Study permit

If you will be studying in Canada for more than six months, you require a valid study permit for the duration of your studies. You are responsible for ensuring your study permit is valid at all times.

What is a study permit?

A study permit is a document that gives you permission to study and remain in Canada on a temporary basis.

Permission to enter Canada is not given by a study permit but by a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). You’ll need a TRV unless you are from a visa-exempt country.

Why do I need it?

If you’re planning on doing your degree at UBC, or attending UBC as an exchange or visiting student for more than one term, you need to apply for a study permit before you travel to Canada. You need a valid study permit before you start classes at UBC.

If your program of studies or course in Canada is shorter than six months, you are not required to apply for a study permit. However, although a study permit is not required in this case, it’s important to apply for one if you would like to work on campus or extend your studies after the initial six-month period.

You are required to "enroll" *(see the definition below), remain enrolled until completion of your studies, and actively pursue studies if you want to remain in Canada on a study permit.

Important notes about your study permit:

  • There are no minimum number of credits required to be considered enrolled.
  • Your study permit will become invalid 90 days after you: complete your studies (even before your study permit expiry date), OR on the expiry date of your study permit, whichever comes first
  • CIC may request that you show you are complying with conditions of your study permit. This may be a random assessment or due to specific concerns about your case.
  • If your study permit expires and you have not applied for a new one, you will be able to restore it only if you met the conditions of your study permit.
  • People who do not comply with the conditions of their study permit may be asked to leave Canada and must not return for a year without written permission.

When do I need it?

Most international students accepted to UBC while abroad will apply for study permits online, by paper, or via a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in their home country before traveling to Canada. You must apply for your initial study permit outside Canada.

If you are attending high school in Canada 

You may not study at UBC until you receive a post-secondary study permit. You need to apply for a new (post-secondary) study permit in order to change conditions of your permit. You may do this from within Canada while your secondary study permit is still valid.

If you are attending a post-secondary school in Canada

Your post-secondary study permit may be used to study at UBC as long as it is valid. You may apply to extend it from within Canada while it is still valid.

Every study permit has an expiration date, and you must renew it before it expires if you’re planning on studying in Canada past your study permit’s expiration date.

How to apply for your initial study permit from outside of Canada

If you will be studying in Canada for more than six months, you will need to apply for a study permit. It can take several months to process your application, so make sure to submit it as soon as you accept your UBC offer.  


When to apply: As soon as possible after receiving your Letter of Acceptance from UBC.
Cost: $150
Processing time: Check IRCC processing times

Choose ONE of the following (generally, online or in person at a VAC is recommended)

  • Online
  • OR in person at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)
  • OR by paper; sent to the appropriate visa office (look under "Applicants for Temporary Resident Visas, Study Permits and Work Permits)
  • OR in person at a Canadian border (only available to US citizens, permanent residents, and residents of Greenland/St. Pierre and Miquelon)
Application form: Application Form can be found here
  • Application for a Study Permit Made Outside of Canada [IMM 1294]

 General Supporting Documents (All Students)

  1. Letter of acceptance (Download your UBC Letter of acceptance from the UBC Student Service Centre)
  2. Proof of Means of Financial Support - for general advice on proving financial support click here, as well as the instructions specific to your visa office
  3. Copy of your passport (include the bio-data page plus all pages with stamps, visas or markings)
    • Your study permit will not be issued past the validity of your passport. If you do not have a passport, apply immediately. If your passport is soon to expire, extend it first. If this is not an option or passport processing time is too long, apply for a study permit with your passport. After you arrive in Canada, extend your passport and study permit from within Canada.
  4. Passport-style photo: If applying online, you need a high quality digital photo; the digital photo specifications are located in the online ‘help’ function in your MyCIC document checklist.

Additional Supporting Documents (specific to your individual situation)

Visa Office Specific Requirements - Important

  • Each visa office has specific requirements for study permit applicants in the country/region. To find the study permit document checklist specific to your visa office go here, and select your country of residence, click "get country specific documents", and select "visa office instructions".
  • We suggest you submit the documents requested by the online system and all the additional documents as required by your individual office, based on your individual situation to avoid delays or rejection.
  • If applying online, you can merge all the additional visa office-specific documents into one file and upload the file in the "letter of explanation" section.

“Schedule 1” [IMM 5257]

Application for Temporary Resident Visa [IMM 5257]: Required only if you answer “yes” to one of questions 3 - 6 on page 4 of the “Application for a Study Permit Made Outside of Canada” [IMM1294]

Medical exam

Some students need to take a medical exam with a “Panel Physician” approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). To check if you need to take a medical exam, click here. See a list of IRCC Panel Physicians here. See a list of "designated countries" here.

If you require a medical exam, you have two options:

  1. Apply for your study permit first and wait for a visa officer to send you a medical exam request, OR
  2. Take a medical exam with an approved IRCC panel physician before submitting your study permit application and then include the  results in your Initial study permit application. If you choose this option it may save you time, especially when you need time to gather all the required documents before submitting your study permit application.


Some students need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photos). To check if you need to provide biometrics, click here. If so, you will need to visit a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in person.

Additional Information

  • Review the IRCC User Guide and IRCC’s advice about Getting the Right Documents and Avoiding Delays.
  • Fill out all application forms electronically on a computer. If you have trouble opening the PDFs, try saving onto your desktop and opening them manually. When you finish, press the “Validate” button to ensure your application form is filled out completely. You can still make changes after the application is successfully validated, but remember to validate again. You may edit and validate as many times as needed.
  • Some students also require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada. To find out if you need a TRV to enter Canada, click here. You do not apply for a TRV when you apply for an initial study permit from outside of Canada. If you are approved for a study permit and you require a TRV, you will automatically be issued a TRV. Usually, once your study permit application is approved. IRCC will ask for your passport; you will send your passport to your visa office so they can place a sticker (TRV) on a page of your passport. You can then enter Canada. 
  • If your study permit application is approved, IRCC will issue you a Letter of Introduction. You must print this out and present it to the border officer when you enter Canada. At the Canadian border or airport, the officer will then issue your actual study permit (a piece of paper).

Under 19 years old

In BC, students under 19 years are considered as minor children and when they apply for a study permit, they may be required for custodianship.

According to Citizenship + Immigration Canada (CIC), minors under 17 years old are required custodianship. However, students between 17 years old and 19 year old may or may not be required for custodianship. This will be at the discretion of an immigration officer. For more information check out CIC details about minors.

If a student is required to have a custodian, it is best for the student and his/her family to arrange with a close friend or relative in Canada to act as custodian. If there is no one in their acquaintance who can serve in this way, they may consider a private company to provide this service.  First Choice International is a company that provides custodianship services in the Greater Vancouver Area.  Please note that First Choice International is not affiliated in any way with UBC. 

Applying for a study permit at the border

Citizens and permanent residents of the United States, as well as residents of Greenland and St. Pierre and Miqueloncan apply for a study permit directly at an international airport in Canada or at most major US/Canada border crossings.

What you need to apply

  • Collect all documents required for a study permit application as if you’re applying by paper. Don't forget to check if you need a medical exam in advance, prepare the correct supporting documents, and read the instruction guide carefully.
  • Pay the application fee ($150) directly at the border by debit or credit card, or cash in Canadian dollars.
  • If you’re under 17 years old and come to Canada without a parent or legal guardian, you must secure a custodian. If you’re 17 or 18 and studying in British Columbia, the visa officer may require you to secure a custodian as well.
  • If your spouse or common-law partner will accompany you, make sure to document your relationship, for example: marriage certificate or common-law partnership declaration, and other supporting documents.

If you prefer to apply for the permit in advance (online or by paper), check the website of the visa office that is responsible for your country or region or apply online on the CIC website.



UBC international students will be considered by UBC to be “enrolled for immigration purposes” in a given term if they are:

  • Registered (“REGI” on the Student Information Service Centre (SISC, this is the *faculty and staff-facing side of the SSC)) or
  • Continuing (“CONT” on SISC*) or
  • Eligible (“ELIG” on the SISC*) – this is only applicable to undergraduate students (including those in post-baccalaureate programs) during summer session who have not had their degrees conferred and are eligible to register

Note: There are no minimum number of credits required to be considered enrolled.



Last reviewed shim2/7/2017 6:33:32 AM

Every study permit has an expiration date, and you must renew it before it expires if you’re planning to study in Canada past your study permit’s expiration date.

Four-letter codes that define your student status for immigration purposes

Record of your enrolment status is on the Student Information Service Centre (SISC), which is accessed by UBC staff. If you’re unclear about your student status for immigration purposes, you can check in with graduate studies staff, academic advisors or your ESP to see what's on record in the SISC. The following definitions include the 4-letter code that is on your record as your registration status in the SISC.