Info for International Students

Frequently asked questions from International Students

The International Education Department wishes you all the best in safety and good health. We are here to assist you with any questions or concerns. The office can be reached remotely via email to or by telephone at 1-250-862-5443. If you are choosing to return home, please contact each of your professors directly, and notify the International Education office of your plans to return. Please visit frequently for the most up-to-date information. International students are also advised to check Canada’s Official Global Travel Advisory and also the travel advisory issued by the destination country before making any plans to leave/enter Canada.


Can I return to my home country?

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, as indicated in the Letter from the Interim Provost and Vice President Academic, international students in degree or diploma programs who are planning to travel home may do so, prior to the end of Winter 2020 semester. Further, College continues to adjust course delivery to allow you to successfully finish your current semester. This letter can be downloaded and read online.

My current Winter 2020 semester courses’ delivery mode has changed to distance learning due to COVID 19. Will this affect my Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility?

Courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID-19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility.

Update: 1 p.m. May 15, 2020:

Government of Canada announces Flexibility in post-graduation work permit rules to help international students and Canadian post-secondary institutions 

On May 14, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced flexibility in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting at an eligible designated learning institution (DLI), such as Okanagan College, this fall.

Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWPP limit an international student’s ability to pursue a program via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible.

PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.

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.

Read the full announcement here.


My study permit and/or co-op work permit is about to expire in next 4 months’ time. What should I do?

Students who are currently in Canada are able to apply for study permit/co-op work permit extension online, if their current study permit/co-op work permit is about to expire in next 4 months’ time.

As long as you submitted your complete study permit extension application online before the expiry date of your current study permit, your period of authorized stay in Canada is extended by law, past your current study permit expiry date, until a decision is made on your study permit extension application. This is known as having an implied status in Canada. However, in this situation, it’s essential that you do not leave Canada. Should you need to leave Canada, please consult an Immigration Advisor before you depart Canada.

Can I access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

International students may be able to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, if they meet necessary eligibility criteria. These include:

  • Residing in Canada
  • Having a valid Social Insurance Number
  • Having earned more than $5000 in 2019, or in the 12 months preceding an application, and
  • Having lost their employment due to COVID-19

Please check the CERB website and FAQ for exact eligibility language:

I have not given biometrics (digital fingerprints and photograph) for a Canadian immigration-related application in the past and so, I need to provide them for my upcoming study permit/co-op work permit extension or temporary resident visa application (or other in-Canada application). All biometrics appointments in Canada are cancelled until further notice. What should I do?

Please be sure to pay your biometrics fee (individual applicant: CAD $85, subject to change at any time) when you submit your application online. Once you pay this fee and submit your application, you will get a letter (known as Biometric Instruction Letter) confirming that you need to give your biometrics and where you can go.

From the date of this letter, you now automatically have 90 days (instead of 30) to submit your biometrics.

You’ll have to make a new appointment at Service Canada when they start collecting biometrics again and so, it’s recommended that you regularly monitor to learn when biometrics collection re-opens. To do so, you may refer to the IRCC webpage.

If you need more than the above-mentioned 90 days to provide your biometrics, please contact the IRCC using the IRCC Web Form and provide a detailed explanation. If you need assistance with this, please contact the International Education Office and ask to see an Immigration Advisor.

My family member has a valid status in Canada as a visitor, worker, or student. Can they apply to extend their status in Canada?

Yes, they are able to apply online to extend their status, if needed. A temporary resident (e.g., visitor, worker or student) who has applied to extend their status is allowed to remain in Canada until a decision is made on their new application, even if their initial status expires while they are waiting for that decision. This is called implied status.

My family members/friend would like to visit me or attend my Convocation Ceremony at Okanagan College. Are there any concerns?

Currently, most of the holders of valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) are not able to travel to Canada by air. Some exemptions apply. If you believe your family member/friend is exempt, please contact the International Education Office and ask to see an Immigration Advisor.

Can I work more than 20 hours per week off-campus during Winter 2020 semester since my courses have changed delivery mode to distance learning/online?

A student on a valid study permit may work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week only, off-campus, during a regular academic semester, such as Winter 2020, subject to meeting ALL of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Hold a valid study permit;
  • Be a full-time enrolled student;
  • Be enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Quebec; and
  • Student’s program of study is at least 6 months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate.

I have questions about loans, Co-op terms and health relating to COVID. Do you have any details on those topics?

Yes. The College has information that meets the needs of all students, including domestic and international students. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions webpage for details.

DISCLAIMER: The Information in this webpage has been reviewed and endorsed by a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) pursuant to Section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This is not a legal document, and the information herein should not be considered as legal advise. Information herein may change without notice. Always refer to for the most updated information. This document was last updated on May 15, 2020.