Guide to Study & Work Permit in Canada

A simple guide to the Study & Work Permit in Canada

Cooperative education programs (co-op programs) require both a study permit and work permit in Canada. The guide below outlines what you need to do to obtain the correct documents in order to study in one of these unique, professional development programs.

What is a study permit?

A study permit is an official document issued by Immigration Canada which allows foreign nationals to study in Canada for a certain period of time. Usually, studies that are at a Designated Learning Institute (DLI) and for a period longer than 6 months require a study permit.

What is a work permit?

A work permit is also an official document which allows a foreign national to work in Canada, temporarily. 


A study & work permit is usually required when a student is registered for a program longer than 6 months and is:

  • required to take an internship or co-op work experience component in order to graduate from their program and the co-op placement makes up 50% or less of the overall program
  • working on campus
  • working off campus

You must hold a valid study permit, Social Insurance Number and be a registered student at a post-secondary in Canada.
You must hold a valid study permit that includes a condition that says you can work off-campus, be a registered student at Designated Learning Institute in a program that is at least 6 months long and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate, have a Social Insurance Number.

If you plan to take any of our co-op study and work programs, you will be required to apply for both a study and work permit for Canada.

I plan to study less than 6 months, do I need a study permit?

Students do not need a Study Permit for study programs that last 6 months or less. If you plan to study in Canada for longer than 6 months, you must obtain a Study Permit. Students may apply for a Study Permit even if they are going to study for 6 months or less. If students are coming for less than 6 months and are thinking of possibly extending their studies to more than 6 months, they should apply for a Study Permit in their home country. Students can extend their Study Permit from within Canada.

Visitor’s Visa

International students who wish to study in Canada for up to 6 months may need a Visitor’s visa depending on the country for which they hold a passport. Please check the list of Countries and Territories Whose Citizens Require Visas in order to enter Canada as visitors.

What are the requirements a co-op study & work permit?

In order to be eligible for a study permit for Canada, you must:

  • be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • prove you have enough money to pay for your:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • obey the law, have no criminal record and get a police certificate (if required)
  • are in good health and get a medical exam (if required)
  • prove to an immigration officer that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires

Co-op study programs include work experience as a required part of the curriculum. You can apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:

  • you have a valid study permit
  • work is required to complete your study program in Canada
  • you have a letter from your school that confirms all students in your program need to complete work placements to get their degree, and
  • your co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of your study program

You are not eligible for a co-op work permit if you’re taking one of the following:

  • English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL),
  • general interest courses, or
  • courses to prepare for another study program

Important Note:

Your study permit is not a visa. It doesn’t let you enter Canada. You may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If your study permit is approved, Immigration Canada will issue the necessary visa and/or eTA to you along with your study (and work) permit.

Your responsibilities as a student in Canada

While studying in Canada you must:

  • make progress towards completing your program
  • respect any conditions listed on your study permit
  • stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements and
  • leave Canada when your permit expires

Depending on your case, there may be conditions on your study permit such as:

  • if you’re allowed to work in Canada
  • if you’re allowed to travel within Canada
  • the date you must stop studying

How can I apply for a study & work permit?

How you apply for a co-op work permit depends on if you already applied for your study permit or not. If you have not already applied for a study permit, you can apply for both permits at the same time prior to your departure to Canada. The processing time depends on which country you are applying from. In all cases, we encourage you to apply online and before you come to Canada.

1. Documents

Before you apply for a study permit, you will need:

  • an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • a valid passport or travel document
  • proof you can support yourself, and any family members who come with you, while you’re in Canada

2. Read the online instruction guide

Read the instruction guide before you complete your application. The guide will explain how to complete each field on the form.

3. Use the online application tool

The Come to Canada online application will help you start your application and give you specific instructions for preparing your application to study in Canada. Using this tool will generate a personal checklist and personal reference code to be used in your application online.

4. Know the fees you have to pay

In most cases, your fees will include:

  • processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application
  • biometrics

You are responsible for any third party fees such as fees for medical exams, police certificates etc.

5. Create your account / sign in

Your account lets you start an application, submit and pay for your application, get messages related to your application, check the status of your application and update your information.

How applying online helps you

  • No courier fees or mail delivery time – we get your application instantly.
  • Your applications may be processed more quickly.
  • It helps you make sure your application is complete before you submit it.
  • You can quickly submit more documents online (if we ask you to).
  • You get updates on the status of your application directly in your online account.

What is International Experience Canada?

International Experience Canada (IEC) permits provide the opportunity of a lifetime for young adults from around the world to experience Canada. Take a working holiday and immerse yourself in Canadian life! Or participate in a professional internship and gain valuable work experience and skills related to your education.

International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program designed to allow youth the opportunity to work in Canada for temporary periods. Citizens of countries with a bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement with Canada who are between 18 and 35 years old may be eligible for IEC work permits.

The most popular of these permits is the Working Holiday permit which is an open work permit allowing young adults to work and travel in Canada. Be sure to read our guide to the Working Holiday Permit.

“I was placed at a coffee shop in North Vancouver. The location was just amazing. From the counter we had a great view over the ocean and the mountains in the horizon. It was, more or less, always busy and the customers were so nice and polite and were always interested in knowing where you were from. What I like most about Vancouver is the diversity of people and the beautiful surroundings. We went hiking a couple of times, had a Halloween party, saw the Chinese New Year Parade, celebrated Canada Day and much more. Besides that I visited Whistler, Bowen Island, Sunshine Coast, Toronto and Victoria.” – Andreas, Denmark

“My adventure started off in Rocky Mountains where I worked at a mountain resort. During my time there I got to see wonderful nature and magical views when I was hiking. It was also a lot of other fun things to do including mountain biking, horseback riding, white water rafting and canoeing. After the summer season was over I decided to move to Vancouver and now I live in an apartment in beautiful Yaletown. I work in a coffee shop downtown as well so that fits me perfectly.” – Anne, Norway

“Coming to Vancouver has really been a learning experience. I saw myself mature in ways I thought I had been. Learning from the pros and seeing the difference between learning at university and mentoring/ learning at work. The ability to stand my own and explore this great city. Since coming here I have found my confidence and passion of product design. Whether it’s from presenting or talking to clients I know I saw myself improve. Thank you, Canada.” – Faith, United Kingdom

“My first job was at a coffee shop chain. I worked there for 2.5 months as a Barista. I also got a job as a server in the restaurant at a private tennis club. During this work abroad experience my English improved a lot. That’s mainly because I use different expressions than I learned in school. I can use a broader vocabulary now. Also, I met new people that have different cultures. All the Canadians here are really kind and helpful.” – Ilse, Germany

“I have had a great experience coming to Vancouver. Within the 2 months I have gained so much experience in life and at the workplace. I see myself being more independent and confident, which was one of my main goals. I’m so happy I found Latitude, they worked so hard to make sure I get an internship.” – Shiny, United Kingdom

“I started to work as a Barista at one of the many coffee shops here in Vancouver. I pretty much worked all summer except for going on two trips, one to Seattle and the other to Toronto. I usually went to the weekly pub nights which were a really fun time. All these events helped me meet so many new awesome people.” -Rasmus, Sweden

“As part of my International Business Management studies, I was required to complete an internship so I decided to go to Toronto as I have family there. I learned a lot about the marketing industry and about Canada as well. I have benefited a lot from the work and from the cultural experience during my stay in Canada.” – Alex, United Kingdom

“My volunteering is definitely off to a good start, all the people I met today were super nice and I think I’m going to like the work, too! I’m also settled in with my host family and I think I hit the jackpot with them because they are truly super welcoming.” – Borbala, Hungary

Ready? Apply now for the Student Internship Canada Program!