Do I need a medical exam to study in Canada? 

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: February 25, 2024

Hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals apply annually for a study permit to pursue further education in Canada.

In fact, studying in Canada is so popular that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently introduced a two-year cap on new international students as a measure intended to control the influx of foreign nationals.

Generally, there are now three steps an applicant must take to obtain a study permit. This process includes obtaining a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from their Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI), obtaining an attestation letter from the province or territory where the DLI is located, and then applying for a study permit from IRCC.

Discover your options to study in Canada

However, in the following four cases, foreign nationals coming to study in Canada will also need a medical exam:

  • If the student is coming from a designated visa-required country/territory
  • If the student will be in Canada for more than six months
  • If the individual is a medical student
  • If the student “will work in healthcare or another field that brings [them] into close contact with children or the elderly”

Temporary Public Policy for Medical Exams

Until October 6, 2024, IRCC has implemented a policy on medical exams that allows some applicants – for both temporary residence and permanent residence – to be exempt from completing another medical exam if they have already completed one in the last five years.

To be eligible for this exemption, applicants need to meet all four of the following conditions:

  • The applicant must have “applied, or [currently be] applying, for either permanent residence or temporary residence” such as a study permit
  • The applicant must already live in Canada
  • The applicant must have completed a previous medical exam in the last five years
  • The applicant’s previous medical exam must have “indicated … low risk or no risk to public health or public safety”

Understanding Medical Exams for Temporary Residents

IRCC notes that there are different processes and policies in place for medical exams depending on whether the recipient is applying for temporary residence* or permanent residence in Canada.

To learn more about medical exams for Canadian permanent residence applicants, click here.

Who needs a medical exam

For temporary residence applicants, IRCC notes that the need for a medical exam is generally dependent on how long the individual intends to stay in Canada.

Specifically, IRCC indicates that temporary residents who plan to stay in Canada for six months or less “generally don’t need a medical exam unless [they] plan to work in certain jobs [where] public health must be protected.”

Examples of such jobs provided by IRCC include:

  • Workers in healthcare settings
  • Patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes
  • Medical students admitted to Canada to attend university
  • Workers in primary or secondary school settings, or workers in child-care settings
  • Workers who give in-home care to children, the elderly and the disabled

This condition also applies to agricultural workers who’ve visited or lived in one of these countries for six months or more in a row in the year before they came to Canada.

On the other hand, temporary residents planning to stay in Canada longer than six months will require a medical exam if:

Types of medical exams

IRCC notes that applicants may be subject* to a standard medical exam or a streamlined medical exam, which IRCC describes as “a simplified medical exam [for] urgent operational situations, like a humanitarian crisis, and in other exceptional situations as determined by IRCC.”

*Applicants are unable to request a specific type of medical exam, and IRCC will inform them which exam they need to take.

Who can perform a medical exam

Only panel physicians designated by IRCC are licensed to perform the medical exam required for temporary residence or permanent residence applicants. In other words, applicants cannot simply have their family doctor perform this exam unless that person is designated by IRCC.

Note that IRCC, not the exam-performing doctor, makes the final decision regarding an applicant’s medical exam.

Discover your options to study in Canada

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