Studying in Canada as a minor

Find out what a minor child needs to do to study in Canada if they’re not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

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Who is a minor child

Each province and territory decides the age when a person becomes an adult. This is known as the age of majority. A person under the age of majority is a “minor child”.

Province or territory Age of majority
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan 18
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Yukon 19

Caring for a minor child in Canada

The parents or legal guardians must prove the minor child will have the care and support they need during their stay in Canada. Minor children under the age of 17 must either

  • come with their parent or legal guardian or
  • have a custodian in Canada

A custodian is a responsible adult, who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, who will take care of and support the minor child. A custodian is optional for minors 17 years of age and older, but an officer can request one on a case-by-case basis.

How to appoint a custodian

To appoint a custodian, send us the Custodianship Declaration form (PDF, 1.02 MB), along with the minor child’s study permit application.

The 2 pages of the form look similar, but

  • the first page needs to be signed by the custodian and notarized (certified by a lawyer or notary) in Canada
  • the second page needs to be signed by the parents or legal guardians of the minor child and notarized in their home country

Find out if your child needs a study permit

The following table summarizes whether a minor child needs a study permit to enrol in a school. School authorities may also use the table to help determine when school fees apply.

If the child is… Documents needed Study permit required
a Canadian Passport, citizenship card or birth certificate No
a permanent resident Record of Landing (IMM 1000), Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) or Permanent Resident Card No
a foreign national accompanied by a parent who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada Child’s passport or child listed on the parent’s passport, child’s birth certificate, or Permanent Resident Card No
a foreign national accompanied by a parent in the visitor class Stamp on the child’s passport or on the parent’s passport on which the child is listed as a son or daughter Yes
alone Child’s passport. The child may have a visitor record. It’s recommended that the child gets a study permit, even when one is not required. No

with a parent who is a temporary resident and has a study or work permit

or

if neither parent is in Canada

Child’s passport or child listed on a parent’s passport. The child may have a visitor record. The parent has a study or work permit.Footnote 1 It’s recommended that the child gets a study permit, even when one is not required. No
a refugee claimant whose parents are refugees or refugee claimants Determination of Eligibility letter from IRCC. Child’s passport or child listed on a parent’s passport, or any available travel or identity documents. May also have an expired IRCC document. No
in Canada without status Child’s passport or child listed on a parent’s passport, or any available travel or identity documents. May also have an expired IRCC document. No

Why get a study permit if the minor doesn’t need one

Having a study permit means, if the minor wants to, they may be able to

Applying for a study permit for a minor

Generally, if you’re applying for a study permit for a minor (even at the primary or secondary school level), you need to provide a letter of acceptance from the educational institution in Canada that the child is going to. You may provide either the original letter of acceptance or an electronic version.

Minor children don’t need a study permit for programs that are 6 months or less, but may still apply for one before entering Canada.

Minor children who want to study for 6 months or more must apply for a study permit before they enter Canada.

Outside of Canada

Minor children who want to study in Canada must apply for a study permit before they enter Canada. This includes minor children who come with parents who already have a valid study or work permit.

Minors coming to Canada with parents who have a valid study or work permit don’t need to provide a letter of acceptance from a school when applying for a study permit.

Apply for a study permit outside Canada

Minor children (under 18 years of age) don’t need to qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to come to Canada to study. If they’re not fully vaccinated, they may be allowed to come to Canada if either of the following applies:

A border services officer makes the final decision at a Canadian port of entry about whether the minor student can come to Canada.

Already in Canada

Minors already in Canada should apply for a study permit. In some provinces or territories, they may need one to receive social services.

Minor children who are already in Canada may study without a study permit if they

  • want to go to pre-school, kindergarten, or primary or secondary school and have a parent who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
  • are refugees or refugee claimants whose parents are refugees or refugee claimants
  • came to Canada as a visitor for a course or program of studies of 6 months or less
  • will study in a course or program of 6 months or less
  • are in Canada by themselves or on a visitor status
  • have a parent (biological or adoptive) who is authorized to work or study in Canada, including temporary residents who are

Minors who don’t have a study permit must have valid visitor status during their stay in Canada.

Applying for a study permit in Canada

Minor children need a letter of acceptance if they’re

  • in Canada with a family member and
  • that family member had a work or study permit approved before they entered Canada

Study permits for primary school students are issued for a period of 1 year and can be renewed.

Study permits for students enrolled in secondary school (grades 9 to 12 in all provinces and territories except Quebec, and grades 9 to 11 in Quebec) can be issued for the full length of the intended period of study at a secondary school in Canada (maximum of 4 years).

Apply for a study permit within Canada

Extending a study permit in Canada

Minor children need a letter of acceptance to extend their study permit inside Canada. The length of a minor’s study permit is based on the letter of acceptance.

Make sure to apply for the new permit at least 90 days before the current permit expires. You can find your permit’s expiry date on the study permit itself.

If their study permit expires

Minor children must keep valid status during their stay in Canada. Usually, this means having a valid study permit. If your minor child is allowed to study in Canada without a study permit, then they must have a valid visitor visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

If you haven’t applied to renew their study permit before it expires, they’ll lose their student status and have 90 days to apply to restore it. They’re allowed to continue studying until a decision is made.

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