Traveling as an International Student in Canada: Visa and Permit Guide

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Traveling as a Canadian International Student

Every international student understands the difficulty that comes with all the paperwork, research, and documents that we have to acquire within an orderly timeframe to stay and travel in and out of Canada. Let’s admit, it’s not always a fun process. But that’s what we’re here for!

Let’s tackle the topic of traveling. Whether you’re traveling to Canada or from Canada, as an international student there are certain official documents and processes that we must follow, that is per Canadian Immigration policies. 

So, whether you’re on your way here, about to travel back home and come back, or on your PGWP. Find out exactly what you need and get rid of some of that heavy baggage. Get it! That was a pun. Alright, let’s get into it.

First time traveling to Canada:

If this is your first time traveling to Canada, international students might have family members traveling with them. This information will be helpful to both students and accompanying travelers. 

As an international student, you will need a temporary resident visa or an eTa (Electronic Travel Authorization). Find out which type of travel document you need through this link.

Don’t forget your study permit is not a visa, it is not the document used to enter Canada. If your study permit does get approved you will also be issued a visa. 

Side note: For students applying for their study permit. Find out if you are eligible for the student direct stream. 

Find out here!

Traveling during your studies:

As international students, we are still able to travel outside of Canada during our studies. Many of us tend to go back home or even explore new countries. This is a common question we see students asking. 

If you are intending to travel on your semester break make sure that your Temporary Resident Visa is still valid. Many students miss this point!
As mentioned above, when your study permit gets approved, you will also be issued a Temporary Resident Visa that is valid during the course of study.

For PGWP holders, you must keep an eye on this if you want to travel outside Canada.

Especially now due to the current travel restrictions. Find out if you’re able to come to Canada for your studies through whichever link is relevant to your situation. 

  1. Find out if you can come to Canada as an international student. Link!
  2. Travel restrictions and exemptions. Link!

*If you are fully vaccinated check this out and find out if you are eligible for travel. 

Before traveling back to Canada here’s a checklist of things you may need to plan for.

  • Become familiar with the government policies.
  • Go through your college or universities information 
  • Gathering all necessary travel documents. 
  • Proof of Covid-19 related documentation. (I.e. Proof of hotel reservation, Proof of enrollment, Proof of negative tests, etc).

Dive deeper into the checklist by visiting this link. 

Extending your study permit:

If you are extending your study permit in Canada you are still able to travel and enter Canada once more, only if you met the following requirements. 

You must ensure that your visitor visa or eTA is still valid. If expired, you are responsible to apply for another visa or eTA. You must receive any of these documents before you leave Canada. 

The only exceptions are :

1.) You only visit the US, St.Pierre, and Miquelon.

2.) You return to Canada before your studies. 

If you’re overseas and your permit has been extended, please know that you will most likely be allowed entry as a student.

If the process for extension is taking quite some time, you might be allowed to enter as a visitor. Be sure to have some type of documents, such as a receipt, extension application, or any proof documentation to show that you are in the process of having your permit extended, to the immigration officers. 

Traveling before and after PGWP (post-graduation work permit): 


If you are waiting for your PGWP to be approved and your nationality requires you to be a visa holder, to enter Canada this is what you’ll need. 

Please note that if your PGWP has been received you do not need the following. 

In both instances, whether you applied for your PGWP within or outside of Canada. You must apply for a TRV (Temporary Resident Visa), this allows you to travel to and from Canada. 

Outside of Canada → TRV is issued when your PGWP is approved. 

Within Canada → TRV is not issued when your PGWP is approved, and you must apply for it separately. 

If your nationality doesn’t require you to be a Visa holder during the application process for PGWP, then you will automatically be approved for an eTA.

While you wait for a decision to be made on your PGWP application, and you are looking to leave and re-enter Canada you will either need a valid TRV or a valid eTA. 

Additionally, if you are already in possession of a PGWP, and you are trying to re-enter Canada you will either need a TRV or an eTA depending on whether or not your country of nationality requires a visa.

Yes, visa → TRV

No, visa → eTA

Travelling can be stressful, especially, if you are traveling alone. But preparing for your travels is the best way to make your experience an enjoyable one. Do your due diligence and be ready with your paperwork and any other requirements. 

Source: Covid-19 Travel Restrictions

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