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Shabnam Akrami is the Managing Partner and Founder of Akrami & Associates.

Do I have to apply for a Study Permit in Canada

Do I have to apply for a Study Permit in Canada

Do I need a Study Permit in Canada?

That depends on your situation. Over the last few years, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has made a number of changes to regulations for study permits. Many of these new rules were implemented on June 1, 2014. The main reason the Canadian federal government continues to make changes to the study permit program is to eliminate fraud. Unfortunately, many private academic institutions were set up in the past to function as “visa mills.” This type of academy would often take tuition money from international students without actually providing any sort of quality education. The new regulations introduced for study permits aim to eliminate “visa mill” type schools and ensure that international students receive high-quality education while in Canada.

The changes to the International Student Program will be outlined below:

Designated Learning Institution

As of June 1, 2014, the government of Canada requires that students attend one of several Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). The list of current Designated Learning Institutions can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website and is searchable by province or territory. Each of the institutions listed is accompanied by a DLI number which will help immigration to identify the school in the database. This DLI number should also be included on your application form when applying for a study permit.

Remember, the Designated Learning Institution list only applies to post-secondary institutions. Every primary and secondary school in Canada is considered to be valid for a study permit application.

Provinces update the Designated Learning Institution list frequently, so it is always a good idea to check and see if the institution you wish to attend is still viable. Sometimes a learning institution can be “de-designated” and taken off the list. This may result from the institution being investigated by and found to be in non-compliance with some of the regulations. For example, if a school has lost an academic license for a program being taught, this may result in being de-designated.

If a learning institution becomes de-designated while a student is attending an academic program there, that student’s study permit is not cancelled. He or she may continue to study until the end of the study permit’s initial validity. However, the student will not be able to renew the study permit unless he or she transfers to an alternative Designated Learning Institution.

By enforcing strict regulations and ensuring that every learning institution on the list is in compliance, the government of Canada is seeking to protect international students from being given substandard education.

Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining a Study Permit

First of all, to obtain a study permit you must be enrolled or have a letter of acceptance with one of the Designated Learning Institutions from the list. Beyond this requirement, there are other conditions for eligibility:

Financial Support:

Immigration will want to see proof that you have enough money to support yourself and your ongoing studies while in Canada. In general, you will be required to have roughly enough funds to pay for tuition fees, living expenses, and a round trip ticket to and from Canada. It is possible to provide evidence that someone else is willing to support you as well (for example, parents or a scholarship program).

You must not be inadmissible to Canada:

There are many factors that can qualify a foreign national as inadmissible to Canada. Some of these might include:

  • Having a criminality on record (this doesn’t have to be a serious crime, many misdemeanor type offenses can also disqualify you from traveling to Canada)

  • Being medically inadmissible (If you have a serious medical condition you may be required to undergo a medical examination. If it is determined that you could be a burden on the Canadian medical system or other social services, you could be denied entry to the country.)

  • Misrepresentation (if your application or other information provided to an immigration officer was misleading or false, this could result in a denial of entry to Canada)

  • You must provide evidence that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay:

    • The best way to convince an immigration officer that you intend to leave upon completion of your studies is to provide a round trip ticket or show that you have the financial capabilities to purchase a return ticket home. Also, having some convincing ties to your home country is also important when applying for a temporary visa of any kind in Canada (for example: employment, family ties, assets)

What Happens once my Studies are Completed?

Under the new rules introduced on June 1, 2014, international students in Canada on a study permit must be actively enrolled at a viable academic institution. Furthermore, you may be required to prove that you are make adequate academic progress in your program.

Once you have completed your academic program, your study permit will expire after 90 days. Completion of the academic program is usually signaled by receiving an official letter like a degree, diploma, transcript, or certificate. This 3 month period must be complied with. If you remain in Canada beyond the 90 day period, you could face a removal order which could turn into a deportation order.

Can I Extend my stay in Canada after my Study Permit has Expired?

Many students who wish to stay longer in Canada after their academic program is complete often pursue a Visitor Visa. It is possible to receive an extension in this way. However, on a Visitor Visa you will not be allowed to work (but you may be able to study).

Another possibility is to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. If you have completed at least one year of full time studies at a Designated Post-Secondary Learning Institution, you may qualify for a one year Post-Graduation Work Permit. For international students who have completed at least two years of full time studies, you have the potential to receive a Post-Graduation Work Permit with up to 3 years of validity. This can be a great way to remain in Canada and continue to gather work experience for a possible Permanent Residence application later.

Can I Study in Canada on a Visitor Visa?

Another significant change in immigration regulations involves foreign nationals currently in Canada on Visitor Visa status. It is now possible to study without a study permit under the following condition: the program you are enrolled in is 6 months or less in duration.

Remember, if the program you are taking is a section of an academic program that is longer than six months, you will be required to obtain a valid study permit. Even though one semester of the academic program is technically 6 months in duration, it may be considered part of a larger whole that takes over 6 months to complete.

Some common academic programs that meet the less than 6 months exemption include:

    • ESL or other courses offered by language learning institutions

    • Individual electives offered by colleges and universities

    • Private training programs

Since these courses can be taken without a valid study permit, they do not need to be offered by a Designated Learning Institution. However, if the school is not regulated, you should do some independent research first to find out that it is worthwhile to study there.

Contact Akrami and Associates

If you are an international student considering coming to Canada, we’d be happy to help you achieve your academic goals. Our team of experienced Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants can help guide you in assembling a professional study permit application and counsel you on which schools are viable. Contact us today for more information.

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