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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.

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

You will be studying in Canada for less than 6 months

You may not require a study permit. However, we advise students to apply for a study permit even if they do not require one because:

  • If you apply for a study permit outside of Canada you will automatically get a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV, also known as an entry 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.
  • A study permit allows a full-time visiting or exchange student to work on 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.
  • A study permit helps you get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) which may be required to start a job, 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. 

You will be an International Undergraduate Visiting Research student

If you are coming to Canada to conduct research or complete an internship related to undergraduate studies, we recommend that you apply for an LMIA-exempt work permit. If your application is successful, you will automatically be issued an entry visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA), depending on your citizenship. 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 International Undergraduate Visiting Research student is managed on a case-by-case basis.

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

You will be an International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS)

If you have been accepted to the University of Toronto through our School of Graduate Studies International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS) program we recommend that you apply for a study permit using your letter of acceptance. This is particularly important if you plan to work on campus or receive payment from your host supervisor/department.

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. However, we still recommend that visiting students apply for a study permit to ensure greater rights and flexibility.

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

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.

You are under 18 years old

If you will not be 18 years old by the date you start your program you may need to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who can act as your legal custodian/guardian. 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 or are applying on paper, we recommend you contact the visa office serving your country of residence, to confirm if the requirement can be waived.

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

You are coming to U of T from a Canadian high school

You should plan to apply for a new study permit before your current study permit expires. Find more information and learn how to apply for a study permit.

You are transferring to U of T from a Canadian college or university

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. Once logged into your account, look for the link “Transfer from DLI number”.

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

You are a US citizen or permanent resident, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon

You can apply for a study permit at a Canadian border, but we recommend that you apply online in your country of residence as soon as you have the necessary documents to do so.

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