In general, a foreign national who wishes to engage in academic, professional, vocational or other education or training in Canada must first obtain a study permit. An international student may be issued a study permit if he or she meets the criteria applicable to all temporary resident applicants, as well as the criteria specific to students.
GENERAL PROVISIONS - Study Permit
A foreign national must show to the satisfaction of the officer that she will comply with all the restrictions imposed by the visitor visa. In general, a visa may be issued only if an examination establishes that the foreign national:
- Used the appropriate application documents required for the temporary resident class;
- Applied to the appropriate office;
- Will leave Canada by the end of the authorized period of stay;
- Paid the processing fees;
- Holds a passport or similar document that may be used to enter the country that issued it, or another country;
- Meets the medical examination requirements or an exception;
- Meets the requirements applicable to the temporary resident class; and
- is admissible to enter Canada.
Criteria for a study permit
In order to obtain a study permit, a foreign national must also provide the following:
- A letter of acceptance from the educational institution of intended study;
- proof of ability to pay the tuition for the intended course or program;
- proof of financial support during period of study;
- proof of ability to cover transportation costs to and from Canada;
- a CIC medical examination, if required; and
- a Certificat d'acceptation du Quebec (Quebec Certificate of Acceptance, or CAQ) if studying in Quebec.
extending your study permit
A foreign national may apply to extend his or her study permit. In order to extend a study permit the following conditions must be met:
- A renewal application must be submitted before the expiry of the current study permit (renewal should be made at least 30 days before the expiry date of the current study permit);
- Since entry into Canada, foreign national has complied with the terms of his or her immigration status;
- Foreign national is in good standing with the educational institution;
- Foreign national remains eligible for a study permit; and
- Foreign national continues to comply with the conditions, other than the expiry date, set out on the expired study permit.
study permit Restrictions
A study permit may restrict the following:
- Type of study or course taken;
- Educational institution attended;
- Location of study;
- Time and period of study;
- Time and place where a foreign national should report for a medical examination; or
- Time and place where a foreign national reports to present evidence of compliance of any applicable conditions.
Study permit exemptions
A foreign national may not need to obtain a study permit if he or she falls into any of the following categories:
- Family members of diplomats or foreign accredited representatives;
- Members of the armed forces of a country designated for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act; or
- Persons who are registered Indians.
Work permit required
Humanitarian Reasons. A student may apply for a work permit if the become destitute due to no fault of their own. Students meeting this exception may be granted an open work permit, which allows them to work for any employer for a specific period of time.
Post-Graduation Work Permit. Foreign nationals in possession of a valid study permit and who are about to graduate form a post-secondary institution may apply for an open work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP). An open work permit allows a foreign national to seek and accept employment with any employer for a specified period of time. Once granted, the permit is valid for the length of the program of study and may not exceed three years.
To get a PGWP, a student must:
- Be 18 or older when you apply;
- Have continuously studied full-time in a study program at least eight months long;
- Have a document from your school that confirms completion and passage of all program requirements;
- Have graduated from a:
- public post-secondary school, such as a college, trade/technical school or university, or CEGEP in Quebec or
- private post-secondary school that operates under the same rules as public schools (currently applies only to certain private post-secondary institutions in Quebec) or
- private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer, leading to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP) or
- Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree) but only if you are enrolled in a study programs leading to a degree as authorized by the province
- Apply for a work permit within 90 days of when it was confirmed that your program was completed; and
- Have a valid study permit when you apply for the work permit.
You are not eligible to apply for a PGWP if you:
- Studied in a program that was less than eight months long;
- Studied for more than eight months but not continuously (for example, you took a semester off);
- Took part in a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC);
- Took part in a Government of Canada Awards Program funded by GAC;
- Had funding from GAC;
- Took part in the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada-Chile;
- Took part in the Canada-China Scholars Exchanges Program;
- Took part in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program;
- Completed a study program by distance learning either from abroad or from within Canada; or
- Already had a post-graduation work permit following any other program of study.
Work permit not required
On-Campus. With some limitations, a student in Canada is authorized to work on campus without a work permit, provided that the student is enrolled full-time at a post-secondary designated learning institution and maintains full-time status at the institution. The employer can be the institution, a faculty member, a student organization or a self-employed student, a private business, or a private contractor providing services to the institution on the campus.
Students working as graduate assistants, teaching assistants, or research assistants are considered to be within the scope of "on-campus" employment.
Off-Campus. A student may work off-campus. To work off-campus the student must be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary academic, vocational, or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Quebec that is at lease six months long and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate at a designated learning institution.
A student may work off campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the regular academic session, but may work full-time during schedule breaks.
Co-op or Internship Program. In some situations, work experience is an essential and integral component of their program of study. A student may apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:
- Student has a valid study permit;
- Work is an essential part of student's study program in Canada;
- Student obtains a school letter confirming that all students in the program must complete work placements to obtain their degree; and
- Students co-op or internship is 50 per cent or less of the total program of study.
Student is not eligible for a co-op work permit if he or she is studying:
- English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL); or
- General interest courses or courses to prepare for another study program.
In these cases, a valid work permit is required.