Study Permit

This information comes from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

International students planning to attend a program of study of six months or longer require two important immigration documents: A study permit and Temporary Resident Visa (TRV-visa sticker on passport) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

A study permit is permission to study and stay in Canada; it is a status document defining your status as an international student.

A Temporary Resident Visa or eTA is a document that allows you to request entry to Canada. Please check entry to Canada requirements by countries.

If students' studies less than six months, they do not need a study permit and are allowed to enter Canada based on Temporary Resident Visa or eTA depending on their nationality.

Please note, that study permits, work permits, and visitor records are status documents that do not authorize the holder to re-enter Canada. A TRV or an eTA are necessary for re-entry into Canada.

Applying for your Study Permit:

Study Permit Extension Tutorial

International students newly enrolled at Vancouver Island University and plan to study for longer than six months, must apply for an initial study permit before coming to Canada unless they are USA citizen or Permanent Resident. The initial applications can be made online apply online from their home countries. The processing time for the initial study permit is longer in many visa required countries. Make sure to apply for a study permit at least three to four months before planning to arrive in Canada. It is recommended that you obtain professional visa services from a Visa Application Centre (VAC) of Canada, in your home country.

If your application is approved, you will be provided with a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction for issuance of a Study Permit upon entry into Canada. If you are from a visa required country, your passport will be requested for a temporary resident visa (TRV) sticker by the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Students from visa exempt countries if applied for study permit will also receive a Letter of Introduction upon approval of their application and must present it at POE. Additionally, they must obtain an eTA confirmation online. An eTA is valid for up to five years.

Please note, your study permit must be valid at all times or in certain situations you may have implied status, for example, if you applied to renew your study permit prior to its expiry and are still awaiting a decision on that new application. If you allow study permit to expire, you lose your status in Canada and must stop your studies and on or off campus work. A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an eTA are not required within Canada unless you are planning to travel.

Note: It is illegal to study without a valid study permit in Canada.

If you do not receive your new Study Permit within the posted processing time you have a few options for contacting IRCC (formerly CIC):

  • Help Centre search for answers online.
  • Toll free number: 1-888-242-2100, not recommended due to long waiting time. 
  • IRCC Web form 

You must renew your study permit if it will expire within the next three months.  Students are responsible for their own study permit, visa and passport validity. 

The study permit renewal process is entirely online.

The followings are the steps you need to take to renew your study permit:

Create an account preferably “Sign-in Partner” in the IRCC website. Please, write down your username, password and your security questions and keep them safely.

  1. Answer the questionnaire and populate the form and supporting documents. 
  2. To fill out the application form, first you must download to your computer and open with pdf reader. You do not have to sign the electronic form instead type your name and include the date then validate it. Please make sure that your supporting documents are clear and the file does not exceed 4KB.
  3. Pay the application processing fee $150 CAD and submit your application.
  4. You will receive two auto-emails. Please read both and follow up.

Start the application process three months before your study permit expiry date. Do not apply earlier than three months as it may lead to the refusal of your application. However, if you have serious reasons to apply earlier than three to four months, please provide an Explanation Letter along with your application package.

You will need the following supporting documents:

  • UCI (Unique Client Identifier) - the 8 or 10 digit number (xxxx-xxxx or xx-xxxx-xxxx) on your Study Permit. Omit the dash in between the digits when entering onto your application form.
  • VIU Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number (O19395299688) starts with the Letter “O” not the number “zero”.
  • Request Study Permit extension letter from the International Admissions Office by submitting an online letter request. Letters will be issued within 5 business days and sent to you via email. A copy of your letter will also be uploaded to your student record under Academics – View Documents section.
  • Scan your passport photo page, visa and stamped pages upon your entry to Canada and merge it as one pdf file. Please note, the file should not exceed 4KB. If you need to reduce the size of your file, scan in black and white or compress it.
  • Proof of financial means: the most recent four bank statements for you and/or your sponsor(s), if they are funding your education, or sponsoring agency letter.
  • Digital photo: read the specifications
  • Your credit card to pay the fee. Depending on your financial institution, you can pay the fee online using your credit card.

Note: It is important to apply at least one month early because the processing time may take a few months. Please check the current estimates of processing times of applications.

Log into GCKey

If you do not receive your new Study Permit within the posted processing time you have a few options for contacting IRCC (formerly CIC):

After You Apply 

Maintained Status – What Is It?

We have explained that study permits, work permits, visitor records (usually given to student’s family members) are status documents. If an International student applied for extension of his/her study permit but the permit expired before a decision is made, the student can continue to study in Canada under the original study permit conditions until an Immigration Officer makes a decision on the application. This waiting period is called “maintained status”. You will lose this status if you leave Canada while still waiting for the decision on your application to renew.

Rejection or Refusal of Study Permit Extension

International students require assistance from the Immigration Advisors at VIU if they are not sure how to apply for and extend their status (Study Permit) and re-entry (Temporary Resident Visa TRV) immigration documents. It is important to remember that a Study Permit extension requires students to comply with two conditions:

  • being a full time / part time student (Note: part time students will not be authorized to work off-campus nor meet PGWP eligibility)
  • being continuously enrolled at VIU and actively pursue their program of studies.

If a student has made a mistake on his/her application, attached incorrect documents or scanned file exceeded 4KB, the Immigration Officer may notify studnet through IRCC portal mail and provide instructions to submit proper documents within deadline. If student fails to provide the correct documents or submit by deadline, application may be rejected or refused. 

If the Immigration Officer reviews the application and makes a decision to refuse the application, the refusal letter may request that the student leave Canada.

In both situations the International Student was in status (including waiting time – maintained status) until refusal (rejection) and lost the status from the date the decision was made by the Immigration Officer. Students have 90 days from the date of the refusal letter to apply for Restoration of their status if letter advises so. The fees for an Application for Restoration is $229 CAD in addition to the Study Permit fee of $150 CAD.  While awaiting restoration the student must stop their studies at VIU, or working on / off-campus as they have no legal status in Canada.

Restoration – What Is It?

Contrary to maintained status, if an International student has allowed his/her study permit, work permit and visitor record (usually given to student’s family members) to expire without applying to renew that status before it expires, student becomes “out of status”.  Student and family members lose their legal status in Canada and may be subject to enforcement action (deportation). VIU International student must stop his/her studies and book an appointment with VIU Immigration Advisors.  In such situations International students have a 90 days period to apply to restore their student status. The student may not continue to study or work until their application for restoration is approved. Restoration of status is not permitted at the port of entry (flag polling). Students must pay $229 CAD Restoration fee and $150 CAD study permit application fee. Student may not be eligible for a tuition fee refund.

Applying for your Study Permit:

Study Permit Extension Tutorial