Study permit

About study permits

A study permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) which allows you to study and stay in Canada temporarily.

You must have a study permit if your program of studies is six months or longer.

You do not need a study permit, if your program or course will:

  • be six months or shorter, and
  • end before your initial immigration status expires/ends (e.g. work permit, visitor record, stamp in passport, etc).

If you hold a Post-Graduation Work Permit, you may study in programs of up to six months as long as the program ends before your work permit expires.

Some students are also study permit exempt.

Depending on your country of citizenship, you might need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada.

You might want to apply for a study permit (even if this is not required) if:

  • you will study full time and would like to work on campus, OR
  • you might extend your studies after your original course/program ends

Maintaining your student status

To maintain your student status, you will need to:

  • keep a valid study permit or have maintained status (formerly ‘implied status’), AND
  • actively pursue studies, AND
  • make reasonable progress towards completion

Study permits become automatically invalid in one of two ways, whichever comes first:

  • The expiry date on the study permit, OR
  • 90 days after written confirmation of program completion first becomes available.

If you do not submit an application to extend your study permit before it becomes invalid, you must stop studying and working immediately.

Tip: For helpful reminders to keep track of your important documents use UBC’s reminder system.

International students in Canada on a study permit are required to actively pursue studies.

Certain students are exempt from this requirement such as exchange students and refugee claimants.

These enrolment statuses are considered ‘actively pursuing studies’:

Note: UBC is required to report to IRCC on your enrolment status twice a year based on UBC’s definitions for immigration purposes.

IRCC also requires you to remain enrolled and make reasonable progress towards the completion of your studies. You are welcome to change your majors, programs or in some cases, institutions during your time in Canada. However, an officer may request additional information to ensure your intentions to be in Canada are to study.

Important considerations

If you reside in India, Nepal, or Bhutan when you apply for an initial study permit, note that the instructions for the visa offices in India currently list an unconditional letter of acceptance as a requirement when applying for a study permit.

In December 2022 the Canadian High Commission in India announced on Twitter that you can use a conditional letter of acceptance. We have confirmed that conditional letters can be used for both Student Direct Stream and regular study permit applications. The visa office instructions are in the process of being updated. 

Who needs a custodian?

In BC, students under 19 are considered minor children, and when you apply for a study permit you might need to have a custodian, who is a responsible adult (Canadian citizen or permanent resident) who will support you.

  • If you are under 17: you must have a custodian in order to study in Canada.
  • If you are 17 or 18: an immigration officer will decide whether or not you need a custodian; if you are not required to show proof of a custodian when you apply, you can apply without it; if you need it, an officer will notify you after you apply. For more information, visit IRCC’s details about minors.

If you do require a custodian:

  • We recommend arranging with a close friend or relative in Canada to act as your custodian.
  • If you do not have a close friend or relative in Canada, you can also consider a private company to provide this service.
    • First Choice International is a company that provides custodianship services in the Greater Vancouver Area. Note: First Choice International is not affiliated with UBC in any way.

You should apply for a study permit extension as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance from UBC. If you are in Canada, you must apply before your study permit becomes invalid.

Your study permit becomes invalid in one of two ways, whichever comes first:

  • 90 days after receiving written confirmation of your high school completion (even if your study permit has not expired), or
  • on your study permit’s expiry date

You can start your studies at UBC if you have applied for a study permit extension before your study permit became invalid and you’re waiting for your new study permit, as long as you haven’t left Canada after your study permit became invalid.

You can only apply for a study permit extension when you are in Canada. If you have travel plans, you have a few options:

  • Apply for an extension before you leave Canada using a trusted friend’s Canadian address and return before your study permit becomes invalid and your Temporary Resident Visa expires (if applicable). If your study permit is issued while you are away, ask your friend to send a digital copy and to mail the original study permit to you so that you can return with it.
  • If you have already left, you may come back to Canada and extend your study permit before your study permit becomes invalid and Temporary Resident Visa expires (if applicable).
  • If you will not be returning to Canada before your study permit becomes invalid or expires, apply for a study permit from outside of Canada as soon as possible.

Learn about the differences between applying inside or outside Canada and be sure to review our travelling to Canada guide.

If you already have a valid study permit, you might be able to use that permit to study at UBC.

  • If you did not complete your previous program and your study permit has not expired, you can use that permit to study at UBC. You must inform IRCC of your institution change by changing your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) online through your IRCC account.
  • If you completed a program at your previous institution, you must extend your study permit within 90 days after you received written confirmation of program completion or before your study permit expires – whichever comes first.

You can apply for an initial study permit directly at an international airport in Canada upon arrival or at most major U.S./Canada border-crossings.

Follow the same steps as outlined on the study permit tutorial.


  • You can pay the application fee ($150 CAD) directly at the border by cash, debit, or credit card.
  • If your spouse or common-law partner will accompany you, bring along documentation of your relationship, such as a marriage certificate or common-law partnership declaration.
  • If you’re under 17 years old and come to Canada without a parent or legal guardian, you must find a custodian. If you are 17 or 18 the officer will determine if you will require a custodian. For certainty, consider applying online in advance of arrival. Generally, custodianship is not required if you travel with a parent. Refer to the section “If you are under 19 years old” above for more information.

If you are currently a legal resident in Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad, and Tobago, or Vietnam you have two pathways available for a study permit application – regular stream and the Student Direct Stream (SDS).

If you have all the documents required for SDS at the time of application and provide your biometrics as soon as possible (if required), the SDS stream typically provides faster processing times. Please note that the SDS estimated processing times are not guaranteed. You should apply for your study permit as soon as possible.

One of the eligibility requirements for SDS is proof of upfront tuition payment. As of February 28, 2022, UBC offers pre-payment of tuition for eligible international students starting in any future term. You will need to submit a Student Direct Stream pre-payment application.

Students studying in the Diploma in Accounting program are not eligible to prepay tuition so cannot apply through the Student Direct Stream. We recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your UBC letter of admission and your study permit application is complete. If your registration date has not yet arrived, we strongly recommend applying through the regular stream. If your registration date has already arrived you can pre-pay your tuition and apply through the SDS stream.

If you have already registered for courses, your tuition assessment is available in the Student Service Centre (SSC). You can view your Term 1 and Term 2 tuition amounts in ‘Financial Summary’ under Finances. After making a payment it may take 1-5 days for tuition payment to appear on your account. You can get proof of payment from your SSC by selecting ‘Tuition History’ under Finances.

If you are not able to provide all documents required for the SDS stream at the time you apply for your study permit, you can improve your chances of getting a study permit and avoiding any unnecessary delays by reviewing our initial study permit tutorial and providing as many of the documents required for SDS as you can.

Apply for an initial study permit (from outside of Canada)

If you will be studying in Canada for more than six months, you require a valid study permit for the duration of your studies. Apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your Letter of Acceptance.

Tutorial: Apply for an initial study permit

Extend your study permit (in Canada)

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. Study permits can only be renewed from inside Canada.

Extend your study permit

How to amend your study permit (from within Canada)

Amendments apply only to the mistakes that are made by IRCC when your documents were issued. For example, if you are eligible to work in Canada, but the wording on your study permit states you “may not work” or “may not accept employment”, you will need to amend your study permit to get the right wording to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to work.

Tutorial: Amend your study permit

The difference between study permits and TRVs

The information on this page may change

The immigration information on this page has been reviewed and endorsed by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) in compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. However, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice. Always refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the most up-to-date information.

get help

International Student Advising

Talk to an advisor.

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  • Your student number in the subject line
  • Your name
  • Your citizenship(s)
  • All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  • Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  • If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter.

International student advising