Applying for Study Permit at a Port of Entry
Janet is a US citizen. She has recently been accepted to a Master of Laws program in Canada. She already has paid her first-year tuition fee. Janet has enough financial resources to cover her expenses in Canada. She even has leased an apartment in downtown Toronto, close to her school. Janet knows she needs a study permit to study in Canada legally. She wonders if she can apply for the study permit while she enters Canada via the Niagra Rainbow land crossing.
Canada is a vast country with hundreds of official border crossings, also known as ports of entry (POE). Canadian ports of entry include international airports, rail crossings, land crossings, ferry crossings, and see or lake ports. Most of these ports are between Canada and the United States.
If you want to study in Canada and the duration of your studies is more than six months, you need to apply for a study permit. You usually need to receive admission from a designated learning institution in Canada and also prove to the immigration authorities you meet the financial requirements and do not intend to stay in Canada illegally. When you have all your documents ready you may apply at a POE only if you are,
- A US citizen,
- A Permanent Resident of the United States or rather a Green Card holder,
- A person who has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence,
- A resident of St. Pierre and Miquelon, or
- A resident of Green Land. (Source: section 214 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)
Other people may not apply for Study Permit at a POE. Alternative options for them is applying before entering Canada and in some exceptional situations after entering Canada.
If you are eligible to apply at a POE, you need to have all the necessary documents with you at the time of application, namely:
- Proof of Acceptance: Admission letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada
- Evidence of Financial Support for at least One Year: Documents that show you can pay your tuition fee, living expenses, and other expenses such as your textbooks, etc. For example, you can show your bank statements, scholarship or bursary documents, financial documents of the person who supports you (such as their salary payslips, or bank statements), the receipt of the payment of the first semester tuition fee or the residence fee (if applicable), or any other documents that convinces the officer you won’t face financial problems in Canada.
- Proof of Identity: You need to present a valid passport. It is also a good idea to have a secondary government-issued document or ID such as a driver’s licence
- Letter of explanation: On a letter, explain why you intend to study in Canada and show you are aware of your responsibilities as an international student (e.g. engaging in full-time studies, not committing any illegal activities, no interruptions in your studies, and leaving Canada upon completion of your studies)
- Custodian declaration for minor children: Minor children who study in Canada need to have a Custodian. Click here to download the form and have it signed by the parent(s) and the custodian.
- Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ): If you intend to study in the province of Quebec you need to obtain a CAQ from the Province and present it to the Border Services Officer.
- Other Documents: Bring other supporting documents with you, such as:
- Two passport size photos (as a backup)
- Use of a Representative form duly signed by you and your representative (e.g. an RCIC), if you have one. If you encounter any problems at the border, the form proves you have a representative and potentially encourages the border services officer to call your representative to resolve the issues.
- Marriage certificate (if you are married). If your spouse accompanies you, then this document is essential, because he/she will be able to receive a visitor record or even an open work permit while you are studying in Canada.
- If you are not married but in a common-law relationship and your common-law accompanies you to Canada, bring enough documents to verify your relationship (e.g. a signed Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union form, bills that show both names with the same address, government-issued cards or documents that show similar addresses for both, joint rental or lease agreements, or joint ownership of properties or vehicles)
- Job offers from your existing employer that shows you have the intention to go back to your home country upon completion of your studies (not mandatory but helpful)
- Police clearance report from your home country and every country you have lived in for more than six months since the age of 18 (not mandatory but helpful)
- Documents that show you can complete your studies in Canada (e.g. English language test results, GMAT test results, high school diploma, etc.)
Remember you need to pay the processing fee at the POE. They usually accept major credit cards, but I highly advise having cash with you as well. You will likely pay the following:
- $150 CAD study permit processing fee
- $255 CAD processing fee for your spouse/common-law open work permit (if applicable)
Open Work Permit for the Spouse
If your spouse or common-law partner applies for an open work permit, make sure they have the following documents with them. She/he may apply for an open work permit at the border only if she/he is exempt from a visa to enter Canada (e.g. she/he is a US, UK, Japan, or Italy citizen)
- Marriage certificate or proof of common-law relationship (please see the previous bullet points for more information)
- Two passport size photos (as a backup)
- Identity documents (valid passport and one backup document such as a driver’s licence)
- Police clearance report from her/his home country and every country she/he has lived in for more than six months since the age of 18 (not mandatory but helpful)
- Documents that show she/he is capable of working in Canada (e.g. educational credentials, work reference letters from the previous employer, etc.)
NOTE: This is not an official document checklist. You need to consult with your immigration consultant or the IRCC website before entering Canada.
If you have any criminal history, you could be inadmissible to Canada. Consult with a professional before applying for a study permit.
If you have a history of medical issues (physical or mental), you need to consult with a professional. In some cases, it is better to go through a medical examination before entering Canada.
If you intend to use a land crossing to receive your study permit, make sure to read the following article as well:
If you already have an open immigration application and intend to enter Canada on a temporary basis, make sure to read the following article as well:
If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.
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This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice, nor should it be relied upon. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for official immigration advice book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.