On this page:
- New undergraduate students:
- Visit our Undergraduate Programs website for information about the impact of COVID-19 on your application, offer of admission, residence, English language scores, and more.
- Once you accept your Offer of Admission, you’ll receive lots of information over the summer through our Waterloo Ready transition program.
- New graduate students:
- Visit our Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs site for detailed information about fall 2021.
Can I sign up for a campus tour?
Campus, residence, school, University College and faculty tours operated through the Visitors Centre are currently suspended.
Future undergraduate students: Please check our future student website for updates about when our tours will resume. In the meantime, you can view our video campus tour. Questions? Please contact our Visitors Centre.
Should I apply for residence for Fall Term?
Campus Housing will be open to students for the fall term. Whether your classes are online or in-person, students are welcome to live with us. Learn about the many ways we’re keeping students safe in residence.
Will there be an orientation?
We are excited to welcome you to Waterloo! At this time, there is no decision for in-person components of fall 2021 Orientation. The students and staff involved in planning Orientation are considering a variety of options. More information will be available later this spring. In the meantime, check out Waterloo Ready - an opportunity to get to know other students, learn about what to expect, and find out everything you need to know to prepare for your first year as a Waterloo Warrior!
What supports are there to help new students?
New undergraduate students
Waterloo Ready will help guide you through every step over the next few months and into your first year as a Waterloo Warrior. It’s an online initiative to help you to make personal connections with other students, get insider tips, and learn about how to successfully navigate your first year. Starting in June, you’ll receive information from our team about Waterloo Ready.
New graduate students
Waterloo Grad Ready program is designed especially for master’s and doctoral students. The program will connect you to other graduate students, support you along your academic journey to Waterloo and make sure you’re keeping up to date with important deadlines. You will receive more information about Waterloo Grad Ready in your inbox.
- Learn more about our vaccination requirement for residences
- Visit our testing, rapid screening and vaccination page to learn more about available services
Will the University help members returning for in-class teaching to be get vaccinated before September?
A vaccine centre is now available on campus at Health Services for all employees, students, and their families (more information below).
Will you offer a vaccination clinic on campus?
A vaccine centre is now open at Health Services and available to all students, employees, and family members of students and employees. You must be COVID-19 symptom free and have completed the daily campus check in to attend a clinic to be vaccinated. Students, employees, and family members of students and employees are eligible to receive this vaccine. We will be running clinics 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day Monday to Friday (closed for statutory holidays).
Learn more by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Centre webpage.
What vaccine are you offering at the on-campus vaccine centre?
The vaccine centre offers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna is a mRNA vaccine that requires two doses 28 days apart.
Will vaccines be required for the broader campus community?
Waterloo is strongly encouraging everyone arriving on campus this fall to be vaccinated. Currently, vaccines are only required for students (including live-in student staff) who are living on campus. We will continue to make decisions in accordance with the most up-to-date information and recommendations from public health, and in the interest of the well-being of our campus community.
Will the University of Waterloo require proof of vaccination for campus access?
We strongly encourage all students and members of the Waterloo community to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible; however currently vaccination is not mandatory for accessing the University of Waterloo campus. Any further decisions on vaccine requirements will be made in compliance with recommendations and guidelines from the province and Region of Waterloo Public Health officials.
Why are mandatory vaccines only required for students in residence? Why aren’t vaccines mandatory for everyone on campus?
People who live in congregate living spaces face unique risks for transmission of COVID-19. This requires special precautions, such as mandatory vaccines. For all other members of our campus community, we strongly encourage you to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. COVID-19 vaccines are the most important tool for protecting our communities and ending the pandemic.
How do I book a vaccine appointment in Waterloo?
The vaccine centre is open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday to Friday (closed for statutory holidays). You must have an appointment, be COVID-19 symptom free, and have completed the daily campus check-in in order to access the centre.
Learn more and book an appointment by visiting the COVID-19 vaccine centre webpage.
- New students and parents:
- Please monitor Campus Housing's fall 2021 information page for the latest information on residence plans for the coming term.
Are campus facilities and residences open?
All residences will be open in the fall term. Students will have access to residence life programming, academic support, and food services.
Are vaccinations mandatory in residence?
The university will require all first year, upper year, graduate and student staff living in residence to have received at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to arrival in September.
Students moving into residence need to have received their first dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine, or a WHO approved vaccine, and submit vaccination documents before the move-in period. Students must also get a second dose of an approved vaccine within the recommended interval according to public health officials in Ontario and submit proof of a second dose by November 1, 2021.
Appointments can be made through the on-campus vaccine centre.
Will residences turn students away if they cannot show proof of vaccination upon arrival?
We appreciate that you may be willing to be vaccinated but have had difficulty accessing vaccination. Contact the on-campus vaccine centre to book an appointment. Vaccines are also readily available in the community. Please visit COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in Waterloo Region – Region of Waterloo for more information. For students who are unable to access a vaccine prior to move-in, interim arrangements can be made until you are able to receive your first dose and submit proof.
Do I need to wear a mask or face-covering when I am on campus?
What should we do if students or employees remove their masks during classes or common areas?
Face coverings will continue to be mandatory in all common areas, classrooms, laboratories, and in work areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, students will not be permitted in the class without a face covering that is properly worn. Ultimately, instructors can suspend a class if they choose and to follow up with normal non-academic discipline procedures.
There may be reasons why an individual is not able to wear a mask, and accommodations are managed by the Accessibility Office for students and Occupational Health for employees. Accommodations must be arranged prior to attending an in-person class or returning to work on campus. In all cases if you have concerns, we ask you to discuss the issue with your supervisor.
Which buildings have upgraded HVAC systems?
We have 63 major buildings with 398 HVAC units supporting a wide variety of research, teaching and student activities. In July, we accelerated the retrofit of our mechanical infrastructure. The process prioritized teaching spaces (large number of people in a room for significant period of time), study spaces, and dry research laboratories (including computer laboratories).
Plant Operations staff have been inspecting our HVAC units and in response to latest ASHRAE recommendations retrofitted building filtration systems with more efficient filtration products. All major buildings have been fitted with MERV13 filters (some with additional pre-filters) ensuring the high level of cleanliness of indoor air.
Residence buildings that are currently occupied are equipped with operatable windows and BAS had been programmed to provide 100% fresh air.
What are the best surface disinfectants?
A list of approved disinfectants can be found on the Government of Canada website. Contact time for most alcohol-based products is 2 minutes. Instructions for commonly used disinfectants can be found in the COVID-19 health and safety guide.
Additional resources, including disinfection kits can be found on the Plant Operations website.
Will be there regular disinfection of elevators, door handles, kitchenette surfaces and waste disposal in buildings?
Is the guideline "At minimum most surfaces should be disinfected twice per day" required if a room is only used by a single person? (e.g. only one student in a lab, no other students using the lab)
Yes. All cleaning protocols should be in place and followed.
What is a reasonable tolerance for the 12.5m2 / person rule?
12.5m2 is a 4m diameter circle around the center of an individual. This measurement allows a simple calculation for physical distancing that accounts for furniture, equipment and movement. Movement is an important consideration because lab work generally is not static or stationary – there is almost always some degree of movement about the lab. Any increase in occupancy above this limit will need to be discussed and approved with the Safety Office.
Floor plans for University of Waterloo buildings are available. Username and password login required.
I have 2 staff that live together. Do they need to physical distance at work?
While we understand that some personnel may be in mutual social bubbles due to marriage or living situations, we ask that physical distancing be maintained at work.
Where can I find support for my mental health and well-being?
Campus Wellness (Counselling Services and Health Services) continues to support our students. Processes and services are being updated regularly in response to the ever changing COVID-19 situation. Please visit the Councelling Services website for the latest information.
To book an appointment with Counselling Services, call 519-888-4567 ext. 32655.
To book and appointment with Health Services, call 519-888-4096.
The University of Waterloo’s Employee & Family Assistance Programprovider, Homewood Health, is one of the organizations participating in the Government of Canada’s Wellness Together Canada programthat will provide mental health and substance abuse support to all Canadians experiencing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative is funded by Health Canada and provides an online portal that allows Canadians to access self-assessments, self-directed mental health tools, peer support, and live counselling by various online means.
For those employees eligible for the Employee & Family Assistance Program, remember that support is available on the Homeweb website or by calling 1-800-663-1142. You can find out more about the Employee & Family Assistance Program online.
If I am concerned that I may have symptoms of COVID-19, who should I contact?
What is included in the COVID-Kit supplied by the university?
Disinfecting kits include sanitizing hand rubs to be used in office reception areas and kitchenettes, disinfecting sprays, dry/plain disposable cloths, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) appropriate for the products supplied. Disinfecting kits and other resources can be found on the Plant Operations website.
When are face coverings or masks required?
Face coverings are required in workplaces, University buildings and student residences, with some exceptions. Exemptions can be provided for persons who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability. These exemptions are required to be approved via an employee or student accommodation process.
Face masks/respirators with exhaust valves, or mouth shields are not suitable face coverings. Appropriate face masks can be obtained from Central Stores.
Further information can be found on our face covering requirement page.
Do I have to wear a mask outside while on campus?
While face coverings are required in indoor common spaces, we strongly suggest wearing one outdoors if physical distancing is a challenge.
When is it okay to take off my mask?
In work settings and research labs where physical distancing can be maintained, your manager or supervisor will provide guidance on whether or not masks are required.
Do I need to disclose the medical condition I have that prevents me from wearing a mask?
Will the leaders who are deciding which departments/roles will be required to return to campus be given the flexibility to determine how to scale up in person operations? How will these decisions be made, and will students, staff, and other stakeholders have the opportunity to have their voices heard before they are finalized?
In short, yes. Individual leaders are working to plan for return to work bases on the needs of their own units, recognizing we have a very diverse set of responsibilities and people across the University.
We have established a Workforce Planning Task Force that includes stakeholders from across campus to provide input into our planning activities. The focus on employee returns in September will be those who directly support teaching, learning and student support, research and operations. Leaders will continue to make decisions based on the best available scientific information and guidance from Public Health officials and will have the flexibility to respond to both the needs of the campus community and the demands of pandemic restrictions and regulations.
There was mention of classroom capacity being 50% - has public health recommended this? Will employee areas (i.e. research labs, office spaces) also be at 50% capacity? And If so, what would implementation of that look like?
In-person classes will be limited to an occupancy of 50% which the local public health unit is aware of. This limit will enable continued physical distancing and along with continued mask wearing, ensure the safety of those who are attending in person classes.
Current safety plans for research spaces on campus indicate that capacity will be determined by the number of people who can be in the space while still maintaining the recommended 2m of physical distancing. Therefore, each research space will be unique in its capacity limit. The same is true for office spaces on campus.
What types of roles will be prioritized for the staged return to campus in the fall? Can you estimate when other types of roles might be expected to return to campus, and comment on whether or not the University will offer flexible options for those whose roles don’t require an on-campus presence?
Decisions about returning to campus will begin with determining which roles are most needed to support the increased activity on campus for the Fall term. Once we have stabilized the transition back to campus for the Fall term, department heads will start to plan for the future of work with their teams to establish what work and the workplace looks like for their unit on a go forward basis.
The current work from home policy allows for a maximum of 2 days a week. Will you consider increasing the allowable days to give managers more flexibility with their staff? Are you working on new policies related to working from home?
We remain focussed on ensuring in-person activities transitioned back to campus are supported while ensuring Public Health guidelines are followed. You can let your supervisor know what your preference is so that they can take that into consideration when developing their department plans.
Will faculty be allowed to choose to continue to teach remotely, and if so, what kind of technical/development support will be available for that?
Faculty should consult with their Deans regarding specific accommodations that they would like to request regarding remote or in person teaching duties. The Centre for Teaching Excellnce has developed many resources to support the delivery of virtual learning. In addition, there are many different workshops and virtual supports offered through CTE for instructors.
Who should instructors speak to for guidance on generating safety protocols for in person, project based, hands-on courses?
Instructors can contact the Safety Office for assistance with developing safety plans for in person courses.
Will the university be providing official safety guidelines for Fall 2021 in-person teaching, and where can these be found? For example, am I supposed to teach with my mask on?
The COVID-19 Information website continues to be updated regularly with new guidance as it becomes available and we encourage everyone to check in there regularly. Our teams are working with stakeholders across the University to refresh that site and create new resources to help the community understand how to work safely. We expect to complete major updates by mid-July.
For the foreseeable future, masks will remain a requirement for those of us working and studying on campus, both indoors and outdoors where physical distancing is impossible. We will follow all current local government and public health laws and guidelines as we begin our safe and staged return to campus activity.
Are Food Service locations open?
Our residences will be open to students and include residence life programming, academic support, and food services. Incoming first-year students who submit their Residence Community Ranking Form and $500 non-refundable deposit by June 1 will be a part of the 100% Residence Guarantee. Visit Campus Housing website for more information.
How will you decide which employees can work from home and which will need to come to work?
Unit heads and departments are working on plans for roles that may need to transition back to on campus operations. We are working on a measured plan for a phased return to campus operations that will follow the advice and guidance of public health authorities.
Will students be permitted exceptions to academic deadlines if they experience symptoms of their vaccines during the term?
We are committed to assisting students who are ill and we have an established fair and practical approach to manage these instances. Students with side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine can use the Declaration of Absence form in Quest and make arrangements with their instructor.
Beyond student life engagement opportunities, such as virtual events and programming, how is the university preparing for second-year students in the fall (those who started in fall 2020 and have not experienced in-person classes)? Are there special accommodations being made for these students when it comes to managing their academic success?
Waterloo is eager to welcome second-year students to campus this fall, especially those who haven't had a chance to participate in academic programming in person yet. Supports for these students can eb found in many different places across campus: the Student Success Office, through Campus Housing and also through WUSA’s many different clubs.
Will Fall 2021 classes be held in-person on online?
Faculties have planned to deliver much more in-person learning than we have done at any point in the pandemic to date. You can find information on each faculty's plan for undergraduate courses on the Undergraduate Studies page.
More details on graduate courses will be available within the coming weeks, and subsequent communication will be sent to all graduate students – both current and incoming.
What’s happening with co-op in light of COVID-19?
We know that the current economic climate has presented unique challenges for both students and employers. To address that, we’ve developed flexible pathways to help you complete your work terms in light of COVID-19.
- Pease visit the webpages below on the co-op website for more details about how the co-op process and requirements have been altered to make it easier for you to find work and maintain your credits during the pandemic:
If you have questions about your specific situation, please reach out to your co-op advisor.
Despite the pandemic, more than 21,000 students have secured co-op work terms over the past year (fall 2020, winter 2021 and spring 2021).
Strong relationships with our global network of 7,100 employers and alumni have helped us to find more opportunities in organizations that already hire students as well as with new employers.
Since the Sspring 2020 term, the University has also hired 1,100 additional co-op students in newly created online learning assistant roles to help launch and teach online courses.
Please visit the COVID-19 work term updates due to COVID-19 webpage on the Hire Waterloo website for more details about how the co-op process and requirements have been altered to help make it easier for you to hire top talent from Waterloo.
If you have questions about your specific situation, please reach out to your account manager.
Is the Fall 2021 exchange term cancelled?
Outbound exchange (UWaterloo Students travelling to a host school):
Outbound student exchanges for fall 2021 have been cancelled. Students will be given refunds for their exchange application fee. The University has made the decision not to permit University of Waterloo students to do a virtual or online exchange term at a partner university. Affected students have been notified.
Inbound exchange (Students from exchange partner schools attending UWaterloo):
Inbound student exchanges for fall 2021 have not been cancelled. Students could complete their term from outside of Canada, or if travel restrictions allow, travel to the University of Waterloo to complete their exchange term.
Students are encouraged to check the Government of Canada travel restrictions before planning their trip.
Will academic milestones for graduate students (e.g. comprehensive exams and defenses) be impacted?
Planned research milestones for graduate students such as comprehensive exams and PhD defences may continue as planned. Students should contact their supervisor or associate dean, graduate studies to discuss any changes.
Can you ensure that students can access online materials regardless of what country they are in?
Waterloo has been teaching students online in all parts of the world for more than 20 years. We are working to continuously improve students’ access to online materials. We recently launched new VPN to improve access to Waterloo learning technologies from China. Please read our announcement for details and instructions on how to access the VPN.
How will TA on-boarding and TA training be modified to for the upcoming fall term?
The University has designed and implemented an onboarding program for our graduate students that is available to both students studying locally and remotely. In addition to the University’s orientation, each Faculty engages in specific activities that include helping students prepare for being a TA. If, after those programs, a student wishes to receive additional support in their preparation for a TA appointment, they should talk with their supervisor or program director.
Will additional health and safety training be provided to TAs who are assigned to in-person courses?
The University’s return to campus planning has a series of required training modules that help all members of the University community be well prepared to protect their own and others’ safety. Specifically for in person courses, the University is taking all necessary precautions to deliver in person courses safely, including maintaining occupancy levels and encouraging behaviors that are compliant with public health guidelines. Instructors regularly engage in training to ensure TAs are well prepared to conduct course activities (e.g., lab experiments or field work) safely.
What about PPE, will TAs have access to required PPE from the University or will they need to provide their own?
The University has sufficient PPE such that in the rare cases this equipment may be necessary, it will be provided to our TAs.
Will I still pay the same tuition?
Yes. We have offered online courses for many years at the same tuition fees (corresponding to the student’s program) as in-person courses. The high-quality online courses our instructors develop have always been recognized by the University and our students as equivalent to our on-campus offerings and are popular with many students because of the flexibility they afford.
Transitioning to online delivery does not change the effort we will invest to ensure academic integrity and quality for our students. Learn more about student funding and fees.
What reductions will there be to incidental fees?
Leaders from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) and the Graduate Students Association (GSA) and the University have reviewed and approved the incidental fees to charge each term. Review a full list of current incidental fees.
Are there cost savings the University can pass on to students as a result of moving classes online?
The University is not forecasting any cost savings, due to continuing and new investments. We will continue to expend resources in all our largest categories of operating expenses to support a quality student experience. This includes salaries, maintaining the University’s physical and online infrastructure and systems, and providing student academic, wellness and financial support. In some areas new and additional investments have been made such as in IT systems infrastructure to deliver courses online and provide student support.
Why can’t international students pay the same as domestic students?
Our tuition levels are in line with similarly ranked institutions and reflect the value of a University of Waterloo degree to our graduates. As a publicly funded institution, domestic students do have a substantial portion of their tuition subsidized by the government who provides University funding for each Canadian student enrolled. That funding does not extend to international students.
When do I have to decide and pay for the Fall 2021 semester?
Fall term tuition fees are due on August 24. You can receive a 100 per cent refund on your tuition, if you choose to withdraw, up until September 28, 2021. View a full listing of important financial dates for the 2021-22 academic year.
I am entering my fourth year and have required lab courses to take this year. Am I still on track to graduate on time?
Protecting the health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority. We are establishing a safe and efficient plan for a return to on-campus research and we will share more as these plans evolve over the next few weeks.
As the University plans for the coming academic year, allowing students to progress through their programs while still achieving the appropriate learning is another top priority. We do not have final details yet but will share more information when we have it.
Your faculty website will offer a variety of supports available to you as a student regardless of where you are studying. Check your faculty’s website for more information and updates to services.
The International Student Guide shares relevant information for international students in regards to: academic supports, getting involved, and health and wellness.
The International Peer Community supports undergraduate and graduate students in adjusting to life at UWaterloo. The program has moved online and you can now register for the fall term.
For undergraduate students looking to connect with clubs and societies, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) is offering many of its clubs and services online.
For graduate students looking for support, the Graduate Student Association offers supports and services online.
What will the requirements look like for international students returning to campus in the fall?
According to the Government of Canada's COVID-19 vaccine webpage, COVID-19 vaccines will be available to everyone in Canada who are recommended to get the vaccine by federal, provincial, and territorial public health bodies. International students are eligible for the same health services as Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents, including vaccinations.
Will vaccinations be made available for International students if they were not eligible to receive them in their home countries?
We are optimistic we will open a vaccination centre on campus for student who require it. This includes international students who are are eligible for the same health services as Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents.
While you are in quarantine there are many supports available to you:
Talk to someone
- Receive calls from Health Services to help you monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. If you feel unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms, reach out to Health Services (519-888-4096) or the local health authorities (1-866-797-0000 in Ontario).
- Reach out to Counselling Services if you require mental health resources or need someone to talk to. Their services are open, and appointments are conducted by phone.
- Attend the Quarantine Warriors' Support Group. Chat with other Warriors, take a deep breath with yoga, play games, win prizes and book a 1-1 appointment with a peer to stay connected to Waterloo during your quarantine. You're welcome to attend any or all sessions. Event times vary and will be scheduled each week on a rotational basis.
- Join the International Peer Community to connect with other Waterloo students.
- Get technical support with using UWaterloo systems by contacting Information Systems & Technology.
- Reach out to the International Student Experience team if you have questions about supports or activities whilst in quarantine.
Visit the quarantine resources webpage for information and to learn about the specific requirements you need to follow.
Due to current travel restrictions, applying at a land border (i.e. flagpoling) is not an option. If you were considering flagpoling due to a delay in application processing times or an urgent application, we would recommend connecting with an immigration consultant to discuss your current options.
Special note regarding flights from India:
The Government of Canada has suspended fights from India until July 21, 2021. These restrictions are subject to change at any time with little warning. Read the India travel advisory page for more details.
Current travel restrictions
On October 20, the Government of Canada announced that international students can only enter Canada if they meet the below 2 requirements:
- You must have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit.
- You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory.
The University of Waterloo is now on the Government of Canada’s list of designated learning institutions (DLIs) with approved COVID-19 readiness plans. As outlined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), to enter Canada you must also have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit. Please note: an approval in principle (AIP) is not a final approval.
Important steps to take before entering Canada
Step 1: You should prepare the following documents, in addition to the documents you’d normally carry with you, when entering Canada for the first time:
- Offer letter/letter of acceptance, if entering Canada for the first time
- Proof of enrolment from The Centre
- Proof of co-op job, if entering for a co-op work term
- Proof of finances (i.e. bank statements, Quest tuition receipt, proof of funding)
- Valid immigration medical examination results if coming from a designated country or territory
- New students: If the exam you completed for your study permit application has expired or will be expiring before you enter Canada, you must complete another medical exam with an IRCC Panel Physician before arriving in Canada.
- Returning students: If you’ve been outside of Canada for more than six months and you’re living in a designated country or territory, you must complete a medical exam with an IRCC Panel Physician before returning to Canada.
- Quarantine plan
- NEW! You are still required to submit a quarantine plan in ArriveCAN and Portal, as well as meet the entry requirements under the current travel restriction policies. The final determination of your quarantine exemption is made by a government representative at the border.
- Proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Note: We would not recommend entering Canada any sooner than one month prior to beginning your studies or co-op work term.
Step 2: Complete the mandatory International Student Travel Plans and Quarantine form.
Step 3: Carefully review the travel and quarantine information on the International Student Guide, which includes information about the mandatory ArriveCan app that you’ll need to use before entering Canada.
Please email the International Student Experience team (email@example.com) if you have questions about quarantining or the International Student Travel Plans and Quarantine Form. For inquiries about immigration documents and travel restrictions, connect with an immigration consultant.
All in-Canada biometrics collection points at Service Canada are currently closed due to COVID-19. IRCC announced biometrics exemptions on July 16, 2020. This is a temporary measure and applies to all new applicants, as well as applications already in progress.
You’re exempt if you’re applying, or have applied, from within Canada:
- 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
- for a temporary resident permit
If you paid the fee:
- IRCC will automatically refund the fee once they finalize your application
- The online application system will automatically send you a biometric instruction letter (BIL) telling you how to give your biometrics. You do not need to give biometrics, and you can ignore this letter.
You may be required to provide biometrics as a part of your application.
If you’re not sure if you’ve done biometrics before, use IRCC’s tool to check the status of your biometrics. Due to COVID-19, the biometrics deadline has automatically been extended from 30 to 90 days, but you will not be penalized if you cannot complete the biometrics within the 90-day window.
No application will be refused due to one’s inability to complete biometrics, however you must book an appointment as soon as you’re able. Keep an eye on your nearest visa application centre (VAC) or US Application Support Centre (ASC) for availability.
If the 90-day deadline is approaching and you're unable to complete your biometrics, please notify IRCC via the webform.
Based on current Government of Canada policies, if you are travelling to Canada from an international location, you need to quarantine and you must have a quarantine plan to isolate for a minimum of 14 days when you arrive in Canada. It is mandatory to isolate, even if you have no symptoms or have taken a COVID-19 vaccine.
Students who must travel to Canada but plan to quarantine outside of Ontario are asked to follow federal and provincial or territorial guidelines. In the event of conflicting requirements between federal regulations to enter Canada, and provincial or territorial regulations, you must comply with the most stringent regulations.
Before you leave your home country, you must review and execute the actions listed on Waterloo’s COVID-19 travel and quarantine checklist. Attend a pre-departure drop-in session on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. or Thursdays at 9 a.m. EST to get an overview of the travelling process and get answers to your travel related questions.
Once in Canada, visit the quarantine resources webpage for supports and to learn about the specific requirements you need to follow.
The penalties for not complying with the quarantine requirements are severe and should be taken very seriously.
Did you know?
To assist with the mandatory quarantine transition period for international travellers, the University of Waterloo is offering an optional subsidized package. The Waterloo Student Quarantine Package is available for one-time use to eligible UWaterloo students.
Once you have created and confirmed your travel and quarantine plan, you are required to submit your plan in the International Student Travel Plans and Quarantine Form. If you previously submitted a form, please ensure the information you provided us is up to date.
I’m receiving calls and emails from the University of Waterloo about a wellness check-in. Are they a scam?
Each day of your quarantine, the University will email you a short wellness check-in questionnaire and they may follow up with a phone call. These forms of communication are not a scam. It’s mandatory that you complete the check-in each day.
Please note, if we're unable to reach you, there is an escalation process which could result in you being reported to the Region of Waterloo Public Health.
As well, a representative of the Government of Canada will call you to monitor compliance with your mandatory quarantine or isolation. We ask that you please answer calls from 1-888-336-7735.
With that said, there are ongoing scams targeting international students and you should remain diligent. You should know:
The University of Waterloo and the Government of Canada will not ask you to provide your financial details or your Social Insurance Number.
Never provide personal information through email.
Learn how to protect yourself against scams by visiting the CRA website. Information Systems & Technology has resources available to help you learn how to spot fraudulent emails and other phishing tactics:
Contact University of Waterloo Police Services or your local police service immediately if you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or have been tricked into giving personal or financial information.
To assist with the mandatory quarantine transition period for international travellers, the University of Waterloo is offering an optional subsidized package for students enrolled in the fall 2020 and/or winter 2021 terms. The Waterloo Student Quarantine Packageis available for one-time use.
Once your travel plans are confirmed, and you have confirmed your quarantine plan, we ask that you submit your quarantine plan details by filling out the International Student Travel Plans and Quarantine Form. If you previously submitted a form, please ensure the information you provided us is up to date.
UHIP has minimal coverage for emergency out of country medical treatment; we recommended that you purchase travel insurance for the duration of your stay in another country. Your Studentcare Health & Dental Plan has travel insurance coverage, check your eligibility, limitations and if additional coverage is required.
We encourage all students to consider avoiding travelling at this point in time.
If you choose to travel outside of Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, please be aware that travel restrictions could change at any time, resulting in more stringent restrictions for international students.
Requirements for studying online and outside of Canada
A study permit is not required to study online from outside of Canada, however it is strongly recommended that you apply for one as soon as possible.
Things to consider:
- 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 your studies.
- Submitting your study permit application before beginning your studies is important if you want to count this time spent studying towards your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility.
- There’s no guarantee your current application will be approved, even if you’ve received a stage 1 approval (AIP).
Please note that information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada continues to change. It's recommended that you always contact the University of Waterloo’s Immigration Consulting team if you have any questions you would like to discuss.
If you have a stage 1 approval or Approval in Principle (AIP)
As a temporary measure during COVID-19 for those unable to submit a complete application, IRCC announced on July 14 that the study permit approval process would happen in two stages: eligibility and admissibility. This 2-stage process only applied to study permit applications that were submitted by September 15, 2020, and for programs that started in spring or fall 2020.
Stage 1: Eligibility review
During stage 1, an IRCC officer reviews your application for basic eligibility (i.e. having an acceptance, proof you have funds available to study, etc.). If your application passes this first stage, IRCC lets you know in your online account. Having a stage 1 approval/AIP does not guarantee that IRCC will approve your application and issue you a study permit.
Stage 2: Admissibility review and changes to eligibility review
In this stage, an officer reviews your application for admissibility and further eligibility (i.e. a medical exam, police certificates, biometrics, changes in information, etc.). If your application passes this second stage, IRCC will approve it. Once you have the stage 2 approval, you will be able to come to Canada (pending travel restrictions).
Please note that information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada continues to change. It's recommended that you always contact the University of Waterloo’s Immigration Consulting team if you have any questions you would like to discuss.
On April 27, 2021, IRCC updated their study permit application processing timelines for students who are applying for a study permit from outside of Canada to begin studying for the upcoming fall 2021 term.
IRCC has confirmed that if they receive your complete study permit application by May 15, 2021, that you will receive a decision by August 6, 2021, in time to enter Canada for your fall 2021 term. To take advantage of these processing times, it’s very important that your application is complete when submitted.
IRCC may not be able to process your application by August 6, 2021 if you’re unable to submit a complete application because of COVID-19 restrictions, such as biometrics or a medical exam.
If you submit a complete application after May 15, 2021, IRCC is committed to processing it as quickly as possible, but it’s possible that you may not get a final decision before fall term begins.
For questions about your fall term program options (e.g., in-person, remote, etc.), please connect with your faculty directly.
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be able to stay in Canada. We’ve outlined those circumstances below:
Studying online: If you’re continuing to pursue your studies online over the spring or fall term, you can remain in Canada so long as your study permit remains valid. If an extension of your study permit is necessary to finish up your studies, we recommend that you begin the extension application process six months prior to your current study permit expiring. Your study permit should be valid for an additional three months after you complete your program. For example, if you finish your program at the end of spring term in August, then you should extend your study permit until the end of November. This gives you the time necessary to gather your documents and apply for your post-grad work permit (PGWP).
Finished program and beginning another program (one term off in between): If you finish your first program (e.g. undergraduate degree) and are planning to begin a second program (e.g. masters degree) one term later, you’re welcome to remain in Canada during that gap term. Ensure your study permit remains valid and is extended when necessary.
If you’re interested in working during the gap term, you may do so, if:
you have a valid study permit with proper working authorizations; and
proof of completion from your first program; and
offer/letter of acceptance for your second program.
If you require two terms off in between finishing your first program and beginning your second program, you’ll need to change your status to a visitor within 150 days of completing your first program or leave Canada. Please connect with a University of Waterloo immigration consultant for support with this process.
Finished program and applying for PGWP: If you’ve finished your studies and intend to work in Canada, you’ll need to apply for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to stay in Canada. There are important timelines you should be aware of, such as applying within 90 days of completing your program and while holding a valid study permit, if you want to begin working right away. See the FAQs about applying for the PGWP.
Taking more than one term off in a row: If you end up having to take a non-scheduled break for two consecutive terms and you plan to remain in Canada during this time, you’ll need to apply to change your status to a visitor to remain in Canada legally. Remember to include an explanation letter with your future IRCC applications to outline why you were off during these terms.
For support with any of the above-mentioned applications, or if your situation is not addressed, please connect with the University of Waterloo’s Immigration Consulting team.
Depending on your situation, your family members may be able to join you in Canada.
Please note that information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada continues to change. It's recommended that you always contact the University of Waterloo’s Immigration Consulting team if you have any questions you would like to discuss.
Having parents or family members accompany you to Canada to help you settle as a student
A parent or family member does not need written authorization from IRCC to travel with you to Canada if they have an essential (non-discretionary) reason for their travels.
Essential reasons for travel are either:
- You’re a minor child (17 or under in Ontario) and you need a family member to
- travel with you
- help you meet your guardian in Canada, and
- get set up in your new home
- You aren’t a minor child, but you have supporting documents that prove you need a family member with you to get settled. For example, you have a physical or mental condition and you need help getting settled. In this case, you’d submit a medical note as proof.
In addition, the parent or family member must also hold a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA), depending on their citizenship.
Unless the parent or family member meets the above criteria, we would not recommend they accompany you to Canada at this time, unless holding written authorization.
Having your spouse, common-law partner, and/or dependent children join you in Canada while you study
It may be possible for your dependents to join you in Canada. If you plan to come to Canada together, it’s recommended that you submit all your IRCC applications together when you apply online.
For dependents entering with student or worker status, they must:
- Have a study or work permit, or a letter of introduction showing they’ve been approved for a study or work permit, and
- meet all other requirements to enter Canada as a studentor worker.
For dependents entering with visitor status, they must:
- Hold a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA), depending on their citizenship, and
- meet all other requirements to enter Canada as a visitor.
- If they’re travelling from the U.S., your dependent may be able to enter Canada if they can provide proof that they’re entering for an essential purpose.
- If they’re not travelling from the U.S., written authorization will be required. Learn how to apply for written authorization.
If you have questions about working in Canada, please connect with a University of Waterloo immigration consultant or review our working in Canada webpages for undergraduate students and graduate (masters or PhD) students.
Working in Canada during COVID-19
To work in Canada as an international student, a valid study permit with the proper working conditions is required.
Spring 2020 term: IRCC confirmed that you could continue to work during spring term, even if COVID-19 had forced you to become a part-time student or take a break in studies.
Fall 2020 term and beyond: Regular working in Canada policies now apply. To work in Canada, you must be registered as a full-time student (note: part-time enrolment is acceptable in your final term only) or on a scheduled break.
Working when your job is considered an essential service or function
Note: This policy ended as of August 31, 2020.
As an international student working in essential services, you were temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours if you were a full-time student for spring term and
- a study permit holder in an academic session
- eligible to work off-campus, and
- providing an essential service
Both you and your employer should have consulted Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Outbreak to determine if the work you were doing would allow you to work more than 20 hours per week during the academic session.
This temporary rule change was in place until August 31, 2020.
Important: If you were working in a health care setting (e.g. hospital, clinical lab, nursing home), with the elderly, or with children, you must have ensured that you completed a medical examination with an IRCC Panel Physician.
There will likely be a delay in processing times due to COVID-19. We would suggest planning ahead whenever possible and applying as soon as possible for your upcoming IRCC applications. The sooner you submit your application, the sooner it will begin processing. You can check the estimated processing times, but bear in mind these will not be accurate during COVID-19 interruptions.
Study permit/co-op work permit extension applications: As long as you apply for your study permit and/or co-op work permit extensions before your current permits expire, you have maintained status. Maintained status allows you to remain in Canada and continue studying and/or working.
NOTE: If you leave Canada while your application is being processed, you will lose your maintained status and must then ensure that you have a valid permit and visa (TRV) or eTA (electronic travel authorization) before re-entering Canada.
Initial co-op work permit applications: If you are waiting on your first co-op work permit application, you cannot begin your co-op work term in Canada until you receive the approval of your co-op work permit. A co-op work permit is required for all co-op work terms completed in Canada, however if you have a co-op work term coming up but your work permit is still processing, IRCC has made special provisions so that you might be able to start working.
Post-grad work permits: As long as you applied for your PGWP while holding a valid study permit, and within 90 days of completing your program, it’s completely fine to remain in Canada and begin working full-time while they process your application.
Please note, to begin working immediately after submitting your PGWP application, you must:
- apply within 90 days of completing your program; and
- with a valid study permit that has full working authorizations; and
- not have worked without authorization during your period of studies.
You have until August 31, 2021, to apply to restore your status (student, visitor, or worker) if:
- Your status expired after January 30, 2020, and
- You’re still in Canada
This new public policy applies even if it’s been more than 90 days since your status expired.
Important: If your study permit expires and you have to apply for a restoration of your study permit, you cannot study while waiting for the decision to be processed. You must wait for the approval to resume your studies in Canada.
I’m inside Canada and have a co-op work term coming up. What can I do if my co-op work permit is still processing?
As a special provision during COVID-19, you can begin your co-op work term in Canada using your study permit work authorizations. You would be limited to working 20 hours/week if your employer is off-campus, however you could work unrestricted hours/week on-campus if your employer is on-campus. You must also have the proper on and off campus working authorizations noted on your study permit to take advantage of this provision. If your co-op work permit is refused, you must stop working.
The decision to take advantage of this provision would be at the discretion of your employer.
To work in Canada, you will also require a social insurance number (SIN). Refer to the Student Success Office’s website for more details on how to apply online for a SIN during COVID-19.
If you need to update your address, you can submit a webform to IRCC to notify them of your address change. Ensure that the new address is a Canadian mailing address. It should also be secure, reliable, and somewhere you know you’ll be able to receive mail in the coming months.
Please note, if you have already received the application decision, then the permit has already been mailed out and an address change will not be possible. Please connect with an immigration consultant for support if this situation applies to you.
If you have recently received an approval of your permit(s) and had your documents mailed to TC, they will likely be arriving in the next 2-3 weeks. The International Employment Specialist is retrieving mail at a limited capacity. Mail is being retrieved intermittently and will be forwarded to you via scanned copies. Scanned copies of your permits can be used for SIN extensions, TRV (visa) renewals, and to show proof of your work authorization to an employer.
If you have an urgent reason for requiring the original documents at this point in time (e.g. you plan to travel outside of Canada), please contact the International Employment Specialist. For all other scenarios, we kindly request your patience for the safety of yourself and our staff members during this time. You will receive your permits as soon as campus services resume - not to worry.
To check your UHIP status, or for any UHIP related inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, including your full-name and student number. If you are not eligible for UHIP, you may want to look into private health insurance companies. Here are examples of a few private health insurance companies that you may want to consider (but do your research as there are others):
- Ingle International
- Cowan Insurance
- Blue Cross
If you suspect you’re ill, visit the Government of Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment website and follow the instructions.
UHIP will provide coverage for medical doctor appointments, hospital stays, diagnostic tests, etc. as it does for other illnesses. Note: The WUSA and GSA Health plans cover the costs of prescriptions.
If you’re unsure about your current UHIP coverage status, you can confirm by checking the termination date on your UHIP coverage card, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Check the UHIP FAQs about COVID-19.
The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) policies have been updated by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on February 15, 2021.
If you currently live in Canada
IRCC has confirmed that you’re still eligible for the PGWP if your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format and you are taking your classes online because of COVID-19.
To date, Waterloo has offered online courses due to COVID-19 during winter 2020, spring 2020, fall 2020, and winter 2021. Waterloo will also be offering online courses during spring 2021 due to COVID-19.
- If you had to put your studies on hold, or study part-time, because of COVID-19 during the winter or spring 2020 terms, this will not impact your eligibility for the PGWP. You should include an explanation letter with your PGWP application to outline how you were impacted by COVID-19 during this time.
- As of fall 2020, you must be studying full-time, unless on a scheduled break or in your final term, to remain eligible for the PGWP.
- Normally, only 50% of your studies can be completed via distance learning (i.e. online courses), however studies completed online and inside of Canada during COVID-19 will not be counted as “distance learning”.
If you currently live outside of Canada
If you can’t travel to Canada at this time and you’re taking your classes online, you’re still eligible for a PGWP if you meet all the standard PGWP requirements and
- you’ve been enrolled in a program that was in progress during winter 2020, or
- you’ve started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021, and
- you have a study permit, or
- you’ve been approved for a study permit, or
- you applied for a study permit before starting your study program and you eventually receive an approval.
All your time studying online outside Canada between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021, counts toward the length of a PGWP.
If you're completing two programs
If you’re completing 2 study programs, you can finish 100% of your studies online and outside of Canada if the programs were ongoing or started between March 2020 and fall 2021, and
- both study programs are from an eligible DLI and are completed within 2 years, and
- each program meets all PGWP eligibility requirements and is at least 8 months long.
Time spent studying outside Canada after December 31, 2021, won’t count towards the length of a PGWP.
I’ve completed my program and am now applying for my PGWP or I am now a PGWP holder. What should I consider during COVID-19?
Applying for a PGWP
You can apply for a PGWP from inside or outside of Canada.
Applying within Canada:
- If you’re applying from within Canada and want to begin working right away, you must apply within 90 days of completing your program and with a valid study permit.
- If you plan to apply after the initial 90 days, you’ll first need to change your status to a visitor before day 90 and then submit the PGWP application via paper before day 180. You cannot work while awaiting the PGWP decision to be made.
Applying outside of Canada:
- If you plan to apply outside of Canada, you'll have a full 180 days to apply but will not be able to re-enter Canada until receiving the approval. The sooner you apply, the sooner your application will begin processing.
- Once approved, you’ll send your passport to IRCC to have the W1 TRV issued. Upon arriving back in Canada, your PGWP will be printed at the airport.
- Calculation of the 180 days begins when your study permit expires or you met your degree requirements, whichever comes first.
- It’s acceptable to work outside of Canada for a Canadian employer without a valid work permit. This decision is at the employer’s discretion.
Important things to note:
- Proof of completing your studies will be available after your degree requirements have been met. You should be able to receive your completion documents shortly after your Quest account reflects that degree requirements have been met.
- Keep a close eye on your Quest account. Once it reflects that your degree requirements have been met, you can no longer work in Canada until after submitting the PGWP application. The onus is on you to check your Quest account and stop working after your degree requirements are met.
- The PGWP application will require a completion letter and an official transcript, both of which can be ordered online and received via e-mail from The Centre.
- More information about PGWP policies, application processes and required documents can be found on the Student Success Office’s website.
Entering Canada as a PGWP holder
While there are travel restriction exemptions in place for work permit holders, IRCC has advised:
Entering for the first time as a worker (with PGWP approval letter only)
- You can enter for the first time if you have a valid job offer/proof of employment.
- You cannot enter for the first time without proof of a job offer/employment.
Re-entering as a worker (PGWP has previously been issued)
- You can enter whether you are employed or unemployed (i.e. laid off due to COVID-19).
- You will need to provide proof that you were previously established in Canada as a worker. Time spent as a student may not be considered.
- If this situation applies to you, we suggest travelling with proof of your establishment in Canada and your previous employment.
If you’ve been approved for a work permit while outside of Canada and you’re currently unemployed, we would highly recommend delaying your entry to Canada until you have either secured employment (and have proof available) or Canadian travel restrictions are lifted.
Extending your PGWP during COVID-19
Effective January 27, 2021, foreign nationals in Canada with an expired or expiring post-graduation work permit (PGWP) will have a one-time opportunity to apply for another open work permit with a duration of 18 months. Applications will be accepted until July 27, 2021. Learn the eligibility criteria and how to apply on IRCC’s website.
Will we have an in-person convocation and orientation in the Fall?
Orientation will be held virtually – you'll still have the chance to connect with future classmates and learn about our unique Waterloo culture. Plans for fall convocation have not yet been finalized and will depend on the public health regulations closer to the typical timing of Convocation events.
What will be the university's process for approving travel by faculty/staff to destinations outside of Canada for research purposes in Fall/Winter?
Some international travel for sabbaticals or long-term research assignments may be allowed. We changed guidance on April 7, 2021 on applications for international travel for research purposes. More information is available on the Finance website.
I’ve returned from travel abroad recently, do I need to self-isolate?
- Self-isolation means to stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including others at home, for a total of 14 days from the date you left.
- Refer to Public Health instructions on how to self-isolate