Study permits: Guidelines on minor children

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Who is a minor?

In Canada, each province or territory defines the age of majority. Anyone under the age of majority at the time of their arrival in Canada is considered to be a minor child.

  • The age of majority is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
  • The age of majority is 19 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon.

Is a study permit required? [A30(2)]

Minor children already in Canada are authorized to study without a study permit at the pre-school, primary or secondary level if

  • they are either accompanying parents claiming refugee status or are claimants themselves;
  • one of their parents (biological or adoptive) is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • one of their parents (biological or adoptive) is authorized to work or study in Canada; this includes temporary residents who are
    • work permit holders,
    • study permit holders,
    • visitor status holders (e.g., visitor record holders) who are either authorized to work without a permit, as per section 186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), or authorized to study without a permit, as per section R188; or
  • neither parent is physically in Canada.

Minor children intending to study are required to apply for a study permit before entering Canada.

It should be noted that minor children of a temporary resident (visitor) who is not authorized to work or study require a study permit to study in Canada.


Applying from overseas

The study permit exemption for minor children pursuant to subsection 30(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) applies when a minor child is already in Canada.

Visa offices processing temporary residence applications made outside Canada by minor children who want to study in Canada should consider them as students and not as visitors, even when they are accompanying a parent who is authorized to either work or study in Canada. In other words, a study permit is required, unless they are exempt from requiring one pursuant to section R188.

Applying at a port of entry (POE)

A minor child coming to Canada to study should have applied and obtained a letter of introduction (approval in writing) at a visa office, or be entitled to apply for a study permit upon entry pursuant to section R214.

If they have not done so, and because POEs are considered “in Canada” for the interpretation of subsection A30(2), officers at a POE may authorize entry of the child as a temporary resident within the visitor class if all the requirements are met (e.g., the accompanying parent is permitted to work or study in Canada) and if the child is not otherwise inadmissible. The child should be documented on a visitor record. When the child ceases to be considered a minor, an application for a study permit must be submitted if they wish to continue studying.

Applying inland

A minor child who is studying in Canada at the preschool, primary or secondary level without a study permit pursuant to subsection A30(2) can apply for a study permit from within Canada pursuant to subparagraph R215(1)(f)(i). They must provide proof of their academic status in Canada (e.g., a letter from the institution confirming enrolment) and proof of their parent’s status in Canada, if applicable.

In order to assess whether the minor child is accompanying a parent who is authorized to study or work without a permit, officers should examine the temporary resident status of the parent. If the parent in Canada has valid temporary resident status as a visitor and is authorized to work or study without a permit as per the IRPR, their accompanying minor child in Canada is authorized to study without a study permit at the pre-school, primary or secondary level as per subsection A30(2). Should they choose to apply for a study permit, they may do so inland pursuant to subparagraph R215(1)(f)(i).

When applying to extend their stay, a minor child may apply for either an extension of their study permit, if they require one, or an extension of their stay as a temporary resident if subsection A30(2) authorizes them to study without the need to apply for a study permit once in Canada.

Pursuant to subsection A30(2), a minor child who has applied to restore their status may continue to study while their application is being processed.

Note: Minor children are required to submit a letter of acceptance when applying to extend their study permit.

Officers should ensure that

  • arrangements have been taken for the child’s care in terms of custodianship (if applicable)
  • the child has health coverage
  • there is evidence of funds to cover the child’s stay in Canada
  • academic progress has been made, unless the minor child is the dependant of a worker or student in Canada

All in-Canada visitor extension, study permit and work permit applications must be submitted electronically, with some exceptions. Consult the list of programs that are exempt from the in-Canada mandatory electronic application requirement.

When a custodian is required

The term “custodianship” is more appropriate for the purposes of a study permit application than the legal term “guardianship”, as guardianship involves an individual being legally appointed to manage the affairs of an individual as opposed to being deemed to have custody of the student.

Section A39 states that a foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable to support themselves. In the case of a minor child, officers must be satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place for the care and support of the child while in Canada.

Consult the standard custodianship declaration form (PDF, 1.02MB) for either the parent(s) or guardian(s), and the custodian.

A custodianship declaration is not required when the minor child is accompanied by at least one parent.

Mandatory custodianship requirement (under 17 years of age)

If an applicant is less than 17 years of age at the time of application, a custodian in Canada will continue to be required. The applicant must submit a notarized declaration signed by the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) in the country of origin, as well as one signed by the custodian in Canada, stating that arrangements have been made for the custodian to act in place of a parent. Officers must be satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place for the care and support of the minor student. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s), and the appointed custodian must acknowledge that the custodian will reside within a reasonable distance to the minor applicant’s intended residence and school. The custodianship declaration should include the information and signature of both parents, where applicable.

Discretionary custodianship requirement (17 to 18 or 19 years of age)

Applications from minors between 17 years of age and the applicable provincial or territorial age of majority at the time of application should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In assessing whether the custodianship requirement should be applied, officers may exercise discretion in requesting additional documentation or an interview. Officers should be satisfied with respect to whether an applicant can provide care and support to themselves while in Canada.

Officers should consider factors such as the following:

  • Level of study – the applicant’s intended level of academic study (those attending secondary school should normally require a custodian)
  • Level of independence – the applicant’s current or past living arrangements and whether previous studies were completed away from their principal residence
  • Financial capacity – the applicant’s financial self-sufficiency outside of parent(s) or guardian(s) (e.g., scholarship, government sponsorship)
  • Travel experience – the applicant’s previous travel history, participation in international exchange programs, etc.
  • Accessibility of the parent(s) or guardian(s) – the location of the applicant’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and their accessibility for institutions and medical centres to contact them in case of emergency situations
  • Informal arrangements – whether arrangements (less formal than custodianship) have been made to provide support and care for the minor student
  • Risk environment – the applicant’s safety and well-being in relation to risk indicators for irregular child migration and the potential for exploitation or trafficking

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