Open Study Permit Canada

Study in Canada with an open permitGilbert, who is a Filipino, is in the process of applying for a work permit in Canada. However, his family is also accompanying him. Gilbert’s daughter is a grade seven student. Consequently, she will study in Canada. Gilbert wonders if he needs to apply for a study permit for her and if yes, will that be an open study permit in Canada.

If a foreign national intends to study in Canada, they usually need to obtain a study permit. Of course, they typically require an acceptance letter, also known as an admission letter from a Designated Learning Institution first.

Who does not need a study permit

Generally speaking, if you intend to study in Canada, you need a study permit. However, you could be exempt from a study permit under the following circumstances:

  • A spouse, a common-law partner or a dependent child of foreign diplomats or specific similar roles
  • A member of certain visiting armed forces to Canada
  • If the duration of the course is less than six months
  • A registered Indian within the meanings of the Indian Act
  • When the person has an implied status in regards to their previous study permit, and they have applied for a new one
  • Foreign minor children of anyone who is inside Canada other than those who are on a temporary resident status

Although you are exempt from a study permit for short-term programs, you may still apply for one. However, you need to justify why you are applying for a study permit if it is not mandatory.

What is an open study permit?

An open study permit happens when it does not limit you to a specific school. Generally speaking, you hold an open study permit if you can apply for a study permit without an admission letter. An acceptance or admission letter is a letter by a DLI. Since the letter is by a specific school, the following study permit limits you to that school. Therefore, study permits issued with acceptance letters are not ordinarily open study permits. However, another indication of an open study permit is the study permit document. If the document clearly says you may study at any school, then you are holding an open study permit.

Who may apply for a study permit without an acceptance letter

Paragraph 219(1)(2)(a) of IRPR allows a person to apply for a study permit without an acceptance letter. Of course, you qualify only if you are the family member of a foreign national who is applying for a study permit or a work permit. Regardless, an officer won’t issue you a study permit if they do not approve the principal applicant’s study or work permit. If the officer approves both of them and you, then you hold an open study permit.

What is a typical case of an open study permit in Canada?

A typical case is when the parents apply for study or work permit from outside Canada. However, they have minor children who are accompanying them. Therefore, they have to apply for open study permits for their children. If the child is already inside Canada, and the parents receive their study or work permit, then the child does not need a study permit. However, if they are in the process of applying from outside Canada, they must request an open study permit for their children.

Can I change my school if I don’t hold an open study permit?

You could change your school or the program or education level. However, you must hold a valid study permit, and you are actively studying in Canada. Regardless you need to inform IRCC about your decision. Also, make sure to consult their website or a professional to make certain exceptions do not apply to you.


The options for an open study permit are few. However, if you hold one, you may freely choose your school in Canada.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, please do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

The characters and places in the articles:
All the characters and locations in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Therefore, any resemblance in names, dates, and places is coincidental.

Important Notes:
For our official addresses, trust this website only. We currently do not have offices outside Canada. Therefore, anyone who claims to be our agent is committing fraud. Also, note that we do not issue any work permits or study permits or similar documents. The government of Canada has the sole authority to issue such material.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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