International students studying in Canada usually do so with a study permit that authorizes them to pursue academic activities within the country. While this route applies to the majority of international students, the IRCC regulations also allow for exemptions in some instances.
The IRCC grants exemptions from a study permit if the foreign national is :
- A family member or private staff of an accredited foreign representative
- A Member of a foreign armed force under the Visiting Forces Act
- A Student for a Short-term course that will be completed within six months
- A Registered Indian
What are short-term courses?
Educational courses and programs that can be completed within six months or less are known as short-term courses. The IRCC typically allows foreigners to attend short-term courses without a study permit. In such cases, the applicant only needs an SX-1 visitor visa.
What if the course is longer than six months
Courses longer than six months require you to apply for a Study permit.
What is an SX-1 Visa?
The SX-1 is a visitor visa that allows you to take a short-term educational course in Canada without the need for a study permit. It has a duration of up to six months.
Can I extend an SX-1 Visa to complete a course or program?
No, foreigners will not be granted an extension SX-1 visa if their short-term course exceeds the initially authorized six months. The limitation prevents anyone from abusing the SX-1 visa to complete a full degree or diploma without a study permit.
Foreigners can, however, extend their stay as regular visitors.
How can I continue studying in Canada if my SX-1 visa is expired?
The only way forward if you want to continue your studies in Canada is to apply for a study permit.
Applying for a study permit is more specific than an SX-1 visa. It requires the applicant to enroll at a designated learning institution (DLI) and have a letter of acceptance. Applicants can submit their applications online at the IRCC portal.
If not, you will have to leave Canada upon the expiration of the SX-1 visa or renew as a regular visitor.
What is the difference between an SX-1 visa and a study permit?
We can summarize the difference between the two as follows:
|SX-1 visa||Study permit|
|An SX-1 is a type of visitor visa. It is a valid travel document||A study permit is not an actual travel document. A study permit holder will still require a valid travel document like a visitor visa or eTA to come to Canada.|
|An SX-1 visa allows the holder to take a short-term course lasting no more than six months.||A study permit allows the holder to pursue a full degree/ diploma in Canada.|
|The short-term courses don’t have to be from a designated learning institution (DLI).||A study permit holder must have a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI) before applying.|
|An SX-1 visa doesn’t allow you to work in Canada. Holders must apply for a separate work permit to work in Canada.||A study permit allows you to work off-campus in Canada.
Starting November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, international students with valid study permits can work more than 20 hours a week off-campus while classes are in session.
|An SX-1 visa cannot be renewed for the purpose of continuing your studies in Canada||International students can apply for an extension on their study permit.|
Can you immigrate with an SX-1 visa?
The SX-1 visa is a temporary resident visa, allowing you to visit Canada for up to six months. Its uses are limited to pursuing short-term courses in Canada, not full degrees or diplomas.
Those looking for a longer or more permanent solution should consider a Canadian work permit or study permit. These can be renewed and give you access to better immigration opportunities such as the Post-graduate work permit program (PGWPP) and the Canadian Experience class.