Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. You must apply before you travel and make sure you have all the documents we need before you apply.
What is a study permit?
The study permit is a document we issue that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada.
While studying in Canada under a study permit you must:
- always be enrolled at a DLI
- make progress towards completing your program
- respect any conditions listed on your study permit
- stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements and
- leave Canada when your permit expires
Depending on your case, there may be conditions on your study permit such as:
- the level of studies you can attend
- if you are allowed to work in Canada
- if you can’t travel within Canada
- the date you must stop studying
Note: Your study permit is not a visa. It alone doesn’t allow you to enter Canada. You may also need a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If so, we will issue it as part of your study permit application.
How long can you stay in Canada with a study permit?
A study permit is usually valid for the length of your study program, plus an extra 90 days. This extra time lets you prepare to leave Canada or apply to extend your stay.
- If you can’t finish your courses before the date on your permit, you must apply to extend your stay as a student.
If you finish your studies early, your permit will stop being valid 90 days after you complete your studies (no matter what day is printed on the study permit).
You have completed your studies either
- on the date you get the first notification from your school (such as an email, letter, transcript, etc.) or
- when you get your degree, diploma or certificate.
You must prove provide proof of the date you got one of these.
Note: If you can’t prove the date you were first notified by your school, we will use the earliest issue date on the document. We may need to confirm this date with your school.
Can you go back home while studying?
If you plan to leave Canada during a scheduled break (such as the summer, or winter holidays and spring break), you may need to show proof you are enrolled in your school when you return to Canada. If you came here on:
- a visa, you also need to make sure it is still valid.
- an electronic travel authorization (eTA), and you leave and return to Canada by air, you will need a new eTA.
Your study permit is not a visa.
People who don’t need a permit to study in Canada
Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. The cases below are exceptions.
Short-term studies (six months or less)
You can study at any school in Canada without a study permit if:
- your course or program is for six months or less
- your studies aren’t part of a longer program and
- you will complete all your studies within the time we approved you to stay in Canada (usually six months after you enter).
Note: you will need a study permit if you:
- are going to study for longer than six months or
- won’t be able to complete your program without having to extend your stay in Canada.
Family or staff of foreign representatives
You may not need a study permit if you are a family member or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Your embassy can contact GAC to find out if you need one.
Members of foreign armed forces
If you are a member of a foreign armed force in Canada on official duties, you don’t need a study permit. If your family members (including minor children), want to study in Canada, they may need one.
Registered Indians in Canada
You don’t need a study permit if you are a citizen of another country who has Registered Indian status in Canada.
Minor children in Canada
Minor children don’t need a study permit if they:
- are in kindergarten
- are refugees or refugee claimants
- have parents who are refugees or refugee claimants or
- want to go to pre-school, primary or secondary school, and are already in Canada with a parent who is allowed to work or study in Canada.
Note: When minor children studying in Canada without a permit reach the age of majority (turn 18 or 19 depending on the province or territory), they must apply for a permit if they want to keep studying. Learn more about minors studying in Canada.
Why get a study permit if you are exempt?
You may want to apply for a study permit even if you don’t need one. To be eligible to apply for a study permit, your course or program must be from a DLI. If you decide to apply for a study permit even though you are exempt, you should include a letter of explanation that says why you want one.
Reasons to apply for a study permit include being able to:
Keep studying while you renew your permit
- If you get a study permit before you come to Canada: you can renew your permit and keep studying in Canada while waiting for your new permit because you have implied status.
- If you don’t have a study permit: you can apply for a study permit from inside Canada, but you can’t start your program until you get the permit.
This rule also applies for prerequisite courses, when you get accepted to a program under the condition that you take and pass certain courses (conditional acceptance).
Work part-time on-campus
You can work part-time on-campus if you are registered as a full-time student at a college or university.
Top questions about studying in Canada
- Do I need a permit to study in Canada?
- I am an international student in Canada. Can I work while studying?
- As an international student, can I return home or travel outside Canada during my studies?
- When should I apply for my study permit?
- I want to change my school or program of study. How can I change my study permit?
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