Canada offers many choices of schools for international students. These include primary and secondary schools, post-secondary institutions (i.e. colleges and universities) private career /vocational schools, and language schools.
Once you have chosen a school, you will need to make sure it is on the designated learning institution list. This list names the schools in Canada that are approved to accept international students. A study permit can only be issued to someone who has been accepted to study at a designated learning institution.
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. The 90 days let you prepare to leave Canada or apply to extend your stay.
1. If you’re taking prerequisite courses
If your school asks you to take courses before they accept you into the main program (you have conditional acceptance), your study permit will be valid for the length of those courses, plus 1 year. When you get accepted into the main program, you must then apply to extend your stay as a student.
2. If you’ll finish your studies after your study permit expires
If you don’t finish your courses before the date on your permit, you must apply to extend your stay as a student. If you don’t, you’ll need to stop studying and leave Canada.
3. If you finish your studies before your study permit expires
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’ve completed your studies on the date your school first notifies you by completion letter, transcript, degree or diploma.
You must provide proof of the date your school notifies you, or the date you get your degree, diploma or certificate. If you don’t have proof, we’ll use the earliest issue date on the document. We may confirm this date with your school.
You can study in Canada if you:
- are enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI)
- prove 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
- obey the law, have no criminal record and get a police certificate (if required)
- are in good health and get a medical exam (if required)
- prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires
While studying in Canada you must:
- 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:
- if you’re allowed to work in Canada
- if you’re allowed to travel within Canada
- the date you must stop studying
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 (6 months or less)
You can study at any school in Canada without a study permit if:
- your course or program lasts 6 months or less
- your studies aren’t part of a longer program and
- you’ll complete all your studies within the time we approved you to stay in Canada (usually 6 months after you enter)
If you’re taking prerequisite courses, you should get a study permit, even if the courses are less than 6 months long. If you don’t, you’ll have to apply for a study permit before you can start your full study program. Depending on processing times, you may not get it in time to start your studies.
Why get a study permit if you don’t need one?
There are 2 reasons you may want to get a study permit even if you don’t need one:
- You may be able to continue studying (as long as you meet the requirements)
- You may be able to work on-campus or off-campus
Examples of this are:
- if you’re studying for less than 6 months, but are looking to study in a longer program or
- if you’re the child of a parent who’s authorized to work or study in Canada, but you will soon turn 18 (and will no longer be a minor)
If you apply for a study permit even though you don’t need one, you should include a letter explaining why you want one with your application.
1. Continue studying
If you already have a study permit and your study situation changes (for example, you want to study for more than 6 months or apply to a longer study program) you can continue studying in Canada while your permit is valid. If you need to extend your permit, or it expires while we process your application for an extension, you’ll also be able to continue studying because you have implied status.
However, if you don’t have a study permit already, you would need to stop studying or wait until you get a study permit to start or continue your studies.
An example of this is if you’re taking prerequisite classes required for a longer study program. You may not need a study permit for your prerequisite classes, but you may need one for your full study program.
In this case, you should get a study permit even though you don’t need one right away. If you don’t, you may not be able to start your longer study program, depending on whether or not your study permit is processed in time.
2. Work on- or off-campus
If you have a study permit and you’re registered as a full-time student at a DLI, you may be able to work on-campus or off-campus. If so, your study permit will include a condition that says you’re allowed to work while studying.
If you don’t have a study permit, you can’t work while you’re studying in Canada. In this case, you need to apply for a work permit.
Ref. IRCC website