Please note that the information provided below is not legal advice and is intended for general information purposes only. For the most up-to-date information, please visit Study Permit: About the process on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
IRCC study permit application delays & alternatives to having a study permit
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, study permit applications may be subject to significant delays. Temporary closures may affect certain Visa Application Centres (VACs) as well as facilities that provide biometrics and medical exam services. For more information, visit IRCC – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International students.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to start your program online from outside of Canada prior to obtaining a study permit. See the alternatives to having a study permit in special circumstances below for more information.
Updated April 1, 2021
On this page:
- Introduction to study permits
- BCIT’s study permit requirements
- Alternatives to having a study permit in special circumstances
- How to apply for a study permit from outside of Canada
- How to reduce your study permit wait times at YVR Airport
- How to apply to extend your study permit from within Canada
- Conditions of study permit holders in Canada
- Frequently asked questions about study permits
Introduction to study permits
A Study Permit is a document issued by IRCC that allows a foreign national to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada such as BCIT for a limited period of time.
Most international students coming to study at BCIT are required to have a study permit in order to comply with Canadian immigration regulations and also to meet BCIT’s study permit requirements for admission. You must apply for a study permit directly to IRCC and you should be aware that application processing times can vary considerably depending on where you may be applying from.
Having a valid study permit or study permit approval linked to a DLI with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan such as BCIT is also one of the current requirements for international students to be able to travel to Canada.
We recommend that you apply for your study permit as early as possible to make sure you will be able to start your studies as planned!
Note that international students enrolled in programs with mandatory work components must apply for a co-op work permit in addition to a study permit.
BCIT’s study permit requirements
BCIT requires most international students to submit proof of having a valid study permit before starting a program and to have a valid study permit at all times until completion of the program.
The deadline to submit your study permit is 7 days before your program starts. Valid study permits designated for secondary school studies may be used to satisfy BCIT’s study permit requirement.
If your study permit has expired, or will expire before the refund deadline for your program, you must:
- Submit proof of your expired study permit and proof that you applied for a study permit extension before your study permit expiration date and no later than 7 days before your program start date.
- Submit proof of your new study permit as soon as you receive it.
In addition to meeting BCIT’s study permit requirements, international students planning to study in Canada must comply with all government regulations. See IRCC – Do I need a permit to study in Canada? for more information.
How to submit proof of your study permit to BCIT
Create a digital copy by scanning or taking a photo of your original permit and email it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org from your myBCIT email account. The digital copy must clearly show the entire document and must not be altered in any way.
Alternatives to having a study permit in special circumstances
You may be able to satisfy BCIT’s study permit requirements without actually having a study permit if any of the following scenarios apply to you. Please review carefully as there are likely alternative requirements that you need to meet instead.
How to apply for a study permit from outside of Canada
Before applying for a study permit from outside of Canada, you will need to:
- Gain acceptance into a program at BCIT
- Review Guide 5269 – Applying for a Study Permit outside Canada
- Prepare the required documents
- Create an account on the IRCC website
For more information, see Study permit: How to apply on the IRCC website.
If you live in China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal or Vietnam, then you might be able to get your study permit faster by applying online through the Student Direct Stream.
After submitting your study permit, you will receive a letter from IRCC with instructions for providing biometrics (fingerprints and photo). Generally this required within 30 days of when you submit your application, and your study permit application will not be processed by IRCC until your biometrics have been received.
If your study permit application is approved, then you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction along with a visitor visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), depending on your nationality. You must show this Letter of Introduction to officials when you arrive in Canada in order to get your study permit.
Note that US nationals do not require a visa or eTA to enter Canada, so will not receive either with their Letter of Introduction.
How to reduce your study permit wait times at YVR Airport
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) are piloting the Voluntary Compliance Portal (VC Portal).
New BCIT students are invited to submit their study permit approval information to YVR through the VC portal prior to their travels. With this advance notice of your arrival, CBSA will prepare to have your study permit printed before you arrive to YVR.
You must meet the following eligibility criteria to use the VC Portal:
- Have a Port of Entry Letter of Introduction (study permit approval)
- Your initial entry into Canada must be at YVR (no domestic connecting flights)
- Submit the required information through the VC Portal at least 72 hours before arrival to YVR
Using the VC portal does not guarantee entry into Canada. CBSA will assess your eligibility to enter Canada as usual.
The VC portal is only being used for study permits at this time. If you have been approved for a co-op work permit as well, you may still submit your study permit information.
If you submit incorrect information or your information changes, you may simply resubmit with updated information.
Using the VC portal is completely optional and is meant to save time and limit congestion at the airport.
How to apply to extend your study permit from within Canada
The expiry date on your study permit tells you when you have to stop studying and leave Canada. If you want to keep studying you need to extend your study permit.
While you can apply for any extension at any time while you have a valid study permit, we suggest applying for a study permit extension three months before your current study permit will expire.
It is important to note that you can’t extend your study permit beyond your passport’s expiry date, so it may be a good idea to renew your passport first if it will expire soon.
To extend your study permit you will need to:
- Request an International Confirmation of Enrolment Letter
- Review Guide 5552 – Applying to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada – Student – online application
- Follow the instructions at Extend your study permit: how to apply
Note that you may have to give your biometrics (fingerprints and photo) and pay the biometrics fee when you submit your application. If you don’t, there may be delays.
After you apply, IRCC will issue a letter confirming they have received your study permit extension application in your online IRCC account. You must email this letter to email@example.com along with your student ID number. You must also submit proof of your new study permit once you receive it.
When renewing your study permit, it is also important to remember to update or renew the following:
Conditions of study permit holders in Canada
Study permit holders in Canada are subject to both of the following conditions:
- They shall enroll at a designated learning institution (DLI) and remain enrolled at a DLI until they complete their studies.
- They shall actively pursue their course or program of study.
For more details, review IRCC – Your conditions as a study permit holder in Canada.
You should understand that BCIT is required to report on the academic status of all students who have BCIT listed as the DLI on their study permit.