Study Permits

Applying for an initial study permit

If you are a legal resident, living in one of these countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, or Vietnam, you have the option to apply for your study permit through Student Direct Stream (SDS) program. Please read about the requirements and instructions from the Government of Canada website if you are planning to apply through this program.

What is a study permit?

A study permit is a document that gives you permission to study and remain in Canada on a temporary basis. Study permit holders in Canada must follow specific rules and conditions to remain in good standing with Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Who needs a study permit?

If you are taking a study program that is longer than 6 months, you require a study permit before you start studying.

While you do not need a study permit if you’ll be taking a program that is 6 months or less, you may choose to apply for one so that:

  • You can continue studying if you want to take a longer program.
  • You can work while studying, if meeting eligibility requirements.

Can I study with a work permit?

According to a Temporary Policy, you can study without a study permit if you are authorized to work in Canada with either of the following:

  • A valid work permit that was issued on or before June 7, 2023, or
  • A letter, issued on or before June 7, 2023, authorizing you to work while IRCC processes your work permit extension application.

This temporary policy is in place until June 27, 2026.  You can find more details about this policy here.

Exceptions to Temporary Policy: 

  • If your program requires a co-op component, you will need a study permit and a co-op work permit to complete it, unless one of the following is true:
    • You already hold an open work permit under this Temporary Policy.
    • Your co-op employer and occupation are the same as your current employer and occupation.
  • If you would like to be eligible for a post-graduation work permit upon program completion, you must have been approved for a study permit.  

What program do I need to be accepted into to be eligible for a study permit?

In Alberta, international students are only allowed to study in Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) and programs.  Although NAIT is a DLI, not all programs offered at NAIT are designated.  You can review NAIT’s list of programs that accept international students here.

How do I apply for an initial study permit?

Please review the helpful tips below to guide you through the process:

Step 1
Be aware of processing times.

  • Review NAIT’s admission processes and overall timelines here
  • Check IRCC’s processing times for a study permit application here. Make sure you have enough time before the start of the program to obtain your study permit.

     

Step 2
Confirm your admission to NAIT. You will receive a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from NAIT once you are admitted into a program. Depending on your program, this LOA may be:

  • uploaded to your NAIT Portal
  • e-mailed to the address on your NAIT file
  • uploaded to the Con Ed Application Portal

The LOA will state that it should be used as part of your study permit application. Ensure you read this letter carefully.

Step 3
Start your online study permit application and collect the required documents. The documents that you have to submit are unique to your situation. Some documents that may be required are outlined below:

  • Attestation Letter from the Government of Alberta – always required
  • Letter of Acceptance from NAIT – always required
  • Proof of financial sufficiency – always required
  • Proof of identity – always required
  • Letter of Explanation, outlining the following information:  why do you want to take this program? Why do you want to take this program at NAIT rather than back home? How will this program benefit you back home? What ties do you have that suggest you will return home when your period of authorized stay in Canada is over (for example, family, property, employment)
  • Medical exam – required in some cases
  • Family Information – required in some cases
  • Additional documents listed in your country’s visa office instructions
  • Additional documents if you are applying for a study permit through the Study Direct Stream

Step 4
Submit a complete study permit application, keep a copy of all of the documents and forms you’ve submitted, including your application number and Client ID number, and track the progress of your application within your IRCC account.

My study permit was approved. Now what?

Please upload this letter to your application in the NAIT Portal. This letter is not your study permit. 

When you travel to Canada, you will show the Port of Entry Letter of Introduction to the border services officer who will ask you a series of questions and issue you a study permit. 

You can review what other documents you will need to bring with you when travelling to Canada here. You are also welcome to sign up for a Travelling to Canada workshop here.

My study permit was refused. Now what?

If you have time to submit another study permit application to IRCC before the start of school, feel free to contact an International Academic Advisor through the webform in the NAIT Portal (my.nait.ca/contact – Immigration category) for tips on how to strengthen your application.

If you do not have time to submit another study permit application or no longer want to study at NAIT, you can request a refund. You can find NAIT’s refund processes here.

What happens if I don't receive a decision on my initial study permit application before my program starts?

You cannot begin your classes late. As such, you may want to request a deferral to the next semester. You can review the deferral eligibility requirements, deadlines and processes here

If you are not eligible for a deferral, you can cancel your admission to NAIT. Please review NAIT’s refund process here.

Rules for study permit holders

What are the rules I must follow when I have a study permit?

As a study-permit holder, you must:

  • be enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI) like NAIT
  • actively pursue your studies by:
    • enrolling in classes in your first semester and each following Fall and Winter semester
    • passing classes and making progress towards completing your program
  • limiting NAIT-approved authorized leaves of absence to no longer than 150 days.
  • transfer your designated learning institution (DLI) if you change post-secondary schools

For more information on study permit rules, please watch Studying in Canada – Rules for International Students.

What happens if I break the rules that I'm supposed to follow when I have a study permit?

IRCC may ask you to prove that you’re meeting your study permit conditions as part of a random check or if they have reason to believe that you’re not meeting them. 

If you are unable to prove that you are meeting your study permit conditions, you may lose your student status and study permit. You may also have to leave Canada.

 

Am I allowed to change programs?

Yes, you are allowed to change your program of study, as long as there are no conditions written on your study permit that restrict you from making this change. However, if you change programs multiple times, it may appear as though you are failing to make progress towards completing any one program, which violates the rules study-permit holders must follow.  As such, you should always have a good reason for changing programs and be able to explain your study plan and career intentions.

If you change programs, you must begin your new program within 150 days from when you stopped studying. If you do not, you must either:

 

Can I change schools with my study permit?

Yes, if there are no conditions written on your study permit that restrict you from making this change, you are allowed to change schools when in Canada with a study permit. 

When you change schools, you must notify IRCC.  You can review the instructions to do so here.

If you change schools, you must begin studying at your new school within 150 days from when you stopped studying.  If you do not, you must either:

Am I allowed to take a break from studying?

You are expected to study during your first semester and every following fall and winter semester until graduation.  If you fail to do so, you are not meeting the conditions on your study permit. Further, if you do not study full-time every academic semester, you will no longer meet the eligibility requirements for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

You do not have to study during NAIT’s scheduled breaks.  You can review these dates here.

What is an Authorized Leave of Absence?

If you need to take a semester off for medical reasons, military service, parental leave, or because of a death in the family, you can apply for an Authorized Leave of Absence for up to 150 days. 

  • You can apply for an Authorized Leave of Absence for the current semester (before the last day of class) or for the next academic semester.
  • You will need to submit supporting documentation to establish that a Leave of Absence is necessary. This documentation can include a letter from a counsellor, doctor, or nurse practitioner, a mandatory military service letter, a funeral notice, etc.
  • In order to apply for an Authorized Leave of Absence, you will need contact an International Academic Advisor through the webform on the NAIT Portal (my.nait.ca/contact – ‘Immigration’ category) or by booking an appointment through the NAIT Portal.

Extending your study permit

Do I need to apply to extend my study permit?

You must have a valid study permit to remain in Canada as a student. If your study permit will expire before you finish your program, you must apply to extend it.

If your study permit will expire at the end of your last semester, you should apply to extend it, so you have time to apply for a post-graduation work permit.

When should I apply to extend my study permit?

You should apply to extend your study permit about 90 days before it expires. 

If you apply to extend your study permit before it expires, you will have maintained status in Canada and can study and work like normal while you wait for an answer on the application.

How do I apply to extend my study permit?

Please review the helpful tips below to guide you through the process.

Step 1
Be aware of processing times.

  • If you submit your study permit extension application too early, IRCC may return it to you and ask that you submit it closer to your current study permit’s expiry date.
  • The ‘safe zone’ in which to apply to extend your study permit is 90 days before it expires.
  • Check IRCC’s processing times for a study permit extension application here

Step 2
Request a study permit extension letter. You can request this letter through the webform on your NAIT Portal (my.nait.ca/contact – ‘Immigration’ category). Ensure you read this letter carefully.

Step 3
Start your online study permit extension application and collect all of the required documents. The documents that you have to submit are unique to your situation. Some documents that may be required are outlined below:

  • Study Permit Extension Letter – always required
  • Proof of financial sufficiency – always required
  • Proof of identity – always required
  • Medical exam – required in some cases
  • Family Information – required in some cases

Step 4
Submit a complete study permit application, keep a copy of all of the documents and forms you’ve submitted, including your application number and Client ID number, and track the progress of your application within your IRCC account.

Where can I find help to apply to extend my study permit?

Check out the following resources to help you apply to extend your study permit:

If, after reading the guide and watching the video, you still have questions about extending your Study Permit, you can book an appointment with an International Academic Advisor.

I applied to extend my study permit but have not received an answer. My current study permit is expiring. What should I do?

If you applied to extend your study permit before it expired, you have maintained status and can study and work like normal while you wait for an answer on the application, even if your current study permit expires.

My study permit expired before I applied to extend it. What should I do?

If your study permit expired before you applied for a new one, you are out of status. You must apply to restore your status as a student within 90 days of having lost your status. You can request a study permit restoration letter through the webform on your NAIT Portal (my.nait.ca/contact – ‘Immigration’ category). Ensure you read this letter carefully.

You cannot study or work when out of status, so you must wait until you receive a new study permit to resume these activities.

The immigration information on this page has been reviewed and endorsed by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) in compliance with the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. However, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice.


Looking for more information? 

We're happy to help answer your questions. Feel free to submit any immigration questions to the NAIT Student Service Centre. You can also visit the Government of Canada's immigration and citizenship page for up to date information.

Not sure where to start?  Find out how to apply and get your application going

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