As an international student you require valid immigration documents to live and study in Canada. Please use the resources below as a guide to help you get started and maintain your immigration and legal documents.
For information about how COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship, and passport services, visit this Government of Canada webpage.
If you need help navigating this information, please reach out to one of our International Student Advisors.
For more detailed information, please visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
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All full-degree international students are required to have a Study Permit to study in Canada.
NOTE: If your study permit is still valid, you do not need to change or apply for a new permit if you are moving between school levels (for example: high school to post-secondary). Make sure to change your DLI number within your Immigration account, which can be done online. If you wish to work while you are studying, you will need to extend your study permit.
For more information about applying for a study permit and visa, visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Students can learn more about the application process and what documents they will need to include. This information is appropriate for both inside and outside Canada applications.
You should apply as soon as you receive you letter of acceptance. The time needed to process an application to study in Canada may vary at different visa offices and may take several weeks.
In general, you should not apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry. You should apply online for a study permit before you travel to Canada.
Only certain people can apply at the port of entry at this time. You may be able to apply at the port of entry if you’re a:
- U.S. citizen
- lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- resident of Greenland
- resident of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
If you meet one of these requirements, you must have all the documents required to apply for a study permit with you when you arrive at the border. The border services officer who greets you will determine if you’re eligible to enter Canada as a student.
Those current students looking to apply for an extension. Please note that students need to extend/submit prior to their current study permit expiring.
If your study permit expires before you apply to extend it, you’ve lost your status as a student in Canada. You may be able to restore your status.
If your study permit is denied, students will not be able to travel to Canada to take part in in-person classes. Students can continue online studies (if available), however if the program starts after August 31, 2022, no PGWP will be awarded for programs completed entirely online.
Please speak with your department and professors to get a better understanding of when is the latest you can join in-person courses:
- Undergrad Students connect with your Program Counselors in addition to their professors
- Graduate Students connect with your Program Coordinators and Advisors
Please ask if online options are available that would allow you to complete the necessary work while waiting for your permit.
If online options ARE available, please keep in mind that the time spent studying while waiting for your study permit, will NOT count towards your PGWP and you must still be enrolled as a full-time student (not part-time). For students in a 1-year program, starting online may not be the best option (please review your deferral options)
If online options are NOT an option OR your program is 1-year in length, speak with your department about the deferral process and when is the next available start date:
- Undergrad students connect with International Admissions to determine this process
- Graduate Students connect with your department
It will be important to note the last day to withdraw for a full refund. If you withdraw after this date, you could be subject to a smaller refund. In the event your permit is rejected, you would be eligible for a full tuition refund (for more information on this, please contact Financial Services: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Temporary Resident Visa
A study permit is not a visa. Citizens from certain countries require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada.
If a foreign national meets the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and is admissible, an immigration officer may issue a TRV, per subsection A11(1), in the form of an official counterfoil document placed in the individual’s passport. The expiry date of a TRV is the date by which the visa must be used to arrive at the port of entry (POE) and seek admission to Canada. The expiry date is not the suggested duration of the visit. A TRV does not guarantee entry to Canada, nor does it grant temporary resident status in Canada.
Upon arrival at a Canadian POE, the foreign national is required to report to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Per paragraph A20(1)(b), to become a temporary resident, every foreign national who seeks to enter Canada must establish that they hold the visa required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) and will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay. The foreign national must satisfy a border services officer of the CBSA that they have the ability and willingness to leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay.
Temporary residents may apply to change or extend their status in Canada, under certain conditions. For more information, see eligibility for extending temporary resident status.
Canadian Port of Entry
When you arrive in Canada, you will arrive at a Port of Entry (POE) which is an entry point into Canada selected by the Government of Canada. Most often, the Port of Entry that you will come through will be the first airport or land crossing that you stop at in Canada. It is important that you are prepared for your entry into Canada. Please continue reading for a list of documents you will need to obtain and carry with you when travelling to Canada.
When you arrive in Canada, you’ll meet a border services officer who will make sure you meet some basic requirements. To enter Canada, you must
- have a valid travel document, such as a passport
- have the port of entry letter of introduction the visa office sent you when they approved your study permit
- This letter has your permit reference number, which we use to issue your study permit.
- have a copy of a valid letter of acceptance from your school
- have letters of reference or any other documents the visa office told you to bring
- have a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA), a valid visitor visa (temporary resident visa), a valid green card (or equivalent official proof of U.S. status) or another valid travel document
- If you have a valid eTA, it’ll be linked to the passport you used to apply for your study permit.
- have enough money for your stay (the amount you will need can vary—it depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives)
- be in good health
- have no criminal or immigration-related convictions
- convince an immigration officer that
- you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country
- you will leave Canada at the end of your visit
- have valid immigration medical exam results (if you needed one)
- Your exam is valid for 12 months from the day you get it.
- It must be valid the day you enter Canada.
- If your exam will expire before you enter Canada, you need to get another medical exam.
- This applies even if your letter of introduction is still valid.
- prove that you’ll leave Canada at the end of your stay
Accompanying Family Members
If you are bringing family members to live with you in Canada while you study, make sure they have the correct immigration documentation.
Your spouse and children will apply for the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to join you in Canada. Minor children who are accompanying you may study in Canada without a study permit at the pre-school, primary, and secondary levels. Your spouse may be eligible to apply for an open work permit (SOWP) and can be employed both on- and off-campus. Immigration procedures change regularly. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.
Visiting the USA
Citizens of most countries require a visa to enter the United States. If you intend to travel to the USA, it is recommended that you apply for this visa in your country of residence. If you want to apply from Canada, you must be enrolled in school for at least six months and prove that you will be returning to school after your visit. You can prove this with a confirmation of enrolment letter from the University.
While working in Canada, you will have tax deducted from your earnings. In March, you can file your income tax with the Federal Government, and you may receive some of this deducted tax back. International Student Experience offers tax information sessions every March, and if you are on the international student email listserv, you will be notified of when and where these will happen. For more information on income tax for international students, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
A SIN allows an employer to process payroll while informing the Canadian Revenue Agency of the amount of money a person earns. You apply for a SIN in person at Service Canada. To get a SIN, you will need a valid study permit that includes statements such as "may accept employment", and your passport. Service Canada officials will be present at the University of Guelph at the beginning of each semester to issue SINs on-campus. For more information about when Service Canada will be at the University, visit GryphLife. The closest Services Canada location from campus is 259 Woodlawn Road West, Suite C, Gueph.
IMPORTANT: Do not reveal your SIN. Your SIN can be used to steal your identity. Learn to protect your SIN.
Immigrating to Canada
There are specific procedures for immigrating to Canada. While International Student Experience cannot assist you in this process, we are happy to direct you to the appropriate resources.
A permanent resident is someone who has acquired permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not yet a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents have rights and privileges in Canada even though they remain citizens of their come country. For more information on immigrating to Canada visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They have provided a specific page about the requirements and steps to apply.
For information about applying to be a Canadian citizen, you need to visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.