Study Permit – Study Visa – International Students in Canada

Study Permit in CanadaAbigay, a Jamaican citizen, will complete her Master’s degree program at a respectable German university in the near future. Abigay intends to continue her studies in Canada. She has already approached a University in Nova Scotia for a PhD program that is close to her area of interest. Abigay knows she needs a study permit to be able to study in Canada, but she has no clue what a study permit is and how she can receive it. 

If you intend to study in Canada, you probably need a study permit. The following article explains what a study permit is, who needs to apply for one, and who is exempt from it.

Who Needs a Study Permit?

A foreign national who intends to study in Canada needs a study permit if the duration of the training program they are taking is more than six months. If the program finishes in less than six months, there is no need to apply for a study permit. Some examples of programs that call for a study permit are the following (assuming the duration is more than six months):

  • A bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD program at a University
  • A post-secondary certificate or diploma at a private or community college
  • Studying at an elementary or secondary school (at a private, boarding, or public school)

Which Programs are Exempt from a Study Permit

If the program you are taking finishes under six months you may not need a study permit. However, you may still need an eTA, a TRV, or a TRP to be able to enter Canada. Some examples of such programs are the following:

  • A one-week crash course about a specific subject
  • A training seminar that lasts only a few days or a couple of weeks
  • Attending an English as a Second Language (ESL) course or a French training course, if the program is less than six months and is not part of a 6+ months diploma program
  • Taking a course that is a prerequisite to be able to get accepted to a post-secondary diploma or a university degree program (Please note that this specific course cannot be part of the diploma or degree and it is just the prerequisite)

What is the Difference Between a Study Permit and a Visa

Study permit allows the holder to stay in Canada and study. Visa is for the purpose of entering Canada. If you are coming from a Visa exempt country then you may only need an eTA to enter Canada (US citizens do not even need an eTA). In this situation, you can apply for the study permit and if the permit is approved the immigration authorities will also issue you an eTA.

If you are from a country that you need a visa to enter Canada, you apply for a study permit and if you get approved the immigration authorities will also issue you a TRV. In both situations, when you reach the Canadian borders you will receive a paper copy of the study permit. Remember that the study permit is not for re-entry. You may only enter Canada if you hold a valid eTA or TRV or TRP. As I mentioned earlier, US citizens are exempt from eTA or TRV, but some of them might need a TRP (because of inadmissibility to Canada).

For How Long is a Study Permit Valid?

An immigration officer usually issues the study permit for the duration of your studies. However, you need to actively continue your studies or you will lose it. If your study permit is expiring soon and you have not completed your studies yet, you could apply for a new study permit.

Who May Study Without a Permit?

The following people may study in Canada without a permit.

  • The duration of the study program is less than six months
  • Certain employees of foreign governments and their accompanying family members
  • Minor children of parents who are in Canada with a valid work permit or study permit or if their parents are permanent resident or citizens of Canada
  • Certain members of armed forces who are working in Canada
  • Permanent residents and citizens of Canada
  • First Nations, Inuits, and Métis

If the duration of the course or program is less than six months, you may still apply for a study permit to be on the safe side.

Where to Apply for a Study Permit

Everyone may apply for a study permit before entering Canada.

If you are a US citizen, a US permanent resident, a resident of Greenland, or a resident of St. Pierre and Miquelon, you may apply for study permit when entering Canada. Read the following article for more information.

The following groups of people may apply for a study permit after entering Canada.

  • They already hold a study or work permit
  • They hold a TRP (a Temporary Resident Permit) that is valid for at least six months
  • They are subject to an unenforceable removal order
  • They are minors who would like to study at preschool, primary, or secondary school
  • They are exchange students
  • They have completed a prerequisite course in Canada and now wish to enroll in a program that is longer than six months
  • They reside in Canada and have applied for permanent residency as a spouse or common-law partner in Canada class
  • Their application for refugee protection is approved and they have applied for permanent residency
  • They have applied for permanent residency under Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) considerations and they have received an initial approval
  • They are family members of the last three groups mentioned above

Is Every Learning Institution Acceptable?

If you are studying at the preschool, elementary, or secondary level, you may select any school of your choice. If you are studying at the post-secondary level you need to get admission from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).  Read the following article for more information:

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.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting

English language assessment form for Canadian Study Permit French language assessment form for Canadian Study Permit Persian language assessment form for Canadian Study Permit Spanish language assessment form for Canadian Study Permit

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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 you rely on it as legal advice. 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.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches the official immigration consulting courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al who holds a Masters degree from Yorkville University is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented hundreds of applicants from more than 30 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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