COVID-19 - Frequently Asked Questions

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 14, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

Travel to Canada & Quarantine

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 mandatory quarantine registration, COVID-19 testing, required steps for travelling to Canada, and other supports and considerations in planning your arrival, including registering a mandatory Travel & Quarantine Plan prior to travelling

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

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 int the ArriveCAN app, AND register their 14-day quarantine plan with Western via the Travel & Quarantine Plan form prior to arrival in Canada.

Starting July 5, 2021 at 11:59 pm EDT, exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific conditions are in place.

You may qualify for certain exemptions to quarantine and testing requirements if you:

Those who meet the requirements may be exempt from:

  • quarantine
  • COVID-19 testing (day-1 test) upon arrival, unless randomly selected
  • day-8 testing requirement

If you do not meet the above requirements, you must follow the current testing and quarantine requirements:

Students who are not fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or fully vaccinated with a non-Health Canada-approved vaccine must complete a 14-day quarantine and complete mandatory COVID-19 testing. Quarantine exemption is determined by a border services officer upon entry to Canada.

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

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

Yes, it is mandatory that all students (international students, permanent residents and Canadian citizens) travelling to Canada from abroad register their plans with Western via the  Travel & Quarantine Plan form prior to travelling to Canada. Registration of the plan is mandatory even if you are fully vaccinated. Find all the information on what steps to take before you travel on our International Arrival website

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

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

  • Update your Travel and Quarantine Plan with Western
  • Update your Information on ArriveCAN
  • Contact the residence/hotel/other accommodations 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?

You must have a suitable quarantine plan in place where you can stay for at least 14 days. This is required even if you are seeking the fully vaccinated exemption.

Review the Quarantine Requirements webpage 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). 

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 website 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
  • proof of vacciation (if applicable)

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 won't be considered for the 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. 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?

Canadian citizens (including dual citizens), people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents of Canada, or protected persons (refugee status) are allowed to enter Canada.

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. 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

Do I still need to submit a quarantine plan even if I am fully vaccinated and will travel to Canada after July 5, 2021?

You must have a  suitable quarantine plan in place where you can stay for at least 14 days. This is required even if you are fully vaccinated and expect to meet conditions for quarantine exemption.

Final determination is made by a government representative at the border based on the information presented at the time of entry into Canada. You must therefore be prepared to quarantine for 14 days, in case you:

  • are symptomatic
  • don't meet the requirements

If you don't meet the requirements, you'll be asked to follow the instructions provided by the government representative.

If you meet all the requirements, you won't need to quarantine but you will be required to:

  • wear a mask in public for 14 days (at all times, indoors or outdoors)
  • keep a list of names and contact information of close contacts and locations visited
  • follow any other public health measures for London and Ontario

COVID-19 Testing, Vaccines & Health Care

Will I need a COVID-19 vaccine to come to campus in the fall?

Yes, Western and affiliated colleges Brescia, Huron and King’s are requiring 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 FAQ page.

I’m 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 (public health unit 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 doctor, others.

If you paid for the vaccine, you can submit a claim to Sun Life for reimbursement up to the UHIP designated amount. Contact iesc@uwo.ca with any questions.

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

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 first and second doses for students, staff and faculty and will also offer vaccines to students once they arrive from abroad and/or complete quarantine. Please see Vaccine FAQs for International Students and the Vaccine and travel information page on our International Arrival website 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?

As of May 4, 2021, all students travelling from abroad by air to Canada are required to have COVID-19 testing a total of three times (unless exempt from quarantine): 

  • 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure you will need a PCR test.
  • As of August 9, travellers who meet Government of Canada requirements for full vaccination will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 molecular test.
  • All other travellers will be required to take a test before leaving the airport. Following the arrival test, you will need to go directly to your quarantine destination.
  • At the airport, you will also be provided with a COVID-19 At Home Specimen Collection Kit to use for your test on day 8 of your mandatory quarantine.

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

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

As of May 4, all students travelling from abroad by land to Canada are required to have te sting a total of three times (unless exempt from quarantine): 

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

Do I still need a test when I'm done my 14 day quarantine if I've had one on day 8?

No, as of May 4, 2021, the Government of Ontario no longer requires testing to be done at the end of your quarantine period in addition to the testing required by the federal government. Visit our testing and health care page for more information.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Students on campus and in London  are encouraged to use Western's on-campus Vaccination and Testing Centre. See Western's COVID-19 Vaccine website for hours and location. Or book your appointment in advance.

If you are outside of London t esting is provided free of charge at Ontario assessment centres.    

For more information please review the testing and health care information page on our International Arrival 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 e mergency 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 c over 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 get refunded for quarantine accommodations if I am deemed exempt from quarantine?

Western-arranged accommodations

  • Yes, you may request a refund from conference.services@uwo.ca if you are deemed exempt from quarantine requirements when you entered Canada. Please contact Conference Services as soon as possible after you are deemed exempt.

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

Please note, as of August 9, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the three-day government-approved hotel stay is not required for travellers entering Canada. For those arriving prior to August 9, please see the Quarantine Information page to learn more about reimbursement.

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 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) 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 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

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 travel to Canada.

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

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

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

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. While we’re looking forward to welcoming as many students as we can back to campus when it’s safe, we recognize that may not be immediately possible for all our international students needing to travel here 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 may vary by program and individual circumstances and may not be possible in all cases. 

Western remains committed to supporting international students as you navigate. 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.

 

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. All persons on campus must wear a three-layer non-medical mask while indoors. Please visit Western's COVID-19 Health & Saftey page for more information on Western's mask policy. 

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.  

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 Return to Campus questionnaire, noting that you have been outside of the country in the past 14 days, and indicate your quarantine exemption status in the comment section. Then you may come to campus.

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?

IESC has a wide range of 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) 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.