Studying in Canada as a Minor
Chimango is a 12-year old Malawian boy. He is accompanying his parents to Canada. Chimango’s father is in Canada on a Work Permit, and his mother is an international student. They currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, close to McMaster University. Chimango’s parents wonder if he may go to school and study in Canada. As a minor, he needs to receive a proper education.
Canada supports the best interest of children, but when it comes to children’s education, not every child is entitled to study in Canada. This article refers to children who are minor and would like to study at the pre-school, primary or secondary levels.
Who is a minor child?
A child who has not reached the age of majority is a minor child. Interestingly, the age of majority varies in different parts of Canada. Look at the following table for more information.
|Age of Majority||Province or Territory of Canada|
|18||Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island|
|19||British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland and Labrador
While the age of majority is 19 in some of the provinces and territories, it is safer if you consider 18 across the board.
Which group of minor children may study in Canada without a study permit?
The following minor children may study at the pre-school, primary school, or secondary school (high school) without a study permit.
- Children who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada
- Children whose at least one of their parents is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
- Refugees or refugee claimants accompanying or not accompanying their parents
- Accompanying children of refugees or refugee claimants
- Children who attend kindergarten (JK or SK)
- If the course of study is less than six months (not a regular school program)
- Children without status
- Children whose at least one of their parents hold a valid study permit or work permit to Canada
The only group of minor children who need a study permit for studying at secondary or lower levels are those whose parents are here in Canada on a temporary status without permission to work or study.
How to apply for a study permit for a minor child?
If your child needs a study permit, then you usually need to apply for them from outside Canada. Although paragraph 215(1)(f)(i) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations allow a minor child to apply for a study permit within Canada, I have seen that sometimes immigration officers refuse these applications and advise the child to apply from outside Canada. Consult with a professional to make sure applying from inside Canada is an option.
Is an admission from a school necessary for a minor child?
Generally speaking, minor children need an admission letter from a school to apply for a study permit. However, if their parents have received a work permit or study permit in Canada, the child may apply for a study permit without an admission. Remember that all pre-schools, secondary schools, and primary schools in Canada are Designated Learning Institutions. Regardless, it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure you are enrolling your child in a respectable and reliable school.
How to extend the study permit for a minor child?
You need to apply for a new study permit before the expiry of the old study permit. The process for the new study permit is quite similar to the old one. In other words, you need to get admission for the child and apply for a study permit. However, you may apply from within Canada. If the child finishes secondary school and wants to study at a college or university, you need to apply for a new study permit regardless of the validity of the existing study permit.
Do I need to pay the tuition fees?
If the child is exempt from a study permit, they are usually exempt from tuition fees as well. Nonetheless, double-check with the local school board as their policy could be different.
Those children who need a study permit from Canada have to pay the tuition fee. Also, bursary or scholarship is rarely available to minor children. You may give it a try, but it is less likely you get a scholarship or bursary.
Does a minor child need a custodian?
If the parents or legal guardians of minor children do not accompany them to Canada, they need a custodian in Canada. Custodians are adult Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are trustworthy. They will be responsible for the well-being of the child. Of course, children also need a roof on their head and food to eat. If the parents or legal guardians do not accompany the children, they usually find homestay for them. Homestay means the child stays with a reliable Canadian family while they are in Canada.
As an agent for some school boards in Canada and as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, I help many parents with the study permit applications for them and their minor children.
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Updated: May 17, 2020