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Can I Travel Outside Canada With Study Permit?

International students who hold a Canadian study permit often want to know if they can travel abroad during their stay and easily return to continue their studies in Canada.

The answer is yes – with the proper documents and following certain rules, you can depart Canada and re-enter multiple times on a valid study permit. Here are the key things every international student should know about travel outside Canada.

Entry Requirements to Re-Enter Canada

To return to Canada after travel abroad, you will need:

  • Valid passport – Must cover planned duration of your absence from Canada. Some countries require 6+ months validity.
  • Valid study permit – Your permit must not expire during your planned travel dates. Permits are only valid when accompanied by a valid passport.
  • Letter of acceptance – Carry the original letter from your Canadian educational institution confirming you are a currently enrolled student.
  • Financial documents – Be ready to show tuition fees are paid and you have sufficient funds to support your studies and living costs in Canada.
  • Be academically active – If traveling between academic sessions, be ready to prove you are resuming classes soon and not taking excessive time away from studies.
  • Temporary resident visa – If you required a TRV to initially enter Canada, you will need a valid TRV to re-enter from abroad.

As long as you have these documents in order, you can travel out of Canada and return multiple times with few issues.

Maximum Time Outside Canada

While on a study permit, Canada Immigration does enforce rules on how long you can be away from Canada during your program:

  • During academic term – You cannot be absent for more than 10% of the total class days in that term. So a 13-week semester may only allow 10-15 days of absence.
  • Between terms – You can be abroad for up to 50% of the break between academic terms at your institution. So a month-long winter break may allow up to 2 weeks of foreign travel.
  • Medical absence – If unable to attend classes for medical reasons, this does not count against your allowed travel days if properly documented.
  • Final term – In your final term before graduation, travel is more restricted to prevent delays in completing your program.

Carefully tracking all departure and arrival dates is crucial to staying within time limits and maintaining permit validity.

Dependent Family Members

If you have dependent family members in Canada on valid visitor or student visas, they can also depart and re-enter Canada with you by providing:

  • Valid passports
  • Original copies of their own Canadian visas
  • Proof your study permit is still active
  • Evidence your financial support continues

Dependent family members cannot remain in Canada beyond the validity of their temporary visas just because you still hold a valid study permit. Each family member’s status is assessed individually.

Travel to the US

The US has special rules for Canadian student visa holders seeking entry:

  • You need an F-1 visa to study in the US even briefly or just to transit. Your Canadian study permit alone is not enough.
  • With an F-1 visa, you can enter the US but must resume your Canadian studies within 5 months.
  • Without an F-1 visa, you cannot transit or enter the US at all during your Canadian program.

Closely research current US policies before any US travel, as rules can frequently change.

Work Permits and Co-ops

If you have an:

  • On-campus work permit – You can travel abroad and return to the same job.
  • Off-campus work permit – Travel outside Canada immediately invalidates your work permit. You cannot legally work until applying for and receiving a new permit.
  • Co-op work permit – These are tied to a specific employer, so any travel immediately terminates your co-op job eligibility.

Always contact your institution about work and co-op implications before traveling internationally with a study permit.

Travel Document Application

If your passport will expire before you complete your studies in Canada, you can apply for a special travel document to remain in Canada and maintain temporary resident status.

A travel document allows entry back into Canada. But it cannot be used to travel to a third country like the US. Renew your passport or acquire a temporary passport from your home country instead if needing to visit a third country.

Cancelling Your Study Permit

If you depart Canada and voluntarily choose not to return to continue your Canadian studies, you must formally cancel your study permit by:

  • Notifying your school you are withdrawing from your program of study.
  • Contacting Immigration Canada and returning your original study permit documents.
  • Updating Canada Border Services on your changed status.

This will prevent any issues traveling on an invalid permit in the future.

Summary

International students can safely travel abroad while holding a valid Canadian study permit if they:

  • Bring all required documents to re-enter Canada.
  • Limit time away to avoid excessively long absences.
  • Properly notify authorities if cancelling permits.
  • Renew soon-to-expire passports that could jeopardize permit validity while abroad.

With proper planning, paperwork and compliance with rules, foreign travel can be accomplished without complications during your Canadian studies.

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