Students who want to immigrate


To clarify communication and operations in the study permit process with respect to the concept of “dual intent” by:

  • Defining “dual intent’;
  • Reaffirming that a study permit will not be refused based on “dual intent’; and
  • Clarifying what steps a student must take in the application process.


Section 22(2) of Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) states: “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.” This can come up in a situation where an international student has one intention to apply for a study permit (as a temporary resident) and a second intention to apply for permanent residency. An applicant may have several mechanisms under the Act allowing them to transfer from the temporary resident stream to the permanent resident stream that would satisfy this dual intent provision. This “dual intent’ is not grounds for refusal of the study permit.

An international student should first be aware that:

  • Holders of a study permit are normally required to return home at the end of the period authorized for their stay which usually corresponds with the completion of their studies and they must commit to respecting this requirement at the time of application for the study permit; and
  • Federal government programs may be available to international students which permit them to stay and work in Canada after having completed their studies and, in some cases, eventually apply for permanent residency. If unable to qualify for such programs a student is required to leave Canada upon expiry of their study permit.


Stakeholders in the higher education sector have expressed a desire to ensure clarity surrounding the concept of “dual intent’ in order to ensure that it is understood by everybody that, as stated in the legislation, having both intents – one for temporary residence through the study permit, and one for permanent residency – is legitimate.

The federal government wants to ensure Canada is attracting the maximum number of qualified international students in the competitive global market. Taking steps to clarify the concept of dual intent for stakeholders will only further strengthen CIC’s important role in fulfilling this key priority of the federal government.

The Government of Canada has expressed its commitment to attract more international students to Canada and ultimately tap into this source for highly educated workers to contribute to its labour force. Canada has outlined its overall policy objectives related to student recruitment in its 2007 Budget and accompanying economic plan, Advantage Canada, in which it stated that it encourages the “best foreign students to attend Canadian colleges and universities by marketing the excellence of Canada’s post-secondary education system”. This is accompanied by policy objectives designed to retain international students to pursue a “knowledge advantage” in which Canada will create “the best-educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world”. These objectives were also reinforced in the federal government budget of 2008.

Operations related to processing study permits

A person’s desire to apply for permanent residence before or during the period of study in Canada may be legitimate. An officer should distinguish between a bona fide applicant and an applicant who has no intention of leaving Canada if the application for permanent residency is refused.

In determining bona fides, as defined by CIC’s Overseas Processing Manual, Chapter 12, Section 5.15, all students must be assessed by officers on an individual basis; refusals of non-bona fide students may only withstand legal challenge when the refusal is based on the information related to the specific case before an officer. Therefore, while cultural context or historical migration patterns of a client group may be a contributing factor to the decision-making process, they alone are not valid, legally tenable grounds for refusal on bona fides.

If an officer has concerns/doubts about the applicant’s bona fides, the applicant must be made aware of these concerns and given an opportunity to refute them.

The onus, as always, remains on the applicant to establish that they are a bona fide temporary resident who will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay pursuant to IRPA Regulations 216(1)(b) which, absent any extensions, will normally be following the completion of their studies and the expiry of their study permit pursuant to IRPA Regulation 183(4)(b).

A commitment to bona fide international students

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) believes in the contribution of international students to Canada’s economic and cultural environment. To encourage international students to study in Canada, the federal government has designed programs to attract and retain more international students, which permit them to stay and work in Canada after having completed their studies and, in some cases, eventually apply for permanent residency, including the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program and the Canadian Experience Class.

CIC acknowledges that there may be instances where bona fide international students who wish to participate in programs being promoted to retain them in Canada may indeed, in the application process, indicate a desire to remain in Canada after the completion of studies.

What students must do in applying for a study permit pertaining to dual intent

In applying for a study permit, a student must first and foremost clearly demonstrate to the Visa officer that he or she intends to respect the requirement that study permit holders leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay which usually corresponds with the completion of studies and expiry of their study permit.

Other information related to a decision on a study permit application

In assessing an application for a study permit an officer may also consider factors such as:

  • The length of time that the client will be spending in Canada;
  • The means of support;
  • Obligations and ties in home country;
  • Compliance with other requirements of the Act and Regulations applicable to students/temporary residents.

If an application for a study permit is not approved, the CIC visa officer will provide the client with a letter explaining why an application has been refused. A study permit application might be refused for several reasons including:

  • Not providing sufficient proof that an individual has enough money to support oneself while studying in Canada, and to return to their country of residence;
  • Medical inadmissibility;
  • Not satisfying the visa officer that there is an intention to study in Canada;
  • Not satisfying the visa officer that the individual will leave Canada at the end of their period of authorized stay.
  • Not submitting all required documentation; and
  • Not satisfying the officer that the applicant has answered all material questions truthfully as required by Section 16(1) of IRPA.
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