COVID-19 - General FAQ for International Students

This guide is updated 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 iesc@uwo.ca or +1-519-661-2111 ext. 89309

Additional FAQ pages and resources:

Last updated: September 8, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

Travel to Canada & Quarantine

Do I need to be fully vaccinated in order to enter Canada?

Yes, if you are 18 years of age or older. Federal requirements will not permit international students who are 18 years or older, who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or vaccinated with a vaccine other than one of the nine approved vaccines, to enter Canada.

For a list of vaccine and eligibility requirements, visit the Government of Canada website. For more information on vaccine requirements, please visit  Important Vaccine Requirements for Returning to Canada.

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

Western’s COVID-19 Readiness plan was approved by the Government of Ontario on November 20, 2020, allowing eligible students to travel to Canada. 

If you are an international student who is currently outside of Canada, visit our International Arrival website for information about required steps for travelling to Canada, and other supports and considerations in planning your arrival.

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

As of April 25, fully vaccinated travellers who are 18 years of age or older are no longer required to quarantine unless they test positive on a random arrival test. 

If you are travelling with children or dependents, they may be required to complete a 14-day quarantine and other pre-arrival testing requirements. For more information, visit the  Government of Canada website on travelling with children

All students (international students, permanent residents and Canadian citizens) who arrive in Canada from abroad by land and by air, regardless of vaccination status, are required to enter information into the ArriveCAN app prior to arrival in Canada.

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air may be randomly selected for arrival (day-1) testing and are not required to quarantine while waiting for test results.

Find all the information on what steps to take before you travel on our International Arrival website

What is the ArriveCAN app?

You must use the ArriveCAN app to submit your:

  • travel and contact information
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessments
  • proof of vaccination 
  • quarantine plan (if partially vaccinated and under the age of 18)

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 provide the required information in ArriveCAN before arriving at the border,

  • you may not be considered for quarantine exemption, even if you meet all the other requirements;
  • you may face additional delays at the border for public health questioning
  • you may be subject to enforcement action, which can range from verbal warnings to $1,000 fines

After an individual is permitted to enter Canada, if you are required to quarantine, 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.

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

As of September 7, 2021, fully vaccinated foreign nationals may be also allowed enter Canada for discretionary travel.

Please visit the Government of Canada website to find out if family members can enter Canada.

It’s recommended that family members 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.

I am an international student who does not have access to a credit card and I need to book quarantine accommodations and transportation to London. What should I do?

Most fully vaccinated travellers over the age of 18 are no longer required to quarantine. To verify if you are eligible to enter Canada and/or if you need to quarantine, visit the Government of Canada website.

If you are required to quarantine, we strongly encourage you to book an appointment with one of our International Student Advisors prior to making 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 can book travel from Toronto Pearson Airport to London with RobertQ Airbus to bring you safely to London and directly to your quarantine destination.

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.

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

Do I still need to submit a quarantine plan even if I am fully vaccinated?

No. You do not need to submit a quarantine plan with Western. However, we still recommend that fully vaccinated students develop a quarantine plan, as a back up in case you are required to quarantine upon arrival.

If you don't meet the requirements to be considered fully vaccinated, and you are under the age of 18, you'll be asked to follow the instructions provided by the government representative.

Fully vaccinated travellers are still required to:

  • take a COVID-19 test upon arrival to Canada if randomly selected
    • Fully vaccinated travellers are not required to quarantine while waiting for the results of the arrival test. You should still be prepared to quarantine if your test results come back positive. 
  • follow any other public health measures for London and Ontario

View Steps for travelling to Canada on our International Arrival website for more details. 

COVID-19 Testing, Vaccines & Health Care

Will I need to be fully vaccinated to come to campus?

Yes, Western and affiliated colleges Brescia, Huron and King’s require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff and faculty, as part of a strengthened policy to protect the campus community.

Please see Vaccine FAQs for International Students and Western's vaccine page for details on the policy and hours for Western's Vaccination and Testing Centre, or contact vaxinfo@uwo.ca for questions.

Will I need a COVID-19 vaccine to live in residence?

Yes, Western requires students living in residence to be fully vaccinated. For more details, visit the Housing website.

I am an international student in Canada. Will UHIP cover the cost of my COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, UHIP members residing in Ontario are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost, regardless of where it is administered (Western vaccination and testing centre, public health vaccination sites, designated pharmacies, walk-in clinics, family doctors, others). UHIP members residing in Canada, but outside of Ontario, do not have to pay for the vaccine at designated public health unit vaccination sites and designated pharmacies only, but may have to pay if they receive the vaccine at other sites, such as walk-in clinics, family doctors, or others.

If you paid for the vaccine, you can submit a claim for reimbursement up to the UHIP designated amount. visit the UHIP web page for general UHIP information. Contact iesc@uwo.ca with any questions.

I’ll be coming to Canada from abroad for the fall term. Do I need to be vaccinated before I come?

Yes. As of January 15, 2022, federal requirements will not permit international students who are 18 years or older, who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or vaccinated with a vaccine other than those  approved by the Government of Canada, to enter the country. For more information on vaccine requirements, please visit Important Vaccine Requirements for Returning to Canada.

Western and its affiliated university colleges, Brescia, Huron and King’s, are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff and faculty, as part of a policy to protect the campus community. The university is operating an on-campus Vaccination and Testing Centre to accommodate students, staff and faculty and will also offer vaccines to students once they arrive from abroad, including additional required doses for those who do not yet meet the requirements of Western's vaccination policy.

Please see Vaccine FAQs for International Students for more information.

For additional questions about the vaccine policy or proof of vaccination, please contact vaxinfo@uwo.ca.

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

If you are fully vaccinated and eligible to travel to Canada, you are not required to do any COVID-19 testing prior to departure. 

Should this temporary suspension be lifted, these are the testing requirements upon arrival:

  • Travellers who meet Government of Canada requirements for full vaccination will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter Canada will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival to Canada and provided one COVID-19 at home specimen collection kits at the airport for use on day 8 of their 14-day quarantine.   

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

If you are fully vaccinated and eligible to travel to Canada, you are not required to do any COVID-19 testing prior to departure. 

All students arriving from abroad by land to Canada are required to undergo the following COVID-19 testing requirements:

  • Travellers who meet Government of Canada requirements for full vaccination will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers that are eligible to enter Canada will be provided two COVID-19 at home specimen collection kits at the land border:
    • one to use on the day they arrive in Canada, and 
    • another to use on day 8 of their 14-day quarantine.
    • If you are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or vaccinated with a vaccine other than the federally approved vaccines, please contact the IESC by emailing  iesc@uwo.ca

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

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Rapid antigen tests for at-home use are available for free in Ontario are select locations. Only select individuals such as those who work in health care settings (including students in clinical settings), and in some cases, their families or partners, are eligible for Molecular and PCR testing.

Visit the Government of Ontario COVID-19 website for details. 

Testing for Travel: Please visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit website for testing locations for the purposes of testing before travelling outside of Canada. 

What does UHIP cover with regards to COVID-19?

You have access to COVID-19 Vaccinations free of charge, regardless of UHIP/OHIP status. You should provide your UHIP card if asked. 

UHIP also covers emergency services and hospitalization related to COVID-19 For a full list of what is covered by UHIP, visit:  https://uhip.ca/Enrollment/PlanDetails#toc2

If you are seeking 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 on a rapid antigen test, you need to isolate for at least 5 days if you are fully vaccinated or under the age of 12. If you are immunocompromised or live in a high risk setting, you should isolate for 10 days.

Learn more here

If symptoms worsen and you need to seek medical attention, contact Student Health Care at 519-661-3030 or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

Financial Support

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 Advising Services page 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) funding page.

Immigration, Study/Work Permits and Visas

I received an updated offer letter from Western. What do I need to do?

Updated ‘unconditional’ offer letters were issued to some students to facilitate faster processing of study permit applications. If you received one, you may need to upload it through the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) webform to update your application and ensure that your study permit is processed and approved for the fall term.

If your application has been finalized and your study permit has been approved, there is no need to update your application by uploading the updated letter via the IRCC webform. If you are unsure whether you need to update your application with IRCC, please contact iesc@uwo.ca

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 . This exemption does not apply if you are outside Canada. Find all the updates on the IRCC website.

For medical exams, some panel physician offices may be closed due to COVID-19. 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.

If your application is in progress and you can't complete your IME due to COVID-19, find out what to do if you still have documents to provide for your application.  

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 qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller may now enter Canada for study with a valid travel document such as a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).

You will need a study permit if your program is longer than six months.

There are also some advantages to applying for a study permit even if it’s not required for your program, including facilitating re-entry to Canada if a student travels during their studies.  For more information, see the update on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

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

Can I study online from outside Canada without a study permit? Will that impact my eligibility for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

If you meet all the eligibility criteria, you can now complete up to 100% of your program online and count the online study time from March 2020 to August 31, 2022 towards PGWP.

Please check with your department/faculty if online options are available.

If you take the online options and you can’t travel because you are still waiting for approval of your study permit or TRV/eTA, please note 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 (SIN) without a valid study permit, and without a valid SIN the university cannot employ you.

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

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 travel and contact information, proof of vaccination (and quarantine plan, if applicable) 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 travel to Canada.

Visit our Immigration and Travel Information page for a full list what you need to bring to the airport.

Housing

Where can I find more information about COVID-19 safety measures and requirements for living in residence?

For up-to-date information on requirements for residences, please visit the Housing website.

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 Housing website.

Classes, Exams and Campus

Will Western continue in-person learning for Fall 2022?

We look forward to continuing in-person learning in Fall 2022. We recognize that selected international students may still be experiences challenges in travelling from abroad.

If you are arriving past the start of the fall term or are continuing to experience challenges in securing study permits or travel arrangements, please contact your faculty's academic counselling office AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Accommodations for late arrival vary by program and individual circumstances and may not be possible in all cases. 

Western remains committed to supporting international students as you navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Please know that our International Student Advisors are available to provide guidance and help along the way. Please contact iesc@uwo.ca or call +1-519-661-2111 ext. 89309 for assistance. 

Can I come to campus within 14 days of arriving in Canada if I am fully vaccinated and exempt from quarantine?

If you are fully vaccinated and meet the conditions for quarantine exemption upon entry to Canada, you may come to campus within the 14-day period following arrival, provided that:

  • you wear a mask (at all times, indoor or outdoor)
  • maintain names and contact information for close contacts
  • record the locations you visit

Please complete the daily COVID-19 Symptom Screening questionnaire (sent to your Western email address).

International & Exchange Student Centre (IESC) Events & Support

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

Our IESC staff and volunteers will offer a mix of in-erson and virtual programming and events throughout the year. Please visit the website for more details.

Where can I find out about IESC events?

IESC has a range of in-person virtual programming and opportunities for you to connect with other students and with our team. You can also view our events calendar and follow us on social media to stay up to date.

Graduate Students

Where can I find resources for graduate students?

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can find information and resources on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies 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) maintains this web page on fees and funding. 

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.