Study permits and visas

The most important piece of paper you need before you arrive in Canada as an international student is a study permit.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You must apply for a study permit if you are coming to Canada for elementary or secondary school, language school, college or university studies that last longer than 6 months.
  • Before you can apply for a study permit, you need to have a letter of acceptance from a school, university or college in Canada.
  • This means you need to find a school or program, apply to your program(s) of choice and receive an acceptance letter from a school, college or university in Canada.

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Learn more about study permits and visas:

How to get a study permit

Before you apply for a study permit, you need:

A designated learning institution is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are designated learning institutions.

If you plan to attend a post-secondary school, such as a college or university, make sure it’s on the list.

If you need to take certain courses before you are accepted into your program (conditional acceptance), you’ll be given a study permit for the duration of those courses. Once the college or university accepts you into your chosen program, you must apply to extend your study permit.

If you plan to attend a college or university in Quebec, current provincial rules state that international students can only attend a designated learning institution chosen by the Quebec government. You’ll also need a study permit from the Government of Canada to study in Quebec.

About your study permit

As an international student with a study permit, you must:

  • Always be enrolled at a designated learning institution
  • Make progress toward finishing your study program
  • Respect the conditions listed on your study permit
  • Stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements
  • Leave Canada when your permit expires

First, it’s important to confirm that you are eligible to apply for a study permit.

Check your study permit eligibility

Apply for a study permit

There are 2 ways to apply for a study permit: Online or by going to a visa application centre in your country.

We suggest you apply for a study permit as soon as you have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian college or university. It can take up to 3 months to get a study permit, depending on the country where you are applying.

Biometrics collection

You may need to give your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) when applying for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit for Canada. If you need to give your biometrics with your application, you will have to go in person to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) closest to you.

Find out if you need to give your biometrics.

If you’re required to give your biometrics, don’t submit your study permit application by mail. Instead, please submit it at the VAC when they collect your biometrics.

What to do after you apply for a study permit

You can check the status of your study permit application on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website. The information is updated daily. First, you need to set up an account on the site.

Sometimes, the processing centre will ask you to send more information. Learn more about the application process.

How to apply for a travel or work visa

Not everyone needs a travel or work visa, but before you arrive in Canada, you should determine whether your plans require you to get a travel or work visa.

Stays less than 6 months

If your time in Canada will be less than 6 months, you’ll need one of the following visas as an international student:

To find out which travel visa you need, answer these online questions.

Work visa during your studies and beyond

If you are attending a post-secondary program in Canada, and you want to work,you can. International students with a study permit may work part-time (less than 20 hour a week) without a work permit.

If you want to work full-time or be part of a work placement while studying, you’ll need to apply for a work permit. Your spouse or common law partner can also apply for a work permit.