Study in canada
Study in Canada as an international student
Apply to study in Canada as an international student, extend your study permit and find out about working while you study or after you graduate.
Choosing a program and school
In Canada, each province and territory is in charge of their own education system.
Get more information about schools and the education system:
  • EduCanada – information for international students about education in Canada, with study program search, costs, and more
  • Ministries and departments responsible for education – information about the education system in each province and territory
Primary and secondary schools
Schools that teach students up to the grade 12 level are known as primary and secondary schools. Primary usually means grades 1-8 and secondary usually means grades 9-12.
All primary and secondary schools in Canada can enrol international students.
There are special rules for minor children studying in Canada.
Post-secondary schools
Post-secondary schools are:
  • colleges
  • universities
  • private career colleges and
  • vocational and technical schools.
Each post-secondary school has its own set of rules on how to apply, including the level of English or French you need to be accepted.
Get more information on post-secondary schools:
  • Universities Canada – profiles of Canadian universities, a large study programs database and help to plan your university education
  • Colleges and Institutes Canada – profiles of colleges and institutes
  • Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials – information on getting your past education assessed against Canadian standards
  • National Association of Career Colleges – find out about schools that teach trades and vocations
Language schools
Many schools in Canada teach English or French as a second language. For more information about private language programs, contact Languages Canada.
Designated learning institutions
Provinces and territories approve (or “designate”) schools that can enrol international students. These schools are known as designated learning institutions (DLI).
If you need a study permit, your acceptance letter must be from a DLI. If it isn’t, we will refuse your application.
All primary and secondary schools in Canada are DLIs. You can search a list of the post-secondary schools, such as colleges and universities, and language schools that have been designated.
How to apply to a school, college or university
Once you choose a school, college or university, you must apply to go there. Every school has different rules on how to apply.
Make sure you apply at least:
  • six months in advance if you want to study at a primary or secondary school,
  • a year in advance for a post-secondary program at a university, college, etc.
Contact the school where you want to study to learn how to apply. They will give you the list of all the documents you need to send them. Your school will be able to tell you about:
  • the cost to apply
  • tuition fees
  • health insurance
  • rent and how much it costs to live in Canada
  • language tests.
Fill out the application forms for the school or schools of your choice. Follow their instructions to submit them.
If the school admits you as a student, they will send you an acceptance letter. You need this letter to apply for a study permit.
Health insurance
The Government of Canada doesn’t pay for the medical costs of foreign students.
Health coverage for foreign students is different depending on where you live. Contact the school you are applying to for more information about health insurance.
Student Direct Stream: About the process
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS).
We try to process most SDS applications within 20 calendar days. However, some applications may take longer.
To get faster processing, you must
  • give your biometrics as soon as possible
  • meet all the eligibility requirements
A study permit is not a visa and does not, by itself, allow you to travel to or enter Canada. You may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If you do, we’ll issue your visitor visa or eTA with your study permit.
Studying and working in Canada as an international student
Work while you study, help your spouse or common-law partner get a work permit while you study, work temporarily or stay permanently in Canada after you graduate as an international student.
Get a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that the Government of Canada gives you. With this number, you can work in Canada and get government benefits and services.
To apply for a SIN to work on campus, you must have 1 of these conditions printed on your study permit:
  • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.
  • This permit does not authorize the holder to engage in off campus employment in Canada. May accept employment only on campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.
If you’re eligible to work on campus, but we didn’t include either of these conditions on your study permit, you can ask to have them added. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your permit.
You’ll need to request an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a SIN from Service Canada
Work on campus
You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.
You can work as an international student in Canada if your study permit lists a condition that says you’re allowed to work on- or off-campus.
You can work on your school campus, without a work permit, if you:
  • are a full-time post-secondary student at a:

    • public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
    • private college-level school in Quebec that operates under the same rules as public schools, and is at least 50% funded by government grants, or
    • Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law
  • have a valid study permit, and
  • have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Work off campus as an
international student 

You and your employer must make sure you can work off-campus without a work permit before you start working. If you start working off-campus but don’t meet the requirements, you may have to leave Canada.
You can work as an international student in Canada if your study permit lists a condition that says you’re allowed to work on- or off-campus.
You can work off-campus, without a work permit, if you meet all of these requirements:
  • you have a valid study permit that includes a condition that says you can work off-campus
  • you’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • you’re enrolled in a

    • post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or
    • secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
  • you’ve started studying
  • your study program

    • is at least 6 months long, and
    • leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
If you’re a part-time student, you can work off-campus only if you meet all of the requirements above and you’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because:
  • you’re in the last semester of your study program
  • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester
  • you don’t need a full course load to complete your program
If you’re on an authorized leave from your studies, or you’re switching schools and you’re not studying:
  • you can’t work off-campus
  • you can only return to work once you’re back to studying
Help your spouse or common-law partner work in Canada
Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for an open work permit if you:
  • have a valid study permit and
  • are a full-time student at one of these types of schools:

    • a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
    • a private college-level school in Quebec
    • a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree)
Your spouse or common-law partner’s work permit will be valid for the same period of time as your study permit.

Stay in Canada after graduation
After you graduate from your program of studies, you may be able to work temporarily or even live permanently in Canada.
Work in Canada temporarily after you graduate
To work in Canada after you graduate, you need a work permit. The work experience you gain while working may help you qualify for permanent residence.
Post-graduation work permit (PGWP)
Graduates of certain designated learning institutions are eligible for this work permit.

Find out if you’re eligible for a PGWP
Other types of work permits
If you’re not eligible for a PGWP, you may still be able to work in Canada after you graduate.

Find your path to permanent residence
You’ve studied in Canada and maybe you even have Canadian work experience. Now, you’d like to live here permanently. We have options for you to become a permanent resident!
The Come to Canada tool can help you explore your options. You can also use the cheat sheet below to compare programs. Visit the program’s eligibility page to get all the details.
Before you compare programs, here are two key terms you need to know:
Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)
The Canadian standard used to describe, measure and recognize English language ability of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants who plan to live and work in Canada, or apply for citizenship. The Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) is used to assess abilities in the French language.
National Occupation Code (NOC)
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) is a list of all the occupations in the Canadian labor market. It describes each job according to skill type and skill level. For immigration purposes, these are the main job groups:
  • Skill Type 0 (zero): management jobs
  • Skill Level A: professional jobs that usually call for a degree from a university
  • Skill Level B: technical jobs and skilled trades that usually call for a college diploma or training as an apprentice
  • Skill Level C: intermediate jobs that usually call for high school and/or job-specific training
  • Skill Level D: labour jobs that usually give on-the-job training