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CAQ - FAQs

Immigration Essentials for International Students in Graduate Programs at McGill

New Students

1. More than four weeks have passed since I sent my supporting documents for CAQ and I have still not heard back from 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.

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.

2. Can I take less than 12 credits per term and 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 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 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 full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

We, therefore, recommend that all international students maintain 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.

If you must be part-time due to extenuating circumstances such as health issues or a family emergency, please contact us so that we may best advise you. You may also wish to review our part-time studies information sheet.

3. I am a dual US and French citizen. Does it matter which nationality I use when applying for my CAQ?

You can apply for your documents under either nationality, however there are certain advantages to applying under your French nationality for your CAQ and your US nationality for your study permit.

French citizens are exempt from the international tuition fee. Therefore, when applying for your immigration documents and providing proof of your financial capacity, you should include proof of your French citizenship in order to prove why you are exempt from the international tuition fee.

If you are a US citizen or US permanent resident, you can apply for your study permit directly at the port of entry (land or air border between Canada and the US) and therefore should apply for your study permit with your US passport or US permanent resident card.

While you may be applying under one nationality for your CAQ and another for your study permit, it is still recommended to include proof of your dual nationality in both applications for the reasons mentioned above.

4. I got my offer with certain conditions. Should I apply for CAQ with this or wait for a new admission letter once I demonstrate meeting the conditions?

The offer of admission letter that you will receive from McGill is the official and only letter you will receive. As soon as you receive your admission letter you should apply for your CAQ right away. You do not have to wait until you have met the conditions in your admission letter to apply for your CAQ.

5. I am currently outside of Canada and I do not have a valid passport. Can I apply for my CAQ?

No. In order to apply for both your CAQ, you must have a valid passport. If you have not yet applied for your passport, you should do so immediately and request expedited processing of your passport.

NOTE: When you apply for your CAQ, your passport must be valid at the time of submission but it does not have to be valid for the entire duration of your studies. As such, if your passport has not yet expired but will expire soon, you should apply for your CAQ before it does, as the expiry of your CAQ is not dependent on the expiry of your passport.

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

It depends. If you are admitted to the Fall term and wish to defer to the following Winter term, you do not need to obtain a new CAQ. However, for any other deferral you will need to apply for a new CAQ before you can begin your program. For example, if you are deferring from Fall to Summer or Fall to the following Fall, you would need to apply for a new CAQ.

As per Immigration Quebec:

If you obtain a CAQ for studies for the fall semester and you postpone your arrival by one semester, you do not have to submit a new application for temporary selection for studies. For any other postponement, you must obtain a new CAQ for studies.”

7. I am currently outside Canada and both my CAQ and study permit are still valid. Can I return with these documents to continue my studies?

Your CAQ and study permit both remain valid until their expiry date and you may use them to enter Canada to resume your studies.

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 and Travelling to and from Canada page before making any plans to travel to Canada.

8. My parents will support me financially using their joint bank account. For CAQ, do they each need to sign a separate Declaration of Financial Support letter? 

YES. If submitting financial capacity documents from a joint bank account, both account holders (in this case, your parents) each need to complete and sign a separate Declaration of Financial Support letter.

As a general rule, when submitting proof of financial capacity, each person who will be supporting you needs to individually sign and date a Declaration of financial support letter and provide supporting documents that clearly demonstrate their financial capacity to provide for you during your studies.

NOTE: If you will be receiving funding from your department, you should indicate that you are supporting yourself; your department does not need to sign the Declaration of financial support form.

9. Do I have to apply for a new CAQ if I change universities or programs?

You do not have to apply for a new CAQ if you change universities or programs as long as you meet the following conditions:

  1. Your program of studies is the same length as your original program;
  2. Your original CAQ was issued for university studies;
  3. You do not change the level of study (e.g. Bachelor to Masters).

NOTE:  You can find information on when to submit a new application for a CAQ for studies on the MIFI website.

*Please note that the information is only available in French.

10. What does "proof of financial capacity" mean and how do I demonstrate it?

If your checklist includes a request for proof of financial capacity, you - or whoever is supporting you - should provide a confirmation that you/they can cover tuition and fees plus one year of living expenses.  

Current Students

1. I'm applying to extend my CAQ. Now that all documents must be submitted electronically through Arrima, how do I ensure my official transcript is considered “official”?

Now that Service Point has resumed the issuance of official printed transcripts, you have two options.

You can either upload a copy of your official eTranscript (order an electronic official transcript) OR submit a scanned copy of your official printed transcripts (you can request your official printed transcripts via Service Point's dedicated webform).

If you choose to upload a copy of your official eTranscript, please ensure that you view/save your eTranscript according to the instructions provided by the National Student Clearinghouse when ordering. It is possible that a "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. We therefore recommend that you include a signed cover letter with your official eTranscript that explains this possibility.

If you are submitting a scanned copy of the printed official transcript, please be sure to scan at a resolution that is low enough so that the "COPY" watermark does not appear but that remains legible for the agent. You may also wish to include a signed Cover Letter indicating that you are providing a scanned copy of your official printed transcript, and as such, a "COPY" watermark may appear.

NOTE: When submitting your documents to MIFI electronically through Arrima, you should combine and save your signed Cover Letter and official e-transcript or scanned copy of your official printed transcript into a single 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.

2. More than four weeks have passed since I sent my supporting documents for CAQ and I have still not heard back from 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.

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.

3. Can I take less than 12 credits per term and 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 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 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 full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

We, therefore, recommend that all international students maintain 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.

If you must be part-time due to extenuating circumstances such as health issues or a family emergency, please contact us so that we may best advise you. You may also wish to review our part-time studies information sheet.

4. My CAQ is expiring before the start of the Fall 2023 term but registration for the 2023/2024 academic year will only open at the end of May 2023. Should I apply to renew my CAQ before I receive proof of registration for the Fall 2023/Winter 2024 terms?

It depends. We generally recommend returning students to wait until they have proof of registration for a future term(s) before applying to renew their CAQ and/or study permit. However, Fall registration for returning students only opens on May 24th, 2023. For certain students, this may be too late for them to start the process of renewing their immigration documents. We therefore recommend that the following students apply to renew their documents prior to Fall 2023/Winter 2024 registration (i.e., before May 24th, 2023).

Students who should not wait until Fall 2023/Winter 2024 registration to apply to renew their CAQ:

  • Students whose Study Permit will expire before May 24th, 2023
  • Students who were not continuously enrolled full-time every term (i.e., part-time term(s), withdrawal from courses reducing course load to less than 12 credits, leaves of absence, gap term(s), etc.)
  • Students who did not successfully pass many courses
  • Students who would like to travel and do not plan on returning to Canada before their current immigration documents expire.
     

NOTE: All other students may wish to wait until end of May once they have proof of registration for the Fall 2023/Winter 2024 term(s) before applying to extend their CAQ. Students who are not in one of the above-mentioned situations but are worried about receiving their documents on time can also choose to apply before they have proof of registration for a future term(s).
 

Documents to include with your CAQ application if applying before Fall 2023/Winter 2024 registration (i.e., May 24th, 2023)

When applying for your CAQ, you should include the following documents in lieu of proof of registration for upcoming term(s):

Undergraduate students:

  • Proof of Credits Completed To-Date letter from Minerva for your most recent term of registration (e.g., Winter 2023). If this letter is not accurate (e.g., does not correctly show the number of credits remaining), please contact Service Point; and
  • Fall 2023/Winter 2024 Registration Dates Letter - for the Academic Year 2023-2024*; and
  • Your official transcript (please refer to our CAQ - FAQs (Current Students - Question #1): I'm applying to extend my CAQ. Now that all documents must be submitted electronically through Arrima, how do I ensure my official transcript is considered “official”? for instructions); and
  • Cover letter (signed and dated) that explains why you are applying to renew your CAQ before obtaining proof of registration for the 2023/2024 academic year; and
  • If possible, a letter from your academic advisor with your expected graduation term.
     

Graduate students:

  • Proof of enrollment letter for the Winter 2023 and Summer 2023 terms; and
  • A letter from your department that provides your expected graduation date – you must include this letter if you are a thesis student; and
  • Your official transcript (please refer to our CAQ - FAQs (Current Students - Question #1): I'm applying to extend my CAQ. Now that all documents must be submitted electronically through Arrima, how do I ensure my official transcript is considered “official”? for instructions); and
  • Fall 2023/Winter 2024 Registration Dates Letter - for the Academic Year 2023-2024*; and
  • Cover letter (signed and dated) that explains why you are applying to renew your CAQ before obtaining proof of registration for the 2023/2024 academic year
     

IMPORTANT: If you receive an intention of refusal notice from Immigration Quebec requesting additional documents for your CAQ application, please contact our office right away.
 

5. I am a dual US and French citizen. Does it matter which nationality I use when applying for my CAQ?

You can apply for your documents under either nationality, however there are certain advantages to applying under your French nationality for your CAQ and your US nationality for your study permit.

French citizens are exempt from the international tuition fee. Therefore, when applying for your immigration documents and providing proof of your financial capacity, you should include proof of your French citizenship in order to prove why you are exempt from the international tuition fee.

If you are a US citizen or US permanent resident, you can apply for your study permit directly at the port of entry (land or air border between Canada and the US) and therefore should apply for your study permit with your US passport or US permanent resident card.

While you may be applying under one nationality for your CAQ and another for your study permit, it is still recommended to include proof of your dual nationality in both applications for the reasons mentioned above.

6. I'm an undergrad starting a graduate program in Fall 2022. My CAQ will expire in a year. Should I apply for a new CAQ?

Your CAQ is level specific which means you will need a different CAQ for undergraduate, master and doctoral studies. You will therefore need to apply for and obtain a new CAQ before starting your graduate studies in the Fall. When applying for your new CAQ, please follow the CAQ renewal guide as your application will be considered an extension and not a first CAQ application.

Your study permit on the other hand is not level specific. If it is valid, you may use it to begin your studies in the Fall, right up until its expiry. You will have to renew it before it expires as you must have a valid study permit for the entire duration of your studies in Canada.

7. I am currently outside Canada and both my CAQ and study permit are still valid. Can I return with these documents to continue my studies?

Your CAQ and study permit both remain valid until their expiry date and you may use them to enter Canada to resume your studies.

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 and Travelling to and from Canada page before making any plans to travel to Canada.

8. My parents will support me financially using their joint bank account. For CAQ, do they each need to sign a separate Declaration of Financial Support letter? 

YES. If submitting financial capacity documents from a joint bank account, both account holders (in this case, your parents) each need to complete and sign a separate Declaration of Financial Support letter.

As a general rule, when submitting proof of financial capacity, each person who will be supporting you needs to individually sign and date a Declaration of financial support letter and provide supporting documents that clearly demonstrate their financial capacity to provide for you during your studies.

NOTE: If you will be receiving funding from your department, you should indicate that you are supporting yourself; your department does not need to sign the Declaration of financial support form.

9. What does "proof of financial capacity" mean and how do I demonstrate it?

If your checklist includes a request for proof of financial capacity, you - or whoever is supporting you - should provide a confirmation that you/they can cover tuition and fees plus one year of living expenses.  

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