Immigration Documents

Last Updated: July 26, 2023 -The information in the box below is current as of the 'last updated' date but is subject to change without notice.

In-Person Exchange Students

This website contains general information and resources related to policies, procedures, and application processes. 

In accordance with IRCC guidelines, if you are traveling to Canada to study for 6 months or less, you do not need a study permit. If you are coming to SFU for one exchange term, you might be able to travel to Canada as a visitor. Depending on your country of citizenship(s), you may need to apply for a temporary resident visa/TRV (also known as a visitor visa) or an eTA to travel to Canada.  To see whether you require a TRV or an eTA visit the IRCC website

To summarize, for an exchange term of 6 months or less, the following immigration options are available:

If you will come to SFU for a one-term exchange, you must either:

  • Apply for a TRV or an eTA (if needed). Visit the IRCC website to determine whether you need an eTA or a TRV. OR
  • Apply for a study permit

Keep in mind the processing time when choosing between applying for a TRV/eTA or a study permit. The processing time for a TRV could be longer in certain countries than for a study permit. Visit the IRCC website to check the most current, estimated processing times.

You will not be permitted to work in Canada as a visitor. A study permit is required if you plan to work on and off campus.  In addition to having a valid study permit, you must also meet IRCC's requirements to work while studying in Canada. 

If you will come to SFU for a two-term exchange, you must:

Note that due to global events, including the COVID-19 pandemic,  Canadian entry requirements are subject to change without notice. For the most current, up-to-date information on travelling to Canada, visit the Government of Canada website.

For updates and information about immigration applications (e.g. study permits, work permits, visas), entry requirements to Canada, work eligibility, and medical insurance, you may also refer to the:


Bring your Family

If your spouse or common-law partner and/or any dependent children would like to accompany you to Canada, they are advised to apply for their immigration documents at the same time that you apply for your study permit. 

Visas and permits for spouses and common-law partners

If your spouse or partner will be coming to Canada as a visitor, they will require either a temporary resident visa/TRV (visitor visa) or an electronic travel authorization/eTA (unless otherwise exempted) depending on their country of citizenship(s).  Visit the IRCC website for more information about who requires a TRV and an eTA.  

For information about how to apply for a TRV visit the IRCC website.  For information about how to apply for an eTA visit the IRCC website.  Visitors can remain in Canada for up to 6 months unless otherwise stated by the officer at the Canadian port of entry.  

Depending on what your spouse or common-law partner wishes to do in Canada, they may also apply for a study permit or a work permit if they meet the eligibility criteria to do so.  

If your spouse or common-law partner has already entered Canada (e.g. as a visitor) and now wishes to extend their stay in Canada, they may be able to apply to extend their stay from inside Canada.  Please refer to Extend your family members' documents for more information.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada defines common-law partners as people of the same or opposite sex who are cohabitating and have cohabitated in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. In Canada, a common-law partner is regarded in the same manner as a legal spouse. Visit the IRCC website for more information.

Permits for dependent children

  • Your school-aged children (5-18 years of age) should also apply for study permits. These make the immigration process run more smoothly, especially if your child enters Canada without a parent. You should bring two years of official school records for your children, in English or with a certified English translation. Children under 5 will just require a visitor record.
  • For information on schooling and childcare for your dependent children, please see Support for your family.

Documents Required

If your dependent family will be joining you later, they will require some or all of the following documents from you as part of their application for temporary residence in Canada (in addition to their own supporting documents, as specified by the visa post):

  • Required application forms, available here
  • Your SFU admission letter or Confirmation of Enrollment letter plus your official SFU transcript (if you have begun your studies)
  • An invitation letter from you
  • Proof of funds: This could include letter(s) from a bank, employer, scholarship provider, or SFU
  • Proof of relationship: A copy of your marriage certificate or proof of common-law status
  • A copy of your study permit (if applicable) and passport
  • Biometrics and/or a medical exam may also be required

Make sure to keep copies of all the documents your family member submits with their application.

Length of Stay

If your family members enter Canada without you and they have not applied for a study permit or work permit, they may be admitted on visitor status for six months or less. Visitors admitted for six months or less are not eligible for BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), so they should apply right away to extend or change their immigration document.

Visitors in Canada are permitted to stay for up to 6 months.  The officer at the border will determine the approved length of stay. 

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) no longer stamps all passports at airports with Primary Inspection Kiosks, such as Vancouver International Airport/YVR.  You and your family members may request a stamp from a border services officer upon entering Canada.

To ensure that your family members travelling without you are admitted to Canada for the length of your study permit, be sure to send them copies of the documents listed above for them to present at the Canadian border crossing.