Moving to Canada from the United States as a Student
There are two paths for U.S. nationals to move to Canada as a student. Either via acceptance to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) such as a College or University, or through the International Experience Canada International Co-op (Internship) Program.
American citizens are exempt from requiring a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to enter and remain in Canada. However, they do require proper identification (i.e., an American passport). Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. require an ETA to fly or transit through a Canadian airport and have to present a valid Green Card and valid Passport at check-in.
For Americans who want to study in Canada for longer than 6 months, a study permit will be required. A study permit is usually valid for the length of the educational program, plus an extra 90 days, to allow students to apply for an extension or to prepare to leave Canada.
Things to Keep in Mind For Americans Studying in Canada
- If an American national who is coming to work in Canada has a legal partner/spouse who they would like to bring with them for the term of the work/study permit, this person is eligible to apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit. However, if this person is not an American national he/she may also need a visa to enter and stay in Canada.
- The number of refusals of study permits applications for American citizens has increased significantly in the past few years. This is because many Americans apply to educational programs in Canada which are inappropriate for their level of professional achievement or experience.
- Given the current political climate in the United States, immigration officers are more vigilant than ever for applicants they do not believe will leave Canada at the end of their stay. This also leads to refusals.
Even if you have applied for a study permit before which resulted in a refusal, you may still be able to be approved on a second try.
Contact us if you want to apply for a study permit in Canada.
Working in Canada After Completion of Studies
Once a student has successfully completed an educational program at least 8 months long in Canada, the graduate will be eligible to apply for the Post Graduate Work Permit. The work permit will be valid for the same length of time as their program of study. For this reason, if a student may want to eventually apply for PR in Canada, they should ensure they choose an educational program of around 2 years in length to ensure they have time to collect the required amount of work experience.
Americans who have already submitted their PGWP application can begin fulltime work before the application is approved.
To be eligible for the PGWP the U.S. national will need to meet the following criteria when applying:
- Within 180 days of applying for the PGWP, the applicant holds (or held) a valid study permit or was authorized to study in Canada without the requirement for a study permit as stipulated under the IRPA Regulations (Paragraph 188(1)(a) and (b))
- Must have temporary status in Canada or have left Canada after their studies at the time of applying
- Have graduated from an eligible DLI
- Submit proof of completion of at least 8 months of studies, leading to a degree/diploma/certificate from an academic, vocational or professional training program with an eligible DLI
- Maintained full-time student status in Canada all throughout their programs of study completed and submitted for the PGWPP
- Possess a transcript and official letter from the eligible DLI,to confirm the applicant has completed the program of study.
To be eligible for the Post Graduate Work Permit, graduates must have completed their program at an eligible DLI.
In other words the studies can not have been:
- a course/program at a private career college
- an English/French as a second language course or program
- general interest or self-improvement courses
The American applicant must provide proof of completion of studies from one of the following eligible DLIs:
- a public post-secondary institution (i.e. a university/college, trade or technical school or CEGEP)
- a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same regulations as public institutions in Québec
- a private secondary or post-secondary institution in Québec that offers programs (900+ hours) leading to either a diploma of vocational studies or attestation of vocational specialization
- a private Canadian institution, authorized by the province to confer degrees (i.e. associate, bachelors, masters or doctoral degrees) so long as the student is enrolled in a program leading to a degree
To confirm the DLI’s eligibility you can refer to the Designated Learning Institution List
Non-Eligible PGWP Students
American post-graduate students are not eligible for the PGWP if:
- They previously were issued a PGWP
- They received funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC), except Study in Canada Scholarship recipients
- They participated in the Government of Canada Awards Program (funded by GAC)
- They obtained the Canada-Chile Equal Opportunity Scholarship
- They participated in the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program
- They participated in the Organization of American States Fellowship Program
- They completed most of the program of study via distance learning
- They completed their studies at a non-Canadian institution in Canada
Studying at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
To be eligible to study at a Designated Learning Institution in Canada, American applicants must meet the following requirement:
– must have applied for acceptance to a DLI in Canada, and have been approved;
– must prove they have enough money for tuition fees, living expenses for themself (and any family members accompanying the student to Canada) and return transportation for self (and family members who accompany the student to Canada);
– must be willing to obey Canadian laws;
– must not have a criminal record;
– must be able to provide a police certificate (if required);
– must be in good health and get a medical exam (if required); and
– must be able to prove to an officer the willingness to leave at the end of the allowed study term in Canada.
To apply for a study permit, documents are required in English or French, Canada’s official languages. If the original document is not in either language, a certified translation must also be provided. The documents required to apply as a student through a DLI are:
- Proof of Acceptance – a Letter of Acceptance (hard copy or electronic) from the school that the applicant will be attending, to be submitted with the Study Permit Application.
- Proof of Identity – an electronic copy of the information page of the American’s and accompanying member’s Passport(s) — or Travel Document where applicable — as well as 2 photos of each person.
- Proof of Financial Support – the applicant must demonstrate financial independence for themselves, as well as all those accompanying him/her, while the Applicant is studying in Canada.
- Letter of Explanation – a letter, outlining why Canada is the country of choice for the study program, must be submitted as well as demonstration that the American applicant understands his / her responsibilities while in Canada.
- A Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) – if the American is looking to study in Québec, this certificate needs to be provided.
- A Custodianship Declaration is required in cases where the American student is a minor (under 18 years of age).
U.S. nationals applying to extend a study permit, may or may not need to provide updated biometric information. Previously submitted biometrics may still be valid if they were submitted at an earlier time. To see if your past biometric information is still valid, check the status tool at: https://onlineservices-servicesenligne.cic.gc.ca/extapp/termsAndConditions?&lang=en
* Biometrics need to be provided at Application Support Centers (ASCs) in the United States and its territories or, in Canada, at a designated Service Canada Office (SCOs). Appointments need to be made at a location near the applicant. Fees must be paid before attending the appointment. Applicants have 90 days from the date of the letter to submit their biometrics.
Note: A few days before the appointment, applicants should check if the respective office is open in case of extenuating circumstances. Furthermore, as of April 2020, Ministerial Instructions by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration of Canada have resulted in applicants no longer permitted to submit hard-copies (paper) for their application for temporary residence.
The following Los Angeles / New York Office Specific documents are also required, when applying for a permit from the United States:
- Application for Study Permit Made Outside of Canada (IMM1294) – this application form must be completed online; it is imperative that the generated barcode is printed and included in the application. An email address must be included or the application may be delayed or even refused. (If any of the questions from 3 to 6 were answered “Yes” then a completed and signed Schedule 1 form (Application for Temporary Resident Visa – IMM 5257B) is required. American applicants currently serving (or have served) in a military, security or police organization must attach their résumé, issued by their organization.
- Family Information Form (IMM 5707) – the form must be completed, dated and signed.
- Custodianship Declaration Form (IMM 5646) – the form must be signed and notarized for children under 18 years of age.
- Birth Registration bearing the name of both parents or a copy of custody documents for the child must be submitted, if applicable, when the applicant is a minor (under 18 years of age)
- Valid, Cancelled & Expired Passports – all these must be submitted (keep 2 photocopies of the ID pages) in case they are needed.
- Proof of Current Legal Status in the United States – this is required if an applicant is not applying from their country of citizenship.
- Letter of Acceptance – this letter must be issued by the university or learning institution in Canada where the applicant has been accepted to study.
- Study Plan – a plan outlining the purpose of studying in Canada; the overall educational goal and how this program will enhance employment opportunities in the country of residence or citizenship; an itinerary; and the names and addresses of persons and institutions that the applicant intends to visit.
- Proof of Financial Independence – the applicant must show personal monthly or quarterly bank statements for savings/chequing accounts or term deposit certificates for the past 3 months, to show sufficient funds to support the study plan.
If financial assistance is provided by someone other than the applicant the following must be provided:
- A letter signed/dated from the person paying for the trip and studies, stating in detail what expenses will be covered.
- Personal monthly or quarterly bank statements for savings/checking accounts or term deposit certificates of the past 3 months, demonstrating sufficient funds to support the application.
- Evidence of their source of income (i.e. an employment letter).
- Evidence of relationship between this person and the applicant.
- Evidence of Current Activity – applicants must provide an account of activities in their current country of residence such as:
- Salaried workers: Provide an employment letter
- Self-employed, contractors or business owners: Provide a copy of contract(s), business registration and tax documents.
- Students looking to continue their studies after completing their program in Canada: Provide evidence of current enrolment (i.e. letter outlining length of program, payments made, registration for continued studies, etc.)
- Students who have completed their studies: Provide evidence of the completion of studies (i.e., a diploma, certificate, etc.)
- Confirmation of Up-Front Medical Exam – in cases where the U.S. national, or a national applying from the U.S., has completed a medical exam with a panel physician prior to submitting the application, a copy of the document from the physician must be included.
Note: If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you may be able to apply for the study permit at the Point of Entry in Canada, so long as you have received acceptance to an educational institution in Canada and have completed the following before going to the border: 1) meet the eligibility requirements to obtain a study permit, 2) have a medical exam completed if required, 3) have all necessary documents needed for a study permit with you at the POE. If the form of travel is not by land (car/bus/train), as a Citizen or lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S., you will not require a visa but do have to get an Electronic Travel Authorization before boarding the plane to Canada. Upon arrival, the applicant will need to inform the officer that a study permit is being sought and the officer will review your travel document, will check if the eligibility requirements are met, and review the medical certificate (if one was required). Based on the information provided to the officer they will issue or refuse the study permit.