Most foreign students need a Study Permit in order to be allowed to join a study program in Canada. This article will let you know what are the exceptions of getting the Permit, and learn more about the application process and the processing times.

The Study Permit is an authorization issued by the government of Canada that allows you to join a Designated Learning Institution. 

Some Study Permits can impose a set of conditions, for instance, if you are authorized or not to have a job in Canada.

There a few exceptions to getting a Study Permit to be able to study in Canada, namely if:

  • you are going to study for a short-time period, less than 6 months, and your program is not part of a another longer study program,
  • you are a staff of family member of a diplomatic representative. You should reach Global Affairs Canada to check if you are eligible to a Study Permit exemption,
  • you are part of foreign armed forces, stationed in Canada,
  • you have a Registered Indian status (foreign citizen or Canadian), or
  • you are a minor (under 18 or 19 years old, age limit depends on the province/territory) and (i) one of your parents has a Study or Work Permit (post-secondary studies are not exempt in this case), or (ii) you or your parents are refugee claimants or refugees. If your school asked you to take some courses (English or French classes) before accepting you (conditional acceptance), you will only be issued a permit for the length of these courses. When you get accepted into the main program, you can apply to extend your stay as a student from within Canada.

    For studying in Quebec, you will have to apply first for a “Certificat acceptation du Québec (CAQ)”. After approval of the CAQ, you can then apply for the Study Permit.

The validity of the Study Permit is generally equal to the program of studies’ duration, plus an additional 3 months. This additional time is given to allow you, either (i) to prepare an application for another permit or visa (Post-Graduate Work Permit, or Visitor for example), or (ii) to prepare your departure to your home country.

In case you want to continue studying in Canada after the expiration of your Study Permit, you need to apply for an extension of your permit.

Your Study Permit will expire 90 days following the completion of your study program (either (i) the date you receive a communication from your institution that you completed the program, or (ii) the date you receive your credential).

It is important that you understand that your Study Permit is not a visa. You will not be allowed entry to Canada without an eTA or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), and your Permit.

​When you first apply for your Permit, you will be issued, either an eTA or a TRV depending on your situation, and you will not have to pay additional fees. However, you will need to check the validity of your eTA and TRV, and if they are single-entry or multiple-entry, so you can renew it if you want to leave Canada and re-enter during your studies

There are two available possibilities for applying for the Study Permit:

  • Applying online: you must have a debit/credit card and a camera/scanner. You have to start your application here. Then, you will have to set up a GCKey account (remember to memorize the 4 questions & answers you pick, as any time you open your account, you will be requested to answer 1 of the 4 questions you previously chose). You then have to fill out, sign, scan and upload the required forms, and also scan and add in the system all the necessary documents supporting your application.


  • Applying on paper: you have to download, fill out, print and sign the required forms. Bring them to the closest Visa Application Center along with all the necessary documents supporting your application.

In regards to this Permit, a paper application is simpler than an online application because:

  • Visa Application Centers (VACs) may respond to your queries in your native tongue and advise in case the application is incomplete,
  • VACs can provide application photographs for a fee, so you can be sure that their format is the right one,
  • VACs usually allow the payment of fees in cash, and
  • If you applied online or on paper, you will, either way, have to drop off your passport to the closest VAC. If online, you will still be billed at a rate almost equal to that of a direct application with them (on paper). You will only gain a few dollars (no more than $5).

You cannot apply online for this program, only by mail. After completing and signing the requested forms, assembling the supporting documentation, and paying your fees, you will have to send the application by mail to this address.

You may be required to provide your biometrics (fingerprints scanning and photograph) to a VAC. The fee is $85 per applicant and maximum $170 for a family of 2 or more members.
For more information on biometrics (if you have to provide them or no), check this page. 

You have to go to a doctor authorized by IRCC to undergo Medical Exams. 

The application fee for a Study Permit is $150.

You may need to supply police certificates for any country you have resided in for a minimum of 6 consecutive months. Wait until you are invited to supply any police certificate before submitting it.
There are specifications for each country, use this link and choose your country for detailed information. 

Depending on your country (from where you will apply), processing times for a Study Permit can vary tremendously.

The processing times from your country can be found here. Select “Visiting, studying, working temporarily”, then “Study Permit”, then the country from where you will apply.