Canada Student Visa

Obtaining a Canada Student Visa (also known as a Canadian study permit) offers foreign nationals many opportunities, and may even open doors for some individuals to apply for permanent residency in Canada during or at the completion of their studies.


Independent foreign students require a Canada student visa (study permit) to attend most educational institutions in Canada. 

The following are the various types of Canadian schools and a detailed description of each.

Primary School and Secondary School
Primary school is more commonly referred to as “elementary school”. Secondary school is more commonly referred to as “high school.” Both these levels require a Canada student visa.

Canadian Post-Secondary Educational Institutions
The next level of education after high school (and CEGEP in Quebec) is post-secondary school, such as a university or college.

There are many Canadian colleges and universities for foreign students to choose from (there are 83 Canadian universities alone!).  The provincial governments are in charge of regulating education within their respective provinces. This means that schools in different provinces may have different admissions requirements.

The federal government has recently introduced a system to designate these institutions for international students to study.  The full list of schools that have been designated and their identification numbers can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

Foreign workers and foreign students who come to Canada with dependent children will be given a Canada student visa for each child who needs to attend a Canadian elementary or high school.

As of June 1st, 2014, new regulations are in effect for International Students:

  • Applicant must enroll in and continue to study in Canada. Rather than simply showing they intend to pursue their studies in Canada, the applicants must demonstrate that they are actively pursuing their studies in Canada.
  • Study permits will only be issue to students who are pursuing their studies in an educational institution that is designated to receive international students.  Institutions recieve this designation from the province, and a list of these designated learning institutions is posted on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.  Applicants will need to provide the designated learning institution number of the school they plan to attend on their study permit application.
  • Students with a study permit will automatically be authorized to work off-campus for 20 hours per week during the academic session, and full-time during scheduled breaks without applying for a work permit. The study permit holder must be engaging in academic, vocational or professional training of at least six months which will lead to a degree, diploma or  certificate at a designated institution. This replaces the need for students to apply for a separate off-campus work permit for hours stated above.  You must continue to meet the academic standards of your program in order to be allowed to keep working off campus.
  • Only international students who are studying at a secondary school or at a designated institution may apply for a Co-Op Work Permit if a co-op placement is a necessary part of their course of study. This replaces the lenience of any international student studying abroad being eligible to apply for a Co-Op Work Permit.
  • Visitors may apply for a study permit from within Canada if they are at the pre-school, primary or secondary level, are on an academic exchange or a visiting student at a designated learning institution, or have completed a course or program of study that is a condition for acceptance at a designated learning institution. This replaces the rule that visitors are not permitted to apply for a student permit from within Canada.
  • 90 days following completion of studies, the study permit becomes invalid unless the foreign national also possesses a valid work permit or another authorization to remain in Canada. This replaces the rule that the student can remain legally in Canada following the completion of their studies until the expiration of their Study Permit.
  • Registered Indians who are also foreign nationals may study in Canada without a study permit based on their right of entry into Canada. This replaces the previous regulation, which stated that there was no existing rule whereby Indians who are also foreign nationals are exempt from the requirement of obtaining a Study Permit.
  • Until a decision is made on their application for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international graduates will be authorized to work full-time after their studies are completed. This replaces the regulation that following the completion of their studies, student awaiting approval on their Post-Graduate Work Permit are not authorized to work full-time time.

In Addition:

  • Education falls under the responsibility of provinces and territories; therefore, the educational institutions that will be designated shall further be determined by provincial and territorial governments in the coming months.
  • International students enrolling in a program that lasts 6 months or less do not require a Study Permit (this will not change). Students who come from a country who requires a Visitors Visa will still require that Visa.
  • Study permit holders who are studying at a non-designated institution when the new regulations come into effect will be allowed to complete their program of study, up to a maximum of 3 years after the new regulations take effect.
  • International students who are studying at a non-designated institution and hold either an Off-Campus Work Permit or a Co-Op Work Permit will be permitted to continue to use those work permits until they complete their program of study, up to a maximum of 3 years after the new regulations take effect.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.