A Study Permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows a foreign national to study in Canada for a limited time.
Most international students require a Study Permit to study in Canada.
In order to be eligible to submit an application for a Canadian study permit, a prospective student must:
- Obtain a Letter of Acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution in order to submit an application for a study permit;
- Prove that he or she has sufficient financial support to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation to his or her home country;
- Obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (Quebec Acceptance Certificate, or CAQ) if he or she wishes to study in Montreal or elsewhere in the Province of Quebec;
- Have clean record. Applicants with a criminal background, or who pose a risk to Canadian security, may be refused. IRCC may request an applicant to supply a Police Clearance Certificate;
- Be in good health. IRCC may request an applicant to complete a medical examination; and,
- Satisfy the immigration officer that he or she will leave Canada at the end of the stay authorized by the study permit.
The applicant may also be required to submit the following documents:
- Passport for the applicant and every family member included on the application;
- Two passport photos for the applicant and each family member included on the application, with the full name and date of birth written on the back;
- Photocopy of marriage certificate, if applicable; and,
- Any further documents required by specific visa offices.
Accompanying family members
An applicant for a Canadian study permit may include his or her family members on the application, so that they may accompany the applicant to Canada. An accompanying spouse may be able to obtain an open work permit, and minor children may be able to study at Canadian elementary and secondary schools. To learn more, click here.
Applying for a study permit
Once a prospective student meets the eligibility criteria and has the correct documents, he or she may apply for a study permit. This can be done online or by paper. A paper application must be submitted to a visa processing office outside of Canada.
It is important to apply for a study permit immediately upon receiving the Letter of Acceptance. Study permit processing times vary, and applicants may see delays during busy times — particularly during the summer months.
Applicants for a Canadian study permit are required to prove they have enough money to cover the first year of tuition fees. They also need to have the financial resources to support themselves, and any accompanying family members, each year.
In Quebec, the financial requirements for prospective students are different. In addition to tuition fees, a prospective international student is required to show that he or she has the following funds, dependent on his or her situation.
Financial resources may be proven with a combination of the following:
- Canadian bank account statements in the applicant’s name, if money has been transferred to Canada;
- Proof of a student or educational loan from a financial institution;
- The applicant’s bank statements from the past four months;
- A bank draft in convertible currency;
- Proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees;
- A letter from the person or institution providing you with money; and/or,
- Proof of a scholarship or funding paid from within Canada.
Family or friends of the applicant may submit letters confirming that they will support the applicant during his or her studies.
If an application is approved, the prospective student will receive:
- A letter of introduction confirming the approval. This letter is not the study permit. The prospective student will need to present the Letter of Introduction to the immigration official when arriving in Canada. The immigration official may then issue the study permit to the student.
- An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if he or she is from a country whose citizens need an eTA. In such cases, the eTA is indicated on the Letter of Introduction.
As the eTA is linked to the applicant’s passport, the applicant must travel with the passport used in the study permit application.
- A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), if he or she is from a country whose citizens need a TRV.
The TRV will be in the passport. The holder must enter Canada before the expiry date on the TRV.
The TRV will also indicate if the holder can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or multiple times (a multiple-entry visa). Since 2014, all applicants are automatically considered for multiple-entry TRVs.
An individual submitting an application for a study permit does not have to submit a separate application for a TRV. If the application is approved, the TRV will be issued along with the Letter of Introduction.
Study permit renewal
After obtaining a study permit, students may need to renew or change the study permit during the course of their studies in Canada.
If a student at a post-secondary institution wishes to change institution, study program, or level of study he or she does not need to apply for a new study permit. However, he or she is required to update IRCC upon changing institutions. For example, a student may move from Bachelor level to Master’s level, or from Geography to Philosophy, or from a college to a university, without applying for a new study permit. He or she does not need to apply for a change to the condition of the study permit. A student may study in Canada as long as the study permit is valid.
However, an international student moving from elementary school to high school, or from high school to a post-secondary institution, is required to apply for a change in the conditions of the study permit. The application must be submitted to the IRCC Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, Alberta.
After graduation, many students choose to stay in Canada to live and work
Study permits expire 90 days after graduation, regardless of the date printed on the study permit itself. It is extremely important that international graduates update their status with IRCC within 90 days of graduation, or they risk losing status in Canada.
Many graduates are eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). This permits the holder to work for any employer anywhere in Canada for up to three years after graduation. Work experience gained on a PGWP may help facilitate an application for Canadian Permanent Residency, especially through programs such as the Canadian Experience Class and certain Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
If an international graduate does not apply for a PGWP, he or she may do the following to maintain legal status in Canada:
- Apply to change status to a visitor;
- Apply for another study permit to continue a different study program. For example, a graduate may wish to continue on to a Master’s degree program after graduating with a Bachelor degree; or,
- Leave Canada