Please visit our COVID-19 page for the latest news, resources, and FAQs.

COVID-19 Updates from International Student Services
International students with a valid study permit or study permit approval letter can now travel to Canada as long as they are registered at a designated learning institution (DLI) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. McGill is one of the institutions on the list of DLIs with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. Students travelling to Canada will need to have a self-quarantine plan to ensure that they can self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

Please visit our COVID-19 page for additional news, resources, and FAQs.

Immigration FAQs - COVID-19

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 of January 26, 2021, it is no longer possible to submit a paper application for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ – Québec Acceptance Certificate) nor is it possible to submit your CAQ supporting documents to the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) by mail.

All applications for a CAQ for studies must now be submitted electronically and all supporting documents will have to be submitted electronically via the Arrima portal. After you submit the online application and pay the processing fee, you will receive a CAQ personalized document checklist. The checklist will provide instructions on how to submit your supporting documents to MIFI electronically using the Arrima online system. *At this time, the Arrima system is available in French only.

MIFI has created 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.

Please see our CAQ Application Guide and CAQ Renewal Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to submit an application.

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. What should I do?

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 a scanned copy of their printed official transcript:

  1. A cover letter explaining that you are providing a copy of the electronic official transcript instead of a scanned copy 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.
    • NOTE: 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 McGill’s Student Records webpage confirming that printed official transcripts are currently not available

When submitting your supporting documents to MIFI electronically through Arrima, you should combine and save all of the above documents 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.

I have applied for a study permit, work permit or temporary resident visa, do I have to submit biometrics?

It depends. All temporary resident applicants have to provide their biometrics, unless exempt (e.g. US citizens). If you are not exempt and have not provided your biometrics in the past 10 years, then you will be required to provide your biometrics when applying for your temporary resident documents.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has put in place a temporary measure that exempts temporary resident applicants applying from within Canada from the biometrics requirement. This temporary measure only applies to applications submitted from inside Canada. See IRCC’s website for full details.

Applicants applying from outside Canada must still provide their biometrics.

For more information, see IRCC's COVID-19: Biometrics webpage and ISS' Immigration Resources.

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) when I travel to Canada?

Given the impact of COVID-19 on services at ports of entry (POEs), IRCC is recommending that students who are U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents apply for their study permit online instead of at a POE. If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident, you may still apply for your study permit at a POE if you choose to do so. However, the issuance of the study permit will be at the discretion of the border officer.

*NOTE: U.S. permanent residents applying for a study permit online or at a POE must provide biometrics. Those applying for their study permit at a POE will be able to provide their biometrics at the POE.

Please see our Entering Canada webpage, Travel FAQs and our COVID-19 Immigration Resources (with links to official government websites) before making any travel plans.

New Students FAQs

I applied for a study permit with an admission letter from another institution. I have now been admitted to McGill, do I need to apply for a new study permit?

It depends.

If you are currently outside of Canada and your study permit application is still processing and has not yet been approved, you can submit your letter of admission from McGill and your CAQ approval letter via the IRCC Web form. However, if your study permit application has already been approved, you should submit a new study permit application with your letter of admission from McGill and CAQ approval letter.

If you are currently inside of Canada with a valid study permit and you are attending another institution, you will need to notify IRCC that you have changed institutions via your MyAccount. Please see the IRCC website for instructions on how to do so.

For more information, please see IRCC’s website: Students – Processing: COVID-19 program delivery

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 Winter 2021 term and plan on remaining outside of Canada for my first term at McGill. May I begin my courses online from outside of Canada without a valid CAQ and/or study permit?

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

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

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

While you may begin your studies remotely from outside of Canada without your CAQ and study permit, government regulations from our Ministry of Education require that McGill have a copy of your valid immigration documents on record throughout your registration at McGill. As a result, you may receive automated emails from McGill Legal Documents requesting a copy of your CAQ and study permit. See the Legal Documents website for information on what to do if you are missing any of your immigration documents, in particular the yellow COVID-19 box.

You should also 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 (PGWP). For more detailed information on how studying outside of Canada as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic may effect your PGWP eligibility, please see the How your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected section on IRCC’s website and our Work FAQs.

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 Winter 2021 term and you defer the start of your studies to any other term (e.g., Summer 2021, Fall 2021 or Winter 2022), you will need to apply for a new CAQ before you can begin your program.

Your study permit or Port of Introduction letter (i.e., your study permit approval letter) will remain valid until the date of its expiry. 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, Fall 2021 or Winter 2022 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 upon arrival to Canada.

Current Students FAQs

I am registered for the Winter 2021 term and I am currently residing outside of Canada. All of my courses will be held online. Can I continue to attend my courses online from outside of Canada even if my CAQ and/or study permit have not yet been approved?

Yes. You may continue to attend your courses online from outside of Canada without a valid CAQ and study permit. If you have not yet done so, we recommend that you apply for your CAQ and/or study permit as soon as possible.

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 Entering Canada webpage, Travel FAQs and our COVID-19 Immigration Resources (with links to official government websites) for more information.

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

While you may continue your studies remotely from outside of Canada without your CAQ and study permit, government regulations from our Ministry of Education require that McGill have a copy of your valid immigration documents on record throughout your registration at McGill. As a result, you may receive automated emails from McGill Legal Documents requesting a copy of your CAQ and study permit.

IMPORTANT: See the Legal Documents website for information on what to do if you are missing any of your immigration documents, in particular the yellow COVID-19 box.

You should also be aware that studying online 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 (PGWP). For more detailed information on how studying outside of Canada as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic may affect your PGWP eligibility, please see the How your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility is affected section on IRCC’s website and our Work FAQs.

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.

I am registered for the Winter 2021 term and I am inside Canada. All of my courses will be held online. Can I continue to attend my courses online from inside of Canada even if my CAQ and/or study permit have not yet been approved?

In order to attend your courses from inside of Canada, you must have a valid CAQ and study permit or a valid CAQ and implied status as a student. This requirement applies even if your courses are being held online.

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 study permit expired (implied status) are authorized to study and work on and off-campus.

NOTE: If you do not currently hold a valid CAQ and valid study permit or you are not under an implied status as a student, you are not authorized to begin or continue your studies while residing inside Canada until your CAQ has been approved and you have been issued a study permit.

My study permit is expiring soon and I would like to apply for my study permit extension from within Canada, but I am missing one or more of the required documents. What should I do?

If you are in Canada, it is very important that you submit your study permit extension application before your current study permit expires in order to remain in Canada under implied status. If you apply to extend your study permit online from inside Canada before it expires, you will benefit from implied status while your application is processing, after your study permit has expired, as long as you remain in Canada. While you have implied status, you may continue to study and work as per the conditions of your current study permit.

If you are missing a document (e.g. passport, financial documents, CAQ), you must apply to extend your study permit with a cover letter explaining why you do not have the document. If your reason is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, mention this. 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 to renew your CAQ* or passport). *If your CAQ is still processing, include a copy of your online CAQ application and a screenshot of your application history/timeline.

As soon as you obtain the missing document(s), you must submit it to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through the IRCC Web Form and request that IRCC add it to your pending study permit application. 

The decision to approve your study permit application will be at the discretion of the officer reviewing your application.

Please contact us if you have further questions.

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 in Canada 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 expire while I am outside of Canada and I want to return to Canada for the Winter 2021 or Summer 2021 term?

If your immigration documents will expire while you are outside of Canada, you will need to apply for 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 Entering Canada webpage, Travel FAQs and our COVID-19 Immigration Resources before making any plans to travel to Canada.

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 Winter 2021 or Summer 2021 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.

Updated January 26 2021

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