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 two 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

Minor children before entering Canada


Some DLIs are reopening to international students

DLIs with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province or territory are able to reopen to international students who are currently outside Canada.

See the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans.

If you plan to come to Canada as an international student after October 20, 2020:

  • Your DLI must be on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans before you travel to Canada.
  • You must have a valid study permit, or have been approved for a study permit.

This applies to all international students, whether you’re travelling from the United States or from any other country.

This change doesn’t affect study permit holders already in Canada.

If you’re already in Canada, you can continue studying at any DLI. If you leave Canada, you may not be able to return if your DLI doesn’t have a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by the province or territory in which you live.

Find out more

Minor children who want to study for six months or more must apply for a study permit before they enter Canada. This includes minor children who come with parents who had a study or work permit approved overseas.

You do not need a study permit for a program of six months or less, but you may still apply for one before entering Canada.

If you are coming to Canada with parents who have a valid study or work permit, you don’t need to provide a letter of acceptance from a school when you apply for a study permit.

Minor children 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:

  • are in kindergarten, no matter what their parents’ status is in Canada
  • want to go to pre-school, primary or secondary school and have a parent who is allowed to work or study in Canada
  • are refugees or refugee claimants
  • have parents who are refugees or refugee claimants
  • came to Canada as a visitor for a course or program of studies of six months or less
  • will study in a course or program of six months or less
  • are in Canada by themselves

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

Applying for a study permit inside Canada

You’ll need a letter of acceptance if you’re a minor child in Canada with a family member who had a work or study permit approved before entering Canada.

Extending a study permit inside Canada

You need a letter of acceptance to extend your 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 three months before the current permit expires.

You can find an expiry date on the study permit.

If your study permit expires

You must keep a valid status during your stay in Canada. Usually, this means a valid study permit. If you’re allowed to study in Canada without a study permit, then you must have a valid visitor visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

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

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