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Home > Immigration and Visa Information > Canadian Immigration > Study in Canada




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Study in Canada
A Guide for Foreign Students


Coming to Canada

Your decision to study in Canada is an important one. You will need as much information as possible and at least six months to plan and prepare for your move.

Primary and secondary school

If you or your dependants want to upgrade your education before applying to a post-secondary school, make sure the courses you take will allow you to register at the post-secondary school you choose.

Canada's educational standards are set individually by each province. If you want to go to a primary or secondary school, you can get information on provincial standards by writing to the Department of Education in the provincial capital. If you have any questions, you may also write to one of the organizations listed in this pamphlet.

Post-secondary school

Each Canadian university, university college, technical school or community college sets its own requirements. The registrars of these schools can provide information on

  • tuition fees,
  • health insurance,
  • scholarships,
  • lodging and living expenses, and
  • language requirements.

Private institutions

Before you enroll in a private institution, please check with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials in your country to ensure that the institution meets Canadian requirements or the rules of the province where the institution is located.

Here is the Internet address for CIC offices abroad:


Every post-secondary student in Canada has to pay tuition fees. The fees vary from school to school and from year to year. The registrar will help you determine the fees required.


Canada has two official languages: English and French. You will need to know one or the other to follow course lectures and reading assignments. Some post-secondary schools might ask you to take a language test. They may charge a fee for this test which you will have to pay yourself.

Language requirements are set by each school. School registrars can give you information on language requirements.

Health insurance

Medical, hospital and dental care in Canada can be expensive. As a foreign student, you are not insured for these expenses by the Canadian federal government. The school you attend may provide health insurance for foreign students, but be sure to ask when you are writing for information. If the insurance provided by the school does not meet your needs, you should make your own arrangements before leaving home. Certain provinces (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan) cover foreign students under their health-care plans or offer group insurance to educational institutions.


Once you have decided on the courses you want to take, officials at the school where you apply will tell you if you qualify. If you are accepted, you will receive a letter of acceptance from the registrar, the school board or the school itself.

To be acceptable to CIC officials, the letter should

  • be completed by the educational institution,
  • be the original, not a photocopy, and
  • include the institution's letterhead, full mailing address, telephone and fax numbers and, if available, e-mail and Web site addresses.

Some information may not be applicable or may not be known at the time of the application. If the information is not applicable, N/A should be indicated. If the information is not known, N/K should be indicated.

In order to streamline processing, a standardized "Letter of Acceptance" has been posted on our Web site at for use by educational institutions. Educational institutions are invited to download the letter and to import their respective letterhead into the document.

Keep this letter to apply for your student authorization at the CIC office abroad and to show to immigration officials when you arrive in Canada.

If you have any questions about the letter of acceptance or the student authorization, you should write to the CIC office in your country.

Studying in the province of Quebec

If you wish to attend a school in the province of Quebec, you will have to apply for a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (Quebec certificate of acceptance, or CAQ). Please note that for students destined for an educational institution in the province of Quebec, obtaining a CAQ is a necessary prerequisite for the issuance of a student authorization. In order to reduce delays, the application process can be started simultaneously by the closest CIC office and Quebec Immigration. There may be a Quebec office in your country where you can go for information.

Your educational institution can give you all the necessary information about the procedures that apply in Quebec.


Before you apply for your student authorization or visitor visa, you must have

  • a valid passport,
  • a letter of acceptance from a Canadian school,
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself and your dependants for your entire stay in Canada,
  • a letter from your sponsoring organization if you are being sponsored, and
  • a medical clearance, if required.

Financial support

You must be able to prove you can support yourself and your dependants before a student authorization can be issued. A letter from your bank, a bank draft or a letter from your source of funding will show CIC officials that you can afford to pay your expenses and, if necessary, the expenses of your spouse and dependants, while you are in Canada.

These expenses include post-secondary tuition, food, clothing, shelter, books, transportation, medical insurance, entertainment, personal or family needs and return trips home. The winters in Canada can be cold, so include warm clothing when calculating your living costs.

The cost of living in Canada varies from province to province. CIC officials in your country will tell you approximately what it will cost to live in the province where you will be attending school.

Character reference

To be accepted by CIC officials, you must prove you are a responsible person and that you have no criminal record. You may be asked to provide evidence of this through your local authorities.

Health standards

You must be in good health. You may be asked for a medical certificate if you have been living in a country with a high health risk.

Canadian officials will tell you what you need when you make your application.

Student authorization

Once you have all the letters and documents required, you may apply for your student authorization. Normally, you will have to apply at the nearest CIC office abroad.

Citizens or permanent residents of the United States, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and Greenland may apply for authorizations at any Canadian port of entry. Wherever you apply, the requirements are the same.

The student authorization allows you to study in Canada. Keep it with your passport. Your student authorization may specify terms and conditions that govern your stay in Canada. For example, the duration of your studies, the name of the institution or the level of studies you are allowed to undertake. Please read these carefully. If you do not understand its contents, talk to CIC officials.

Unless there are special circumstances, your student authorization for post-secondary study should be valid for the duration of your course of studies.

Arrival in Canada

Once you have all your papers and have arrived in Canada, you must show CIC officials the following documents:

  • your student authorization (form IMM 1208),
  • a valid passport,
  • a valid visitor visa if required, and
  • any letters or papers used to obtain your student authorization.

If any documents are missing or incorrect, you could be refused admission to Canada.

Passports and visas

Citizens and permanent residents of the United States, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and Greenland do not need a passport or a visitor visa to enter Canada. If you are coming from anywhere else, you will need a passport and possibly a visa as well. Please refer to our Web site for the list of countries whose nationals need a visa to come to Canada:

If you do not have access to the Internet, CIC officials in your country will inform you whether you need a visa before you leave home. The Canadian visitor visa is affixed to a page of your passport. It shows the date by which you must arrive in Canada, and whether it is valid for one or more entries to Canada.

When you arrive in Canada, you must show your passport and, if applicable, your visa to CIC officials. The passport will be stamped with the date on which you must leave Canada. Please ensure that the period allowed covers your whole stay. If you require an extension of your student authorization, contact the CIC Call Centre to obtain an application kit. Do not stay beyond the date stamped on your passport. If there is something you don't understand, immigration officers will be happy to help you.

If you want to renew your passport while you are in Canada, contact your embassy or consulate at least two months before your passport expires. You may wish to keep a photocopy of your passport, visitor visa, most recent immigration stamp and student authorization for your own records. Make sure that your passport will allow you to return home or travel to another country if you wish.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency

As a foreign student studying in Canada, you are eligible for certain customs benefits, including the temporary importation into Canada of your household and personal effects. A number of conditions apply, so before coming to Canada you should refer to the booklet Entering Canada to Study or to Work. This is available from the Canadian consulate or embassy in your country, or by contacting

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Customs and Excise
Travellers Directorate
MacKenzie Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0L5

Working in Canada

Foreign students may be allowed to work while attending school. But jobs may be difficult to find in Canada, so you should not count on getting one.

You may be allowed to work if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • you want to work as a graduate assistant;
  • your employment is part of a course of study, such as a work term during the year, as in cooperative programs;
  • you want to work on campus; or
  • you want to work after graduation in a study-related job for up to one year.

Your spouse may also be allowed to apply for an employment authorization. A CIC official can give you details on working in Canada as a foreign student.

If you work without an employment authorization, you may be in violation of the Immigration Act, and you may be required to leave Canada.

Fees for immigration services

CIC charges a fee to process your application. Please refer to the brochure entitled Fee Schedule for Citizenship and Immigration Services, consult a CIC official for information or visit our Internet site at

If your circumstances change

If anything about your studies, funding or documentation changes, you must immediately contact the CIC Call Centre. Contact the Call Centre if

  • your course is longer than you expected,
  • you finish your studies before the course has ended, or
  • you wish to change any terms and conditions noted on your student authorization.

Other questions about your stay in Canada can also be answered by CIC Call Centre officials. If you do not report your changed circumstances to CIC, you might be asked to leave Canada.

Telephone numbers for the Call Centre

If you are in the local calling area of:


Montréal, call (514) 496-1010

Toronto, call (416) 973-4444

Vancouver, call (604) 666-2171

If you are anywhere else in Canada, call toll-free 1-888-242-2100.

For more information

For more information on educational options and requirements, contact one of the following organizations:

Degree courses

Canadian Bureau for International Education
220 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1P 5Z9
Tel.: (613) 237-4820
Fax: (613) 237-1073

Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
350 Albert Street, Suite 600
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1R 1B1
Tel.: (613) 563-3961
Fax: (613) 563-9745

Technical and other non-degree courses

Association of Canadian Community Colleges
110 Eglinton Avenue West, 2nd Floor
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M4R 1A3
Tel.: (416) 489-5925
Fax: (416) 489-5080

Privately funded institutions

National Association of Career Colleges
P.O. Box 340
301 Fairview Drive, Suite 1
Brantford, Ontario
Canada N3T 5N3
Tel.: (519) 753-8689
Fax: (519) 753-4712

International credentials

Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials
252 Bloor Street West, Suite 5-200
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5S 1V5
Tel.: (416) 964-1777
Fax: (416) 964-2296

The admission of foreign students to Canada is regulated by the federal government, but your admission may be affected by educational or other policies in the province where you want to study. Ask a visa officer for more details.

For more information, contact the CIC Call Centre in Canada or a CIC office abroad.


This is not a legal document. For precise legal information, consult the Immigration Act and the Immigration Regulations.



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