visas & working
Most international students are required to obtain a study permit (student visa) in order to study in Canada. You must have been accepted on to a recognised course at an institution before you can apply for a study permit. You must also:
- Be able to prove that you can pay for your tuition fees, living expenses and return transport
- Have no criminal record
- Be in good health
- Intend to leave Canada when you finish studying
You do not need a study permit if your course lasts six months or less, though you may need another type of permit or visa. See the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website for details.
What documentation will you need?
- Proof of acceptance on your course (your acceptance letter from the institution)
- Passport and two recent passport-sized photos
- Proof that you can financially support yourself, including tuition fees and living costs. Accepted evidence may include bank statements, proof of payment of tuition fees, proof of funding/scholarships or a Canadian bank account with the money transferred into it. The minimum amount of money you must have access to is at least CAD$10,000 ($11,000 in Quebec) per year (twelve months) to cover living costs (on top of tuition fees). Find out more at the CIC website
If you are studying in Quebec, you also need a 'Certificate of Acceptance' (CAQ). Contact your institution to find out more.
Some applicants may need to supply additional information, such as medical information or examinations, and police certificates. The visa office will advise you of any such requirements.
How to apply
You should apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance from your institution. You may be able to apply online through the CIC website, or you can send your application to your nearest Canadian visa office. A list of visa offices can be found at the CIC website. You need to fill out an application form, and collect any additional documents you need. To find out more, contact your local office or visit the CIC website.
Currently, study permits cost CAD$125. You may be able to pay your application fee online. Alternatively, you will need to contact the Canadian immigration office in your country to find out how to pay your fees. Click here for details of Canadian visa offices around the world.
Any dependants who wish to join you in Canada must apply for their own permit, in the relevant category for the purpose of their stay in Canada. Though each individual applicant must complete a form, you may submit all family member forms with one total payment together. The student must also fill out a Family Information form. For more information, click try the CIC website.
Your permit will state how long you are permitted to stay in Canada - this will usually be for the duration of your course. You may be able to extend your permit under certain circumstances, but you must apply for this extension before your permit runs out.
WorkingMost international students in Canada are able to work whilst studying, but you will normally need a relevant work permit.
You may work on-campus without a work permit if you have a valid study permit and you are a full-time student at: a public post-secondary institution in Quebec; a private post-secondary institution that receives at least 50% of its funding from government grants; or a Canadian private institution authorised by a provincial statute to confer degrees.
The Off-Campus Work Permit Program allows some foreign students to work off-campus whilst studying. You must be a full-time student at a publicly funded post-secondary institution, or in an approved programme at an eligible privately-funded institution. You must contact your institution to find out whether your programme is eligible. You can see a list of participating institutions here.
How many hours can I work?
You must apply for a work permit to work off-campus. The work permit allows you to work up to twenty hours per week during term time and full-time during school holidays.
Can I support myself with my earnings?
Whilst part-time work can help with living costs, you should be able to pay your tuition fees and living costs during your study in Canada without working. It is inadvisable to rely on earnings from employment to support yourself during your studies, due to the difficulty of finding and keeping work, and the limits on the amount you can work.
Can I do work placements?
In order to take part in work experience or internships you must apply for a work permit as well as a study permit. In order to be eligible, you must have a valid study permit and your employment must be part of your academic programme. It can also not form more than half of your total programme of study.
How to apply for a work permit
In order to qualify for a work permit, you must have a valid study permit and have been a full-time student at participating institutions for a least six of the twelve months before you apply. The cost of applying for a work permit is currently CAD$150. To find out more, please visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
If you wish to stay and work in Canada once you finish studying, you must apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. You must have graduated from a participating post-secondary institution to qualify for a work permit, and the permit cannot be longer than your original course length (e.g. if you studied for one year, your work permit cannot be for longer than one year). Click here for more information about who can apply and how to apply.