In your quest to study abroad, you must have come across the term ‘study permit’. Some countries like Canada, South Africa etc refer to their student visa as study permit.

A study permit is a written authorization issued by an officer allowing foreign nationals to study in Canada. This becomes invalid 90 days after your study program has been completed. Your program is considered complete when you receive a notification of program completion from your school.

Who needs a study permit?

Generally, foreign nationals must obtain a study permit in order to study in Canada.

However, foreign nationals may be exempted from requiring a study permit in the following situations:

  • Family members or private staff accompanying a foreign representative accredited by Global Affairs Canada; or
  • Members of the armed forces of a country designated for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act.

Exemptions for obtaining a study permit

There are activities that do not require a study permit. Generally, a study permit is not required for:

  • attending preschool;
  • completing a distance learning program;
  • following audit courses (where a student is permitted to attend an academic course without obtaining credits);
  • taking courses included in tour packages as a secondary activity for tourists;
  • taking a course which is not academic, professional or vocational in nature that is of general interest and can be completed within the period authorized upon entry to Canada;
  • taking a course or a program of study which is six months or less that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada.

Important information: If your program of study is six months or less but you intend to continue your studies in another program, you should apply for a study permit before coming to Canada. This allows you to apply to extend your stay as a student from within Canada. Otherwise, you will have to apply for a study permit from outside of Canada.

How to Apply

Before applying for a study permit at a Canadian visa office, you must first get a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

The letter must be issued by the Canadian institution (e.g. school district, University, etc.) on official letterhead, show the exact amount of tuition fees you are required to pay, the anticipated starting and finishing dates and the date by which you need to register.

Once you have your acceptance letter, you can complete and submit an application for a study permit.

There are certain documents you need to apply for a study permit, such as proof of acceptance, proof of identity, proof of financial support and a letter of explanation.

Terms and Condition of your study permit

The conditions listed on your permit tell you:

  • the educational level you are permitted to study at;
  • that you must remain enrolled at a designated learning institution;
  • that you must continue making progress toward completing your program;
  • if you are allowed to work in Canada;
  • whether you need to report for a medical examination, observation or treatment;
  • if your travel within Canada is restricted; and
  • when you must leave Canada.
  • If you wish to change any of the terms and conditions on your study permit, including your level of study, you must submit a completed Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada.
  • If you are a post-secondary student with a valid study permit, you do not need to submit an application if you want to change your program of study or the institution where you are studying. You need to notify CIC through your MyCIC account if you are transferring from one designated learning institution to another, though.
  • It is an offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act if you do not comply with the conditions imposed on you when your entry into Canada was authorized, or when your study permit was issued.
  • You may voluntarily leave Canada, or you may be subject to an inadmissibility determination or hearing. This could lead to your removal from Canada. You will lose your temporary resident status and any permit you have, if you break any of the conditions of your stay.

Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

Click here for details on how to apply