For students registering for courses starting in September 2024, UBC has switched to a new system, Workday. Please check your email for setup instructions. Summer Session students should continue using SSC.

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August 29, 2023
3 mins read

What to do if your study permit doesn't arrive in time

Waiting for your study permit can be stressful, but it’s important to wait until you have all your documents ready before coming to Canada. 

It is important not to travel to Canada before you receive your “Letter of Introduction" (study permit approval letter) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The Letter of Introduction is what you present to the officer at the airport or border in Canada to get your study permit. Without the letter, expect difficulties if you attempt to enter Canada.

Only US citizens and permanent residents, as well as residents of Greenland and St. Pierre and Miquelon, can apply for a study permit at the airport or border on arrival.

Even if you are allowed to enter Canada as a visitor, you cannot begin studies until you have a study permit. (Only students studying for less than six months can study without a study permit.)

For most students, the first day of university is September 5, 2023. You may still get your study permit and travel to Canada in time. However, if and when you are sure you cannot get your study permit on time, please follow these steps:

Contact an Academic Advisor in your Faculty. Your academic advisor can advise you on the last day you are permitted to arrive and attend classes for Winter Session Term 1 (September to December). If you are not able to arrive in time, they can also speak to you about beginning studies in January or if it’s possible to defer your start date to next September, depending on your program. For most students, the last day to add/drop Winter Session Term 1 courses without a “withdrawal” standing on your transcript and to be eligible for a tuition refund is September 18, but please confirm this with your academic advisor who can give you more information about making the decision to deferVantage College students and exchange students should contact their respective program advisors. If your study permit has not been approved by the last day to add/drop courses in Winter Term 1, it would be risky to remain enrolled in Winter Term 1 courses since there is no guarantee of when or if you will get your study permit.

If your academic advisor suggests that you begin studies in January 2024, make sure you withdraw from all the courses you are enrolled in for Term 1 before September 18, 2023 by logging into the Student Service Centre (SSC). You would be considered to have deferred enrolment for immigration purposes and would not need and would not be eligible for an authorized leave from studies. After you withdraw, your iMED health insurance fees will be automatically adjusted to January as well.

If your academic advisor suggests that you defer your admission to September 2024, make sure you withdraw from all the courses you are enrolled in for both Term 1 and Term 2 before September 18, 2023 by logging into the Student Service Centre. Your iMED health insurance fees will be removed from your account, and will automatically be added again when you enroll in the future.

If you were planning to live in residence, inform UBC Student Housing of your situation by emailing

If you are registered for Jump Start, please email to let the Jump Start team know your situation. If you are unable to participate in Jump Start because of delays in receiving your study permit, you may be eligible to receive a refund for the program.

The processing times posted on the IRCC website are historical averages, where some applications may be processed faster, and others may take longer than the published processing time. The SDS processing time is not guaranteed either. Unfortunately, there is no option to get rushed processing for study permit applications and International Student Advising is not able to influence processing times or contact IRCC on your behalf.

If your application is past the published processing time, you can send a webform to request an update and request rushed processing. After you fill out the first page, you can upload documents, such as a current letter of enrollment showing your registration for in-person classes in September (you can get this from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting "Proof of Enrolment Letters" under Grades and Records).

See our FAQ for additional guidance.

Before making travel plans, be sure to review our travelling to Canada guide.

If you have questions, contact International Student Advising for help.

We hope your application is processed soon and look forward to welcoming you to UBC!