have an impact on your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit. For more information please see IRCC’s website, which states:

If your in-class courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program won’t be affected. This includes students who have a study permit or who have been approved for a study permit for a program starting in May or June but who are unable to travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions. International students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and may complete up to 50% of their program while outside Canada if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.

Current Students FAQs

I am applying for my CAQ but due to Covid-19, I cannot obtain my printed official transcript and/or other original documents as required in my CAQ checklist. What should I do?

You now have the option of submitting your CAQ documents either electronically or by mail. See our General FAQs “I am applying for my CAQ, can I submit my supporting documents electronically?” for full details on how to submit documents electronically through the Arrima online system.

The Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) is exceptionally allowing international students to submit photocopies and non-certified copies of their documents if their are unable to provide originals or certified true copies where required, see MIFI’s website.

If you will be submitting your documents by mail and will be submitting photocopies of documents in lieu of original documents where required, make sure to include a cover letter that explains why it is not possible for you to provide the original document(s).

NOTE FOR OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT:

Service Point is currently not able to provide printed official transcripts due to the COVID-19 related campus closure. Since we do not know when Service Point will resume printing transcripts, we are recommending that students apply for their CAQ with all of the following documents instead of their printed official transcript:

  1. A cover letter explaining that you are providing a copy of the electronic official transcript instead of the printed official transcript. You can mention that the electronic version of the official transcript is the only version available since the Registrar’s Office is closed to the public due to COVID-19 and is therefore not issuing printed official transcripts. If you will be submitting your documents:
    • By mail: You should mention in your cover letter that when the electronic transcript is printed, the word “COPY” (watermark) automatically appears on the transcript.
    • Electronically (via Arrima): It is possible that the "COPY" watermark will appear on the eTranscript when you combine the eTranscript with other documents into one PDF, when you save the eTranscript to your computer, and/or when the immigration agent opens the file. You should mention this possibility in your cover letter and also ensure that you view/save your eTranscript according to the instructions provided by the National Student Clearinghouse when you order your eTranscript.
  2. A copy of your official eTranscript (order an electronic official transcript)
  3. A copy of your unofficial transcript (from Minerva)
  4. A copy of McGill’s Student Records webpage confirming that printed official transcripts are currently not available

If you will be sending your supporting documents to MIFI by mail, you must include all of the above documents instead of the printed transcript in the same package as all of your other CAQ documents.

If you will be submitting your supporting documents to MIFI electronically through Arrima, you should combine and save all of the above documents into one PDF and upload the PDF file in the transcript section of the checklist.

Please contact us if you receive an Intention of refusal letter from MIFI requesting that you provide them with additional documents.

My CAQ and study permit are expiring soon. Following the MIFI (Immigration Quebec) announcement to automatically extend CAQs until December 31, 2020, do I need to apply for a new CAQ in order to renew my study permit?

It depends. As per the announcement made by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), students who hold a CAQ that expires on or after April 30th, 2020 and before December 31st, 2020 and who have not completed their program, will automatically be issued an extension of their CAQ until December 31st, 2020. We invite you to read the full details of this update directly on MIFI’s website.

The automatic CAQ renewal only benefits students who will be extending their study permit from inside of Canada, who will complete their program in the Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 term (i.e. by December 31, 2020), and who will either apply for their PGWP or leave Canada before December 31, 2020.

Students who benefit from this automatic CAQ renewal will still need to apply to extend their study permit. If you are currently in Canada, you must apply to extend your study permit before it expires – whether or not you have received your new CAQ – in order to maintain a valid status in Canada.

Immigration Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that students who apply to extend their study permit from inside of Canada and whose CAQ expires between April 30 and December 31, 2020 should be issued a study permit valid until December 31, 2020, unless their passport expires prior to this date.

Immigration Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that students who submit a study permit application from outside of Canada should not be issued a new study permit with a CAQ that was renewed automatically. This means that students who plan on submitting their study permit application from outside of Canada must apply to renew their CAQ in order to apply for a new study permit. After your CAQ is approved, you must apply for a new study permit by following the instructions for applying for your study permit from outside of Canada.

If you are in Canada, your final term of studies will be Summer 2020 or Fall 2020, and you plan to apply for your PGWP before December 31, 2020 (or leave Canada before December 31, 2020), you do not need to renew your CAQ. You must apply to extend your study permit before the current one expires in order to maintain a valid status in Canada. You can apply right away to renew your study permit online without needing to obtain a new CAQ. You should include the following documents with your Study Permit Extension application:

  • A cover letter that makes reference to the automatic CAQ extension
  • A copy of MIFI’s website (screenshot or pdf)
  • A copy of your current CAQ (even if it has expired)

You can combine these documents as one pdf and upload it in the CAQ section of the Document Checklist in your study permit application. Your study permit should be issued with an expiration date of December 31, 2020.

If you are in Canada, completing your program in Fall 2020, and you would like to apply for your PGWP and/or you would like to stay in Canada after December 31, 2020, you must apply to renew your CAQ in order to then obtain a study permit that expires after December 31, 2020. Normally, when you renew your CAQ, MIFI will issue the CAQ with an expiration date that is three months past your last term of studies. If your last term is Fall 2020, then you should be issued a CAQ valid until March 31, 2021. In general, IRCC will issue a study permit with an expiration date that matches the end date of the CAQ – i.e., until March 31, 2021 if you include a CAQ that expires on that date. The advantage of having a study permit with an expiration date of March 31, 2021 (instead of December 31, 2020) is that you will be able to remain in Canada with your student status beyond December 31st while you wait for your degree to be granted in February 2021 and you will have a valid study permit at the time you apply for your PGWP. If you want to be able to work in Canada while your PGWP application is processing, you must meet certain conditions, including having a valid study permit at the time you apply for your PGWP.

We recommend that you follow the procedure below:

  • Apply now to renew your CAQ. Include a Proof of Enrolment Letter for Fall 2020 and a cover letter that explains that you would like the additional three months past your last term of studies in order to have a valid student status while waiting for your degree to be granted and (if applicable) when applying for your PGWP. *If Fall 2020 is your final semester of studies, your CAQ should be issued with an expiration date of March 31, 2021.
  • As soon as you apply online for your CAQ, apply to extend your study permit online. Include a copy of your current CAQ (even if it has expired), a cover letter that makes reference to the automatic CAQ extension, the fact that Fall 2020 is your final term and that your degree will be granted in February 2021, the fact that you have applied to renew your CAQ until March 31, 2021 and that your application is processing, a copy of MIFI’s website (screenshot or pdf), and proof that you have applied for your CAQ and that it is processing (e.g. copy of online application and screenshot of application history/timeline).
  • As soon as your CAQ application is approved, send your CAQ approval letter to IRCC via the IRCC Web form and request that your study permit be issued until March 31, 2021 (to match the end date of your CAQ).

If you are completing your program in Winter 2021 or later (i.e., you will be registered at McGill in Winter 2021 or beyond), you will need to apply to renew your CAQ before you apply to renew your study permit if you want to obtain a study permit that is valid beyond December 31, 2020.

*IMPORTANT: If you are in Canada and you have not received your CAQ approval 2-3 weeks before your study permit expires, contact us for more information and guidance.

I am a current McGill student returning to my studies in the Fall 2020 term. Can I complete my courses online without a CAQ and study permit?

Yes. Since the Fall 2020 semester will be provided largely through remote instruction, you may complete your Fall 2020 courses online from outside or from inside of Canada without a valid CAQ and study permit. A study permit is not required to engage in distance learning. For a description of “distance learning”, see Immigration Canada’s (IRCC) website.

However, you should be aware that completing online courses from outside or inside of Canada without a valid CAQ, study permit, or study permit approval letter may have an impact on your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). You will also need a valid CAQ and study permit in order to study in Canada once in-person instruction resumes. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to apply for your CAQ and study permit.

For more information, see Immigration Canada’s website, which states:

Distance learning in Canada

Students who were already studying in Canada and whose classes were moved online due to the travel and health restrictions introduced due to COVID-19 won’t be penalized with regard to their post-graduation work permit eligibility.

Distance learning outside Canada

Due to travel restrictions, IRCC acknowledges that study permit holders may be unable to travel to Canada and have to start or continue their program through distance learning abroad.

Students falling into one of the following categories will remain eligible for the post-graduation work permit if at least 50% of their total program of study is completed in Canada. Applicants may have to submit additional documents from the DLI confirming which part of the program was completed in Canada.

  • study permit holders who had already begun their studies in Canada, but left Canada and are continuing their courses online from their home country
  • applicants who have been approved for a study permit to begin a program in May or June 2020, and who will begin their program online from their home country instead of trying to travel to Canada at this time

Under normal circumstances, all distance-learning courses completed outside Canada are excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit. However, for students in the above categories, on a temporary basis, the time spent in distance learning abroad will not be excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.

IMPORTANT: If you are currently in Canada, you must maintain valid immigration status for the entire duration of your stay. This means that before your current study permit expires you must do one of the following:

Only full-time students who hold a valid study permit or who applied to extend their study permit before their current study permit expired (implied status) are authorized to work on and off-campus. Visitors in Canada are not eligible to apply for a study permit from inside Canada unless they fall under a limited number of exemptions. See IRCC’s website for more details.

Once your courses return to an in-person format, you must have a valid CAQ and study permit to study in Canada.

My study permit is expiring soon and I would like to apply for my study permit extension from within Canada, but due to Covid-19, I am unable to obtain all of my documents. What should I do?

It is very important that you apply for your study permit extension before your current study permit expires in order to remain in Canada under implied status. If you are missing a document (e.g. passport, financial documents, CAQ), you should apply for your study permit with a letter of explanation which explains why you do not have the document. If possible, you should also include supporting documents that demonstrate all efforts that you have made to obtain the missing document (e.g. proof that you have applied for your passport or CAQ).

As soon as you obtain the missing document, you will need to submit it to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through the IRCC webform in order for IRCC to add it to your pending study permit application. Please contact us if you have further questions.

Please note that the decision to approve your study permit application is at the discretion of the officer reviewing your application.

I applied for my study permit from within Canada before my current study permit expired, can I leave Canada while my application is processing and then return to Canada

If you are currently under implied status (i.e., you submitted an application to extend your study permit and it is still processing), you can leave Canada if you wish. However, once you leave Canada, you will lose your implied status. This means that you must obtain a study permit and the necessary travel document (TRV or eTA) in order to return to Canada to resume your studies. Your study permit extension application will continue to process even if you leave Canada. Once your application has been approved, the actual study permit will be mailed to the Canadian address you included in your application form. If you require a TRV based on your country of citizenship, you will have to apply for one separately, after your study permit has been approved

*Please review IRCC resources on travel restrictions and exemptions*

What happens if my CAQ and Study Permit expires while I am outside of Canada and I want to return for the Fall 2020 term?

If your immigration documents will expire while you are outside of Canada, you will need to renew them before returning to Canada to resume your studies. Please see our CAQ Renewal Guide and our Study Permit Renewal Guide (under “Applying for Your Study Permit from Outside Canada”) for more detailed instructions. If you apply for your new study permit from outside of Canada, a new eTA or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) will be automatically issued at the same time your study permit is approved.

*Important: Please review our Travel FAQs before making any plans to travel to Canada. If you leave Canada now, you may not be able to return to Canada under the current travel restrictions.

 

If I leave Canada will my CAQ and Study Permit remain valid?

Your CAQ and study permit both remain valid until their expiry date. You may use them to enter Canada and resume your studies in the Fall 2020 term. In order to enter Canada, you must have a valid CAQ, study permit and Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or eTA.

*Important: Please review our Travel FAQs before making any plans to travel to Canada. If you leave Canada now, you may not be able to return to Canada under the current travel restrictions.

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