Students

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.
 
Study permits
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.
 

To be eligible to study in Canada

  • You must have been accepted by a school, college, university or other educational institution in Canada.
  • You must prove that you have enough money to pay for your:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
  • You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
  • You must be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary.
  • You must satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada when you have completed your studies.
  • Exceptions

    In some cases, you do not require a study permit to go to school in Canada.

    • If you wish to study in a short-term course or program
      You do not need a study permit if you plan to take a course or program in Canada that lasts six months or less. You must complete the course or program within the period authorized for your stay in Canada.

      Even if you do not need a study permit, it is a good idea to apply for a permit before you come to Canada. If you decide that you want to continue your studies in another program after you complete your short-term course or program, you must apply through a Canadian visa office outside Canada for a study permit if you do not already have one.
    • Foreign representatives to Canada
      If you are a family member or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada accredited by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, you may not need a permit to study in Canada. You should contact your embassy in Canada. Your embassy can contact the Office of Protocol at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to find out whether you need a study permit.
    • Members of foreign armed forces
      If you are a member of a foreign armed force under the Visiting Forces Act, you do not need a permit to study in Canada. If your family members, including minor children, want to study in Canada, they must meet the requirements.
    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:

    1. Proof of acceptance
    2. Proof of identity
    3. Proof of financial support
    4. Letter of explanation
    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.
    Make sure your application is complete and that you include the necessary documents. Use the document checklist that is included in the application kit. Consult the website of the Canadian visa office serving the country or region where you live to determine if you need to fill out any additional forms or provide any additional documents.

    7. Submit the application form.
    Sign and date the application form, and be sure you include the receipt for the processing fee. Submit the application form to the Canadian visa office that serves the country or region where you live. Find a list of visa offices.

    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:
    1. Australia
    2. Barbados
    3. Denmark
    4. Finland
    5. Germany
    6. Iceland
    7. Ireland
    8. Italy
    9. Japan
    10. New Zealand
    11. Norway
    12. Sweden
    13. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
    14. United States of America, including Puerto Rico

    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:
    • Medical information
      In most cases, you will need a medical examination. A visa officer will send you instructions if you need a medical examination. This may add more than three months to the processing time of your application. Find more information about
      medical examinations.
    • Security information
      If you want to study in Canada, you and any family members who come to Canada with you, and who are 18 years of age and over, may have to provide police certificates. Find more information about the
      security checks.

    9. Check the application processing times.

    This will give you an idea of how long it will take to process your application.

    Proof of financial support

    Number of persons All provinces
    except Quebec
    Quebec
    Single student Tuition plus $10,000 for a 12-month period (or $833 per month) Tuition plus $11,000 for a 12-month period (or $917 per month)
    + one family member $4,000 for a 12-month period (or $333 per month) $5,100 more for a person 18 years of age or older for a 12-month period (or $425 per month)

    $3,800 more for a person under 18 years of age for a 12-month period (or $317 per month)
    + each additional family member $3,000 for a 12-month period per dependent child of any age (or $255 per month) $5,125 more for a person 18 years of age or older for a 12-month period (or $427 per month)

    $1,903 more for a person under 18 years of age for a 12-month period (or $159 per month)

    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).
    Section A22(2)

    (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 length of time that they will be spending in Canada;
    • the means of support;
    • obligations and ties in home country;
    • the likelihood of leaving Canada should an application for permanent residence be refused;
    • compliance with requirements of the Act and Regulations.
    Custodianship
    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 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.
     
    The application form can be found here.

     
    Work permits for students

    You may work on campus at the institution where you study without a work permit if:

    • you are a full-time student at:
      • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university, or a collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec
      • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution, and receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify) or
      • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees and
    • you have a valid study permit.

    There are some restrictions on the jobs you can take based on medical factors:

    • If you have already passed an immigration medical examination, you may work in any type of job;
    • If you intend to work in an occupation in which the protection of public health is essential, you must pass an immigration medical examination. (Examples of these are workers in health services fields; teachers of primary or secondary schools or other workers coming into contact with small children; domestic workers or live-in caregivers; workers who give in-home care).
    • If you intend to work as an agricultural worker and have resided or visited a designated country (for a list of designated countries, refer to our website) for more than six months within the last year preceding, you must pass a medical examination.
    • To submit to a medical examination, you must make an appointment with a Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP). Visit our website for the list of DMPs or contact the Call Centre Agent to find the DMP nearest to you. Note that it may take up to four weeks for the DMP to provide Citizenship and Immigration with your results.
    • For a complete list of occupations requiring immigration medical examinations, refer to our website.

    Students are considered eligible for Off-campus Work Permit if they:

    • possess a valid study permit;
    • attend a participating educational institution;
    • have maintained a satisfactory academic standing;
    • have studied full-time for at least six months out of the 12 months preceding their application;
    • have signed consents authorizing the exchange of personal information between the institution, the provincial or territorial government, and CIC. The signing of the consent occurs as part of the online request for verification of eligibility;
    • continue to fulfill the terms and conditions of their study permit and work permit, as applicable; and
    • continue to meet the eligibility requirements while participating in the program.

You are not eligible to apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit if you are:

  • participating in a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT)
  • participating in a Government of Canada Awards Program funded by DFAIT
  • receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  • participating in the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program, Canada-Chile
  • participating in the Canada-China Scholars Exchanges Program
  • participating in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program
  • attending a participating institution and registered in either an English as a Second Language or French as a Second Language program or
  • a visiting or exchange student.
While school is in season student is allowed to work maximum of 20 hours per week off campus (and 20 hrs per week on campus).

To be eligible for Post-graduation Work Permit, international students:

  • Must have studied full-time for the eight months preceding the completion of their program of studies and have graduated from:
    • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, university or CEGEP (in Quebec); or
    • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and that receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently, only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify); or
    • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees.
  • Must apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation (for example, a transcript or an official letter) from the institution that they have met the requirements of the academic program.
  • Must have completed and passed the program of study and received a notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma or certificate.
  • Must have a valid study permit when they apply for the work permit.

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:

  • Students participating in a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program or a Government of Canada Awards Program funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
  • Students receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and participating in a distance learning program.
  • Students who have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit after any other program of study. However, note that graduates who are already working with a work permit issued under the previous rules are eligible to apply for an extension.

Employment of International Students Graduating from Recognized Post-Secondary Institutions

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.

Information for Employers

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.

Learn more about the HRSDC/Service Canada LMO assessment criteria, noting that a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) issued by the province is also required for jobs in Quebec.

CIC makes the final decision on the issuance of work permits.


Can I or my spouse or common-law partner work in Canada while I study?

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:

  • the intended employment is an essential and integral part of your course of study (this does not apply to medical interns or medical residents); or
  • the intended employment is related to an approved research or training program; or
  • you hold a study permit and have become temporarily destitute through circumstances beyond your control or beyond the control of any person whom you are dependent on for financial support to complete your term of study. You must show proof that you are not able to obtain the money needed for daily expenses and that it is a temporary situation.
  • you have successfully graduated from a program at a Canadian university, community, college, CÉGEP, or publicly funded trade/technical school (or from a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees) and wish to work for a maximum of one or two years in employment related to your course of study. The maximum length will depend on the length and location of your studies, and the location of your employer. You must submit your application for a work permit within 90 days of the issuance of your final marks. Your study permit must be valid upon submission of your application for a work permit. For further details refer to the Foreign Workers Manual (see post-graduation employment) located on CIC website [PDF] or contact the Call Centre.

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

As an international student, can I return home or travel outside Canada during my studies?

If you leave Canada and want to return, you must have:

  • valid passport or travel document;
  • a valid study permit if you are returning to study in Canada;
  • a valid visitor visa, if you are a citizen of a visa-required country. You must re-apply for a temporary resident visa (visitor visa) if:
    • your visa has expired; or
    • your visa was only valid for a single entry to Canada.
  • an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) by March 15, 2016 if you are from an eTA-required country and received your student permit before August 1, 2015 and you plan to travel from and return to Canada by air. Note: Students who get their study or work permit on or after August 1, 2015 will automatically be issued an eTA along with their permit.

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.