Minor children applying to study in Canada must submit a study permit application from their country of permanent residence. For information on study permits, visit Studying in Canada: Study permits.
Minor children who are already in Canada accompanying a parent who is permitted to study or work may study in Canada without a study permit at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels.
A minor child of a parent who is not authorized to work or study in Canada (for example, their parent is authorized as a visitor) is not eligible to study in Canada without a study permit. These minor children must apply for a study permit from their country of last permanent residence.
Study permits for primary school students are issued for a period of one year and can be renewed, while study permits for students enrolled in secondary school (grades 9 to 12 in all provinces and territories except Quebec, and grades 9 to 11 in Quebec) can be issued for the full length of the intended period of study at a secondary school in Canada (maximum of four years).
Minor children at the pre-school and kindergarten levels are not required to hold a valid study permit.
Important: Generally, those applying for a study permit, including those at the primary or secondary school level, need to provide a letter of acceptance from the applicable educational institution in Canada. Applicants may provide either the original letter of acceptance or an electronic version.
There is one exception to this requirement: Minor children who are accompanying a family member who has applied and been approved for a work or study permit before entering Canada do not need to provide a letter of acceptance from an educational institution.
Minor children who have come to Canada from other countries often have documents issued by CIC or their country of origin.
The following table summarizes these documents and indicates whether or not the children need a study permit to enrol in a school. School authorities may also use the table to help determine when school fees apply.
Minor Children in Canada:
Age of majority
The age of majority varies from one province to another:
Age of majority is 18 in:
• Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan
Age of majority is 19 in:
• British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon
In Canada, each province and territory decides the age of majority. Anyone under the age of majority is considered to be a “minor child.”
For age of majority, refer to section the information above.
Minor children are defined as those who are under the age of majority, as set out by each province or territory at the time of their arrival in Canada.
Subsection A30(2) provides that a minor already in Canada is authorized to study without a study permit at the pre-school, primary or secondary level, with the exception of a minor whose parents are temporary residents not authorized to work or study.
If the minor in Canada is with two parents, one of whom is a temporary resident not authorized to work or study, while the other parent is authorized to work or study, or is a permanent resident, or a Canadian citizen, then the minor would be authorized to study at the pre-school, primary, or secondary level, without a study permit.
Note: This exemption from the requirement for a study permit for minors is only applicable when the minor is in Canada. It is to be noted also that the study permit exemption pursuant to R188(1) applies to minors the same way it applies to every foreign national regardless of age. Therefore, a minor in Canada would be exempt from the requirement for a study permit if the conditions of R188(1)(a) or R188(1)(b) or R188(1)(c) are met whether the minor's parents are authorized to work or study in Canada or not.
Minor students destined for Quebec
Minor applicants who are destined for Quebec must fulfill custodianship requirements of both CIC and the Quebec government. All these students must apply and be approved for a CAQ before entering Canada. For more information, visit http://www.immigrationquebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/immigrate-settle/students/index.html.
The study permit exemption for minors pursuant to A30(2) applies only when a minor child is in Canada. Therefore, visa offices processing minor children outside Canada who want to study in Canada should process them as students and not as visitors, even when accompanying a parent who is authorized to either work or study in Canada.
In other words, a study permit would be required, unless they were exempt from requiring one pursuant to R188. Applicants failing to show their intention to study would be a misinterpretation of A30(2).
Note: The family members of a person whose application for a work permit or a study permit is approved in writing do not need to provide a letter of acceptance to be issued a study permit. For these cases, and if the destination is Quebec, a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) will be issued by the ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturelles du Québec (MICC) to the child when issuing a CAQ to the parent(s).
POE (port of Entry)
A minor child coming to Canada to study should have applied and obtained an introduction letter (approval in writing) at a visa office, or be entitled to apply for a study permit upon entry pursuant to R214.
If they have not done so, and because POEs are considered ‘in Canada’ for the interpretation of A30(2), an officer at a POE will authorize entry of the child as a temporary resident within the visitor class if all the requirements are met (for example, the accompanying parent is permitted to work or study in Canada) and if not otherwise inadmissible.
This child should be documented on a visitor record. However, once in Canada, when the individual ceases to be considered a minor, an application for a study permit must be submitted if the individual wishes to continue studying.
When applying to extend their stay, minor children will either apply for a renewal of their study permits, if they require one, or an extension of their stay as temporary residents if A30(2) authorizes them to study without the need of applying for a study permit once in Canada.
When processing the renewal of a study permit or the extension of their stay as temporary residents within the visitor class, CIC officers should be looking at the following:
• arrangements have been taken for the child’s care in terms of custodianship;
• child has health coverage;
• evidence of funds to cover their stay in Canada;
• academic progress has been made. If not, officers will assess if their stay is really for study purposes.
Exchang e programs
A number of exchange programs are sponsored by private organizations or educational institutions, which enable foreign students to attend Canadian schools and be hosted by Canadian families, and vice versa. In most cases, these students do not require a study permit since their length of stay is usually less than six months. Students participating in exchange programs are not eligible to apply for an off-campus work permit. See FW1, Appendix E for details.
Applicants must be counselled about the availability of private health insurance prior to arrival in Canada. Only Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories extend immediate coverage to foreign students. British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia do extend health coverage, although only after various waiting periods. For Quebec-destined students, health insurance may be a precondition of the issuance of the CAQ.
Officers should note clearly that the applicant was indeed provided with this information related to health insurance, either through counselling or information in the application kit. However, issuance of the study permit should not be held pending proof of private health insurance.