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Studying in Canada

What is a study permit?

A study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government that allows you to be in Canada and to study. It may also allow you to work on and/or off-campus as long as you meet the requirements. See our Working in Canada information for details.

New Students Admitted to U of T for 2024:

Please see the “Specific Situations” subsection at the bottom of this page for information about recent changes to study permit application procedures in 2024, including about attestation letters for undergraduate-level students.

pre arrival

Do i need a study permit?

All international students studying in Canada for more than 6 months need a valid study permit. You must have a valid permit throughout your studies in Canada.


Specific Situations

As of January 22, 2024, every new undergraduate student’s study permit application will require a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL). There is information about how to request a PAL inside your Join U of T Portal account.

A small number of undergraduate students might be exempt from the PAL requirement. This page of our website provides a tool that you can use to determine whether you are exempt: “DO I NEED A PROVINCIAL ATTESTATION LETTER (PAL) FOR MY STUDY PERMIT APPLICATION?”

For more advice about your study permit application, you are invited to attend any of our weekly online “Question & Answer” sessions (Q&A).

Students enrolled in a graduate degree program will not be required to include a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) with their study permit application, because masters, doctoral, and other post-graduate students are not included in the recently-announced cap on study permit applications.

Open work permits will remain available to the spouses/partners of international students in master’s, doctoral and professional degree-granting programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate programs, will no longer be eligible.

Starting 15 February 2024, graduates of master’s degree programs are eligible for a 3-year post-graduation work permit, regardless of the duration of their studies, provided they meet the other PGWP eligibility criteria.

For advice about your study permit or work permit applications, you are invited to attend any of our weekly online “Question & Answer” sessions (Q&A).

You might not require a study permit. This is because a person who already has valid visitor status in Canada (for example, as a worker or as a tourist/visitor) is authorized to study in Canada up to a maximum of six months during their visit. They must be able to complete the six months of study before the expiry of their pre-existing visitor status.

Please note that visiting and exchange students who apply for a study permit from outside Canada ARE NOT exempt from the provincial attestation letter (PAL) requirement. This is even true for visiting/exchange students who plan to study at the graduate level, because they are enrolled as non-degree students at U of T.

Exchange students who wish to study at U of T for a single term (4 months) should apply for either a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), depending on their country of citizenship. You should indicate on the application that your intention is to go to Canada to VISIT. You will be considered exempt from the PAL requirement.

Visiting students cannot get a PAL at this time and therefore a study permit application is usually not possible for them. However, in some cases, we advise other types of short-term students to consider applying for a study permit for the following reasons, even if they do not require one:

  • If you apply for a study permit outside of Canada you will automatically get a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV, also known as an entry visa or visitor visa) or an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (whichever is required to travel to Canada, based on your citizenship) along with the study permit approval. Since most visitors to Canada need either an eTA or TRV for travel to Canada anyway, it is good to know that an eTA/TRV is automatically included as part of a study permit application (with no additional application or fees required).
  • A study permit allows a full-time visiting or exchange student to work on and/or off campus.
  • Extending your stay and studies in Canada, in case you decide to study for another term, is much easier if you already have a study permit. Visiting students cannot start a second term of study unless they have a valid study permit in-hand.
  • A study permit helps you get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) which is required to start a job, and may be requested to open a bank account, get a phone plan or apply for a credit card.

Find more information and learn how to apply for a study permit.

If you choose not to apply for a study permit, you may still be required to get a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), depending on your country of citizenship. 

If you are coming to Canada to conduct research or complete an internship related to undergraduate studies, you may need to apply for an LMIA-exempt work permit. If your application is successful, you will automatically be issued a TRV “entry visa” or electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), depending on your nationality. Many visiting undergraduate student researchers have come to Canada through the International Experience Canada or Research Award Recipients pathways.

As each LMIA-exempt work permit pathway has specific eligibility criteria and documentation, every undergraduate international student who wants to visit Canada for research will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

For more information, please email placements@utoronto.ca.

Canadian immigration officials may allow visiting students/researchers to study for up to 6 months or conduct research for up to 120 days with visitor status in Canada.

If you have been accepted to the University of Toronto through our School of Graduate Studies International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS) program for a period of fewer than 6 months, and you will not receive payment from your host supervisor/department, we recommend that you plan to come to Canada as a visitor.

Information about coming to Canada as a visitor is available in the Entering Canada section of this site.

Those that are admitted for 6 months or more and/or will receive payment from their host supervisor/department will require a study permit. The application will require a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) which is not currently available (this webpage will be updated when the PAL process is officially announced).

Note: Sometimes immigration officers instruct visiting students/researchers to apply for a work permit instead of a study permit. If you are asked to apply for a work permit, contact our School of Graduate Studies at sgs.international@utoronto.ca. You will need different documents to apply for a work permit.

Students 16 and under will require proof of a legal custodian/guardian. Students between 17 and 18 may be asked for proof.

A custodian must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. You might consider an extended family member, family friend, or business associate living in Ontario. If you do not have access to someone that can do so, there are a number of private agencies in Toronto that provide custodianship services for a fee. The University of Toronto cannot act as your custodian/guardian.

If you are turning 18 soon, the online application may not request proof of a custodian. If you are unsure whether to provide it, we recommend you contact the visa office serving your country of residence, to confirm.

Find more information and learn how to apply for a study permit.

If you have a valid study permit, you should plan to apply to extend your status in Canada before your current study permit expires. Find more information and learn how to extend your study permit.

If you have been studying under status as a visitor (ie. without a study permit), you will need to apply for a first study permit and have the study permit issued before you start your studies at U of T. Find more information and learn how to apply for a study permit.

Your study permit application might require a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL). Please refer to the PAL tool on this page of our website to determine whether or not you are exempt from the PAL requirement.

Your valid study permit allows you to transfer between different Canadian universities and colleges. You must notify Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

To do this, submit a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) student transfer request through your online “IRCC Secure” account.

You must also complete this process if you applied for your study permit using an offer from another university.

If your study permit is expiring, you will have to apply for a new one before the expiry date. Find more information and learn how to extend your study permit.

You can apply in person for a study permit at a “port of entry” to Canada (land border crossing or airport). However, we recommend instead that you apply online in your country of residence as soon as you have the necessary documents to do so.

Because of the requirement that all admission letters must first be verified by the University, we cannot guarantee that a study permit application can be fully processed at a Canadian port of entry.

Find more information about how to apply for a study permit.

A temporary public policy was announced in June 2023. It exempts eligible work permit holders from the requirement to have a study permit.

To be eligible, you must:

  • have a work permit and the application associated with that permit was originally received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on or before June 7, 2023; or,
  • have submitted an application to extend an existing work permit on or before June 7, 2023.

The exemption will apply until the work permit (or extension submitted on or before June 7, 2023) expires or June 27, 2026, whichever comes first.

Important: Though you may be exempt from the requirement for a study permit, you can still apply for one. There are multiple reasons why you might consider doing so, including:

  • Studies completed without a study permit will not be considered towards eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
  • Any work you do during your studies would be limited by the conditions on your existing work permit (eg. your work permit may only allow work with one employer or have conditions limiting areas of work if you did not complete an immigration medical exam).
  • Some employers may want student interns to have a co-op work permit for government funding programs.

Please note that work permit holders applying for a study permit inside Canada ARE exempt from the provincial attestation letter (PAL) requirement.

Questions about the special “study with a work permit” policy can be directed to the International Student Immigration Advising team.