Many students think that a study permit and a student visa mean the same thing when they are actually two different immigration documents with different purposes.

Canada Student Visa

A Canada student visa is a document which a student needs to enter Canada if he or she is from a visa required country.


Study Permit

A Study Permit is an official document issued by an immigration officer that allows a foreigner to study in Canada. Generally speaking, a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who wishes to study in Canada must obtain a study permit.

However, not everyone is required to obtain a study permit in order to study in Canada. A person may be exempted from the requirement of a study permit in the following situations:

• Minor children attending pre-school, primary or secondary levels (note: minor children accompanying one or both parent(s), who are temporary residents and not allowed to study or work in Canada, require a study permit)
• Family members or private staff accompanying a foreign representative by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada, and
• Members of the armed forces of a country designated for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act.

Further, if you study the following courses, a study permit is generally not required either:

• attending nursery schools or kindergarten.
• distance learning.
• audit courses (where a student is permitted to attend an academic course without obtaining credit for it).
• taking courses include in tour packages as a secondary activity for tourists.
• following a course which is not academic, professional or vocational in nature that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada.
• following a course or a program of study which is six (6) months or less that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada.

Important aspects in applying for a Study Permit:

– You must obtain a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada
– You must prove that you have enough money to pay for your:
* tuition fees
* living expenses for yourself and any accompanying family members
* return transportation for yourself and any accompanying family members

– You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate. However, this does not mean that you can not apply for a study permit if you have a criminal record. You just need to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) at the same time to overcome your criminal inadmissibility.

– You must be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary. Again, this does not mean you can not apply for a study permit if you have medical issues. You just need to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) a the same time to overcome your medical inadmissibility.

– You must satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada after completion of your study

– You should also have a study plan, approximately one to two pages in length, including the following information:

* why you wish to go to Canada to study the program at the school by which you have been accepted;
* your overall educational goals; and
* how this Canadian diploma/certificate/degree will increase your employment chances when you return to your home country.

Generally, if you want to study in Canada, you must apply for a study permit at a Canadian visa office located outside Canada before entering the country. However, as an exception, you can apply for a study permit from inside Canada if:

  • You already have a study permit,
  • You have a work permit,
  • You have a temporary resident permit valid for a minimum of six months,
  • You have asked for refugee status in Canada and are waiting for the decision from the Refugee Protection Division (RPD),
  • You have applied for permanent residence in Canada under one of the following categories and your application has been approved in principle:
    • spouse or common-law partner in Canada,
    • live-in caregiver,
    • humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
  • You have been recognized as a Convention Refugee or Protected Person by the RPD,
  • You have received a negative decision on your refugee claim but the Government of Canada is not yet ready to remove you from the country and you cannot pay for your basic needs without working,
  • You are a family member of a person listed above,
  • Your application for a study permit was approved in writing by a Canadian visa officer but your permit was not given to you when you entered Canada, or
  • Since June 1, 2014, you are in Canada without a study permit and:
    • are studying at the preschool, primary or secondary level,
    • are a visiting or exchange student studying at a designated learning institution, or
    • have completed a course or program of study that is a prerequisite to your enrolling at a designated learning institution.


If you are interested in studying in Canada, MaxCan Immigration can help you! RCIC Mary Zhang has years of experience with study permit applications.

If you are in the GTA, you can come to our offices in Markham, Ontario to extend your permit or change your status. MaxCan Immigration is conveniently located for those of you in

  • Markham
  • Scarborough
  • Pickering
  • Richmond Hill
  • anywhere in the Greater Toronto ARea


More About Study Permits and Student Visas