Study permits & visas

Three students reading at their desks inside a classroom

As an international student, you will be a temporary resident of Canada. Before you come to Canada, you will need to have several documents in hand. You can apply for these permits once you have been accepted into a program. Students are responsible to refer to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for the most up-to-date information.

Study permits

A study permit is not a visa. It allows you to stay in Canada temporarily. If your program is longer than six months long, including blended programs with on-campus residencies, you must have a study permit. If your program is less than six months in length, you may still want to apply for a study permit if you are considering extending your studies after your original program or are studying as an exchange student and would like to work in Canada.

To apply for a study permit, you need proof of:

  • your identity
  • your acceptance into your program
  • your financial support for the time you are in Canada

You may also need:

It can take weeks or even many months for your documents to arrive. Make sure you check IRCC’s processing times regularly and leave yourself plenty of time to apply for your study permit so that you are able to begin your program as planned. Some countries are eligible for faster processing times through Student Direct Stream (SDS). SDS applicants are required to meet certain criteria, so ensure to review the requirements carefully before applying. We do not recommend waiting to apply for your study permit because of the faster processing times. Apply for your study permit as soon as possible after receiving your RRU Letter of Acceptance (LOA).

Temporary Resident Visa & Electronic Travel Authorization

Along with a study permit, you may also need an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or a temporary resident visa (TRV). Many countries do not require a visa to enter Canada. Find out if you need a TRV or eTA.

Port of entry letter of introduction

When the Canadian government approves your study permit application, they will send you a Letter of Introduction through email. This letter is not your study permit. It is a separate document that you will show to border officials when you arrive at a port of entry to Canada, and your study permit will be issued at the Port of Entry.

You will also be required to submit a copy of your Letter of Introduction to the International Admissions Office by the date indicated in your offer letter. This is an important step in the finalization of your admission to prevent an automatic deferral of your start date. 

Check IRCC processing times

If you have an application in progress you can check the status of your application online, and make sure your contact information and your application details are up to date on your IRCC account. You can also use the IRCC web form to contact IRCC to check the status of your application or to inform IRCC of changes in your application.

Please review the following resources:

Spouse and Family applications

Your family can accompany you to live in Canada, and it is recommended they submit an application at the same time as your study permit. An international student’s spouse or common-law partner can apply for an open work permit as long the student has a valid study permit and is enrolled in full-time studies. The open work permit is valid for the same length of time as the study permit and allows the spouse or common-law partner to work on or off-campus full time. Learn more about spousal work permit eligibility on the IRCC website.

Minor children (under the age of 19 in British Columbia) who want to study in Canada must apply for a study permit before they enter Canada. A letter of acceptance is not required from a school as long as the parent has a valid study permit or work permit. However, minors inside Canada will need a letter of acceptance to apply for a study permit. Please see IRCC’s guidelines on minor children for more information.

The Sooke School District 62, the Greater Victoria School District 61, and the Saanich School District 63 operate Victoria's public elementary and secondary schools.

Study permit refusals

There are a number of reasons for a study permit refusal. When preparing your study plan to apply for your study permit, ensure to cover the following:

1. Show you can support your education and living expenses, and family members who come with you while in Canada

2. You will leave Canada after your authorized stay

3. How the program you have been admitted to connects to your past experiences and future goals

In the situation your study permit is refused, you will need to decide if you want to apply again. If you choose to apply again and defer your studies to a future start date, you must let the International Admissions team know by sending an email and a copy of your refusal letter. It is important to submit this letter prior to the scheduled start of your program in order to receive any tuition refunds for which you may be eligible. You may want to consider hiring an immigration agent (consultant or lawyer) with your new application but ensure they are licensed to represent you or give you advice.

Documents for travel to Canada

Before travelling ensure you have the necessary documents ready for when you arrive in Canada and are greeted by a Canadian border services officer. Ensure you have the following documents ready when you arrive:

1. Valid passport (or travel document)

2. Letter of Introduction (port of entry approval letter)

3. RRU Letter of Acceptance (LOA)

4. Proof of finances

5. Valid electronic travel authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa (temporary resident visa)

6. have valid immigration medical exam results (if you needed one)

7. Any additional documents the visa office told you to bring with you

Ensure the information on your study permit is correct and that it states you ‘may work’ or ‘may accept employment.’

Arriving in Canada via YVR in Vancouver?

CBSA and the YVR Airport Authority operate a Voluntary Compliance Portal (VC Portal), which provides CBSA with advanced notification on travellers who require permits.

The VC Portal is intended to reduce wait times by allowing CBSA to print study permits before your arrival. If you have also been approved for a co-op/internship work permit, you can still use the VC Portal, but it will only issue your study permit, not the other ones. The VC Portal is voluntary and you will not be negatively impacted if you do not use it. Using the VC Portal also does not guarantee entry into Canada.

To use the VC Portal:

  • You must have a Letter of Introduction (study permit approval letter) indicating that your study permit has been approved
  • You must be entering Canada at YVR
  • You must submit your information to the VC Portal using the online form at least 72 hours before your departure.

Need further support? We offer immigration advising at Royal Roads.

For more information visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The immigration information on this page has been reviewed and endorsed by a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor in compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. Information may change without notice. Refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for the latest updates.