Study Permits

About study permits

A study permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) which allows you to study and stay in Canada temporarily.

Who needs a study permit?

You must have a study permit if your courses or program of studies is longer than 6 months.

Who does not need a study permit?

You do not need a study permit if your program or course:

  • will be 6 months or shorter, and
  • will end before your initial immigration status expires/ends (such as work permit, visitor record, stamp in passport, etc).

If you hold a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), you may study in programs of up to 6 months as long as the program ends before your work permit expires.

Some students are also study permit exempt.

Depending on your country of citizenship, you might need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada.

You might want to apply for a study permit (even if this is not required) if:

  • you will study full time and would like to work on campus,
  • you will study full time as an exchange student and would like to work on and/or off campus, OR
  • you might extend your studies after your original course/program ends

Maintaining your student status

To maintain your student status, you will need to:

  • keep a valid study permit or have maintained status (formerly 'implied status'), AND
  • actively pursue studies, AND
  • make reasonable progress towards completion

Keep a valid study permit

Study permits become automatically invalid in one of two ways, whichever comes first:

  • The expiry date on the study permit, OR
  • 90 days after written confirmation of program completion first becomes available.

If you do not submit an application to extend your study permit before it becomes invalid, you must stop studying and working immediately.

Tip: for helpful reminders to keep track of your important documents use UBC’s reminder system.

Actively pursue studies

International students in Canada on a study permit are required to actively pursue studies.

Certain students are exempt from this requirement such as exchange students and refugee claimants.

These enrolment statuses are considered ‘actively pursuing studies’:

Note: UBC is required to report to IRCC on your enrolment status twice a year based on UBC’s definitions for immigration purposes. 

Make reasonable progress towards completion

IRCC also requires you to remain enrolled and make reasonable progress towards the completion of your studies. You are welcome to change your majors, programs or in some cases institutions during your time in Canada. However, an officer may request additional information to ensure your intention to be in Canada is to study.

Important considerations

If you are under 19 years old

Who needs a custodian?

In BC, students under 19 are considered minor children, and when you apply for a study permit you might need to have a custodian, who is a responsible adult (Canadian citizen or permanent resident) who will support you.

  • If you are under 17: you must have a custodian in order to study in Canada.
  • If you are 17 or 18: an immigration officer will decide whether or not you need a custodian; if you are not required to show proof of a custodian when you apply, you can apply without it; if you need it, an officer will notify you after you apply. For more information, visit IRCC’s details about minors.

If you do require a custodian:

  • We recommend arranging with a close friend or relative in Canada to act as your custodian.
  • If you do not have a close friend or relative in Canada, you can also consider a private company to provide this service. 
    • First Choice International is a company that provides custodianship services in the Greater Vancouver Area. Note: First Choice International is not affiliated with UBC in any way.

Coming to UBC from a Canadian high school

You must apply to extend your study permit within 90 days after written confirmation of high school completion first becomes available, or before your study permit expires, whichever comes first.

Apply as soon as you receive your letter of admission from UBC.

If you are applying within Canada: apply for a study permit extension

If you are applying outside of Canada: apply for an initial study permit

Coming to UBC from a Canadian college or university

If you have a valid study permit and did not complete your previous program before coming to UBC, you can use that permit to study at UBC. You must inform IRCC of your institution change by changing your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) online via your MyCIC account.

If you completed your previous program in Canada before coming to UBC in Canada, you must apply to extend your study permit within 90 days after receiving confirmation of program completion, even if your study permit has not expired.

I am a US citizen or permanent resident, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon.

You can apply for an initial study permit directly at an international airport in Canada upon arrival or at most major US/Canada border-crossings.

Follow the same steps as outlined on the study permit tutorial. Note:

  • You can pay the application fee ($150 CAD) directly at the border by cash, debit, or credit card.
  • If your spouse or common-law partner will accompany you, bring along documentation of your relationship, such as a marriage certificate or common-law partnership declaration.
  • If you’re under 17 years old and come to Canada without a parent or legal guardian, you must find a custodian. If you are 17 or 18 the officer will determine if you will require a custodian. For certainty, consider applying online in advance of arrival. Generally, custodianship is not required if you travel with a parent. Refer to the section "If you are under 19 years old" for more information.

I want to apply through the Student Direct Stream

If you are currently a legal resident in Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, or Vietnam you have two pathways available for a study permit application – regular stream and the Student Direct Stream (SDS)

To apply under SDS, you have to meet certain criteria, including proof of upfront tuition payment to UBC. Most students are able to pay for and receive a receipt of tuition payment after they register for courses in late June or early July. Furthermore, you must have all required documents at the time of application to be eligible for SDS, including medical exams. The estimated processing times for SDS may not be accurate. Although SDS provides faster processing, we do not recommend delaying your application and waiting until early July to apply for your study permit in order to apply through SDS. 

We recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your UBC letter of admission and your study permit application is complete. If your registration date has not yet arrived, we strongly recommend applying through the regular stream. If your registration date has already arrived you can pre-pay your tuition and apply through the SDS stream. 

Under the regular stream, you can improve your chances of getting a study permit (and avoiding any unnecessary delays) by completing as many of the following as you can:

  • Review our initial study permit tutorial and apply online
  • Complete your medical exam ‘upfront’ before you apply, if you need one
  • Provide a Guaranteed Income Certificate (GIC) for CAD$10,000 that meets the conditions set out by IRCC
  • Provide an IELTS scores of 6.0 or higher in each language skill
  • Provide a valid offer letter
  • Provide a police certificate, if required (check your visa office’s instructions)
  • Provide financial evidence of liquid funds for one year’s worth of tuition (for example, an education loan from a national bank, bank statements showing liquid funds, etc.) 

If you have already registered for courses, your tuition assessment is available in the Student Service Centre (SSC). You can view your Term 1 and Term 2 tuition amounts in 'Financial Summary' under Finances. After making a payment it may take 1-5 days for tuition payment to appear on your account. You can get proof of payment from your SSC by selecting 'Tuition History' under Finances.

As of June 15, 2021, you can now pre-pay your tuition to apply through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) if you are entering your first year of studies in September 2021. The deadline to apply for pre-payment is Friday, September 3, 2021. Students beginning studies in 2021 Winter Term 2 (January to April, 2022) and Diploma in Accounting students are not able to pre-pay tuition. 

Keep your contact information up to date

If your contact information changes after you have submitted an application, be sure to update it through IRCC's webform.

Apply for an initial study permit (from outside of Canada)

If you will be studying in Canada for more than six months, you require a valid study permit for the duration of your studies. Apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your Letter of Acceptance.

Go to the initial study permit tutorial

Extend your study permit (in Canada)

Every study permit has an expiration date, and you must renew it before it expires if you’re planning to study in Canada past your study permit’s expiration date. Study permits can only be renewed from inside Canada. 

About study permit extensions

How to amend your study permit (from within Canada)

Amendments apply only to the mistakes that are made by IRCC when your documents were issued. For example, if you are eligible to work in Canada, but the wording on your study permit states you "may not work" or "may not accept employment", you will need to amend your study permit to get the right wording to apply for a SIN in order to work.

Go to the amend your study permit tutorial

The difference between study permits and TRVs

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International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

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