COVID-19 FAQs for International Students

ISS will be posting information in response to frequently asked questions related to the COVID-19 situation here. As well as by visiting this page, you can stay up-to-date by:

Last updated: 5-15-2020

You can find all the latest UCalgary COVID-19 updates for students on the UCalgary COVID-19 website, including a Frequently Asked Questions page for all UCalgary students. 

Visit the UCalgary COVID-19 Community Support site for resources including webinars, podcasts, online learning guides, and more. 

You can also find helpful information about COVID-19 and the situation in Alberta on the Alberta Health Services (AHS) website.

You can also follow Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Dr. Theresa Tam and the World Health Organization on Twitter for updates:

Dr. Deena Hinshaw (Chief Medical Officer of Alberta): @CMOH_Alberta

Dr. Theresa Tam (Chief Public Health Officer of Canada): @CPHO_Canada

World Health Organization: @WHO

The Alberta International Medical Graduate Association has videos in 18 languages to help provide information on COVID-19, including topics: 

  • What is COVID-19?
  • What is social/physical distancing?
  • When to seek medical information
  • How to prevent spread of COVID-19

Until further notice, International Student Services advising is moving to email or Zoom. To access ISS advising services, contact international.advice@ucalgary.ca using your UCalgary email account. Our advisors will set up an appointment with you via email or Zoom (if video or audio is needed) during advising hours (9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. MST.)

Alberta Health Services encourages social distancing, which means keeping about six feet apart from those around you. As a result, the ISS student lounge in MSC 275 is now closed to students as of 4 p.m. on March 17 and all upcoming in-person events have been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding during this time.

Any events that are moved online or to remote delivery will be updated in the ISS Events Calendar.

Offices across campus are working to support you during this time.

Click here for a full list of remote support that Student and Enrolment Services groups are offering.

Need help with your degree or program?

Review this faculty advising contact list so you know who to get in touch with for support. 

The Government of Canada has clarified exemptions to the travel restrictions for international travellers seeking to enter Canada that were announced on March 16 and took effect on March 18. 

Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions. This exemption includes international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020.

You can read the full details here

Please stay informed with updates from IRCC. They are posting timely updates through these two channels: 

Removing barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19 (Updated: 4-22-2020) 

International students who are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods are able to work more than 20 hours a week. This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020. Learn more here to determine eligibility: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2020/04/removing-barriers-for-international-students-working-in-essential-services-to-fight-covid-19.html

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have stated that the decision to move classes online will not affect your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) or your status as a student. Learn more here

  • "PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020."

Should you decide to stay in Canada, you can stay on your study permit as long as you're still a student. If you will no longer be studying, you can apply to change your status to visitor as long as your study permit has not expired.

Please ensure that you still maintain a valid status while in Canada. Students who currently have a study permit extension application in progress will benefit from implied status and may remain in Canada until a decision is rendered on their application. If you have any further questions, please contact international.advice@ucalgary.ca

Admission Questions

If you have questions about UCalgary admission requirements as an international student, please visit the admissions FAQ page on Current Students for information.

Study permit application information and advice for newly-admitted international students for Fall 2020 (updated 5-4-2020)
As we are expecting delays in study permit processing due to the COVID-19 situation, we’re advising students to apply online as soon as possible to get into the queue so as to increase their chance of getting their application approved in time for the start of classes. The Government of Canada has confirmed that they continue to process study permit applications. Biometrics collection deadlines have been extended from 30 to 90 days. Once your application is approved, you will be notified about when you may travel to Canada.

New Student Registration Assistance

Students can access course registration support by booking an appointment which will be attended via Zoom, or by emailing in queries. Support is available Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm MDT, from May 1 to August 28, 2020. Learn more here

If you are currently studying at UCalgary on visitor status (you do not have a study permit) and cannot travel back home, you can apply for a visitor record to extend your stay in Canada before your status expires.  When you put an application online please ensure you include a letter explaining why you need to extend your stay in Canada. 

Please see the FGS COVID-19 page for up-to-date information on how the situation may affect you.

To assist people waiting longer for permit extensions at this time, the Government of Alberta is temporarily extending Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) coverage to temporary residents and their families with expired legal entitlement documents. Coverage will be provided until July 31, 2020 or until the public health emergency declaration in Alberta is lifted, whichever is longer. Learn more here: https://www.alberta.ca/ahcip-temporary-residents.aspx

Learn more about what is covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) here. Direct any questions to Alberta Health, using the contact information found here

If you're enrolled in the Students’ Union health and dental plan, visit their website for information regarding coverage for COVID-19. You can ask specific questions by contacting the SU Student Inquiries Line at 403.220.3906 or by email at uofcalgaryplan@mystudentplan.ca.

If you're enrolled in the Graduate Students' Association health and dental plan, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for information regarding coverage for COVID-19. 

Health Link

As a reminder, you can call 8-1-1 to reach Health Link if you need health advice or help locating services. It's a free non-emergency service available to any resident of Alberta. Please note that call volumes are high at this time, so you may be on hold. Learn more about Healthlink here

8-1-1 will never ask for your credit card details or Social Insurance Number (SIN). There are reports of individuals receiving scam phone calls from people pretending to be Alberta Health Services (AHS) with test results who as asking for credit card information. Please hang up if you receive a call like this.  

If you're feeling stressed during these times, please visit the UCalgary COVID-19 mental health page. It provides access to strategies, webinars and other resources to help you cope.

Alberta Health Services Text4Hope program: Through a set of daily messages, people receive advice and encouragement helpful in developing healthy personal coping skills and resiliency. Community members simply subscribe to receive ongoing supportive content. There is no cost.

Managing financial health in challenging times (Financial Consumer Agency of Canada): https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/covid-19-managing-financial-health.html

Contact your consulate: many countries are providing support (financial or otherwise) to their citizens who may be abroad. We recommend that you contact your country’s embassy or consulate to inquire about any important updates or to receive assistance.

Canadian Government: The different levels of the Canadian government are sharing updates about plans to support individuals financially disadvantaged due to COVID-19. As more details become available, links will be updated.

Canada Federal Government:

Alberta Provincial Government: 

Calgary Municipal Government: 

Service Providers 

Check with your service providers to see if they are able to work with you to provide flexibility at this time:

  • Cell-phone providers: some are providing long-distance or other perks for free to help you stay in touch with friends & loved ones from a distance
  • Internet, electricity: some providers are providing payment flexibility, including installment plans, extending payment deadlines, or suspending disconnection of services for non-payment at this time
  • Bank or insurance provider: many are working with clients on a case-by-case basis to provide flexibility with credit and payment deadlines

University of Calgary Student Peer Assistance Bursary (undergraduate students only)

The Student Peer Assistance Bursary program is designed to help those students with an unexpected financial burden or those who have more financial need than anticipated. Undergraduate students must meet both financial need and academic eligibility requirements. Learn more here

If you are experiencing financial insecurity, please contact international.advice@ucalgary.ca. An ISS advisor will make recommendations to resources or supports available through the UCalgary community such as emergency bursaries (through the SU or GSA), short-term emergency loans (through Enrolment Services), and food insecurity resources. Please contact us—we are here to help.

 

The Canada Revenue Agency has announced that the due date for individuals filing taxes is deferred to June 1, 2020. However, they advise any individuals who anticipate receiving GST tax credits or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay filing taxes to ensure any payments for 2020-2021 are properly determined. Learn more here

The earlier you file your return, the earlier you may receive your tax refund (if eligible). Especially now, when personal funds may be limited, getting a tax refund sooner, may be especially helpful. 

The Students Union Tax Clinic is currently closed. In lieu, we recommend reviewing the information on our taxes website and considering these resources: 

  • Contacting a free clinic in Calgary
  • Using UFile Onlinefree student code is CFS1981 (this may not be an option for international students filing for the first time)
  • Using a service like H&R Block or filing at your bank (these options usually require a small fee)

Review the ISS Taxes in Canada page here

Service Canada is now closed to the public. Learn how to access services online and through mail here.

There have been reports across Canada of scams related to Covid-19. It’s normal to feel vulnerable or uncertain right now; however, it’s important to stay vigilant about protecting your personal information.

In particular, watch out for fraudulent communication such as:

  • Texts or emails that include links to make payment for delivery of masks or supplies, to make a donation, or receive informational updates
  • Phone calls or voicemails pretending to be from a public health agency (such as Alberta Health Services or 8-1-1) with test results, asking that you share credit card or health card numbers. AHS will never ask for your credit card information.
  • Door-to-door scammers trying to sell fake testing kits or supplies

It’s always best to visit official websites for up-to-date information, not through unsolicited links sent to you. If you have any concerns, reach out to the ISS advising team (international.advice@ucalgary.ca).

If you think you have been targeted by a scam, please report it to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (learn more here: https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm).

Adapted from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/coronavirus-scams-canada-1.5501958

International Students Staying in Residence (on-Campus)

If you need to arrange to extend your stay in Residence Services, due to inability to travel home at the end of the term, please contact Residence Services for guidance (residence@ucalgary.ca).

If you are returning to Residence Services from anywhere outside of Canada, please contact Residence Services (residence@ucalgary.ca), as you will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Residence Services will contact you with further information.

Renting in Calgary (off-Campus)

The Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta (CPLEA) has compiled a list of frequently asked questions for Alberta tenants related to COVID-19. 

Don't hesitate to contact the ISS advising team if you need assistance. We are happy to help make suggestions or referrals to resources. Some examples include: 

Alberta 211 (Community & Social Services Help Line) 

This is a free non-emergency helpline that connects you to community and social services in your area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in over 150 languages. You can call 211 or visit the website (www.ab.211.ca) for a growing list of community resources related to the current Covid-19 situation in Calgary. View the resource list here

Contact us

Do you have a question that isn't answered here?

Email our team at international.advice@ucalgary.ca.