Author: Al Parsai
Last Updated On: June 27, 2021

Study Permit – Study Visa – International Students in Canada

Study Permit in CanadaAbigay, a Jamaican citizen, will complete her Master’s degree program at a reputable German university shortly. Abigay intends to continue her studies in Canada. She has already approached a University in Nova Scotia for a Ph.D. program close to her area of interest. Abigay knows she needs a study permit 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 need a study permit if the training program duration 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 Ph.D. 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 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

A study permit allows the holder to stay in Canada and study. Visa is to enter Canada. If you are coming from a Visa-exempt country, 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 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 continue your studies actively, 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 course or program duration 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.

Suppose you are a US citizen, a US permanent resident, a resident of Greenland, or a resident of St. Pierre and Miquelon. In that case, you may apply for a 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 the Canadian 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 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:

Study without a study permit

Sometimes you could qualify to study in Canada without a permit. Click here for more information!

Let us help!

If you want us to help you with a study permit application, fill out the following form:

    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?

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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.

    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.

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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.