Applying for a Study permit outside Canada

Applying for a Study permit outside Canada

What is a study permit?

A study permit is a written authorization issued by an officer allowing foreign nationals to study in Canada.

Important information: A study permit becomes invalid 90 days after your study program has been completed. Your program is considered complete when you receive a notification of program completion from your school.

Do I need a study permit?

Generally, foreign nationals must obtain a study permit in order to study in Canada.

However, foreign nationals may be exempted from requiring a study permit in the following situations:

  • Family members or private staff accompanying a foreign representative accredited by Global Affairs Canada; or
  • Members of the armed forces of a country or territory designated for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act.

Are there activities for which a study permit is not required?

Yes, there are activities that do not require a study permit. Generally, a study permit is not required for:

  • attending preschool;
  • completing a distance learning program;
  • following audit courses (where a student is permitted to attend an academic course without obtaining credits);
  • taking courses included in tour packages as a secondary activity for tourists;
  • taking a course which is not academic, professional or vocational in nature that is of general interest and can be completed within the period authorized upon entry to Canada;
  • taking a course or a program of study which is six months or less that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada.

Important information: If your program of study is six months or less but you intend to continue your studies in another program, you should apply for a study permit before coming to Canada. This allows you to apply to extend your stay as a student from within Canada. Otherwise, you will have to apply for a study permit from outside of Canada.

How do I apply for a study permit?

Before applying for a study permit at a Canadian visa office, you must first get a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

The letter must be issued by the Canadian institution (e.g. school district, University, etc.) on official letterhead, show the exact amount of tuition fees you are required to pay, the anticipated starting and finishing dates and the date by which you need to register.

Once you have your acceptance letter, you can complete and submit an application for a study permit.

How do I find out if the school I want to attend is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)?

For post-secondary level, you must consult the Designated Learning Institution List. If your school is not on the DLI List, you are not eligible to apply for a study permit.

Important information: All primary and secondary institutions in Canada are automatically designated and do not appear on the DLI List.

Do you intend to study in Québec?

In order to study in Québec, students must obtain a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) issued by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI). The educational institution should provide the student with all the details related to applying for Québec. For residents of countries or territories such as France, Austria, Mexico or the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, where there is a Québec Immigration Service (SIQ), they can apply there directly for a CAQ.

Students do not have to wait for the actual CAQ before applying for their study permit. They can submit MIFI’s letter of approval confirming that they will receive a CAQ. Note that an acknowledgment of receipt that the student has applied for a CAQ will only be accepted until December 31, 2021; after that date, only MIFI’s letter of approval or the CAQ itself will be accepted.

Consult the MIFI website for appropriate contact information and for the latest updates on the process and documents required for Québec.

What requirements must I meet to get a study permit?

In addition to providing an acceptance letter from a DLI, you must demonstrate to the officer that you:

  • meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, including leaving Canada at the end of your studies;
  • have satisfactory proof of financial support:
    • If the duration of your studies in Canada will be less than a year, proof of financial support for the duration of your studies in Canada.
    • If the duration of your studies in Canada will be more than a year, proof of financial support for the first year of your studies in Canada.
  • are law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate);
  • will not be a risk to the security of Canada;
  • are in good health (a medical examination may be requested);
  • will produce additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.

Are there any conditions on my study permit?

As a study permit holder, you must remain enrolled at a DLI and make reasonable and timely progress towards completing your program. Failing to do so may lead to your removal from Canada. For post-secondary study permit holders, the DLI will report your continued academic enrolment and status to us.

An officer may also impose, change, or cancel conditions on your study permit. These may include one or more of the following:

  • the type of studies or course you may take;
  • the educational institution you may attend;
  • the location of your studies;
  • the time and period of your studies;
  • the time and place at which you shall report for medical examination or observation;
  • the time and place at which you shall report to present evidence of compliance with applicable conditions;
  • the work conditions attached to your study permit;
  • the prohibition of engaging in employment;
  • the duration of your stay in Canada.

Do I need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

Citizens of certain countries or territories may require a TRV in order to travel to Canada, while others may require an eTA.

A TRV is an official document issued by an officer that is placed in your passport to show that you have met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident. An eTA is a paperless document that is electronically linked to your passport; it too, demonstrates that you have met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident.

If you need a TRV or an eTA, you do not have to complete a separate application or pay additional fees. It will be issued by the officer at the same time as the documents you need for your entry to Canada as a student.

Find out if you need a TRV or an eTA.

Family member definitions

Your family members include your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children and any children that are their dependent children.

Refers to either of the two persons (any gender) in a marriage legally recognized in the country in which it took place, as well as in Canada.

Proxy, telephone, fax, internet and similar forms of marriage where one or both parties were not physically present are not considered as valid spousal relationships under the Regulations. For more information, consult our policy on the legality of a marriage.

Common-law partner
Refers to a person who is living in a conjugal relationship with another person (any gender), and has done so continuously for a period of at least one year. A conjugal relationship exists when there is a significant degree of commitment between two people.This can be shown with evidence that the couple share the same home, support each other financially and emotionally, have children together, or present themselves in public as a couple.

Common-law partners who have been in a conjugal relationship for at least one year but are unable to live together or appear in public together because of legal restrictions in their home country or who have been separated for reasons beyond their control (for example, civil war or armed conflict) may still qualify and should be included on the application.

Dependent children
We assess your child’s eligibility as a dependant based on how old they were at a specific point in time, called the lock-in date. This is usually the date we received your application. To see if your child qualifies as a dependant, we consider the age of your child on the lock-in date, even though your child’s age may change during processing.

Your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner can be considered a dependent child if that child meets the requirements below on the lock-in date:

  • They’re under 22 years old, and
  • They don’t have a spouse or common-law partner

Children 22 years old or older qualify as dependants if they meet both of these requirements:

  • They have depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22, and
  • They are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition

With the exception of age, dependants must continue to meet these requirements until we finish processing your application.

Not sure if your child is a dependant? Check if your child qualifies by answering a few questions.

If your child’s age was locked in on or before October 23, 2017, a previous definition of dependent children may apply.

Dependent child of a dependent child
Refers to children of dependent children of the applicant and those of the spouse or common-law partner, if applicable.

Do I have to apply separately for my family members?

Family members must complete their own application forms. However, you may submit your applications together online or at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) and use one payment receipt for the total amount.

Your spouse or common-law partner and children must meet all of the requirements for temporary residence in Canada.

May my children attend school?

Your children may attend school in Canada. You must apply for their study permit at the same time as your own. If they intend to join you at a later date, they must also apply for a study permit before coming to Canada.


Children 17 years of age or less coming to Canada to study without an accompanying parent or a legal guardian must still be in the care of a responsible adult in Canada. This person is the custodian. The parents or legal guardians in the country or territory of origin and the custodian in Canada must complete a notarized Custodianship Declaration (IMM 5646) (PDF, 1.02MB). Pages 1 and 2 of the form are required when submitting the application.

Minor children between 17 years of age and the age of majority in the province or territory (18 or 19 years old) where they intend to study, may need a custodian at the discretion of an immigration officer.

Note: Custodian must reside in Canada and be Canadian citizen or permanent resident 19 years of age or older.

Custodianship is not mandatory for minors travelling with one parent or an authorized guardian. However, a signed consent documents from the non-accompanying parent should be provided.

What about minors travelling alone?

Minor children who are traveling alone must provide:

  • the contact information (name, address and phone number) of the custodian, if required, who will be responsible for them in Canada;
  • information about the school they will attend; and
  • a letter of permission from one or both parents and, if required, a notarized custodianship declaration.

If the child is the subject of a custody order, proof of custody and the other parent’s consent must be provided.

May I work while I am studying in Canada?

Yes, as an international student, you may work under any Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s work programs for students, if you meet certain eligibility requirements.

Learn more about studying and working in Canada as an international student.

May I work on campus without a work permit?

As long as you have a valid study permit and are a full-time student enrolled at a post-secondary DLI (university, community college, collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP), publicly funded trade or technical school, or private institutions authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees) you may work on campus. The employer may be either the school or a private contractor operating on campus.

May I work off campus without a work permit?

You are allowed to work off campus without a work permit for up to 20 hours a week during a regular academic session and full-time during regularly scheduled breaks, provided that:

  • you hold a valid study permit;
  • you are a full-time student enrolled at a designated learning institution;
  • the program in which you are enrolled is a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Québec;
  • the program of study is at least six months or more in duration and one that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate; and
  • you continue to fulfill the terms and conditions of your study permit, as well as the conditions to engage in off campus work (e.g., work no more than 20 hours a week during a regular academic session).

For more information, consult Off campus work for international students.

May I work as part of a co-op or internship program?

International students may work as part of a co-op program only if work is an essential part of an academic, professional or vocational training program offered by a DLI.

To be able to work, you will need a co-op work permit.

Note: If you are studying English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) or participating in general interest or preparatory courses, you are not eligible for a co-op work permit.

Are there medical requirements?

If you plan to visit or study for six months or less:

You usually do not need a medical exam.

If you plan to visit or study for more than six months:

You will need a medical exam if you:

  • have lived temporarily for six or more months in a row
    • in any of these countries or territories
    • in the one year immediately before the date you want to enter Canada. (This applies even if you are a citizen of a country that does not need a visa to enter Canada.)

Regardless of the length of time you are in Canada, you will need a medical exam if you wish to work in one of the following fields:

  • a designated occupation, such as the field of health services or with children. Examples of designated occupations include hospital staff, clinical laboratory workers, patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes, and medical and dental students admitted to attend Canadian universities;
  • to work in agricultural occupations, you will need a medical exam if you have lived in certain countries or territories.

You and your family members may need a medical exam to come to Canada. Find out more by checking the Medical examination requirements for temporary residents.

You may either:

  • have an upfront medical exam by contacting a Panel Physician; or
  • wait until your application is reviewed and medical instructions are given to you by the visa office.

Get the instructions to complete the medical exam.

When medical results are submitted up front, routine cases benefit from faster processing since we do not have to ask for them at a later date. This is done at your own cost and does not influence the final decision on your application. If you have an upfront medical exam, you must submit proof that you completed the medical exam with your application. Failure to do so may result in processing delays.

Biometric (fingerprints and photo) requirements

You may need to appear in person to have your fingerprints and photograph (biometric information) taken at a biometric collection service point. If your family members are also applying, they may need to appear in person to have their biometric information taken as well.

If you’re in Canada as a visitor and you apply for an initial study or work permit, you need to give your biometrics. As of December 3, 2019, you need to give biometrics when you apply from within Canada. You can go to a designated Service Canada location.

Find out if you need to give biometrics.

Note: If you need to give biometric fingerprints and photo, you do not need to include paper photos with your application.

How often do you give your biometrics

You only need to give your biometrics once every 10 years. You don’t need to give your biometrics again until the 10-year period expires.

If you gave biometrics in the past as part of an application for a visitor visa, work or study permit and they are still valid, you don’t need to give them again for this application.

Find out if your biometrics are still valid and when they expire by using the Check Biometric Status Tool.

When to give your biometrics

If you submit your application online or by mail.

You can give your biometrics after you:

  • pay for and submit your application and biometric fees, and
  • get a biometric instruction letter (BIL) that will direct you to a list of official locations you may choose from. You are encouraged to give your biometrics as soon as possible after getting the BIL.
If you submit your application in person at a visa application centre (VAC)

You may be able to book an appointment in advance to give your biometrics at the same time that you submit your application at a VAC. If you can’t give your biometrics when you submit your application you will have to make an appointment at the VAC to give them at a later date.

Where to give your biometrics

You need to book an appointment to give your biometrics at one of these official biometric collection service points.

We’ll start processing your application after we get your biometrics.


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