Study permits: Other considerations

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

Bona fides

Bona fides of all foreign nationals applying for a study permit must be assessed on an individual basis; refusals of non-bona fide students may only withstand legal challenge when the refusal is based on the information related to the specific case before the officer. Therefore, while cultural context or historical migration patterns of a client group may be a contributing factor to the decision-making process, they alone are not valid or legally tenable grounds for refusal based on bona fide. If officers wish to take into account outside information, particularly where that information leads to concerns/doubts about the applicant's bona fide, the applicant must be made aware of the information taken into account and given an opportunity to address those concerns.

This interaction should be fully documented in the “Notes” section within the Global Case Management System. The onus, as always, remains on the applicant to establish that they are a bona fide temporary resident who will leave Canada following the completion of their studies pursuant to section R216(1)(b).

Distance learning

Distance learning can be through e-learning, correspondence, or internet courses. Distance learning is a process by which technology is used in ways where the student does not have to physically be in the place where the teaching is taking place.

Since by definition distance learning does not require one to be in Canada, a study permit cannot be issued for this type of course. For example, if a foreign national authorized to work in Canada is prohibited from engaging in studies as per a condition of their work permit, they are allowed to engage in distance learning courses.

However, some distance learning courses include an in-Canada portion to the program (e.g., special tutorials or the writing of final exams). If the overall course of study is greater than six months, then the student requires a study permit for the in-Canada portion of the program, even if the in-Canada portion is less than six months. The duration of the study permit should be for the duration of the in-Canada portion only.

Request to change the designated learning institution (DLI) after applying

Outside Canada

A student can request to change their designated learning institution (DLI) after submitting their study permit application if the application is still in progress. The student can submit their new letter of acceptance using the IRCC web form.

If the student’s DLI changes after their study permit has been approved, they must submit a new study permit application and pay the appropriate fees.

Inside Canada

Students undertaking post-secondary studies in Canada can transfer between institutions (both public and private), or change their course or program of study without applying for a change to the conditions of their study permit, as long as the receiving institution is a DLI.

Students should notify IRCC through their MyAccount when they transfer to another DLI.

Dual intent

Subsection A22(2) states that an intention by a foreign national to become a permanent resident does not preclude them from becoming a temporary resident if the officer is satisfied that they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay. Learn more about dual intent.

Exceptional situations

When international students are unable to fulfil their conditions as temporary residents due to circumstances entirely beyond their control (e.g., a school strike), they should not face any sanctions by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency.

For example, if international students are due to apply for a study permit extension during labour unrest, they should include with their application an explanation (from the registrar of the educational institution) of why they have been unable to continue with their studies or attend school. International students must, however, maintain valid temporary residence at all times and should maintain their status as a student during this period by renewing their study permit before it expires or becomes invalid. Once the labour unrest has been resolved, they will be able to resume their studies, provided that they continue to have valid temporary residence and a valid study permit.

Full-time versus part-time studies

The definition of full-time or part-time varies depending on the educational institution. A study permit may be issued whether or not the student’s studies are on a full-time or part-time basis (i.e., the condition that study permit holders must actively pursue studies does not require them to be enrolled on a full-time basis), as long as they are enrolled at a designated learning institution. However, the student must have a full-time status in order to work on or off campus.

Official languages

CIC is subject to the Official Languages Act. Under section 41 of this Act, the Government of Canada is committed to enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority, and fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

A study permit applicant’s intention to undertake a program of study in one of Canada’s official languages in a minority community is not on its own a basis for refusal. However, if an officer has concerns about the academic or administrative practices of a program offered by an institution, they should follow the procedures relating to “concerns about an institution” as outlined in these instructions.

Professional training programs

A professional training program is a type of additional education or training usually offered to professionals already in the field. Professional development is generally “accredited”; that is, it is recognized by an industry, association, or profession. Professional training is offered through community colleges, universities, CEGEPs, career colleges, professional associations, or unions.

In general, professional training programs require participants to complete both a study and work component in order to successfully complete the program, and obtain the given credential. However, unlike co-op/internship programs in post-secondary institutions (e.g., universities, community colleges) such programs often consist of a full-time work component and a part-time study component. The work component often comprises more than 50% of the study component.

Applicants wishing to participate in professional training programs must:

  • apply for a study permit to cover the study portion, if the study component is more than six months at a designated learning institution; and
  • apply for the appropriate work permit to cover the work portion.

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