Studying in Canada
More than 130,000 students come to study in Canada every year and even more come to Canada to learn English or French.
To study in Canada, you may need a study permit or a temporary resident visa, though not everyone must have these documents.
Before you can apply for a study permit, you must have been accepted at a recognized school, university or college in Canada.
Once you have chosen a place to study you will need to apply to that school, college or university. Every school has different rules on how to apply.
The government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of foreign students. Health coverage for foreign students varies between provinces.
In some cases, you do not require a study permit to go to school in Canada.
How to apply for a Study Permit
1. Obtain and print the application package.
The package includes the application guide and all the forms you need to fill out. Download and print the application package.
Depending on your citizenship or where you live, you may need a temporary resident visa as well as a study permit.
Check the List of designated countries. If you are from one of the designated countries, a visa officer will process your application for a temporary resident visa at the same time. You do not need a separate application.
2. If studying in Quebec, check the provincial guidelines.
This step only applies if you want to study in the province of Quebec. If you apply to study in Quebec, you need a certificate of acceptance or CAQ.
3. Collect the documents you need to apply.
You need the following documents to apply for a study permit:
In addition to these documents, you may have to provide other information when you apply for a study permit. Check the website of the visa office responsible for your country or region for local requirements.
4. Complete your application for a study permit.
Fill in the forms carefully and completely.
5. Pay the correct processing fee.
There is a fee to apply for a study permit. For information about current rates, go to Pay my application fees. In many countries, the processing fee can be paid in the local currency. The processing fee will not be refunded, even if your application is not accepted.
6. Check your application.
7. Submit the application form.
If you are from the United States, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon or Greenland, you can apply at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada.
As of May 1, 2011, applicants who are resident in certain countries, meet specific eligibility criteria, and wish to apply for a study permit are able to do so electronically through CIC’s external web site.
Visa Exempt Study Permit Abroad (VESPA) Electronic Application Service is available to citizens of these countries:
8. Supply additional information or documents.
After the visa office receives your application, it might request more information or documents. These may include the following:
9. Check the application processing times.
This will give you an idea of how long it will take to process your application.
Bona fides (latin: means "in good faith")
The onus, as always, remains on the applicant to establish that they are a bona fide temporary resident who will leave Canada following the completion of their studies pursuant to section R216(1)(b).
(Dual intent) states that an intention by a foreign national to become a permanent resident does not preclude them from becoming a temporary resident if the officer is satisfied that they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay. In assessing an application, an officer should consider:
The term “custodianship” is more appropriate for the purposes of a study permit application than the legal term “guardianship.”
A39 states that a foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable to support themselves.
To satisfy A39, all minor applicants must supply a notarized declaration, one signed by the parents or legal guardians in the country of origin, as well as one signed by the custodian in Canada, stating that arrangements have been made for the custodian to act in place of a parent.
Officers must be satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place for the care and support of those who are unable to support themselves. The parents or legal guardians and the appointed custodian must acknowledge that the custodian will reside within a reasonable distance to the minor applicant’s intended residence and school. The custodianship form for parents should include the information and signature of both parents, where applicable.
For an example of a standard custodianship form letter for either the parents/guardian(s) or the custodian, visit the following CIC web address: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/custodian-parent.pdf
The Student Partners Program (SPP) is an administrative framework designed and implemented in partnership between the Canadian visa offices in India and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC). CIC News Release
The Canadian embassy in Beijing has expanded the Student Partnership Program originally launched in India into China.
The program creates a special processing channel at the Beijing visa office for students destined to member institutions of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, whose membership includes Camosun College, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Vancouver Community College. Students using the program will experience a far shorter wait time than normal applicants, in some cases less than two weeks.
Work permits for students
You may work on campus at the institution where you study without a work permit if:
There are some restrictions on the jobs you can take based on medical factors:
Students are considered eligible for Off-campus Work Permit if they:
You are not eligible to apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit if you are:
To be eligible for Post-graduation Work Permit, international students:
Note that if the student’s program of study is less than two
years but at least eight months, the student would be eligible for a
post-graduate work permit. However, the validity period of the work
permit must not be longer than the period of study of the graduate at
the particular post-secondary institution in Canada.
The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience.
A work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program may be issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years. A Post-Graduation work permit cannot be valid for longer than the student’s study program, and the study program must be a minimum of eight months in length. For example, if you graduate from a four-year degree program, you could be eligible for a three-year work permit if you meet the criteria. If you graduate from an eight-month certificate program, you would be eligible for a work permit that is valid for no more than eight months.
International students not eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program include the following:
Under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP), employers may hire international students who have graduated from participating Canadian post-secondary institutions, to work for up to three years without the need for the employer to obtain a Labour Market Opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada.
Following the completion of their initial period of employment authorized under the PGWPP, some employers may wish to offer these individuals permanent employment in order to retain their skills and expertise.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) Post-graduation Work Permit Program provides eligible foreign students graduating from a participating post-secondary Canadian institution with Canadian work experience. Employers who want to permanently employ such graduates following completion of their PGWPP, for positions requiring at minimum post-secondary education or trade qualification, must apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from HRSDC/Service Canada. Please note that the job opportunity can be offered by a different employer than the employer that offered the position under the PGWPP. When completing the Application for a Labour Market Opinion, whether applying on-line or using the fill & print version of the application, employers must answer “yes” to the question “Is the job temporary with intent to permanent?”.
Employers must submit an Application for a Labour Market Opinion to the Service Canada Centre responsible for processing the foreign worker requests in their area. The application will be assessed using existing program criteria. In cases where the employer is making a permanent job offer to employees who have completed the PGWPP for employment in a skilled occupation (within National Occupational Classification 0, A and B codes only), the employer will not be required to demonstrate recruitment efforts. It is recommended that the employer submit the application for an LMO approximately four months before the expiry of the Post-Graduation Work Permit.
CIC makes the final decision on the issuance of work permits.
Generally, foreign students are not allowed to work while studying in Canada.
However, there are some exceptions for full-time students or their spouse or common-law partner, at publicly funded or degree granting institutions who may apply for work permits. A full-time student is a person whose program of study is normally at least 15 hours of instruction per week, leading to a diploma or certificate, unless otherwise defined by an educational institution. (Note: The definition of a full time student varies from one educational institution to another and you should refer to the guidelines of your educational institution to ensure you are considered a full-time student.)
For more information, see “Work Opportunities for Foreign Students” at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/work.asp.
A work permit may be issued if it is established that:
Note: Spouses and common-law partners of full-time students in a program at a university, community, college, CÉGEP, or publicly funded trade/technical school in Canada can apply for a generic (open) work permit. For further details refer to the Foreign Workers Manual (see Open Work Permits) located on CIC website [PDF] or contact the Call Centre.
Note: Some study permits are arranged with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). These students must obtain an approval letter from CIDA to be eligible for a work permit related to their course of study.
Note: If you are currently a full-time student at certain public post-secondary institutions, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit that allows you to work off-campus. This will depend on whether your province and institution have signed agreements to implement the program. Currently, off-campus work permits are available in Manitoba, New Brunswick or some regions of Quebec. Contact your international student advisor to get more information about the program, the number of hours you can work and the application process, or refer to the CIC website
If you leave Canada and want to return, you must have:
Apply for a visitor visa at a Canadian visa office located outside Canada, or if you are in Canada and hold a valid study permit or work permit you may apply for a new visa at Case Processing Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.
For more information on post-secondary schools, contact:
For more information on private career colleges, contact
For more information about private language programs, contact: