When Is a Study Permit Required in Canada?
Foreign nationals interested in academic, professional, vocational, or other education or training that extends more than 6 months at a designated learning institution, authorized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, are required to obtain a study permit. However, not all study requires a study permit. Attending pre-school, courses of general interest or self-improvement, distance learning, and audited classes does not require a study permit.
Who Is Exempt from the Study Permit Requirements?
A foreign national is exempt from the study permit requirement in these circumstances:
- Minor children inside Canada
- Family members and members of the private staff of accredited foreign representatives
- Members of the armed forces of a country designed for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act
- Short-term courses
- Registered Indians
Common Canadian Immigration Pathways for International Students
Many international students want to continue living in Canada after completion of their studies or graduation. Fortunately, there are over 100 pathways towards permanent residency that might present opportunities to extend residence in Canada. For example, a Post-Graduate Work Permit allows a qualified applicant to remain in Canada for another 3 years.
Express Entry: Canada welcomes international student graduates to join our national labor pool through three Express Entry programs:
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Canadian Experience Class
International students with at least one year of Canadian work experience may find the Canadian Experience Class an advantageous pathway to permanent residency. If you had professional work experience before attending school in Canada, you might find the Federal Skilled Worker Program the best option.
When enacted in 2015, the Express Entry Program envisioned inviting 400,000 immigrants to fill 110,000 employment spots based on the talents and skills of these new residents, talents and skills that are needed to sustain and build the Canadian economy. Every 2 weeks the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invites those applicants with the highest Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores to apply for Express Entry permanent residency status.
Provincial Nominee Program: Because the national and the provincial governments share authority over immigration, each province and territory operates a provincial nominee program to attract skilled foreign workers with permanent residence status. Quebec operates its own system and the Northern Territory of Nunavut does not have a PNP.
The PNP locate talented foreign workers throughout Canada, not just in the more populous provinces. Understanding the opportunities provided by the individual PNP can lead to finding the right area within the country for you as a university or professional school graduate and your immediate family to call your new home.
Each PNP has at least one immigration stream that operates within the federal Express Entry immigration selection system. The benefits of using Express Entry are obvious: a faster timeline for application approval, sometimes as fast as 6 months, and a bonus score for using the system, which considerably boosts the chances of receiving a provincial nomination and invitation to apply for permanent residence status.
Other Economic Class PR Pathways to Consider: In addition to Express Entry and Provincial Nomination, there are these attractive pathways open to international student graduates:
- Atlantic Immigration Program: available to those who have studies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edwards Island, or Newfoundland, and Labrador
- Hong Kong: Canada offers a special program to Hong Kong nationals who have studied in Canada
- Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot: international students interested in settling in rural or northern areas can participate in this pathway
Work on a Study Permit
You can work off campus without a work permit if you meet all of these requirements:
- you’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
- you’re enrolled in
- a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program or
- a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
- your study program
- is at least 6 months long and
- leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
- you’ve started studying
- you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Notes: If you’re on an authorized leave from your studies, or you’re switching schools and you’re not studying, you can’t work off campus. You can only return to work once you’re back to studying.
You can work on campus as many hours as you want, in addition to working off campus, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements for working on campus.
How many hours you can work off campus
During regular school terms/semesters
- You can work up to 20 hours per week. You can work more than 1 job to make up these hours as long as you continue to meet the conditions of your study permit.
During scheduled breaks in the school year
- You can work full-time if you’re on a scheduled break, such as winter and summer holidays, or a fall or spring reading week. You’re free to work overtime or work 2 part-time jobs that add up to a higher than usual number of hours.
- You must be a full-time student both before and after the break to work full-time.
- You can’t work during a break that comes before you start your very first school semester.
Who can’t work off campus
You can’t work off campus without a work permit if any of these situations apply to you:
- your study permit says you aren’t authorized to work off campus while you study
- you’re only enrolled in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program
- you’re only taking general interest courses
- you’re only taking courses required to be accepted into a full-time program
- your situation changes and you no longer meet all of the requirements to work off campus
If any of these situations apply to you, and you want to work while studying in Canada, you need to apply for a work permit.
Work as Co-op Student or Intern
Some study programs include work experience as part of their curriculum. You can apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:
- you have a valid study permit
- work is required to complete your study program in Canada
- you have a letter from your school that confirms all students in your program need to complete work placements to get their degree, and
- your co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of your study program
Spouse and Children of a Study Permit Holder
Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for an open work permit if you:
- have a valid study permit
- are eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) and
- are a full-time student at one of these types of schools:
- a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
- a private college-level school in Quebec
- a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree)
Free education for minor children of a study permit holder
Education in Canada is a provincial responsibility; there are many variations between the provinces. Minor children of a study permit holder in BC are allowed to study for free if the parent or the guardian has been lawfully admitted to Canada and is authorized to study for a period of one year or more, and is enrolled in a degree or diploma program at a public post-secondary institution in British Columbia or in a degree program at a private post-secondary institution in British Columbia.
How to Obtain a Study Permit
Time is of the essence. As soon as you receive the letter of acceptance from a qualifying college, university, or professional school, immediately submit your application for a study permit. Processing time varies by country and time of year.
To apply for a study permit, an applicant must submit:
- A letter of acceptance from a designated college, university, or professional school
- Proof of sufficient financial support to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and transportation costs back to the country of origin
- Be able to prove a clean criminal background, in some instances, submitting a police clearance certificate
- Substantiate good health, in some instances, submitting a medical examination
- Declare that the applicant will leave Canada at the expiration of the study permit, unless application is made to extend your stay
In addition, be prepared to submit a copy of your passport, present two passport photos, photocopy of any marriage certificate, if applicable, and any documents required by a visa office.
Financial Support Eligibility
To apply for a study permit, an applicant must prove financial support to cover the first year of tuition, living expenses, and transportation costs back to the country of origin. To prove financial capacity, the following information is relevant:
- Canadian bank account statements in your name
- Guaranteed Investment Certificate from a participating financial institution
- Proof of a student or educational loan from a financial institution
- Applicant’s bank statements for the last 4 months
- A bank draft in convertible currency
- Proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees
- A letter from a sponsor who will be paying your tuition and living expenses
- Proof of a scholarship or funding paid from a source within Canada
If an Application Is Approved
Upon approval of a study permit, an international student will receive
- A letter of introduction confirming approval
- An electronic travel authorization, if your country of origin requires one
- A temporary resident visa, if your country of origin requires one
Options After Graduation
Study permits expire 90 days after graduation, no matter what date is printed on the study permit. To remain in Canada, an international graduate would have to update their status within those 90 days, or risk losing the right to remain in Canada. That change in status might include:
- Apply for a visitor record
- Obtain a work permit
- Apply for another study permit to continue a different program
- Leave Canada
Begin Your Temporary Study Permit Visa Application Now With Trusted Immigration Counsel
If you are seeking a Temporary Study Permit Visa as an international student, you can trust the knowledge and experience of Canadian Currents Immigration to guide you through the process. Completing the application process and gathering all of the supporting documentation can be daunting. With the aid of an experienced immigration lawyer at Canadian Currents Immigration, you can apply for a Study Permit Visa once we determine your eligibility.
Our immigration lawyers at Canadian Currents Immigration will review your status to determine your eligibility to apply for a Study Permit and to help you through the various steps needed to secure your status.
Start with a confidential 30-minute consultation with a Canadian Currents Immigration immigration lawyer in Vancouver.
Call us now to book a time: 778-331-1164.