International students: How to change your school or program in Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: January 8, 2023

As an international student, you may want to change your school or program while in Canada.

You will have to contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) if you:

  • Are a post-secondary student changing schools
  • Have a co-op work permit and you’ve changed post-secondary schools to another co-op program, or
  • Need to change conditions on your study permit

If you want to extend your study permit, you will only be able to if you are enrolled at a school with a DLI status.

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Before you change your school or program, you must meet all the conditions of your study permit. This means you must be enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI) and actively studying in Canada.

Changing your DLI if you are outside Canada

If your study permit application is still in progress, you can tell us you changed your DLI by submitting a new letter of acceptance using this IRCC webform.

If your study permit application has been approved and you change your DLI, you must submit a new study permit application with a new letter of acceptance. You will also need to pay all the fees for the new application.

If you used a representative to apply for your study permit initially, you do not need to use the representative to change your DLI through your online account.

Moving to the next education level

If you have a valid study permit, you do not need to change or apply for a new permit if you’re moving between school levels. This includes:

  • Primary to high school
  • High school to post-secondary
  • Post-secondary to high school or
  • Any other move between school levels

If your study permit is set to expire before the end of your next program, you will need to apply to extend it. You can apply online to extend a study permit.

If your study permit has already expired, you must restore your status as a student at the same time as you apply to extend your study permit. You must apply to restore your status within 90 days of losing it. You cannot continue or restart your studies until you have restored your status as a student again and IRCC has extended your permit.

Post-secondary students changing schools

Post-secondary schools include university, community college, CEGEPs, career college, academies, school or training institutions and ESL/FSL and other language training programs.

If you change post-secondary schools, the new school must be a DLI. You should check the list of DLIs and confirm that the school you plan to change to is a DLI before you commit to changing schools.

You do not need to apply to change your study permit if you are changing schools. Changing your post-secondary school is a free service on your online account.

It is important to note that if you change schools or programs and do notify IRCC, your previous program or school will report you as not being registered to study. If this happens, you are breaking the conditions of your study permit. You may be asked to leave Canada, and it can prevent you from coming to Canada in the future. This means you may not be approved for another study or work permit in the future.

Studying in Quebec

If you want to change schools to a school or program in Quebec, you must get an attestation of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).

If you are already studying in Quebec and want to change your educational institution, program or level of study, you should contact the ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI).

If your school is no longer on the DLI list

If you are studying in a program or in a school that is no longer on the DLI list, you can either keep studying until your current permit expires or transfer to another DLI.

If you want to extend your study permit, you will only be able to if you are enrolled at a school with a DLI status.

Get a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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