Study Permit

Please note: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has been renamed by the federal government. Now this department known as Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

International students arriving in Canada to study for more than six months need two important immigration documents: 

  1. A study permit – permission to study in Canada and it is a status document defining you as an International student
  2. Temporary resident visa to enter into Canada. Depending on their citizenship, International students need either a
    • Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or
    • Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
      American (US) citizens or permanent residents do not need either

Check to decide which one you need. If students study in Canada for less than six months they do not need a study permit and are allowed to enter Canada with just a TRV 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 planning 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.

To apply for the initial study permit, the following documents are necessary. Please note, requirements may vary from country to country and the Canadian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission may ask for additional supplementary documents.

  • Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from VIU; Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number (O19395299688) starts with the Letter “O” not a “zero”
  • Completed application form
  • Family information form
  • Document checklist
  • Custodianship Declaration if you are less than 17 years old
  • Proof of financial means including paid tuition fees
  • Passport
  • Photo (digital file)
  • Medical exam depending on the country you lived in for the last 6 months
  • Application processing fee of $150 CAD
  • Biometrics fee of $85 (foreign nationals at ages 14-79 must have biometrics to enter Canada) Upon receiving biometrics letter, students need to provide fingerprints and photo at Visa Application Centre's of Canada. Biometrics are valid for 10 years.

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 for $7 CAD. 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):

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:

  1. Create MyCIC account in the IRCC (formerly CIC) website. Please, write it down your username, password and your security questions and keep them safely.
  2. Answer the questions and choose “Study Permit extension”
  3. Fill out the application form and upload required documents. You do not have to sign the electronic form instead add your name and include the date then validate it. Please make sure that your documents are of good quality and the file does not exceed 4KB.
  4. Pay the application processing fee $150 CAD and submit your application.
  5. 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 in 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”.
  • Letter of Enrollment from VIU (Study Permit extension letter). Request this letter from the International Admissions Office by sending an email to study@viu.ca (for undergraduate students) or masters@viu.ca (for graduate students). Remember to include your student number in the email. 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: bank statements for you and/or your parents, 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 

Implied 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 an extension was granted, the student can continue to study in Canada under the original study permit conditions until an Immigration Officer makes a decision on the application to renew. This waiting period is called “implied 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 Consultant 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)
  • 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, student’s application may be rejected. When the Immigration Officer notifies the student of their error or incorrect documents, and the student fails to provide the correct documents, the result is rejection. The student loses their status.

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 –implied 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 $200 CAD in addition to the Study Permit fee of $150 CAD.  While awaiting restoration the student must stop their studies at VIU, as they have no legal status in Canada.

Restoration – what is it?

Contrary to implied 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 meet the VIU Immigration Advisors Ms. Makhbuba (Mak) Ergasheva or Mr. Mohammed Hawamdeh in Building 255 for immigration advice and assistance. 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 $200 CAD Restoration fee and $150 CAD study permit application fee. Student may not be eligible for a tuition fee refund.

The content of this page is not a substitute for legal immigration advice. It is for information purposes only and can change without notice. Please refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for up-to-date information.

Assistance With Your Application

If, after you have started your application and reviewed the step-by-step instructions in the online tutorials, and still have questions, please book a virtual  appointment to see VIU International Immigration Advisor. 

NOTE: Prepare application form and supporting documents such as  passport, study permit, etc. 

Learn how to share documents via zoom