Study Permits for Minors
Posted on 10/01/2021
In the case of a minor child outside of Canada, or in Canada, whose parents are in Canada or who will be travelling to Canada, what options do you have for the child to study in Canada? Let’s find out.
What is a minor according to Canadian law?
A minor is anyone under what is called the Age of Majority in Canada and this differs slightly depending on the province or territory in Canada you will be visiting, working, or studying in.
|Province/Territory||Age of Majority||Minor ages|
|Alberta||18 years old||17 years and younger|
|British Columbia||19 years old||18 years and younger|
|Manitoba||18 years old||17 years and younger|
|New Brunswick||19 years old||18 years and younger|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||19 years old||18 years and younger|
|Nova Scotia||19 years old||18 years and younger|
|Northwest Territories||19 years old||18 years and younger|
|Nunavut||19 years old||18 years and younger|
|Ontario||18 years old||17 years and younger|
|Prince Edward Island||18 years old||17 years and younger|
|Quebec||18 years old||17 years and younger|
|Saskatchewan||18 years old||17 years and younger|
|Yukon||19 years old||18 years and younger|
Keep these Age of Majority numbers in mind because, as we show below, you might have an older child who as a teenaged minor just below the Age of Majority, does not need a study permit or a letter of acceptance from their primary or secondary school, but who will have to apply for a study permit when they reach the Age of Majority. It also can impact immigration officials’ decisions on custodianship (see below).
Do minors intending to study in Canada need a Study Permit?
Yes, in general they do. However, there a number of exceptions to this requirement.
In the following cases they do not need a study permit to study at the pre-school, primary, or secondary levels:
- They are with parents who are claiming refugee status or are claiming refugee status for themselves.
- One of their parents (either biological or adoptive) is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
- One of their parents (either biological or adoptive) has a valid work or study permit.
- One of their parents (either biological or adoptive) has visitor status (e.g., is a visitor record holder) who is authorized to work without a work permit as per IRPR 186 (go here for the list of occupations/people this applies to).
- One of their parents (either biological or adoptive) has visitor status (is a visitor record holder) who is authorized to study without a study permit as per IRPR 188 (go here to see who this applies to).
- Neither parent is physically in Canada.
In other words, if the parents of a minor are temporary residents of the visitor class (in other words, with a visitor visa) and thus not authorized to work or study in Canada, then they must apply for a study permit for the minor. The above cases are all exceptions to this general rule.
This can be seen from the relevant section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA):
- IRPA Section 30(2):
Every minor child in Canada, other than a child of a temporary resident not authorized to work or study, is authorized to study at the pre-school, primary, or secondary level.
Where do you apply for a study permit?
In general, there are 3 main scenarios as to where to apply:
I: Applying from Overseas
Unless IRPR Section 188 applies (which means they are either children of foreign government representatives or foreign armed forces, or children of native Canadians, or their study will be for less than 6 months) then visa offices abroad tend tol process the minors as students requiring a study permit rather than visitors. This is true even if either parent is authorized to work or study in Canada.
Therefore, if the minor will be travelling with their parents to Canada and they are applying for visas, their parents should apply for a study permit for their minors.
II: Applying at a Port of Entry (POE)
While U.S. citizens, Permanent Residents of the U.S., Residents of Greenland, Residents of St. Pierre & Miquelon can apply for a study permit at their POE in Canada (IRPR Section 214), a minor entering Canada (or their parents) is expected to have applied for and obtained a letter of introduction from a visa office overseas.
However, immigration officials are authorized to classify the minor child as a temporary resident within the visitor class as long as one parent is authorized to work or study in Canada. This means that they can study without a permit as long as their parents meet the requirements. The minor will be issued a visitor record but once the minor reaches Age of Majority (see table above) they will have to apply for a study permit.
III: Applying from within Canada
Even if one parent is authorized to work or study in Canada, an application for a study permit can still be made on behalf of a minor child already in Canada and studying as a temporary resident. This, however, is not legally required. If neither parent is authorized to study or work in Canada, then they will have to apply for a study permit.
Does the minor require a letter of acceptance from their school?
Yes, they do. The exception to this rule is when the minor is accompanying a parent who is authorized to work or study in Canada and this authorization occurs before they travel to Canada.
This can be seen from IRPR 219 Sections (1) and (2):
A study permit shall not be issued to a foreign national unless they have written documents from the designated learning institution where they intend to study that states that they have been accepted to study there.
Subsection (1) does not apply to a family member of a foreign national whose application for a work permit or a study permit is approved in writing before the foreign national enters Canada.
What are the documents required for a foreign national minor child entering Canada who is intending to study in Canada?
|The child entering Canada is …||Documents required||Study Permit required|
|A Canadian||Passport, Citizenship Card, or Birth Certificate||No|
|A Permanent Resident of Canada||Record of Landing (IMM 1000), COPR (IMM 5292), or PR Card||No|
|A foreign national accompanied by a parent in the visitor class (parent has visitor visa only, with NO work or study permit)||Entry stamp in minor’s passport or Entry stamp in parent’s passport in which minor is listed as son or daughter||Yes|
|Unaccompanied (alone) OR with parent who as study or work permit||Child’s passport or parent’s passport; child may have visitor record; Parent has to have study or work permit||No|
|A refugee claimant, unaccompanied or accompanied by parent||Determination of Eligibility letter from Canadian authorities; Child’s passport or child listed on parent’s passport; any other available travel or identity documents; Other expired IRCC document||No|
|In Canada without status||Child’s passport or child listed on parent’s passport; any other available travel or identity documents; Other expired IRCC document||No|
As you can see, the only case where a study permit is required is when both parents (or the accompanying parent) are in Canada on a visitor visa and are therefore not authorized to work or study in Canada.
- Please note that in this case, the minor or their parents or custodian (see below) will also have to obtain a Letter of Acceptance from the designated learning institute (DLI) the child plans on attending.
- In general, any primary or secondary school in Canada is considered a DLI. You should request a letter of acceptance from the School District in which the school the minor plans to attend is located, not from the school catchment.
- Every public school in a school district also has a school catchment which is the surrounding area and neighbourhoods near the school from which students may attend that school. Remember, do not send your request for a letter of acceptance to your chosen school’s catchment. Send it to the School District.
Does an unaccompanied minor need a custodian?
A minor must have a parent, other family member, or a custodian who will provide the resources necessary to support them during their temporary stay in Canada. If they are NOT accompanied by a parent, immigration officials will need to be satisfied that the minor will have arrangements in place in Canada for their care and support.
Therefore, if a minor is unaccompanied, the parents (or legal guardian) should fill out a Custodianship Declaration Form.
- If the minor is less than 17 years old, a custodianship is mandatory.
- If the minor is 17 to 18 years old (that is, less than Age of Majority in the province/territory where they will be living and studying) immigration officials will assess whether they believe a custodianship is required. This is done on a case-by-case basis. Officials may request additional documentation and also may request an interview. Factors they consider include:
- Level of study (secondary school generally requires a custodianship)
- Level of independence
- Financial capacity
- Travel experience
- Accessibility of parents or guardians to school where they will study
- Possible informal arrangements that provide sufficient support to the minor
- Risk environment: child migration or trafficking of minors
- Please note that both parents’ signature is required on the Custodianship Declaration form (IMM 5646) as well as personal information for each parent.