These guidelines will help you understand your responsibilities as an international student before you arrive, while you’re here and after you graduate.
As an international student in Canada, it is your responsibility to know and understand the terms and conditions of your stay here. You are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and complying with immigration regulations while you're here.
In order to travel to and legally stay in Canada, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with immigration laws, regulations and requirements, and stay updated on any changes. Laws on immigration are always subject to change. Please refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to ensure you have current information.
Are you coming to the University of Manitoba to do research but not take courses? If so, this immigration information may not apply to you. Please email the International Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Before you come to Canada
Don’t wait until it’s too late! Immigration processes take time. Familiarize yourself with application processing times for different permits and start early.
IRCC has recently announced that if they receive your complete study permit application by May 15, 2021, you’ll get a decision by August 6, 2021. They may not be able to process your application by August 6, 2021, if you’re unable to submit a complete application because of COVID-19 restrictions, such as reduced service at visa application centres (VACs) or other providers.
Before you apply for a study permit
Passports and travel documents
To apply for a study permit, you will need to show proof of your identity. For most applicants, this will take the form of a valid passport from your country of citizenship or travel documents that guarantee that you can re-enter your country. Find out what you need to come to Canada.
Your passport or travel document must remain valid while you are in Canada. Typically, your study permit and temporary resident visa (if required) cannot be valid beyond the date that your passport or travel document expires.
It is your responsibility to ensure your passport or travel document does not expire while you are in Canada—you should apply for renewal at least six months before it expires. The consulate or embassy for your country can provide you with renewal information if you are in Canada.
Biometrics, which include fingerprinting and digital photographs, are a new entry requirement to Canada as of Dec. 31, 2018. For new international students intending to arrive in 2019, biometrics will need to be submitted in person at a designated location in their country of residence. Students cannot obtain their biometrics until they have applied for a study permit and received formal notice from the Government of Canada to do so.
Visa application centres (VACs) are managed by private companies and are approved to provide biometric services. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. Book your appointment for biometrics early, or your application for the study permit may be delayed!
Applying for a study permit
What is a study permit?
A study permit is a document issued by the Government of Canada that allows a foreign national to study in Canada. Most international students in long-term programs will need a study permit issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) before coming to Canada.
In some cases, a study permit is not required, typically if your entire program of study is six months or less in duration and you can complete the entire course or program within the period authorized for your stay in Canada.
How do I apply?
Apply early! It can take several months to obtain your initial study permit after you complete your biometrics. Begin the process as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance / letter of offer from the University of Manitoba.
You may be able to apply for your study permit electronically or you may have to submit a paper application. To obtain a study permit application kit and application instructions, including a full list of documents you will need, click here or contact the Canadian visa office responsible for your country of citizenship, your country of residence, or the country where you have been legally admitted and are physically present.
Generally, in addition to the required application forms, you will also need documents such as:
- your University of Manitoba letter of acceptance / certificate of acceptance
- proof of identity—a valid passport or travel document
- two recent passport-sized photos (if applying online, digital photos)
- proof of financial support—evidence of adequate funds to live and study in Canada (approximately $10,000 CAD plus tuition fees for one year for one person)
- any additional documents required by the visa office that is processing your application
A personal interview with a visa officer, a medical examination and security checks may be required. The Canadian visa office will provide you with a list of approved medical examiners if a medical exam is required.
If you are asked by IRCC to pay your tuition in advance, email the University of Manitoba’s Office of Revenue, General & Student Accounting for payment instructions. Include your full name and University of Manitoba student number in all correspondence with the university.
If your study permit application is approved, a letter of introduction will be sent to you confirming the approval. The letter of introduction is not your study permit. You will need to bring the letter with you to show to immigration officials when you first arrive in Canada, in order to obtain your study permit.
Travel authorization documents
Do you need travel authorization documents?
Your study permit is not a visa. It doesn’t allow you enter Canada. You may also require a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) approves your study permit application they will issue one to you. Find out if you need travel authorization documents
Travel or status documents issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada cannot be valid beyond the expiry date of your passport. If your passport is due to expire, it is advised to renew your passport before you apply for any travel documents or study permits. It is very important that you travel with the same passport number you used when you applied for your travel documents or study permit, as these are checked when you enter Canada. If they do not match, the officer will not be able to issue you with a study permit and you may even be asked to leave Canada and return to your home country.
Temporary resident visas and Electronic Travel Authorization
The temporary resident visa (TRV) is a travel document that allows you to enter Canada, or re-enter if you travel during your studies. This is commonly known as a “visitor visa” and it does not grant you any legal status in Canada. If you are a citizen of a country that needs a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), IRCC will seal it into your passport. There is an expiry date on this visa ― you must enter Canada before this expiry date. The visa will also indicate if you can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or if you can enter Canada multiple times (a multiple-entry visa).
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is an entry requirement for foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries. If one is issued for you, it will be indicated in the letter of introduction you receive. The eTA will be linked to your passport, and is valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
You do not need these documents to stay in Canada—to do that, you need a valid study permit―but if you have a TRV, it is a good idea to keep it valid while you are here so you can leave and re-enter Canada if needed. To learn how to extend your TRV from within Canada, see the "While you are in Canada" section below.
Additional considerations before you arrive
The following information provides a list of helpful reminders of things to do and pack before you depart for Winnipeg. It is not an exhaustive list, and it is your responsibility to know and understand the guidelines, policies and laws relating to your travel and arrival in Canada.
Before you leave
As an international student at the University of Manitoba, you will be a part of our mandatory health coverage plan with our local provider, Blue Cross and Student Care.
- It is always smart to purchase travel insurance to ensure that you have medical coverage from the date you leave your home country until the date you arrive in Manitoba.
- It is important to know that your student health coverage will not be effective elsewhere in Canada, and cannot be used until you first arrive in Manitoba.
- You may extend your coverage until the first date of classes, especially in the case there are delays or emergencies.
- Review the Manitoba International Student Health Plan (MISHP) coverage and effective dates.
- Make a photocopy of or scan your airline tickets and important documents in case the originals are lost or stolen. Keep the photocopies in a safe place, but not in the same place that you keep the originals (for example, save photos in your email account).
- Keep emergency phone numbers with you at all times. The following phone numbers are recommended:
- your country's embassy, consulate or high commission located in each country through which you travel
- Security Services at the UM (204-474-9341, collect)
- Confirm the baggage restrictions for each airline you will use.
- Confirm the time that you should arrive at the airport and ensure to arrive in plenty of time to check in. Many international flights require passengers to arrive two to three hours before the scheduled departure time.
- Pack your own baggage and never leave your bags unattended.
- Label all luggage clearly. Try to use luggage tags with flaps to hide your name and deter theft.
- Keep a small amount of local currency so you can pay departure taxes and purchase snacks during stop-overs. Contact the airline(s) or your travel agency in advance to find out how much the airport tax will be and how you can pay it at each airport you will use.
- Carry a credit card or small amount of Canadian dollars so you can pay for a taxi, if necessary, upon your arrival in Winnipeg.
Make sure you have all of your important documents in your carry-on bag (NOT your checked luggage, in case it gets lost or you require them after you have checked your luggage). Examples include:
- airline tickets
- credit cards and money
- documentation required at the port of entry
- record of immunization
- list of medications you require
- driver’s licence, if you have one
If you will arrive in Canada between October and April, bring an appropriate jacket to wear upon arrival.
Arriving at the port of entry
Your “port of entry” is the first airport you land in, or first land border you cross, when you arrive in Canada. For example, if your flight lands in Toronto before continuing to Winnipeg, Toronto will be your port of entry.
An officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will meet you at your port of entry. The officer will issue your study permit after reviewing your documents. It is important that you show the correct documents to the CBSA.
When you receive your study permit, read it carefully and ask the officer to explain anything you do not understand. Although you will be tired from your trip to Canada, it is important to take the time to ensure you understand all of the information listed on your study permit. It is your responsibility to understand and comply with immigration regulations while you are in Canada.
You may have other questions about arriving in Canada that are not related to immigration. The International Centre has resources for you.
While you are in Canada
If you would like guidance, book an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 204-474-8501 or dropping by 541 UMSU University Centre.
To understand how the U of M defines Full-Time status for the purposes of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), please review the information in the following document.
Your Canadian study permit
Your study permit allows you to study in Canada. Once you receive your study permit, make note of the valid until date – the date that your study permit will expire. You should also note the terms and conditions so you can be sure to use your permit in a legal way.
In order to stay compliant with your study permit and use it in a legal way, you must:
- be (and remain) enrolled at a designated learning institution, like the University of Manitoba
- make reasonable and timely progress continuously toward completing your program of study
- respect any conditions listed on your study permit
- leave Canada before the expiry date on the study permit or apply to extend your status legally in Canada before the date the study permit expires, and
- stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements
The “conditions” indicate any restrictions that have been placed on your study in Canada. The conditions listed on your permit tell you:
- the educational level at which you are permitted to study
- if you are allowed to work in Canada
- whether you need to report for a medical procedure
- if your travel within Canada is restricted
- the date when you must stop studying
It is a crime not to comply with the conditions on your study permit. If you break any of the conditions, you can lose your temporary resident status and any permit you have. Future permit applications can also be denied.
Renewing a study permit
If your study permit is not valid for your entire stay in Canada, you will need to renew it. You must apply for the renewal a minimum of 30 days before the expiry of your current study permit, shown by the “valid until” date. We recommend applying approximately 90 days prior to expiry. This timeframe does not include the time required to meet the biometric regulations prior to applying. Study permit processing times vary throughout the year – you can check current processing times.
To apply to renew your study permit, you need to complete the Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada as a Student.
Students using a paper-based application should send their study permit renewal applications to the Case Processing Centre with XpressPost, which is a service available at Canada Post offices. XpressPost will provide you with a tracking number; keep this number, as you may need it to prove your application was delivered to the Case Processing Centre before your current study permit expired. Please note that online applications are processed more quickly than paper-based applications.
As long as you apply before your permit expires, you will be considered to be on “implied status” even if you do not receive your new permit before the expiry date. ”Implied status” means that your period of authorized stay is extended until a decision is made about whether your permit will be renewed. You have the right to continue working or studying under the same conditions as before, pending a determination of your application for renewal – as long as you remain in Canada.
The International Centre offers regular information sessions on study permit extension. If you would like information, book an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 204-474-8501 or dropping by 541 UMSU University Centre.
Changing a study permit / changing your school or program of studies
If you wish to change any of the terms and conditions on your study permit, you must submit a completed Application to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada as a Student.
If you are a post-secondary student with a valid study permit, you do not need to change your study permit if you want to change your program of study but stay at the same institution. You may change your program, field of study or level of study (e.g. from the bachelor level to the master’s level) without applying for a new study permit. You do not need to apply for a change to the condition of your study permit, either. You may continue to use your study permit as long as it is valid.
If you change your institution (for example, transferring from the International College of Manitoba to the University of Manitoba), you do not need to change your study permit. However, in this situation, you need to:
- Notify Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) through your MyCIC account every time you change institutions. Get step-by-step instructions on how to notify CIC that you have changed your institution using your MyCIC account.
- Make sure you meet the conditions of your study permit on an ongoing basis. This includes the requirements to be enrolled at a designated learning institution and to be actively pursuing your studies while you are in Canada.
- Some students are not required to notify IRCC of a change in institution. These are students who:
- applied for a study permit prior to June 1, 2014
- were issued a study permit to attend an institution at the primary or secondary level
- obtained a study permit as the family member of a study or work permit-holder (i.e., you were not required to submit a letter of acceptance when applying for a study permit)
Changing from high school to university as an international student
Important note: You cannot start your post-secondary studies until you have received your study permit.
Applying for a temporary resident visa after coming to Canada
Temporary resident visas (TRVs) are travel documents for single entry or multiple entries to Canada. You will need to check this when the TRV has been inserted in your passport.
Multiple-entry TRVs allow you the flexibility to travel outside of Canada and return without renewing your visa each time. TRVs have an expiry date that may or may not match the expiry date on your study permit. As it is only for travel purposes, you can stay in Canada after your TRV has expired but you will have to renew it if you want to return to Canada at a future date.
If you are a temporary resident in Canada with a valid study permit, you can apply for a new TRV to return to Canada before you leave. This is useful if you would like to leave Canada (to visit home or another country) and need to return to complete your studies.
You can apply in Canada if:
- you are legally admitted as a student in Canada with a Canadian residential address
- your current temporary resident status is still valid, and your existing visa counterfoil (sticker) expired or was valid for only one entry
- you need a new TRV to return to Canada in the near future
If you are in Canada and need to extend your study permit and renew your TRV, submit a separate application for the new TRV to the Case Processing Centre in Ottawa only after IRCC has approved the extension of your study permit.
The International Centre offers regular information sessions on the TRV. If you would like information, book an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 204-474-8501 or dropping by 541 UMSU University Centre.
For students who do not require a TRV but require an Electronic Travel Authorization, when you apply for your study permit extension, the Electronic Travel Authorization will be automatically extended.
Working while studying
What you need to know
Many international students are interested in working while they study in Canada, to gain job experience and make connections with employers. To ensure that you stay legal, there are some guidelines you need to follow.
If you have questions, please book an appointment with an international student advisor by calling 204-474-8501 or dropping by 541 UMSU University Centre.
Am I working?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) defines work as “an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.”
Many activities that do not provide a wage, including some types of volunteer work, meet the IRCC’s definition of work. For this reason, volunteering can require a work permit. If you have a specific volunteer activity in mind, it’s best to phone the IRCC call centre to determine if the activity requires a work permit.
Co-op work permit
Experiential education is a great way to apply what you are learning in the real world. For some academic programs, work experience is part of the curriculum. However, international students need a co-op work permit to participate in a co-op, field placement, internship, practicum or clinical placement, whether you are paid or unpaid.
If you need to apply for a co-op work permit, we urge you to apply as soon as possible―processing times can be long, and a delay may impact your ability to participate.
To be eligible for a co-op work permit, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have a valid study permit.
- Your intended employment must be an essential part of your program of study in Canada.
- Your employment must be part of your academic, vocational or professional training program offered by a designated learning institution, certified by a letter from a responsible academic official of the institution.
- Your co-op or internship employment cannot form more than 50 per cent of the total program of study.
You will not be eligible to receive a co-op work permit during your studies if:
- you study English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL)
- you participate in general interest or preparatory courses
Getting a Social Insurance Number
Before you start working in Canada, you will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). A SIN is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada, to file taxes or to have access to government programs and benefits.
The International Centre hosts sessions where you can apply for your SIN, so check our events page for dates. You can also apply for a SIN in person at a Service Canada office. Bring one of the following documents to apply:
- a study permit that states you “may accept employment” or “may work” in Canada
- a study permit and a “confirmation to work off campus” letter issued by IRCC prior to Feb. 6, 2015
- a work permit (e.g. co-op, post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit)
If you are an international student, be sure you understand the eligibility requirements to work in Canada by reading the sections below.
Working while enrolled as an international student (on or off campus)
All international students must meet all of the following conditions to work while they are studying. They must:
- have a valid study permit that includes a paragraph stating they are authorized to work
- be a full-time student enrolled at a designated learning institution
- be enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program
- be enrolled in a program of study at least six months or more in duration that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
- continue to fulfil the terms and conditions of the study permit, as well as the conditions to engage in off-campus work (e.g., work no more than 20 hours a week during a regular academic session)
The University of Manitoba is a designated learning institution.
You must stop working on the day you no longer meet the above eligibility requirements (e.g., if you are no longer a full-time student), unless you have applied for another work or study permit that gives you entitlement to continue working.
There are no restrictions on the number of hours a student can work on campus; however, the university can restrict the number of hours you are able to work. You can only work up to 20 hours per week off campus during scheduled academic sessions but can work full-time during scheduled breaks. Graduate students are considered full-time students from Sept. 1 – Aug. 31 and therefore do not have any scheduled breaks. Therefore, graduate students are only allowed to work 20 hours per week off-campus, year-round.
There can be serious consequences for working when, and where, you are not permitted to work. Enforcement action taken by the Canada Border Services Agency can include invalidation of your study permit or even removal from Canada, as detailed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations. Check out detailed information about how IRCC defines full-time status, scheduled breaks, conditions for work, etc.
If you are unsure if you are able to work on or off campus, please make an appointment to see an international student advisor by calling 204-474-8501 or dropping by 541 UMSU University Centre.
Work permit for spouses or common-law partners
Spouses or common-law partners of certain foreign students are allowed to accept employment in the general labour market without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. This exemption is intended for spouses who are not full-time students themselves.
According to IRCC, to be eligible for a work permit, your spouse or common-law partner must meet the following requirements:
- provide evidence they are the spouse or common-law partner of a study permit-holder who is a full-time student at
- a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, university or CEGEP in Quebec
- a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution and receives at least 50 per cent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently, only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify)
- a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees
Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students are eligible for open or open/restricted work permits, depending on whether a medical examination has been passed. There is no need for an offer of employment before IRCC issues a work permit.
After you graduate
Winnipeg is a great place to live, and many international students decide they would like to stay and work in Canada after graduation.
To do so, you must apply for a work permit under the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) program. The PGWP allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience.
A PGWP may be issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years. A PGWP cannot be valid for longer than your study program, which must be a minimum of eight months in length.
It is very important to know when your program ends and where to order documents at the University of Manitoba.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has very strict criteria and restrictions for the PGWP. Review the IRCC website for detailed information about the eligibility criteria, restrictions, final academic session, work permit issuance and validity, and more. There are strict conditions from working as a student that apply to the PGWP.
Plan ahead and adhere to immigration rules as a student to increase your chance of getting a PGWP after you graduate.