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.

About your study permit

Changes to international student immigration regulations took effect June 1, 2014. The information on this webpage recently changed. Get more information about the changes by visiting the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) changes page.

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.


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.

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

Applying for an 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. 

How to apply

You can apply for a study permit online or by paper at a Visa Application Centre nearest to you. For information about how to apply, visit the CIC website.

Check the website of the visa office that is responsible for your country or region to see if you can apply by paper or in person.

Required documents

To apply for a study permit, you will need the following general documents (additional documents may be required depending on the visa office):

  • Letter of acceptance: This letter is signed by an officer of the University and proves that you've been accepted. You may submit an original or a copy of your acceptance letter. If you are submitting a paper application, an original letter of acceptance is required.
  • Passport: You must have a valid passport and/or official government-issued identification. If your passport will be expiring during your first year of study, renew it before applying for a study permit.
  • Proof of custodianship (may be required if you are under 19 years of age)
  • Medical exam and criminal history (if applicable): Check the CIC website for details before applying.
  • Proof of funds: You will need to show you can cover the cost of one year in Canada (including tuition and living expenses) by showing a bank statement, savings account passbook, bank draft, or other proof that indicates you have sufficient funds. It is recommended to submit more than one source of funds: for example, a combination of bank statements, scholarships/grants, etc. If someone else is paying for your tuition and/or living expenses, you should submit the proof of funds in their name (bank statements, etc.) as well as a letter from them confirming their support.

Processing times

Check the processing times on the website of the visa office where you will submit your application, or on the CIC website.

Letter of Introduction

If your application for study permit is approved, you will be issued a Letter of Introduction. You must present this letter to the border officer when you enter Canada. The officer will then issue your study permit at the border. Find out if you also require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada. 

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.

Last reviewed shim12/19/2014 1:21:59 PM

Example of a study permit

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.