Permits and Visas

Please note the information provided below is not legal advice and is intended for general information purposes only. For the most up to date information please see the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) webpage

For immigration purposes, BCIT considers international students full-time if they are enrolled in:

Students are automatically registered in a set of courses per term, and course-by-course registration is not necessary

Students register themselves through flexible course-by-course registration leading to a credential. Not all courses may be offered each term. Only available to students with status in Canada

Status in Canada

International students must have a valid status in Canada in order to study at BCIT. Students are responsible for making sure they have valid status for the duration of their studies.
  • To prove your status in Canada, you are required to provide BCIT with one of the following documents before your first class:
    • Study permit
    • Work permit*
    • Diplomatic documents*
    • Refugee documents*
    • Visitor Record*
    • Temporary Resident Visa (visitor visa) – please bring your passport*

*You must have a valid study permit before starting a program that will take more than 6 months to complete

Please note that if you do not show us proof of your status in Canada, a 'hold' will be placed on your account, which will prevent you from accessing services at BCIT.

Please bring your original document(s) to:

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) / Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

To enter Canada, you will likely need one of the following:

  • A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) (visitor visa) is a counterfoil in your passport which allows you to enter the country. Even if you are in Canada it is a good idea to make sure your visa is always valid in case you need to leave for an emergency in your home country
  • An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a recent requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals to enter Canada by air (excludes U.S. citizens). It is electronically linked to your passport and is valid for 5 years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. From August 1st 2015 the application for an eTA is done automatically with your initial (first) study permit, but you will need to apply if you extend your study permit. You can check your eTA status online

Do I need a TRV / eTA?

Can I visit the United States of America during my stay in Canada?

Depending on your country of citizenship, you may need a visa to visit the United States. Please note we cannot assist you with U.S. visas other than to provide an International Verification Letter to use in your U.S. visa application.

Please see the U.S. Department of State website for more information.

Study Permits

A study permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) which allows you to study in Canada.

Do I need a study permit?
When can I apply for a study permit?
How do I apply for a study permit?
What is the deadline to show my study permit?
What if my study permit is denied by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?
Important notes about your study permit
Taking a break from studies
How do I renew/extend my study permit?
If your study permit has expired

Do I need a study permit?

  • If you are completing your studies within 6 months you do not need a study permit
    • E.g.: you only take two 12 week part-time courses
  • If you are taking fully online courses (distance education), you do not need a study permit
  • If you are working towards a program that will be longer than 6 months you require a study permit before you begin 
    • E.g.: if you take courses that are 12 weeks long but you plan on continuing your studies and working towards a credential that is longer than 6 months, you need a study permit before you start your first course
  • Please see the IRCC webpage on who needs a study permit for more information
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When can I apply for a study permit?

Full-Time Programs

You must first apply to a Full-Time Program and receive a BCIT Letter of Acceptance. You should apply as soon as you receive your acceptance letter.

Part-Time Programs (from within Canada only)

You must first apply to a Part-Time Program, register in a full-time course load (3 courses/9 credits) when the term opens for registration, bring your original status in Canada document(s) to the International Student Centre and submit an International Letter Request Form. Please note if applying for your first study permit, your course start date must be at least 8 weeks away in order to be eligible for a letter. You should apply for a study permit as soon as you receive your Letter of Verification. Please see the IRCC webpage if you are applying for a study permit as a visitor.

You can check study permit processing times on the IRCC website.

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How do I apply for a study permit?

BCIT does not issue study permits; students must apply for a study permit themselves with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) directly using the BCIT Letter of Acceptance or Verification among other documents to apply.

Please see the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada webpage for information on eligibility and how to apply.

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What is the deadline to show my study permit?

Full-Time Programs

You must bring your original study permit in-person to the International Student Centre (ISC) Burnaby campus, ISC downtown campus or Aerospace Technology Campus at least 3 days before your program begins.

If you do not have a valid study permit 30 days before your program starts, notify Admissions immediately at admissions@bcit.ca.

Part-Time Programs

Please ensure that you have a valid study permit at least 31 days before your course starts, as this is the deadline to receive a full refund of part-time studies tuition. You must then bring your original study permit to the International Student Centre (ISC) Burnaby campus, ISC downtown campus or Aerospace Technology Campus on or before your first day of class.

Please note that if you withdraw less than 31 days before your course starts, the regular part-time studies refund policy applies.

You must have your study permit before attending classes. If your start date is approaching and you still do not have your study permit please contact the International Student Centre (ISC) Burnaby campus

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What if my study permit is denied by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?

Details on the refund policy can be found on the fees page.

Please submit a scanned copy of the original study permit denial letter from IRCC as soon as you receive it to:

Remember to include your BCIT ID number on all correspondence.

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Important notes about your study permit

  • Your study permit will become invalid 90 days after you complete your studies (even before your study permit expiry date), OR on the expiry date of your study permit, whichever comes first
  • IRCC may request that you show you are complying with conditions of your study permit. This may be a random assessment or due to specific concerns about your case
  • Students who do not comply with the conditions of their study permit may be asked to leave Canada and cannot return for a year without written permission
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Taking a break from studies

At BCIT, students are considered to be on a scheduled study break if:

  • Students are enrolled in a Full-Time Program with no scheduled classes for a term break (for example diploma programs on a summer break)
  • Students are enrolled in a Part-Time Program and have been studying full-time (3 in-person courses and 9 credits) in the fall, winter, and spring terms, and are not registered for classes in July and August

Please note that while you are in Canada on a study permit, you must actively pursue studies. Taking a term off could impact your studies, your study permit, and eligibility to work both during and after your studies.

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How do I renew/extend my study permit?

You should apply to extend your study permit at least 30 days before the expiry date. Be sure to apply before your study permit expires.

To extend your study permit:

  1. Fill out an International Letter Request Form and pay the $20 fee. The electronic letter takes 5 business days and will be sent to your personal and BCIT email
  2. After you have received your letter, submit this as part of your application to extend your study permit with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
  3. IRCC will issue a letter confirming they have received your application in your online IRCC account. Please email this letter to isc_info@bcit.ca
  4. When you have received your new study permit, bring the original to the International Student Centre (ISC) Burnaby campus, ISC downtown campus or Aerospace Technology Campus so we can update your file
  5. Be sure to apply for a new Temporary Resident Visa (entry visa) or Electronic Travel Authorization
  6. Since your MSP coverage will usually expire with your study permit, you will need to apply to extend your MSP and receive a new card
    • Photocopy your new study permit
    • On a piece of paper, write your full name, birthday, address, Personal Health Number (on the back of your MSP card) and request to extend your MSP
    • Mail both documents to the MSP office
    • If you would like assistance, the ISC Burnaby campus can photocopy your study permit and mail your application
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If your study permit has expired:

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Can I work during/after my studies?

Please see the working in Canada webpage.

Transferring to BCIT from another institution

If you studied at a different institution and will transfer to BCIT, you must notify IRCC of your change of school. Institutions have different Designated Learning Institution (DLI) numbers. The DLI number for BCIT is O19330128542.

You will need to change your institution number in your MyCIC account online.

Transferring to BCIT from high school in Canada

You must have a post-secondary study permit to study at BCIT, you cannot study with a primary/secondary school study permit.

Please ensure you apply to BCIT early to have enough time to apply for and receive a post-secondary study permit from IRCC before beginning your studies.

Permanent Residents (Landed Immigrants)

  • If you have permanent resident status, then you are considered a domestic student and are entitled to domestic fees
  • To be eligible for domestic fees for the current semester you must show your document before the refund deadline. Otherwise you will need to wait until the next semester
  • To update your status, bring your original signed landing paper or permanent resident card to one of the following campuses:
  • If you are not able to come to campus in-person, you will need to visit a notary public and get a certified true copy, then mail this document to the ISC Burnaby Campus. Please be sure to include your student ID number
  • Please note that it is unlawful to make a false declaration