For Vice-President Equity Reva, the hardest part of coming to Canada as an international student was the ride from the airport to campus. She had just got off a 17-hour flight and spent 5 hours in a line to get her study permit. Feeling tired and overwhelmed, she questioned whether she was doing the right thing for her.
“There was that fear of ‘I don’t have anyone here’. I came here alone, I didn’t have a SIM card, I didn’t have a bank account.”
Like many of her peers at an American highschool in the Middle East, Reva had always planned to attend an American or Canadian university. After applying to a few schools, she chose U of T, since the program was a good fit for her.
Reva followed the same path as most international students – she applied, was accepted, got a Visa and study permit. While she wasn’t too emotional about leaving her family behind, the culture shock of Canada, and Toronto, was harder to adjust to. Small things like her chargers not working because of the different adapters was something she never considered, but a challenge most international students face, and one that made Reva feel out of place and clueless about living in a new environment.
Reva credits her first-year residence don, who she’s still friends with, as someone who helped her greatly to adjust. The best advice she can give to new or incoming international students is ask!
Whether her questions were big or small, about school or about life, dons are a great resource and they were always there to listen and help support. She also utilized the Health & Wellness drop-in counselling services, as a place to let out all her worries and receive validation that she wasn’t the only one experiencing those emotions. Reva learned that the adjustment can take some time and the best thing you can do is be open to new experiences and to be patient.
“Never feel like you don’t deserve to be here, because everyone has things that they don’t know.”
Coming Back to Campus
International students traveling from abroad to Canada for the Fall 2021 semester need to follow COVID-19: Travel, testing, quarantine and border policies outlined by the government at the time of the travel. You can visit the Office of the Vice Provost, Students website for more information on how to return to campus.
Fully vaccinated travellers (Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca, or Johnson & Johnson) having received their second dose (at least two weeks before their travel date) are exempt from the 14 day quarantine period. A negative COVID-19 test is required before departure. Register your vaccination status on ArriveCAN. Click here for up-to-date information.
Unvaccinated or non-fully vaccinated travellers will be required to do a 14 day mandatory quarantine and isolation period and will receive a home test kit for Day 8 of quarantine.
International students are requested to visit the Quarantine Guide – Office of the Vice-Provost, Students to receive the most up-to-date information.
U of T Quarantine Program
International students can request for U of T quarantine accommodation and transportation by completing the Mandatory Quarantine application form before travelling by logging into the Star Rez portal using your UTOR/JOINid. Students must show the proof of the U of T quarantine confirmation at the port of entry.
Students can also choose to quarantine at any suitable place following the quarantine guidelines. Students are required to demonstrate their quarantine plan at the port of entry.
Note: International students planning to live in college residence cannot complete the 14 day quarantine at the residence. They need to complete their quarantine either at the U of T’s Quarantine Program or At-Home Program prior to moving into residence.
University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP)
International students are automatically enrolled in the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) (mandatory) that covers the cost of eligible health services each year. Degree-earning international students are enrolled for the 12 month period of the current academic year, September 1 to August 31. Exchange students or visiting international students are enrolled in UHIP only for the duration of the period for which they are attending U of T.
Students can get a UHIP card online and must show their printed UHIP card when visiting any health care services.
Students must also confirm with the clinic or health care service provider if they approve UHIP coverage prior to their appointment.
Note: International students who are studying remotely outside of Ontario or Canada should visit UHIP – U of T Student Life to learn more.
UTSU Health and Dental Plan
Full-time international undergraduate students are automatically enrolled in the UTSU’s Health and Dental plan called Student Care. The plan fee is automatically charged to your fees statement found on ACORN. This plan provides partial coverage for additional health services which are not covered by UHIP such as prescription medication, physiotherapy, dental care, vision care and psychotherapy.
International students reside in Canada as temporary residents and are responsible for maintaining their immigration status and complying with immigration regulations throughout their stay. In preparation for coming to Canada, especially during COVID-19, all students should visit the Government of Canada International Student website to get the most updated information.
To enter Canada, all international students need a valid Passport, Study Permit, travel document (either a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)), proof of confirmation of enrolment at UofT, and proof of sufficient funding for studies in Canada. Students should apply for the above required documents when they receive their UofT acceptance letter.
To learn about the requirements to apply for a Study Permit see link below. Upon arrival in Canada, students must show the Study Permit Approval Letter to the Canadian immigration officer at the port of entry. This letter is obtained from the Canadian Visa Application Centre in the country that students are applying from. The Canadian immigration officer at the port of entry will provide the student with a Study Permit hard copy which must be kept by the student for future reference and travels.
Government of Canada Links:
- Study Permit – information on how to apply for a Canadian Study Permit
- Canadian Immigration Requirements – information about which travel document (TRV or eTA) you need to travel to Canada
- Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) – information about eTA, application process, cost
- Visa Application Portal – information about how to apply for the TRV
- Canadian Visa Application Centre – information about the nearest centre in various countries
Information from Student Life at U of T:
Student Permit Inquiries
Students should visit the IRCC website for details on how to extend their study permits. The expiration of the study permit is located in the right corner of the permit.
International Students Studying Remotely
Due to COVID-19, students can start their program outside of Canada. Students are still required to apply for the study permit, temporary resident visa (TRV), or electronic travel authorization (eTA) when the Canadian Visa Application Centre in their country of residence reopens. In the case there are issues with receiving a study permit, students studying remotely should continue with their online classes while working with immigration.
International Students Leaving Canada
International students are advised to review their study permit and other immigration documents before they leave Canada. To re-enter Canada, international students need all the entry documents and must follow quarantine procedures required by the government of Canada.
International students should speak with the CIE’s international student immigration advisors about their specific circumstances.
Working While Studying in Canada
Working On Campus
- Full time student
- Valid study permit
- Valid SIN
Allowable Work Hours Per Week: No restrictions
- University: library, bookstore, department, registrar’s office, athletic centre, residence
- Private business: Restaurants providing services to university students within campus boundaries
Working During Regularly Scheduled Breaks
Regardless of the number of courses taken by a student during a scheduled break, international students can work off campus full-time if they meet certain conditions. Learn more about the eligibility here.
Working Off Campus
- Full time student (exception: students can be studying part-time in the last term of the final year of study)
- Valid study permit indicating eligibility to work off campus
- Valid SIN
- Must have started studies at U of T
- Program of study is at least six months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
Allowable Work Hours Per Week:
- Maximum of 20 hours per week during the regular academic year
- Full time hours during scheduled U of T breaks (e.g. winter/summer holidays, spring break)
- Students can work on campus in addition to working a maximum of 20 hours per week off campus
- Private business outside campus boundaries
Co-Op Work Permit
International students registered in a Co-op Program need a co-op work permit for a work placement either on or off campus. Eligibility criteria:
- Full time student (except in your last year of study)
- Letter from your faculty indicating that your employment is a part of your degree program