Study permit: Who can apply

Eligibility requirements

You can study in Canada if you:

  • are enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • prove you have enough money to pay for your:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • obey the law, have no criminal record and get a police certificate (if required)
  • are in good health and get a medical exam (if required)
  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires

Get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream

Do you live in China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines or Vietnam? You might be able to get your study permit faster by applying online through the Student Direct Stream.

Your responsibilities

While studying in Canada you must:

  • make progress towards completing your program
  • respect any conditions listed on your study permit
  • stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements and
  • leave Canada when your permit expires

Depending on your case, there may be conditions on your study permit such as:

  • if you’re allowed to work in Canada
  • if you’re allowed to travel within Canada
  • the date you must stop studying

People who don’t need a permit to study in Canada

Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. The cases below are exceptions.

Short-term studies (6 months or less)

You can study at any school in Canada without a study permit if:

  • your course or program lasts 6 months or less
  • your studies aren’t part of a longer program and
  • you’ll complete all your studies within the time we approved you to stay in Canada (usually 6 months after you enter)

If you’re taking prerequisite courses, you should get a study permit, even if the courses are less than 6 months long. If you don’t, you’ll have to apply for a study permit before you can start your full study program. Depending on processing times, you may not get it in time to start your studies.

Family or staff of foreign representatives

You may not need a study permit if you’re a family or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada that has been accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Your embassy can contact GAC to find out if you need one.

Members of foreign armed forces

If you’re a member of a foreign armed force on official duties in Canada, you don’t need a study permit. If your family members, including minor children, want to study in Canada, they may need one.

Registered Indians in Canada

You don’t need a study permit if you have Registered Indian status in Canada, even if you’re a citizen of another country.

Minor children in Canada

Minor children don’t need a study permit if:

  • they’re in kindergarten
  • they’re refugees or refugee claimants
  • their parents are refugees or refugee claimants or
  • they’re in pre-school, primary or secondary school, and they’re already in Canada with a parent who has a work or study permit

When minor children reach the age of majority (18 or 19 years old, depending on the province or territory), they must apply for a study permit if they want to keep studying. Learn more about minors studying in Canada.

Why get a study permit if you don’t need one?

There are 2 reasons you may want to get a study permit even if you don’t need one:

  1. You may be able to continue studying (as long as you meet the requirements)
  2. You may be able to work on-campus or off-campus

Examples of this are:

  • if you’re studying for less than 6 months, but are looking to study in a longer program or
  • if you’re the child of a parent who’s authorized to work or study in Canada, but you will soon turn 18 (and will no longer be a minor)

If you apply for a study permit even though you don’t need one, you should include a letter explaining why you want one with your application.

1. Continue studying

If you already have a study permit and your study situation changes (for example, you want to study for more than 6 months or apply to a longer study program) you can continue studying in Canada while your permit is valid. If you need to extend your permit, or it expires while we process your application for an extension, you’ll also be able to continue studying because you have implied status.

However, if you don’t have a study permit already, you would need to stop studying or wait until you get a study permit to start or continue your studies.

An example of this is if you’re taking prerequisite classes required for a longer study program. You may not need a study permit for your prerequisite classes, but you may need one for your full study program.

In this case, you should get a study permit even though you don’t need one right away. If you don't, you may not be able to start your longer study program, depending on whether or not your study permit is processed in time.

2. Work on- or off-campus

If you have a study permit and you’re registered as a full-time student at a DLI, you may be able to work on-campus or off-campus. If so, your study permit will include a condition that says you’re allowed to work while studying.

If you don’t have a study permit, you can’t work while you’re studying in Canada. In this case, you need to apply for a work permit.

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