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.
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 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’:
- Full-time studies
- Part-time studies
- Scheduled breaks
- The following select gaps in studies that are up to a maximum length of 150 days:
- An authorized leave from UBC (only for programs that have an approved leave of absence policy at UBC)
- A switch in programs or institutions (whether you completed the program or not)
- A pause in studies due to a strike or permanent closure
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.
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.
If you have a valid study permit and did not complete your previous program before coming to UBC, 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 via your MyCIC account.
If you completed your previous program before coming to UBC in Canada, you must apply to extend your study permit within 90 days after receiving confirmation of program completion, even if your study permit has not expired.
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.
The visa offices in China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Senegal and Morocco have two pathways available for a study permit application – regular stream and the Student Direct Stream (SDS).
We recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your UBC letter of acceptance through the regular application process.
To apply under SDS, you have to meet certain criteria, including proof of upfront tuition payment to UBC. Most students are able to pay for and receive a receipt of tuition payment after they register for courses in late June or early July. Although SDS provides faster processing, we do not recommend waiting until early July to apply for your study permit.
If you have already registered in courses, your tuition assessment is available in the Student Service Centre (SSC). You can view your Term 1 and Term 2 tuition amounts under ‘Finances’, then ‘Financial Summary’. To request a tuition receipt, visit Ask UBC and select ‘Graduate’ or ‘Undergraduate’, ‘Currently Studying at UBC’, then ‘Tuition and Fees’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.