The number of international students in Canada is over 300,000, a figure that is constantly growing.
A Study Permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as CIC) that allows a foreign individual to study in Canada for a limited time. Most international students will require a Study Permit to study in Canada.
Obtaining a study permit
- If you are a prospective student, you should first decide what sort of program you wish to pursue, and determine what institution is the best fit for your field of study.
- Once one or more places of study have been pinpointed, you should learn what you must do toget admission.
- Once admission to one or more schools has been obtained, you can begin applying for a study permit and, if necessary, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). A TRV may be required if you are a citizen of a country from which Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires TRVs for entry into Canada. This is not required for citizens of visa exempt countries.
- When applying for a study permit, it is important to remember that CIC may require you to undergomedical examinations and provide Police Clearance Certificates.
- If you wish to study in Montreal or another city in the Province of Quebec, you will also requireapproval from immigration authorities of the Government of Quebec.
Once you arrive in Canada, you must maintain your study permit and obtain work authorization.
- After obtaining a study permit, students may need to renew or change the study permit during the course of their studies in Canada.
- Depending on your program, you may be eligible to work while studying
After graduation, many students choose to stay in Canada to live and work
- Many graduates are eligible to receive post-graduation work permits to facilitate their stay.
- A post-graduation work permit may help facilitate an application for Canadian Permanent Residency, especially through either the Canadian Experience Class or Quebec Experience Class.Foreign/International students with a valid study permit may work off-campus while studying in Canada.
In order to be eligible to work off campus, international students must:
- Hold a valid Study Permit;
- Be studying at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level
Remain in satisfactory academic standing as determined by their institution; and
- Be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
International students in Canada must stop working on the day they no longer meet the above eligibility requirements (e.g., if they are no longer a full-time student during an academic session), unless otherwise authorized to do so by having applied for a work permit.
The following international students are not eligible to work off-campus:
- Students enrolled in an English as a Second Language or French as a Second Language program;
- Students taking a general interest course or program; and
- Visiting or exchange students at a designated learning institution.
Once the international student graduates, a Post-Graduation Work Permit may be obtained.
Many international students who complete post-secondary education in Canada wish to stay and obtain Canadian work experience.
Once they have completed their studies in an eligible program at an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution, international graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to work in Canada.
In its effort to retain international students, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently made changes to the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program to make it more flexible and responsive to the needs of international students. Under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, international graduates can now obtain a three year open work permit, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry. They are not required to have a Canadian job offer at the time of application.
To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must:
- have studied full-time for the eight months preceding the completion of their program (please see note below) and must have graduated from:
- a public post-secondary educational institution (university, college, or CEGEP); or
- a private post-secondary educational institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and receives at least 50 per cent of its financing for operations from government grants; or
- a Canadian private educational institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees;
- apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their academic institution that they have met the requirements of their program;
- have completed and passed the program of study and received written notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma, or certificate; and
- have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit.
Potential applicants should note that:
- the program of study must be a minimum of two years for the graduate to obtain the three year work permit. However, if the program was less than two years but longer than eight months, the graduate can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the program of study. In cases where a student has obtained a one year degree or diploma from an accredited educational institution within two years of having successfully completed a previous accredited Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma, he or she may qualify for a three-year open work permit; and
- while a student must have been studying full time in the eight months preceding the date of application for an open work permit, an exception is made in the case where a student fulfills all the requirements except full time study in the last session of their program. For example, if a student only needs two courses in the final session to complete the program but all previous study has been full time, the student may still apply for the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program.