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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 [at] Please visit our Covid19 resources page for the latest news and resources from ISS.


Relevant current events

May 28, 2020

Important update: electronic submission of CAQ supporting documents.

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 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.

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

Finally, current McGill students who benefit from the automatic CAQ extension do not need to submit a CAQ application, for more information see our FAQs page under the Current Students FAQs tab.

April 30, 2020

Important update for students who will complete their program in the Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 term:

The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) has made an important update that impacts students who hold a CAQ that expires on or after April 30th, 2020 and before December 31st, 2020. Students whose CAQs expire during this time period and who have not completed their program, will automatically be issued an extension of their CAQ until December 31st, 2020. This update only affects students who will complete their program in the Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 term (i.e. by December 31, 2020). We invite you to read the full details of this update directly on MIFI’s website.

Students affected by this update will still need to apply to extend their study permit online. When applying for their study permit, they should include a cover letter that makes reference to the MIFI update, a copy of MIFI’s website (print out or screenshot), and a copy of their current CAQ even if it is expired.

Finally, if you are completing your program in Fall 2020 and you would like to apply for your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) and/or you would like to stay in Canada after December 31st, 2020, please refer to our Immigration Documents FAQs in the coming weeks for updates on what procedure to follow. We will be updating our website as new information becomes available. Please contact us directly in late summer/early fall if you have further questions.

March 18, 2020

Dear International Students,

We know that for many of you, McGill has become a second home, and that you’ve built incredible friendships and communities here. However, this is certainly a time to be in the place you feel best supported, and many of you may prefer to return home if you feel able to do so. It has been confirmed that students will not be required to be physically on campus for the rest of the Winter 2020 term; this means that there will be no in-person classes and no in-person sit-down examinations for this term. It has also been confirmed that the term will conclude on time as previously scheduled.

If you wish to leave Montreal or Canada to return home, you can do so without needing to return to campus later on in the term. It is, however, important to acknowledge that if you do return home, and home is outside Canada, it may be difficult to return to Canada for the time being, so please ensure that you are returning somewhere you feel safe and supported.

Your parents may also be very worried about your situation; we encourage you to share all communications that you receive from McGill with them. We will continue to share with you the most up-to-date information that we have to help you make decisions to ensure your safety and well-being.

  • International Student Services (ISS) will continue to provide information and advice on questions related to your immigration documents and status in Canada for the coming weeks: international.students [at]
  • ISS will answer questions related to your Blue Cross Health Insurance coverage as long as you stay in Canada. Testing and treatments for COVID-19 are fully covered. For more info, email [at]
  • All questions related to your academics should be directed to your Faculty or Graduate Department.
  • McGill’s Scholarships and Student Aid office can offer some emergency financial aid for either travelling or living expenses. For more details, consult the SSAO website.
  • Bookmark and consult regularly both the ISS and McGill’s COVID-19 websites for the most up-to-date information for international students.
  • Many of McGill’s support services are moving online, meaning that you will still be able to access support from your home country.
  • Keep.meSAFE, a mental health counselling service offered to students in partnership with SSMU and PGSS, is available to all students, regardless of where you are in the world. This service provides 24/7 access to licensed counsellors through telephone and mobile chat in more than 60 languages. To access this service, download the MySSP app in the Apple App Store or Google Play. 

Stay safe!
The International Student Services Team

March 2, 2020

IRCC Expands Special Measures for Applicants in Iran and South Korea affected by the novel coronavirus.

December 3, 2019

Biometrics updates - Inside Canada applications

  • Effective as of December 3rd, 2019, foreign nationals applying for temporary resident documents from inside Canada must submit their biometrics. This includes study permit extensions, applications for post-graduation work permits and visitor extensions. For a full list of who needs to provide biometrics and for a list of exemptions, see IRCC’s website.
  • Once you receive a biometrics instruction letter, you must make an appointment to give your biometrics at a designated Service Canada office. Type “Quebec” in the box next to “Filter Items” for a full list of Service Canada offices in Quebec that collect biometrics. This list will also include ports of entry (POE), such as land borders and airports. If you have applied online for your temporary resident documents, you must provide biometrics at a designated Service Canada office and not at a POE.
  • If you are authorized to apply for a study permit or work permit at a port of entry, you will be able to apply for your temporary resident document and provide your biometrics at the port of entry.
  • Note: US citizens are exempt from the biometrics requirement.
  • For more information, please consult IRCC’s website.
November 12, 2019

PEQ Program updates

  • MIFI has temporarily suspended the changes to the PEQ.

  • Follow the MIFI website for most up to date news about the PEQ Program.

  • And for most recent news releases on PEQ, please visit the MIFI communications website.
November 1, 2019

PEQ Program Updates

On July 10, 2019 the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), temporarily suspended the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ) for international students that have graduated from a Québec educational institution.

On October 30, 2019 MIFI announced that the PEQ program for Québec graduates will re-open on November 1, 2019. Effective as of November 1, 2019 the PEQ program eligibility requirements for Québec graduates has changed. These changes may effect your eligibility to the PEQ program for Québec graduates.

We invite you to consult MIFI’s website for full details on the changes to the PEQ program for Québec graduates.

We would also like to bring to your attention that there are other pathways to apply for permanent residence which you may be eligible for and that are offered by MIFI. For example the Regular Skilled Worker Program or the PEQ program for skilled temporary foreign workers.


Note: Our office still cannot provide individual advising on permanent residence. During the Fall 2019 term, two information sessions on applying for permanent residence in Quebec will be delivered by a representative of MIFI. These information sessions will be held on November 28, 2019 at our downtown campus and on December 4, 2019 at our Macdonald campus. Please visit our website to register for one of these sessions. We will be hosting additional sessions in the Winter 2020 term as well.

August 12, 2019

FREE French courses for immigrants living in Québec

French courses are now being offered free of charge by the Government of Québec.


  • Immigrants taking a part-time French course are entitled to financial assistance of $15 per day of training.
  • Participants can also receive an allowance for child care, which has been increased from $7 to $9 per day of training, per child or dependent person.
  • Temporary workers, foreign students, as well as their spouse, are now eligible for part-time French courses as well as the accompanying financial assistance. Prior to this, individuals who were temporarily residing in Québec did not have access to in-class French courses offered by the Government of Québec. 

IMPORTANT notice for individuals temporarily residing in Québec.

"An immigrant holding a work or study permit must respect the conditions related to their status. If the registration for a full-time French course does not conform to these conditions, the immigrant could lose their temporary resident status. Failure to respect the conditions of their stay could also lead to a refusal of the next application to stay in Québec or elsewhere in Canada. It is the immigrant’s responsibility to know the conditions related to their status and respect them. For more information, contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada."

What does this mean?

Internationals students must respect the following conditions as CAQ and Study Permit holders:

  • Obligation to maintain a full-time status (12 credits or more for undergrads and non-thesis students) every academic term with the exception of the last term
  • Obligation to “actively pursue their studies” which means that students
    • Must be enrolled and
    • Must make reasonable progress towards the completion of program

*For example, if a student drops a course or withdraws from a course and this leads them to take less than 12 credits, then that academic term becomes a part-time term. Part-time terms, LOA and gaps in studies (i.e. not registered for academic terms) will affect a student’s ability to meet their CAQ and Study Permit obligations. As a result, students who do not meet those obligations would not be able to participate in these French courses.*

More Information from MIFI

July 30, 2019

Student Direct Steam Expanded to Pakistan


  • The Student Direct Steam (SDS) is now available to study permit applicants who are living in Pakistan.
  • SDS applications require prospective students to provide more up-front information to officers, including meeting language test requirements in English or French and providing additional information that shows their ability to finance their education.
  • The Student Direct Stream launched in 2018 as an option for study permit applicants in China, India, Philippines and Vietnam. Most SDS applications in those countries are being processed in under 3 weeks.

Official News Release from IRCC

April 17, 2019

New changes: Study Permit: Making an Application

  • IRCC now confirms that exchange students are eligible to work off-campus if they hold a study permit and meet the eligibility requirements to work off-campus.
  • Visitors that are authorized to apply for their study permit from within Canada are now authorized to start studying while waiting for their study permit application to be processed as long as they apply for their study permit before the expiry of the visitor status.
  • Students that hold a study permit used for secondary studies in Canada are no longer required to apply for a new study permit in order to begin their post-secondary studies. They may use the same study permit that they used for secondary studies to start their post-secondary studies, as long as the study permit is still valid.
  • IRCC has now clarified that it is the postmarked date (the date the application was received by the post office) that IRCC will consider as the effective date of the application for applications sent by mail.
April 9, 2019

Student Direct Stream Update (SDS)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had planned to expand Student Direct Stream (SDS) globally by April 2019, however, for the time being, there is a delay in the expansion of SDS into additional countries.

At this time, SDS will remain available to legal residents of India, China, Philippines and Vietnam who meet the current eligibility requirements. This includes the requirement for applicants to submit a GIC in the amount of $10,000 CAD and the requirement to provide proof of tuition payment for one year.

On May 1st 2019, IRCC will make available a list of banks who offers an SDS eligible GIC product on IRCC’s SDS webpage.

The full list of SDS requirements can be found on our website.


March 12, 2019

New Entry/Exit Program Instructions

IRCC has published a program delivery update on their New Entry/Exit Program instructions:


  • The regulations concerning the collection of entry and exit information on all travellers (including Canadian citizens) entering and exiting Canada will come into force on June 2019 for land borders and June 2020 for airports.
  • This data can be used by IRCC for many purposes, for example, to verify whether an international student has previously remained in Canada beyond their authorized stay.


(Updated) March 6, 2019

Important Information for Students with a Co-Op Work Permit

IRCC has informed us that there was an error on some students’ co-op work permits for their mandatory work components. On some work permits, there is a condition stating that the candidate is “not authorized to work for any employer other than stated” OR cannot work for an employer other than the educational institution. This condition is INCORRECT.

For more information from IRCC, please visit the Government of Canada website.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


For more information, please refer to our Co-op/Internship work and permits page.

Thank you very much for your cooperation,
International Student Services

(updated) February 21, 2019

Important Update on the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

  • On February 14, 2019, IRCC made important changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program
  • The new guidelines are effective as of February 14, 2019 and apply to applications received on or after this date
  • Students now have 180 days from completion of their studies to apply for their PGWP from within Canada or from outside of Canada.
    • Be careful: Your study permit becomes invalid 90 days after completion of studies or the day on which it expires, whichever comes first, as per section 222 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. If you don't apply for your PGWP before your study permit becomes invalid, you must either: apply to change your status to a visitor or leave Canada. See timeline below.
  • The new guidelines state that students who have changed their status to a visitor before their study permit expires, may subsequently apply for their PGWP from within Canada
    • Be careful: If you submit your PGWP application online from within Canada as a visitor, you will not have the authorization to work while you wait for your PGWP. Only PGWP applicants who had a valid study permit at the time they submitted their PGWP application can work full-time while waiting for a decision on their application as per section 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
  • New guidelines now require applicants to include both their transcript and proof of completion of studies when applying for their PGWP.
  • Students that have taken a leave of absence, may still be eligible for the PGWP.
    • Be careful: The eligibility requirement for the PGWP is that you maintain a full-time student status in Canada throughout your studies. If you are concerned that you do not meet this eligibility requirement, please meet with an immigration advisor at ISS.
  • For the full text, please see IRCC’s website.




(Updated) March 6, 2019

Important Information for Students with a Co-Op Work Permit

IRCC has informed us that there was an error on some students’ co-op work permits for their mandatory work components. On some work permits, there is a condition stating that the candidate is “not authorized to work for any employer other than stated” OR cannot work for an employer other than the educational institution. This condition is INCORRECT.

For more information from IRCC, please visit the Government of Canada website.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


For more information, please refer to our Co-op/Internship work and permits page.

Thank you very much for your cooperation,
International Student Services

January 11, 2019

Important Immigration Update Concerning Your Study Permit

International students must meet the following study permit conditions:

  • Remain enrolled until they complete their studies and
  • Actively pursue their studies

The IRCC update now provides guidelines on how to determine whether or not an international student is compliant to their study permit conditions. These guidelines clarify the following (just highlights not full text):

  • International students in Quebec must be enrolled in full-time studies in order to be considered actively pursuing their studies.
  • International students are expected to make reasonable progress to complete their program.
  • International students who take an institutionally approved leave of no more than 150 days will be considered compliant and be considered to have actively pursued their studies.
  • If the leave is more than 150 days, then international students will need to change their status to a visitor or leave Canada prior to the end of the 150 day period.
  • International students in Canada with a valid study permit and who have deferred their admission can remain in Canada with their study permit up to 150 days, after which they must change their status to a visitor or leave Canada.


Please refer to IRCC’s website for the full details.

October 26, 2018

Update for Saudi Students

The Saudi Ministry of Education made the decision to allow Saudi scholarship students (including dependents), currently on authorized leave from their Canadian studies, to rejoin their academic programs, beginning either in the fall or winter term. The following students (who may be bringing dependents with them) are now eligible for, and will receive, new financial scholarships issued by the Saudi Arabia Cultural Bureau:

  • Medical trainees, which includes physicians, dentists and nurses
  • Graduate (master’s and Ph.D.) students in all academic disciplines
  • Undergraduate scholarship students in the final year of their bachelor programs

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will only consider financial sponsorship certificates from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia Cultural Bureau as valid proof of funds for applications for study permits and study permit extensions from these students (listed in the bullets above) and their dependants.

Important: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will NOT cancel or revoke valid study or work permits. As per subsection R222(1), these permits remain valid until their date of expiry if students with to stay in, or re-enter Canada, even if their scholarship is taken away.

For the full text, please refer to the two links below:

Program delivery update: Study permits for Saudi Arabian nationals – new instructions

Study permit applications for Saudi Arabian nationals

October 16, 2018

VAC Service Changes as of Nov 2, 2018

Original article

IRCC has released new information about service changes in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas in November, 2018.

September 12, 2018

Closure of VACs in NY and LA as of November 1, 2018

Original article

IRCC has released more information about the closures of certain VACs, see their website for details.

JUNE 12, 2018

IRCC improves the processing of student applications from China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines

Original article

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is making great strides in promoting Canada as a destination of choice for international students seeking a quality education by finding efficient ways to process applications.

To support the growth in study permit applications, IRCC today announces the Student Direct Stream (SDS), which is available to students applying for a study permit from China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines.  Students from those countries who demonstrate upfront that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada will benefit from faster processing times.

IRCC is working on expanding SDS to Africa and are looking at options in Kenya and Senegal. Expansion to Senegal would be in line with the department’s focus to attract more French-speaking students to Canada.

To qualify for SDS, applicants need to meet additional requirements, in particular language levels that are stricter than regular study permit requirements. Students who do not have all of the additional information required for SDS can apply through the regular study permit application process, either online or at a Visa Application Centre.

The SDS complements the Express Entry system as these students will be well placed to continue on the path to permanent residence and Canadian citizenship after completing their studies in Canada, if they wish to.

IRCC is committed to finding ways to improve its International Student Program by making its services faster, easier and more accessible. The success of the SDS program will be evaluated with the intention to expand the program in 2019.

To learn more about SDS, visit the website.

May 22, 2018

Be aware of a scam targeting Chinese students

Original article

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently informed us of a scam currently targeting Chinese students in Canada. The Chinese community in Canada is being targeted with calls claiming to be the Beijing Police, Interpol, the Chinese Consulate or in some cases a delivery agency.

May 14, 2018

Biometrics Update:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) plans to expand their biometric program. Biometrics is the collections of fingerprints and a photograph of the face. All foreign nationals applying for temporary and permanent residence will be required to provide biometrics.

There are exceptions to this requirement (not exhaustive):

  1. US citizens applying for temporary resident documents (e.g. study permit or work permit)
  2. TRV-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists and who have a valid eTA
  3. Children under the age of 14
  4. Diplomats and their dependents

For a full list of exceptions, please see IRCC’s website. The Biometrics will be valid for 10 years and must be valid for the total duration of your immigration documents. The processing fee for the biometrics is $85.

The new regulations will come into force in two phases:

  • starting July 31, 2018 applicants from Europe, Middle East, and Africa will be required to provide biometrics and
  • starting December 31, 2018 applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will be required to provide biometrics.

For the moment applicants applying for temporary residence (e.g. visitor records, study permits, work permit) and permanent residence from within Canada are exempt until proper facilities in Canada are established, which could be as soon as February 2019. Currently biometrics can only be done outside of Canada at a Visa Application Center (VAC) and at certain ports of entry (airport or land borders).

For more information, please consult IRCC’s website at:

Want More Information? Biometrics Fact Sheet and Biometrics Video Guide.

April 26, 2018

Be aware of an ongoing scam targeting international students

Original Article: 

International students in Canadian cities including Ottawa and London have recently reported receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be employees of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The caller tells the student that to avoid deportation, they must send prepaid credit and gift cards, money wires or e-transfers as payment to avoid arrest or deportation.

It appears that the calls are coming from local phone numbers, but it is believed that the calls are coming from outside Canada. IRCC wants international students to know that these phone calls are a scam. It is important not to respond to the caller or transfer any money to them.

In these calls, the caller identifies themselves as an IRCC officer and tells the student that they are subject to an immigration investigation, or that they have been charged with a crime in their home country. The student is told to provide personal/financial information or send payment, or face deportation if they do not.

While this scam has emerged most recently in Ottawa and London, international students across Canada should be aware of these types of phone calls.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting immigrants and Canadians alike from this type of fraud. IRCC wants to remind everyone that if someone posing as an immigration official threatens to arrest or deport you, suspend your account if you don’t pay money or give your personal information, or tells you that your visa or immigration status is in jeopardy, it is a scam.

IRCC will never contact you in person, online, or by telephone to collect fees or fines and say it’s to avoid deportation or face other consequences.

For more information on how to protect yourself against immigration scams, visit the IRCC website. You can also find a number of helpful questions and answers on how to identify fraud, and how to report it, in our Help Centre.

March 26, 2018

Important Update on Off-campus Work: On March 12, 2018, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) published new guidelines concerning off-campus work.

Two important updates that we would like to highlight are the following:

1) The new guidelines confirm that students who have regularly scheduled breaks during the summer as per their program of study and who decide to study part-time or full-time during the summer are eligible to work off-campus on a full-time basis during the summer as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for off-campus work.

2) The new guidelines confirm that students who complete one program of studies and then commence a new program within 150 days from the completion of their program, are eligible to work off-campus full-time until the start of their program.

For full details on all the changes to the off-campus work program for students, please see IRCC's website.

JANUARY 3, 2018
As of December 1, 2017, citizens of Romania and Bulgaria no longer need a visa to travel to Canada for short stays (normally for up to six months) for visiting, business and tourism activities.

However, similar to other visa-exempt travellers, they will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. See the IRCC website for further details.

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