Study in Canada without a study permit

Most international students need a study permit to study in Canada. However, can you study in Canada without a study permit? Some exceptional situations allow foreign nationals to study in Canada without a permit.

Your status matters!

You may study in Canada without a permit if you fall under any of the following categories:

The rest of this article is about foreign nationals only.

Study in Canada without a study permit because of the nature of the studies

Sometimes the nature of the studies exempts a person from a study permit. Here is a list:

  • Courses for self-improvement or general interest
  • Pre-school programs (i.e., pre-kindergarten)
  • Auditing courses (i.e., you only attend the class, but you do not take the exams or get credit)
  • Distance learning

Distance learning is a bit tricky. If you are outside Canada, you may attend online training or distance training without a study permit. However, it would be best if you considered the following:

  • If part of the program is inside Canada and in person, you need a study permit.
  • Generally speaking, distance learning does not qualify you for PGWP or similar benefits. Nonetheless, check out special measures because of COVID-19.

Study in Canada without a study permit because of the Regulations

The immigration Regulations, IRPR, exempt a few groups from obtaining a study permit, namely:

  • Private staff and family members of diplomats and similar foreign representatives. Of course, GAC assists with the determination of who qualifies for this option.
  • Members of the armed forces who are visiting Canada under the Visiting Forces Act! However, their family members may still need a study permit to study in Canada.
  • Registered Indians
  • The duration of the course is less than six months. Of course, they must complete the whole program in less than six months.

You cannot break down a lengthy educational program into smaller pieces and then take them without a study permit.

What about minor children?

Most minor children may study in Canada without a permit. The Immigration Act, IRPA, defines which minors may study without a permit. Since this is a lengthy subject, I have published another article for it.

Can I apply for a study permit even if I do not need it?

If the duration of your studies is less than six months, you may still apply for a study permit. Of course, there are some benefits in holding a study permit:

  • College or university students who hold a study permit may work on the campus of the school. Unfortunately, working off-campus is only available if the duration of studies is more than six months.
  • When holding a study permit, you may later apply for another study permit from inside Canada.

Immigration officers are aware of these benefits. Therefore, you still need to convince them; you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay. Also, keep in mind that officers only issue a study permit if you are studying at a Designated Learning Institution.

Let us help!

Whether you intend to study in Canada without a study permit or apply for a study permit, fill out the following form. Of course, you may alternatively book a consultation session with me.

    How old is the student (required)

    Has the student taken an English or French test?

    How knowledgeable the student is in English or French languages (one language is enough)

    Has the student evaluated their educational credentials in Canada?

    How much money the student has to support their living expenses and tuition in Canada for the first year of studies in Canada?

    At which level do you wish to study?

    Does the student have accompanying family members?

    Do you have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian educational institute?

    Additional information (optional but helpful)

    Please share more information to help us better assess you:

    Are you currently inside Canada?

    <<Read this article in Spanish>>

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

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    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, 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.

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.