Study permit is a document we issue that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada. Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. Make sure you have all the documents you need before you apply. You should apply before you travel to Canada.

However, some foreigners may submit an inland application for a study permit if you are:

  • You are subject of a removal order that is unenforceable
  • You applied for a study or work permit before entering Canada which was approved, but not issued at a port of entry; or
  • You are a primary or secondary student with visitor status in Canada; or
  • You are a visiting or exchange student with visitor status in Canada; or
  • You are a student who has completed a program of study that is a prerequisite to my enrollment at a designated learning institution with visitor status in Canada; or
  • You applied for permanent residence and was found eligible (first stage approval) under one of the following classes:
    • Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada
    • Humanitarian and Compassionate cases
    • Protected Persons in Canada
    • Live-in Caregiver in Canada
  • You are a spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of a person who:
    • Holds a Work Permit for a job in National Occupation Classification 0, A, B;
    • Holds a study permit and is a full-time student at a university, community college, CÉGEP or other authorized educational institution;
    • Holds a Temporary Resident Permit that is valid for six months or more;
    • Applied for Permanent Residence to an office in Canada and was determined to be eligible for Permanent Resident status (first stage approval)
    • Is subject of a removal order that is unenforceable.
  • ​You are a spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of a person who is:   
    • a foreign government officer in Canada on an exchange agreement
    • a military personnel assigned to Canada
    • a participant in professional sports activities or events
    • an employee of a foreign news company
    • a religious worker

Foreign nationals may enter Canada or remain in Canada without a study permit to attend a course or program of study of 6 months’ duration or less. This exemption helps to facilitate access to short-term courses, regardless of their subject matter. The course or program of study may be part-time or full-time and should be completed within the period authorized upon entry (i.e., up to 6 months).


Subsequent course or program of study

Generally, foreign nationals in Canada without a study permit wishing to enroll in a subsequent course or program of study must apply outside Canada and obtain a study permit in the normal manner (e.g., at a Canadian visa office abroad).

Foreign nationals without a study permit will not be granted an extension of their authorized stay as a visitor simply for the purpose of completing a short-term course or program of less than 6 months that would last beyond their original authorized period of stay.

It is therefore recommended that foreign nationals be encouraged to apply for a study permit for a short-term course or program of study if they intend to apply for another program afterwards or work on the campus of the university or college at which they are a full-time student. 


Prerequisite Program

Prerequisite program is the courses that the applicants need to finish first in order to meet the relevant admissions or entry requirements for the subsequent program. Normally the prerequisite program is ESL or language course. For example, if the admission requirement is score 6.5 in IELTS and the applicant has not reached the English level, he/she need to finish a short-term language course as required. After he/she finishes the prerequisite course and reaches the corresponding level, he/she can receive a conditional offer by the subsequent program. For those applicants who complete the prerequisite program under DLI schools/programs in Canada with their visitor status, they can apply for a study permit in Canada.


Difficulties for change visitor status to study permit in Canada

  • Applicants’ language level should meet the admission criteria in a short period of time which will be a huge challenge for the applicant’s learning ability and language skills. If the applicant has been in a language class for more than 6 months or if the subsequent school considers that he/she is unable to graduate, then he/she will not be able to submit a study permit application in Canada.
  • The application for study permit should include that the applicant needs to finish prerequisite program first in order to meet the requirement of subsequent program/school. This should be shown in the application of study permit for the immigration officers to consider whether the applicant has the eligibility for apply study permit in Canada or not.
  • Prerequisite program must be closely linked to the subsequent program. Situations or reasons such as no position for a subsequent program or the school refuses to provide offer will directly affect the pass rate for the study permit.
  • In the case of a study permit application in Canada, the immigration officers will verify the applicant’s purpose of study based on his/her age, educational level, working experience. 


Who should consider change visitor status to study permit

  • Applicants who are over 28 years old. As age increases, the difficulty and requirements of the applicant are also increased. In the case of this type of applicants, unless the applicant’s own conditions are particularly superior (such as IELTS score reaches 6 or more, adequate fund proof, detailed income source), most applicants will face a refusal.
  • Applicants with financial problems and proofs. Financial proofs for applying Canada study permit is stricter than other countries. It is not enough to provide a reasonable source of funds, but also need to provide bank deposits for more than 12 months which will be difficult for Chinese applicants.
  • Applicants whose educational level does not match with the program that they are going to apply. For example, if the applicant has obtained a bachelor’s degree, but now he is going to apply for a diploma program in Canada, his purpose of study will be questioned by the immigration officer. Applicants need to provide additional documents and evidence to explain officer’s concerns.


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