International student support
Okanagan College wants to support our international student community as fully as possible. Here you can find information on housing, medical coverage, immigration, and team members to support you while studying abroad.
As an international student, there are a number of documents you need to study in Canada. You are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and complying with immigration regulations during your stay in Canada.
Please be advised that appointments are temporarily unavailable for Immigration Advising. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining your issue and questions in full detail and you will receive a response as soon as possible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Keeping Your Study Permit Valid
According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you are required to extend your study permit before it expires. Also, you are required to remain enrolled and actively pursue your course or program of study by making reasonable and timely progress towards completing your program. As per the IRCC, failing to do so may lead to your removal from Canada.
Immigration Info for Students
A study permit authorizes you to study in Canada legally. International students will receive their study permits in the form of a paper document which will usually be attached into your passport at the Canadian port of entry.
Please note: Study permits will only be issued to applicants studying at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).
Okanagan College is a DLI and its DLI Number is O19395299488. (please note the first letter is O as in Okanagan)
Do I need a Study Permit?
If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada and will be studying at Okanagan College for more than 6 months, you must obtain a study permit from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
If your program of study in Canada lasts six months or less and will be completed within the period of your authorized stay in Canada, you may study without a study permit. However, if you think you may study for a longer time, we strongly recommend that you apply and obtain a study permit prior to your arrival in Canada since only some people are eligible to apply for a study permit from within Canada.
A study permit does not authorize re-entry. Depending on your citizenship, you may require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter and seek re-enter to Canada. Please Find out whether you need to obtain a TRV or eTA.
Most newly-accepted international students can now apply for their study permits online from their home country. You are required to apply for the initial study permit before coming to Canada. Instructions on initial study permit application can be found on the IRCC Study permit: About the process. Processing time varies depending on the processing centre location. Please allow a minimum of one to six months.
Keeping Your Study Permit Valid
According to the IRCC, you are required to extend your study permit before it expires. Also, you are required to remain enrolled and actively pursue your course or program of study by making reasonable and timely progress towards completing your program. As per the IRCC, failing to do so may lead to your removal from Canada.
Extend your Study Permit
International students should maintain their study permits valid throughout their entire study in Canada. If the length of your study permit is going to expire before you complete your studies, you should extend your study permit at least 30 days prior to the expiry. Study permits can be extended by submitting an online application. Please view the IRCC Extend your Study Permit or restore your status: How to apply for more information.
Applying for a Study Permit Extension
Please download and refer to the Detailed Guide on applying for a Study Permit Extension, which is also available from the iCent app.
Transferring from/to another Institution.
If you already have a valid study permit for post-secondary study in Canada, you need to inform the IRCC about your change of post-secondary school. To learn abut the steps please click on Change your post-secondary school in your account.
My Study Permit has expired while IRCC is still reviewing my study permit extension application.
If you submit a complete study permit extension application before your current study permit expires, you will have implied status, meaning that you can legally remain in Canada and continue to study until a decision on your application is made by the IRCC, only as long as you remain in Canada. For more information please review Temporary residents: Maintained status during processing.
My Study Permit has expired and I have not submitted an application for an extension.
If your study permit expires before you apply for an extension, you will be considered "out of status." When you are out of status, you may not continue to attend school or work until your application for restoration of your status as a student has been approved. You must apply for restoration within 90 days of having lost your status in Canada. For more details on restoration please view IRCC Restoration of temporary resident status.
If your study permit expired more than 90 days ago and you have not applied for a restoration, you will NOT be able to renew your study permit. You will have to leave the country and apply for a new study permit outside of Canada.
Transferring to Okanagan College
If you are transferring between educational institutions within Canada, either in or out of Okanagan College, you need to login to your MyCIC account to inform the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that you have transferred. See IRCC's website for more information.
Okanagan College’s DLI number is O19395299488. (please note the first letter is O as in Okanagan)
Working in Canada as International Students
As an international student, you may be eligible to work in Canada while studying and after you graduate. As a study permit holder, you may qualify to work on-campus or off-campus without an additional work permit if you meet specific criteria. You may also apply for a PGWP post-graduation work permit after you graduate from an eligible institution. Please visit the IRCC site to learn more about working as an international student while studying.
OFF-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS
To work off-campus, an international student must:
- Have a valid study permit
- Be a full-time student enrolled at a designated learning institution
- Have started studying
- Be studying in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate and is at least six months in duration
- Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) (See details below)
International students cannot work off campus if they are:
- Registered in an English or French as a Second Language (ESL/FSL) program
- A visiting or exchange student without a study permit
How many hours can you work off campus per week?
Students who meet the eligibility requirements may work off campus a maximum of 20 hours per week during the regular academic sessions. They may work full-time during regularly scheduled breaks (e.g., summer, Reading Week and breaks between terms, if applicable to your study program) if they meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Student holds a valid study permit, and was/will be enrolled full-time during the academic session before and after the scheduled break.
- The program in which a student is enrolled is a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least 6 months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Students in their final semester prior to graduation may work off-campus up to a maximum of 20 hours/week, if meeting the off-campus work eligibility requirements, until their Letter of Program Completion becomes available. Once a Letter of Program Completion becomes available, student must stop working. Thereafter, student may work full-time after they have submitted their post-graduation work permit (PGWP) application if they meet the relevant eligibility requirements explained on the IRCC website.
ON-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS
International students may work on campus at Okanagan College without an additional work permit if you are a full time post secondary student in a degree/diploma/certificate program with a valid study permit. Please note:
- A work permit is not required for on campus employment
- There is no time limit for On-Campus work
- A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is required
How many hours can you work on campus per week?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not limit the number of hours students are permitted to work on campus. However, some Okanagan College employers may restrict the hours students can work.
WHAT IS A SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER (SIN)?
A Social Insurance Number is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. It allows an employer to process payroll while informing the Canadian Revenue Agency of the amount of money a person earns.
How do I obtain a SIN?
International students can obtain SIN by presenting original passport, study permit as well as a full time enrolment letter from Okanagan College at any Service Canada location. Information on Kelowna Service Canada Centre can be found at Service Canada webpage.
Co-op Work Permit
For many students, co-operative education programs provide great opportunities to supplement their in-class education with in-the-field experience.
If you are considering adding a Co-operative Education placement to your program, Okanagan College has several options depending on your area of studies. Visit Okanagan College’s Student, Graduate & Co-op Employment. Please note that in order to participate in Okanagan College's Co-operative Education program, you need to fill out and submit the Co-op Application.
Once, you receive a co-op notification from Okanagan College, you are required to submit a Co-op application from a Co-op Work Permit. To learn more please see IRCC information about Co-op work permit.
When to Apply:
- After receiving a letter of acceptance to a co-op program from the Okanagan College
- Check for a weekly update of how long it will take
How to apply:
- Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710]
- Note: Make sure you use the newest form. If applying online, log in to the IRCC website before starting your application.
- Original letter provided by your OC co-op office stating that your intended employment is an essential part of your program
- Copy of your passport (include the bio-data page plus any pages with stamps, visas or markings)
- Additional documents may be needed
- You must have a valid study permit.
- Your employment must be part of your academic program, certified by a letter from a responsible academic official of the institution.
- Your intended employment must be an essential part of your program of study in Canada.
- Your co-op or internship employment cannot form more than 50% (percent) of the total program of study.
Post-graduation work permit
A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is a document that gives you permission to remain in Canada as a worker and work full time for up to three years after you graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution.
To apply for a PGWP, you must meet the eligibility requirement stated at the IRCC webpage.
Overview of the application process
When to apply
- It’s strongly recommended that you submit your complete PGWP application online within 89 days of your study program completion date or before your current study permit expires, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. If you’re unable to do so, it’s essential to consult an Immigration Education Advisor.
- $255 - cost subject to change
- Check for a weekly update of how long it will take
How to apply
- Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710] – if applying from inside Canada
- Note: Make sure you use the newest form. If applying online, log in to the IRCC website before starting your application.
- Letter of Program Completion from Okanagan College. Letter of Program Completion documents will be emailed to all International students who:
- Have submitted their Application to Graduate by the specified deadline
- Meet their program graduation requirements
- Every effort possible will be made to accommodate students who have missed the deadline to apply to graduate, however there may be delays receiving Letters of Completion following late applications to graduate
- Letters will be automatically emailed out to students in the weeks following submission of final grades via the students’ preferred email addresses specified in their MyOkanagan account
- Official Academic Transcript from Okanagan College, ordered through your MyOkanagan account.
- A copy of your passport (include the bio-data page plus any pages with stamps, visas or markings)
- Passport-style photo (if applying online)
- Additional documents may be needed
WORKING WHILE YOU WAIT FOR A POST-GRADUATION WORK PERMIT
You may work full time (on or off campus) while waiting for a decision on your post-graduate work permit application if you meet the relevant eligibility requirements explained at the IRCC webpage.
TRAVELING AFTER APPLYING FOR YOUR POST-GRADUATION WORK PERMIT
We recommend that students wishing to travel outside Canada after applying for their PGWP meet with an International Student Advisor before leaving Canada.
I’m waiting for my post-graduation work permit. Can I travel outside Canada and come back with my student visa?
- Please refer to the IRCC webpage for an explanation.
Inviting friends and family to visit
Suggested supporting documents
- Copy of your study permit
- Your document(s) should be valid for the length of your family members’ stay in Canada. If you recently completed your program requirements but do not have a post-graduation work permit, you may send a copy of your study permit and an official Letter of Program Completion (from Okanagan College) noting the date of your expected convocation ceremony date. If you have applied for a post-graduation work permit online but do not have it yet, send a copy of the Letter of Submission Confirmation that IRCC sends when they receive the application.
- Copy of your valid passport
- A recently-dated Letter of Invitation written by you (see template below)
Write the letter of invitation yourself. See this site for tips. Some visa offices may require that your letter be notarized by a Notary Public. Check with the specific Canadian visa office. To find a notary, visit the BC Notaries website
- Copy of your marriage certificate if applicable (e.g. if you're inviting your spouse)
- Additional information about your status in Canada
- An official Verification of Enrolment Letter from Okanagan College, OR if you have completed your study program, your official Letter of Program Completion from Okanagan College
- Official Academic Transcript from Okanagan College
- Copy of your rental/lease agreement, if your friends/family shall be residing with you in Canada
- Proof of your available funds (only if you are paying for their visit)
In addition, your friends/family must provide proof of economic and social ties to their home country. The stronger the ties, the higher the chance of successfully proving they will leave Canada after their visit.
Examples of economic ties include bank statements, proof of financial investments, a letter of employment, and/or proof of property ownership, etc.
Examples of social ties include evidence that family members back home depend on them for financial/other support, proof that they must return home after their visit to Canada in order to meet their social obligations to their family members or community, etc.
Instructions for a Letter of Invitation
If you would like friends or family to visit you while you are studying at Okanagan College, you must send them a letter of invitation. Okanagan College does not provide letters of invitation. You must write it yourself.
A letter of invitation does not guarantee that a visa will be issued to your friend or family member. Visa Officers will assess each applicant to determine whether they meet the requirements of Canada’s immigration laws. Some visa offices may require that your letter be notarized by a Notary Public.
Here you will find information that will help you write a proper letter of invitation. For complete instructions, visit the IRCC’s site.
Your letter of invitation must include all of the following information for the person being invited:
- Complete name.
- Date of birth.
- The person’s address and telephone number.
- Your relationship to the person being invited.
- The purpose of the trip.
- How long the person you are inviting intends to stay in Canada.
- Details about their accommodation and living expenses.
- The date the person you are inviting intends to leave Canada.
You must also include the following information about yourself:
- Complete name.
- Date of birth.
- Address and telephone number in Canada.
- Your status in Canada (e.g. student, worker, Canadian citizen, permanent resident).*
Sample Letter of Invitation
The Canadian Embassy, Immigration Section
Dear Visa Officer:
Re: Letter of invitation for my parents (Arturo and Gabriela)
I am writing this letter to support the visitor visa application of my parents.
My father, Arturo Reyes, (born March 16, 1951) lives at Avenida Diego Bravo 12345, Departamento 222, Las Condes, Santiago, Region Metropolitana. My mother, Gabriela Reyes, (born July 2, 1953) lives with him. Their home phone number is 123-456-7890.
They would like to visit me in Canada, as they haven't seen me in two years. They intend to stay with me at my home for two weeks, from March 1 to 14, 2014. They have a flight booked to leave Canada on March 15, 2014. Housing and food costs during their stay will be covered by me; they will cover all other costs for their trip.
I am currently an international student, studying at Okanagan College. A copy of my passport and study permit is attached. My date of birth is August 19, 1993. I live at 1234 Harwood Ave, Kelowna, BC V1Y 1X4. My phone number is 250-000-0000 and my email address is email@example.com.
Thank you in advance for the consideration of my parents' application.
If your family members are going to visit or live with you in Canada while you study at Okanagan College, they may apply for visitor status at the same time as you. Please see below for more information on necessary documents for family members.
Inviting Friends or Family to Visit
If you would like friends or family to visit you while you are studying at Okanagan College, you must send them a letter of invitation. Okanagan College does not provide letters of invitation. You must write it yourself. For more information, please review the IRCC Letter of Invitation
Spouse/Common-Law Partner Work Permits
- If your spouse or common-law partner is accompanying you in Canada, they may be eligible to apply for a spouse/common-law partner work permit. Please visit the IRCC, Spouse/common-law partner work in Canada to review eligibility. They may also be eligible to apply for spouse/common-law partner open work permit from within Canada, after they have been admitted as visitors.
- Spouse/common-law partner open work permits are generally issued for the same length of time as the student’s study permit.
- A job offer is not required for this work permit.
Permits for Dependent Children
Minor children on a valid visitor status in Canada who want to attend pre-school, primary or secondary school and have a parent on a valid Canadian study or work permit, may study without a study permit. However, study permits rather than visitor records can make the immigration process run smoothly especially if your children enter Canada without a parent. When entering Canada, your children should bring with them two years of their official school records in English or with a certified English translation.
Extending Family Members' Immigration Documents
1. All dependents (including children) requiring extension have to provide their own documents.
2. Documents must be extended before their expiry date.
3. You can apply to extend your study permit and your family members’ immigration documents online through the MyCIC account.
4. Pay the appropriate fee for each family member.
Lost or Stolen Documents
It is very important to keep your documents safe while studying at Okanagan College. If your documents are lost or stolen, ensure you replace them immediately.
- If your passport is lost or stolen, you must replace it immediately.
- Contact the Embassy/High Commission of your home country in Canada to learn about the procedure and processing time of your new/replaced passport.
- You must have a new passport before replacing any Canadian permits or applying for a new Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), if you had one.
If your other documents, such as study or work permits, are lost or stolen, you must request a replacement from the IRCC.
- Follow instructions on the IRCC website and submit your application with proof of payment of the $30 processing fee.
- You may continue studying and/or working, as permitted by your study or work permit, while your documents are being replaced.
- You should not leave Canada until you receive your replacement study or work permit.
This website has been reviewed by Antriksh Mistry, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). This is not a legal document. Information herein may change without notice. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website, you are encouraged to visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to access the most up-to-date information.
Cultural Liaisons are here to assist with all aspects of studying in Canada. Our Cultural Liaisons are native speakers of many different languages.
Students are welcome to visit our Cultural Liaisons in the International Education Office E110 (Kelowna) or at the Penticton or Vernon Campus, or connect by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Okanagan College requires that all international and exchange students have valid medical coverage for the duration of their studies. Students are automatically enrolled with Guard.me insurance each semester until or unless the student submits confirmation they have BC Medical (MSP)
There are three types of medical insurances that Okanagan College international students should be familiar with. Please review each medical insurances.
Medical Service Plan (MSP)
BC's Medical Service Plan (MSP) is public health insurance and mandatory for all B.C. residents who are living in B.C. for six months or longer and have a valid Study Permit. Applying for MSP is the student's responsibility and should be done soon after arriving in B.C.
MSP (Medical Services Plan) is a B.C. public health insurance. It is administrated by the Government of B.C. Under the government's Medicare Protection Act, MSP is mandatory for all eligible residents and their dependents.
- International Students with a valid study permit of 6 months or more.
- Effective after a 3 month waiting period. For example: if you arrive in B.C. on Aug. 15, your MSP coverage will be effective starting Nov. 1.
- Apply for MSP online soon upon arrival in BC.
- Allow 21 business days for processing online applications and your BC Medical card to be mailed to your local address.
- Application assistance will be given at orientation or see the web guide on the iCent App. or web guide.
- $75 per month billed by Revenue Services.
- No opt-out. This is mandatory for residents in B.C. staying 6 months or longer
- Students who are planning to leave B.C. for more than 6 months must contact MSP to confirm continued eligibility or cancel their coverage.
How to obtain a card
- You will receive it by mail 1 month after you submit your application.
- Make sure you update your current address with MSP.
- See Guard.me coverage.
- You may add dependents to your plan when you apply.
- You will need photos of your dependents' study permit or work permit.
How to make a claim
- No need to make a claim.
- Direct billing to health-care provider.
Health Insurance B.C.: 1 800-663-7100
For invoices or payments, contact Revenue Services of British Columbia: 1 877-405-4909 (toll-free)
Who is eligible:
- all new international and exchange students
- returning students who do not have MSP
- short-term students and those without a study permit of at least 6 months
- you are automatically enrolled for the first semester if you are registered in classes.
- all returning students who do not have MSP are automatically enrolled for the semester until MSP is confirmed.
- $250 per semester applied to student fees (approximate cost works out to $2 per day)
How to obtain a card
- Your guard.me ID card will be sent to you by email.
- Also, you can download it at https://www.guard.me/oc or through the iCent app
- You can purchase early arrival insurance to cover you up to 6 weeks prior to semester start, go to https://www.guard.me/oc/department/early-arrivals
- $2 per day; purchased online with credit card
- You can purchase your dependents' coverages in association with your coverage at https://www.guard.me/oc/dependents/dependents
How to make a claim
- Claims must be submitted online in order to be processed.
- Login via http://guard.me/oc/claims
Guard.me Customer Care Centre is available, toll free and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-877-873-8447. They will be able to screen share and best assist and walk you through the claim submission process.
Opt-out of guard.me
All international students are automatically enrolled with Guard.me insurance each semester until the student submits confirmation of other accepted coverage. Only the following are considered equivalent coverage(s):
- B.C. Medical Service Plan
- Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau-Sponsored Plan
Proof of MSP must include a photo of the MSP card plus one of the following:
- letter that was issued with the MSP card, showing effective date,
- current MSP bill showing effective coverage,
- Health Insurance BC confirmation of MSP enrollment letter, or
- MSP card issued more than 3 months prior to start of semester
Students with accepted equivalent coverage can cancel Guard.me by confirming proof of coverage to IntedMed@okanagan.bc.ca by these dates:
- Fall Semester: September 30
- Winter Semester: January 31
- Summer Semester: May 31
MSP coverage must be effective before the semester start in order to be eligible for opt-out. After the deadlines above, you may submit your confirmation of MSP to stop auto-enrollment for the next semester. Please note that there is no partial cancellation or refund after the deadlines above. Once you submit the confirmation of MSP, you will receive a confirmation email to your myOkanagan email.
If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com
Extended Health and Dental
Coverage available from students' unions
MSP does not include extended health and dental benefit coverage. Okanagan College has an extended health plan for students that is operated through the two students' unions: the Okanagan College Students' Union and the Vernon Students' Association Okanagan College. All full-time academic students are automatically registered with Greenshield for extended medical and dental benefits.
Who is eligible
All full-time academic students.
All full-time academic students are automatically enrolled each September.
Approximately $250 for the year, applied to student fees.
Online opt-out is available if you are covered by an equivalent plan (such as by your employer).
How to obtain a card
Contact the Student Union.
How to Make a Claim
Visit http://ocsu.ca/ (for students in Kelowna, Penticton and Salmon Arm)
Visit http://vsaoc.ca (for students in Vernon)
Black Out Period
While student union waits for Okanagan College to confirm your enrolment, your claims processing will be delayed. This delay can take up to two months. Any health or dental costs that are incurred during the blackout period will not be eligible for the direct billing option and members are advised to save all receipts for covered costs. After the end of the black out period you will be able to submit a claim.
If You Get Sick
There are two types of services available for students who get sick in British Columbia: visiting a doctor or the hospital.
Visiting a Doctor
For minor illnesses or injuries, you should visit a “walk-in clinic." You do not need to make an appointment. Walk-in clinics hours can vary; make sure to check operation hours before you visit a clinic.
Always take your medical insurance card (MSP or guard.me) with you when you go to a doctor or clinic.
Guard.me insurance also allows you to connect with a Canadian doctor on your mobile device. The service is available 24/7. For information, visit guard.me's website.
Visiting the Hospital
You should only go to the hospital if it is an emergency or you need care urgently when walk-in clinics are closed and you cannot wait until they re-open.
If you are covered under guard.me you will need to submit a claim to guard.me and they will pay the hospital directly.
If you do not have MSP, the hospital will charge you a non-resident fee. If you have MSP, show your B.C. Services Card when you register so charges can be billed directly to MSP.
Hospitals in our region:
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical
No, all individuals must complete an application. The easiest way is to apply for MSP coverage online immediately after arriving in B.C., rather than at the end of the wait period because processing takes about 21 business days. See our guide: How to Apply for MSP.
New residents (international students) are required to complete a wait period consisting of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two months before benefits can begin.
An example of the wait period is, if you arrived in BC on Aug 28, your wait period would be August, September, October. Your MSP coverage will start as of November 1st.
Okanagan College will auto-enroll you with Guard.me medical insurance each semester. MSP is mandatory for all B.C. residents who are eligible. You must apply to MSP soon after you arrive in the province.
Contact Health Insurance BC (MSP) at 1-800-663-7100 and check if they have your correct mailing address.
As of January 2020, MSP premiums have been eliminated. But international students on a study permit will now pay $75 per month for the International Student Health Fee. Service BC will send the bill to your residential address. If you change your address, please update your new address with MSP at https://my.gov.bc.ca/msp.
The Guard.me medical insurance is designed to cover you while you are on the MSP 3 month wait period and not yet covered by MSP.
Yes, you will need to send us proof of MSP coverage to IntedMed@okanagan.bc.ca. Your MSP coverage must be effective before the start of the semester. The deadline to submit is the last day of the 1st month in the semester. Once your submission is approved, the Guard.me insurance fee will be reversed on your student account 6 weeks after start of semester.
No. The policy is considered used because you had the benefit of the coverage even though no claims were made.
If you are planning to leave B.C. for more than 6 months, you should contact MSP to confirm continued eligibility. Please note that you must reactivate your MSP account after returning to B.C. from the extended leave. For more details, visit MSP website.
You will need to upload your new study permit to https://my.gov.bc.ca/msp/. It will take about 21 business days for MSP to process this information. Please renew your MSP card before the expiry date to avoid a gap between coverages.
The Extended Health and Dental Plan (Green Shield/ Great-West Life) is additional coverage administered by your Student Union office (OCSU or VSAOC in Vernon). Enrollment and fees are mandatory for all full time academic students. However, if you are covered by an equivalent plan (such as by your employer), you can opt-out by going online. Note that Guard.me or MSP do not replace the Extended Health & Dental Plan.