COVID-19 - Frequently Asked Questions

Note: Western International is operating virtually Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm to ensure the health and safety of our community, and to prevent the risk and spread of COVID-19.

During regular business hours, please contact us at iesc@uwo.ca or +1-519-661-2111 ext. 89309 for assistance.

Please note that travel requirements continue to change as announcements are made by the Canadian government. We understand that these changes may be of cause for concern to students planning to come to Western in the coming days and weeks. 

Please be advised that this guide is updated regularly as new information becomes available. The questions and answers provided below are general in nature and subject to change. Individual students are responsible for ensuring compliance with IRCC regulations.

For assistance, please contact one of our International Student Advisors at iesc@uwo.ca.
 
Last updated: March 2, 2021

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Travel to Canada & Quarantine

Can international students travel to Western? Will Western support their travel?

As of November 17, Western’s COVID-19 Readiness plan has been approved by the Government of Ontario, allowing eligible students to travel to Canada. 

If you are an international student who is currently outside of Canada, visit our International Arrival page for more information about mandatory quarantine registration, COVID-19 testing, required steps for travelling to Canada, and other supports and considerations in planning your arrival, including completing a mandatory Quarantine Registration Form prior to travelling

What are the quarantine requirements for students arriving in Canada from abroad?

All students (international students and Canadian citizens) who arrive in Canada from abroad by land and by air are required to complete a 14-day quarantine, complete mandatory COVID-19 testing and register their quarantine plans with Western via the Register My Quarantine Plan form prior to arrival in Canada. 

Students arriving in Canada by air must also complete a three-day government-authorized hotel stay at the beginning of their 14-day quarantine period. Find all the information on what steps to take before you travel on our International Arrival page

Is it mandatory to register a quarantine plan with Western prior to travelling?

Yes, it is mandatory that all students (both international and Canadian citizens) travelling to Canada from abroad register their plans with Western via the Register My Quarantine Plan formprior to travelling to Canada. Find all the information on what steps to take before you travel on our International Arrival page

What if my travel plans change after I've registered my quarantine plan?

If your travel plans change (delays, change of dates, cancellations, etc.), it is important to keep everyone updated.

  • Update your Quarantine Plan with Western
  • Update your Information on ArriveCan
  • Contact the hotel(s) where you will be completing your quarantine with your new arrival date
  • Contact RobertQ with your new arrival date (if applicable)
  • Update your academic program if they are expecting your arrival

Contact our International Student Advisors at iesc@uwo.ca with any specific questions. 

What do I need to consider when planning my quarantine?

In addition to booking a three-day government-authorized hotel stay if you're travelling by air to Canada, you must also ensure your location for the remainder of your 14-day quarantine is suitable. 

Review "Are Your Accommodations Acceptable?" and refer to the full requirements for quarantine from the Government of Canada.

We strongly recommend that students select Western-arranged off-campus quarantine accommodations, which are pay-ahead and include meal delivery three times per day. The cost for full-degree newly arriving students is $100 per day (including meals). See Quarantine Accomodations FAQs for more information.

Individuals who fail to comply with obligations outlined in the orders under the Quarantine Act may face a fine up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. See compliance and enforcement details.

What if I am unable to move into my quarantine location when I arrive?

Please plan your quarantine location carefully to avoid any issues when you arrive. Please see the International Arrival web page and Quarantine Dos and Don’ts for more information. If you have issues when you arrive, please contact our office at 519-661-2111 extension 89309 during Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm or email iesc@uwo.ca.

What is the ArriveCAN app?

In addition to registering your quarantine plan with Western, if you're flying to Canada as your final destination, you must use the ArriveCAN app (effective November 21, 2020) to submit your:

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan (unless exempted under conditions set out in the  mandatory isolation order)
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessments

You must:

  • submit your information before you board your flight to Canada
  • be ready to show your ArriveCAN receipt when seeking entry into Canada
  • a border services officer will verify that you have submitted your information digitally

If you don't submit your information through ArriveCAN, you may:

  • face additional delays at the border for public health questioning
  • be subject to enforcement action, which can range from verbal warnings to $1,000 fines

After an individual is permitted to enter Canada, Government of Canada officials will contact you to monitor compliance with your mandatory quarantine. You should be prepared to answer calls from a Government Official via telephone number  1-888-336-7735. It is essential that students develop a detailed quarantine plan and comply with the various governing rules and regulations during that 14-day period. Western will also be contacting students for daily wellness checks via telephone.

I am an international student. Can my family travel with me to Canada or join me later?

An immediate family member of international students who are exempt from travel restrictions may come with you to Canada if you need help settling or you are an adult student whose family would like to join you either now or later.

However, it’s recommended that they travel with you at the time when you enter Canada provided they have a valid immigration document and meet all other requirements to enter Canada as a student, worker or visitor. If they would like to join you later after you are already in Canada, they must request a written authorization from IRCC if they are travelling from a country other the US, which may be more complicated during COVID-19.

Please find more details regarding an immediate family member travelling with you to Canada.

I am an international student who does not have access to a credit card. How can I book quarantine accommodations and transportation to London?

We strongly encourage you to book an appointment with one of our International Student Advisors prior to making your travel plans. We can assist you in booking Western-arranged accommodations and RobertQ Airbus and will provide guidance on ensuring you have access to meals and other necessities, as well as on the steps to take to set up banking and credit cards in Canada.

How will I travel from the airport to my hotel and quarantine location?

The Government of Canada has provided specific recommendations for travel to your quarantine destination, once you arrive at the airport/your port of entry.

Western students must book travel from Toronto Pearson Airport to London with RobertQ Airbus to bring you safely to London and directly to your quarantine destination. A 50% discount has been arranged for Western students. Please see our Transportation page for details.

If you are arriving at London International Airport, you may take a taxi to your quarantine destination as long as all COVID-19 precautions are followed. We recommend that you contact the taxi company ahead of time. Please see our Transportation page for details and taxi company contact information. 

Note: students arriving from outside of Canada are not permitted to take any form of public transportation to travel to their quarantine destination

If I'm travelling by land to Canada, do I have to stay in the government-mandated hotel?

If you are travelling to Canada by land you are not required to complete the three-day government-authorized hotel stay, however you are still required to complete a 14-day quarantine period in a suitable location. Find details on our International Arrival page. 

COVID-19 Testing & Health Care

What are the government requirements for COVID-19 testing for travellers to Canada by air?

As of February 15, all students travelling from abroad by air to Canada are required to have COVID-19 testing a total of four times: 

 

Visit the Government of Canada website and our International Arrival page for more information. 

What are the government requirements for COVID-19 testing for travellers to Canada by land?

As of February 15, all students travelling from abroad by land to Canada are required to have testing a total of four times: 

 

Visit the Government of Canada website and our International Arrival page for more information. 

Do I still need a test when I'm done my 14 day quarantine if I've had one on day 10?

Yes, the Government of Ontario requires testing to be done at the end of your quarantine period. Visit our testing page for information on where to go. 

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Students on campus and in London are encouraged to use Western's on-campus testing clinic. No appointments are necessary. See Western's COVID-19 Testing webpage for hours and location. 

If you are quarantining outside of London testing is provided free of charge at Ontario assessment centres. If you are quarantining outside London but will be moving to London, you can have your test done in London after your 14-day quarantine elsewhere ends, as long as you are asymptomatic.  

For more information please review our testing website. If you have any questions regarding testing please contact iesc@uwo.ca.  

What does UHIP cover with regards to COVID-19?

You have access to COVID-19 screening free of charge, regardless of UHIP/OHIP status. You should provide your UHIP card if asked. UHIP covers emergency services and hospitalization related to COVID-19. For a full list of what is covered and not covered by UHIP, visit:https://uhip.ca/Enrollment/PlanDetails#toc2 

If you are wanting coverage for services not covered under UHIP (e.g. prescription drugs, dental care) Western offers supplementary health insurance through the University Students' Council (USC) for undergraduate students https://westernusc.ca/your-services/health-plan/ and through the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) for graduate students  sogs.ca/healthplan. 

If you are travelling outside of Canada UHIP will not cover COVID testing for outbound international travellers.

What happens if my COVID-19 test is positive?

If you test positive, your local public health unit will contact you. You will be asked for information to help determine who you were in contact with while you may have been contagious or where you may have acquired COVID-19. They will also advise you when you can stop self-isolating. Learn more here.  

If you have any questions about quarantining and/or testing while in quarantine, please contact iesc@uwo.ca.

Financial Support

Can I be reimbursed for the three-day government-authorized hotel stay?

Western is committed to continuing to support students planning travel to Canada for the Winter Term, including offering a reimbursement of up to maximum of $2000 per student to cover costs associated with the new federal requirements. Find more information on elgibility and how to apply.

What is the International Student Bursary Program?

The International Student Bursary Program enables undergraduate international students in financial need to continue or complete their program of study at Western. Please click on the "Undergraduate" section on  our Financial Assistance page for more information or visit our Remote Advising page to find out how to connect with our team.

What is the International Student Emergency Loan?

Western offers short-term loans to international students who encounter unforeseen financial emergencies. The maximum loan is $500. Financial emergencies may arise as a result of medical expenses, delays in transfers of funds from outside of Canada, expensive textbooks, moving, etc. Find out more on our Financial Assistance page.

Where can I find financial resources for graduate students?

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can find information on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) COVID-19 financial support page and the SGPS funding page.

Immigration, Study/Work Permits and Visas

I have submitted an application to IRCC. What do I do with biometrics and/or medical exam requirements?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made recent updates regarding collection of biometrics. As a temporary measure, individuals are "exempt from giving biometrics if you’re applying from within Canada for the following reasons: to extend your stay as a student, worker or visitor; to restore your status as a student, worker or visitor; for a work or study permit; for a visitor visa; or for a temporary resident permit. This applies to all new applications as well as applications already in progress. Find all the updates on the IRCC website.

For medical exams, some panel physician offices may be closed due to COVID-19. You will automatically be given 90 days to complete this step. If you have a medical exam scheduled or would like to schedule an Immigration Medical Examination (IME), please contact the panel physician’s office to verify that they are still open and performing exams.

Your application won’t be refused or closed if you can’t give your biometrics or complete your medical exam during this period. 

Can I enter Canada on my TRV or eTA to study a short-term program without a study permit?

International students admitted to a short-term program (less than 6 months), who are normally exempt from requiring a study permit under section 188 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, won’t be admitted under current travel restrictions unless they obtain a study permit. For more information, see the update on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

If you have any questions please contact iesc@uwo.ca

I applied for a study permit from outside of Canada. What can I expect?

There is a temporary 2-stage process for processing study permit applications in place.

Your application will be processed in the regular study permit process if you:

Your application will be processed in 2 stages if:

  • you submitted your application on or before December 15, 2020
  • your application is incomplete due to COVID-19 (for example, you’re missing your biometrics or medical), and
  • your program begins in the winter 2021 semester

Find details in the ‘Apply for a study permit’ section on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website. Contact our International Student Advisors at iesc@uwo.ca with specific questions.  

Can I start my program online without a study permit?

If you are in Canada, a valid study permit is required if the program length is more than 6 months, even if the program has been shifted to an online format due to COVID-19.

Only the following individuals can begin their studies while awaiting a decision on their study permit application from within Canada, provided the application has been submitted before the expiry of their status:

  • Students who are on implied status after submitting their study permit extension
  • Visitors who are studying at secondary level
  • A visiting or exchange student (visitor status) who is studying at a designated learning institution
  • A visitor who has completed a course or program of study that is a prerequisite to their enrolling at a designated learning institution

If you are outside of Canada, obtaining a study permit is highly recommended.

Once in-person studies resume, a valid study permit and temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) will be necessary to enter Canada and continue studies.

You won’t be able to get a refund for completed terms if you are unable to come to Canada to complete your program in the future. Western University will not be liable for any losses resulting from your failure to qualify for a study permit, or from your inability to otherwise complete the program due to immigration restrictions.

If you are a student who needs university employment, you will not be able to get a Canadian Social Insurance Number without a valid study permit, and without a valid SIN the university cannot employ you.

In most scenarios, you must have a study permit. However, you are still eligible for a PGWP if you study online while outside Canada in the following scenarios provided you:

  • are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program
  • began, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020
  • have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved
  • meet all other PGWP criteria 

If you meet all the above conditions, you can complete 100% of your studies online from outside Canada. Please read more details on IRCC website for PGWP eligibility for international students.

If you have specific immigration questions pertaining to your situation, please contact our International Student Advisors at iesc@uwo.ca or schedule an appointment.

I am in Canada with a valid Post-Graduation Work Permit. I have decided to go back for another program and have applied for a study permit. Can I start my program online while my application is in progress?

No, a student must be approved for a study permit before starting their studies. If the student applied from within Canada for a study permit while on a work permit, they can start studying once they receive approval without the physical study permit. But they cannot start studies while the study permit application is in process. This also applies to programs that are not distance learning but moved to online temporarily due to COVID-19. If you have specific questions, please reach out to our International Student Advisors at iesc@uwo.ca.

Do I need a letter of support from Western to share with Canada Border Services?

No. Students should not need a special letter of support to travel. However, we recommend that you review the list of important items to carry with you when travelling, including important documents such as your study permit or study permit approval.

In addition to uploading the details of your quarantine plan into the ArriveCAN app, you may also wish to print out details to refer to when interacting with a Canada Border Services officer.

What documentation do I need to bring with me to the airport?

Before travelling to Canada, make sure you enter your details into the ArriveCAN app two days prior to coming to the airport and that you have what you need to show you are exempt from the travel restrictions and evidence that you’re travelling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose.

Students must bring a valid study permit or a port of entry letter of introduction that shows that you were approved for a study permit.

At the airport, airline officials will be conducting a health check, and anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be able to board their flight to Canada. As always, we recommend students travel with the following items on their person (not in checked luggage):

  • Valid Passport and Canadian Temporary Resident Visa and/or an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) (if applicable)
  • Study Permit OR Letter of Introduction issued by the Canadian Visa Office that approved your Study Permit
  • Supporting documents
  • Medical and immunization (vaccination) records, prescriptions and medications
  • Money and a credit card
  • List of important phone numbers

Visit our Arrival website for more details.

Housing

If all my classes are online, can I still live in residence?

Yes, absolutely.

What physical distancing and disinfection measures are in place in residence?

We are taking our direction and instruction from the government and local health authorities. Enhanced cleaning of our residences includes more frequent sanitization of touch surfaces in public areas, with caretaking staff schedules expanding to seven days a week, and an extended presence beyond traditional business hours. Additional changes to food service and dining halls will also be implemented. For details, see the Residence FAQ page.

Classes, Exams and Campus

Will Western resume in-person learning for Fall 2021?

Western is planning to resume in-person learning for Fall 2021 and will continue to provide updates as they are available. Watch for updates from Western and government updates on our International Arrival page.

How do I get my textbooks if I'm studying overseas/remotely?

Most textbooks and course materials will be available digitally and can be purchased online from The Book Store at Western. In addition, some course materials may also be available digitally through Western Libraries.

If you are unable to find your materials after checking both resources, you can contact your professor and/or Western Libraries for more assistance.

Where are masks mandatory?

Western requires all employees and students to wear non-medical masks/face coverings when in the presence of others and in common and shared spaces on campus. Employees and students will be supplied with washable Western-branded non-medical masks/face coverings when returning to campus.

In addition, you may be required to wear a mask in certain public spaces in the community. You can find more information on the Middlesex-London Health Unit website.  

International & Exchange Student Centre (IESC) Events & Support

What resources are available to support international students navigating university life?

Our IESC staff and volunteers offer virtual programming and events throughout the year. Please visit the website for more details.

Where can I find out about IESC events?

Unfortunately, IESC in-person group events are now cancelled, however we have a wide range of virtual programming and opportunities for you to connect with other students and with our team online until we can be in person again together.

Staying connected and involved with the Western and IESC communities while you're practicing physical distancing is important to your wellbeing. Find out more about our virtual events on our Stay Connected page

Graduate Students

Where can I find resources for graduate students?

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can find information and resources on their website. For questions pertaining to research, examinations and other concerns issues please consult the directory for contact information. grad.uwo.ca/administration/directory.html.

Where can I find information about financial support for graduate students?

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) will update this web page as it becomes available. 

Other Resources

Where can I find resources related to Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19?

Please visit the Learning Network resource hub for resources related to Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19.