A study permit is a legal document which authorizes an international student to study in Canada for a limited time. Barring certain exceptions, most international students need this document to study. A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) might also be required to enter Canada based of your country or residence or citizenship.
If you are a foreign student looking to study in Canada, you need to secure a study permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). IRCC grants study permits to eligible prospective students based on a number of factors. To be eligible to apply for a study permit in Canada, you need:
- To secure an a letter of acceptance from a designated educational institution in Canada recognised by IRCC and Canadian government.
- To have your criminal and background record check done and obtain a police clearance certificate.
- To clear your medical exam.
- Prove that you will leave the country after the study permit expires or apply for a post graduate work permit if eligible.
- Prove that you have enough funds to cover your first year tuition fee and living expenses including the return transportation to your home country. The amount required varies by the number of family members. You need to have in your bank account, the tuition fee plus $10,000 for a single student for a 12 month period; $14,000 if you are accompanied by one family member and add $3,000 for each additional family member.
If you are eligible for a study permit, you are advised to gather all your supporting documents and apply as soon as you get your acceptance letter. Study permit processing time varies depending on the country where you are applying from. Applications can be done online or by paper. Depending on your country of residence, you will receive a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a Letter of Introduction confirming the approval. You can present these documents at the port of entry in Canada to get your legal study permit from the immigration officer.
Work as a Student
Coming to Canada as an international student opens up a lot of different avenues to gain exposure and work experience in the Canadian workplace market. There are options your you to work depending on different stages of your study.
- On-Campus: You are allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hours a week without having to apply for a work permit. However, you need to get your Social Insurance Number (SIN) before you start working.
- Off-Campus: As a full time international student, you can work part-time (20 hours a week) outside the campus for any employer and full-time (37.5 hours) during your semester breaks. An open work permit is required to work off campus. This work experience, however will not be considered for your future immigration application purposes.
- Co-op / Internship: If your program of study includes an internship or a co-op, you can apply for a co-op work permit. This work permit restricts you from working at any other place which will not be a part of your course curriculum.
- Post Graduate Work Permit: Once you have completed your degree/diploma or certificate from a designated institution, you are eligible to apply for a post graduate work permit (PGWP). This PGWP allows you to work full time for a certain period of time for any employer. This is an open work permit. The duration of the work permit depends on the duration of your full time study. For example, you will get a PGWP of one year for a one year program, and a PGWP of three years for a two or three year program. Work experience gained on a PGWP may help you towards your application for your Canadian permanent residency through Express Entry’s Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
- Dependent Work Permit: If you are accompanied by a spouse for your studies, they are eligible for an open work permit in Canada.