Once a prospective student meets the eligibility criteria and has the correct documents, he or she may apply for a study permit. This can be done online or by paper. A paper application must be submitted to a visa processing office outside of Canada.
It is important to apply for a study permit immediately upon receiving the Letter of Acceptance. Study permit processing times vary, and applicants may see delays during busy times — particularly during the summer months.
If an application is approved
If an application is approved, the prospective student will receive:
- A letter of introduction confirming the approval. This letter is not the study permit. The prospective student will need to present the Letter of Introduction to the immigration official when arriving in Canada. The immigration official may then issue the study permit to the student.
- An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if he or she is from a country whose citizens need an eTA. In such cases, the eTA is indicated on the Letter of Introduction.
- As the eTA is linked to the applicant's passport, the applicant must travel with the passport used in the study permit application.
- A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), if he or she is from a country whose citizens need a TRV.
- The TRV will be in the passport. The holder must enter Canada before the expiry date on the TRV.
- The TRV will also indicate if the holder can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or multiple times (a multiple-entry visa). Since 2014, all applicants are automatically considered for multiple-entry TRVs.
- An individual submitting an application for a study permit does not have to submit a separate application for a TRV. If the application is approved, the TRV will be issued along with the Letter of Introduction.
After graduation, many students choose to stay in Canada to live and work
Study permits expire 90 days after graduation, regardless of the date printed on the study permit itself. It is extremely important that international graduates update their status with IRCC within 90 days of graduation, or they risk losing status in Canada.
Many graduates are eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). This permits the holder to work for any employer anywhere in Canada for up to three years after graduation. Work experience gained on a PGWP may help facilitate an application for Canadian Permanent Residency, especially through programs such as the Canadian Experience Class and certain Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
If an international graduate does not apply for a PGWP, he or she may do the following to maintain legal status in Canada:
- Apply to change status to a visitor;
- Apply for another study permit to continue a different study program. For example, a graduate may wish to continue on to a Master's degree program after graduating with a Bachelor degree; or,
- Leave Canada.