If you are not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada you will be required to obtain a study permit in order to study in Canada.
However, not everyone must have a study permit in order to study in Canada. A person may be exempted from the requirement of a study permit in the following situations:
- Minor children attending pre-school, primary or secondary levels,
- Family members or private staff accompanying a foreign representative by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada, and
- Members of the armed forces of a country designated for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act.
Minor children accompanying one or both parent(s), who are temporary residents (not temporary foreign workers or students), require a study permit.
A study permit is not required for:
- attending nursery schools or kindergarten
- distance learning
- audit courses (where a student is permitted to attend an academic course without obtaining credit for it)
- taking courses included in tour packages as a secondary activity for tourists.
- following a course which is not academic, professional or vocational in nature that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada
- a course or a program of study which is less than 6 months in duration and that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada.
In order to meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), you must:
- Satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your studies.
- Have a letter of acceptance from an educational institution.
- Prove that you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay in Canada to pay for :
- tuition fees,
- living expenses for yourself and accompanying family members, and
- transportation costs to and from Canada for yourself and accompanying family members.
- Be law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity.
- Produce any additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.
- Not be a risk to the security of Canada.
- Be in good health (complete a medical examination, if required).
According to CIC/IRCC, a full-time student is a person, whose program of study is normally at least 15 hours of instructions per week, leading to a degree, diploma or certificate, unless otherwise defined by the educational institution. The Regulations make no special mention of part-time versus full-time studies. Pursuant to the IRPA, a student requires a study permit whether or not their studies are on a full-time or part-time basis.
Work permits for students:
A. Working on campus
You may work on campus at the institution where you study without a work permit if:
- you are a full-time student at:
- a public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university, or a collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec
- a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution, and receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify) or
- a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees and
- you have a valid study permit.
B. Working off campus
On June 1, 2014, international students were allowed to work off campus without a work permit. If you hold a study permit, you may now:
- work up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and
- work full-time during scheduled breaks.
Please note that you must meet certain requirements. In particular, you must:
- have a valid study permit,
- be a full-time student,
- be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level, and
- be studying in an academic program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
You must stop working on the day you cease to meet the requirements listed above (for example, if you are no longer a full-time student during an academic session).
C. Co-op and internship programs
To be eligible for a work permit, you must meet the following conditions:
- You must have a valid study permit.
- Your intended employment must be an essential part of your program of study in Canada.
- Your employment must be part of your academic program, certified by a letter from a responsible academic official of the institution.
- Your co-op or internship employment cannot form more than 50 percent of the total program of study.
D. Working after graduation
The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience. A work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program cannot be valid for longer than the student’s study program. For example, if you graduate from a four-year degree program, you could be eligible for a three-year work permit if you meet the criteria. If you graduate from an eight-month certificate program, you would be eligible for a work permit that is valid for no more than eight months.
E. Work available to your spouse or common-law partner
Your spouse or common-law partner may apply for a work permit if:
- you are a full-time student at: a public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university or collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec; a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution, and receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently, only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify); or a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees
- you have a valid study permit or
- you have a valid post-graduation work permit and work in an occupation in Skill Level 0, A or B of the National Occupational Classification.
Work permits for your spouse or common-law partner will be issued for the same period of time as your study or work permit.
Last updated: 18.06.2016