Hi Everyone,

I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe.

Back-to-school is looking different in 2020. The excitement of the season is mixed with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many international students who were planning to start classes in Canada this fall are facing uncertainty due to travel restrictions, and colleges and universities have started classes in a new reality that involves online learning, optimistic reopenings, and socially distancing interactions.

The International Student Connect (ISC) Project staff and partners have been working in close collaboration with educational institutes to deliver virtual services to international students. From April to September, we have delivered 196 ISC sessions and served 1,184 students virtually in Ontario.

We are grateful to have a robust online presence and the tools needed to provide settlement support to international students through our partners amid these challenging times. We will continue to deliver ISC sessions via web-conferencing platforms for the next few months, depending on how the situation develops.

We are here for you to help you serve the international student community in Ontario. Should you have any questions, please reach out to us directly at the coordinates provided below.

Stay safe and stay positive,
The ISC Project Team

ISC supports international students with their
PGWP applications during the pandemic

Canada is one of the world’s leading destinations of international students. Last year, the country welcomed 642,480 international students, a 13% increase from 2018. Data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) shows that international students choose Canada for the quality of its education and its reputation as a tolerant and non-discriminatory society. 60% of international students also reported to CBIE that they intend to apply for permanent resident status in Canada after their studies.

Furthermore, recent research by IDP Connect shows that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, international students are determined to continue with their plans to study abroad and want to receive practical assistance with travel, logistics, and accommodation.

The feedback captured in these studies coincides with the experience of Mehmet Boyacioglu, Settlement Worker at Niagara Folks Arts Multicultural Centre during the ISC online sessions he conducted for Niagara College throughout the summer.

“From April to August, we delivered 15 virtual ISC Let's Connect sessions and served 75 international students. The most requested topic was Immigration Pathways as graduating students wanted to know how to apply for their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Since some of the participants were not in Canada and some had not even applied to their study permit yet, we also covered the changes to the Study Permit application process. Other popular topics were Employment and Housing”, says Boyacioglu.

Evgeniya Bobrenok, an international student at Niagara College, says she had a good experience attending the session and would recommend it to future graduates. “The COVID-19 pandemic was an uncertain time for students applying for PGWP. Mehmet was excellent at explaining all the steps in the application process and his presentation was up-to-date with the latest information from the official website. After the session, I was able to understand the regulations related to an immigration matter and the conditions that have to be met by the applicants. Mehmet also answered my questions about the PGWP and was helpful throughout my application process. He was always available via email whenever I needed advice. I think that the ISC program is very helpful and beneficial for international students”, explains Bobrenok.

According to Boyacioglu, there is a lot of misinformation in the field of immigration, and that the attendees were grateful to receive reliable information. “Many international students are misguided and find themselves in uncomfortable situations or paying a lot of money to immigration consultants. The ISC project provides them with accurate information at no cost”.

"The ISC online session with Mehmet was very informative and beneficial for me", says Stefana Zecevic, an international student at Niagara College. "I got directions concerning my work permit application an acted according to what he advised. I am waiting for the final outcome and hoping for the best".

 ISC is selected as a Promising Settlement Practice

The ISC project has been selected out of 41 submissions by Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) as a promising practice in settlement and integration in Canada. COSTI's Senior Director of Planning & Program Development, Josie Di Zio, and ISC's General Manager, Rahila Mushtaq, were interviewed about the project’s empirical basis and effectiveness. ISC’s key features, performance measurement, evaluation strategy, evidence, and transferability were discussed. Watch ISC's interview by clicking the video below.

New PGWP eligibility measures for international students beginning programs online

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented three new measures on Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility for students who need or want to start their Canadian study program online from abroad. Below is a summary of the changes:
  • Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future PGWP, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP.
  • Students who have enrolled in a program with a start date from May to September 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, and who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, may be able to combine the length of their programs of study when they apply for a PGWP in the future, as long as 50% of their total studies are completed in Canada.

To be eligible for these measures, students must have submitted a study permit application before starting a program of study in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semester, or the January 2021 semester. All students must eventually be approved for a study permit.

To learn more, please visit

 International students with authorization to work

International students can continue to work even if COVID-19 has forced them to become a part-time student or take a break in studies if they were:

  • a full-time student, and
  • authorized to work on or off campus while they studied

International students working off campus can work up to 20 hours per week during an academic session. They can work full time during scheduled breaks in the academic year.

IMPORTANT: International students working in an essential service or function were temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours per week until August 31, 2020. This temporary policy is no longer in effect.

To learn more, please click here

What's in the news?

Canada’s immigration minister: 56,000 study permits approved in first stage
The Role of Post-Secondary Institutions in Building International Student Resilience
Canada tweaks rules to help foreign students enroll amid COVID-19 restrictions
Measures in place to support international students in Canada
University leaders highlight to Commons committee the importance of international students and research
What will living in a university dorm look like this fall? Experts warn about possible COVID-19 outbreaks

Coming soon: Ask ISC

The ISC Project has an array of on-demand webinars that provide customized information and settlement resources geared towards the needs of international students and their accompanying family members.

Ask ISC is a new webinar experience with special access to ISC Project staff in a more intimate, interactive fashion. Each Ask ISC will be 30 minutes and will focus primarily on answering questions on a popular settlement topic among international students.

Stay tuned for the date of our first Ask ISC and submit your questions in advance by emailing We look forward to seeing you there!

Personal practices to prevent
and limit the spread of COVID-19

According to the Government of Canada, personal public health practices will need to become the “new normal” to maximize the ability as a society and in the post-secondary community to limit the spread of the virus for the long-term. Below are the protective practices that every individual should be observing:
  • Staying informed, being prepared, and following public health advice.
  • Practicing good hygiene (hand hygiene, avoid touching face, respiratory etiquette).
  • Staying at home or in a designated space (residence, hotel, off-campus housing) and away from others if feeling ill.
  • Maintaining physical distancing as much as possible when outside of the home.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects regularly. 
  • Staying away from others (e.g., remote learning) as much as possible if at risk of more severe disease or outcomes, which includes: older adults, people of any age who have chronic medical conditions, people of any age who are immunocompromised, and people living with obesity.
  • Wearing non-medical masks (NMMs) or cloth face coverings in crowded public settings on or off-campus.
  • Reducing personal non-essential travel. For students, faculty, and staff, this may mean restricting travel in/out of province, and not traveling outside of Canada while travel restrictions are in place.
To learn more, please read the Guidance for post-secondary institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), in collaboration with Canadian public health experts.

What is International Student Connect?

International Student Connect (ISC) is a bilingual pilot project that provides settlement support and orientation to international students pursuing post-secondary education in Ontario. It is coordinated by COSTI Immigrant Services and funded by the Government of Ontario.

Our goal is to help international students integrate successfully should they choose to settle in Ontario after graduation. Information is provided through one to two hours Let’s Connect sessions or One-On-one sessions at Colleges and Universities.

Check out the ISC Handbook and learn more about the project here.

We want to hear from you!


Your feedback is important to us. Send us an email to and let us know what information you would like to receive in the next ISC Newsletter.
Copyright © 2020 International Student Connect. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

COSTI Immigrant Services
2301 Keele Street, Unit 102
Toronto, ON
M6N 3Z9

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International Student Connect · 2301 Keele Street · Unit 102 · Toronto, On M6N 3Z9 · Canada

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