International Students

Studying without a CAQ or Study Permit

The majority of international students need to hold a CAQ Certificate and a Study Permit for the entire duration of their program. However, certain categories of individuals may be exempt from either of these documents, and sometimes both. Read the following section to learn more.

ATTENTION! If you have a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ), in most cases you will still need a CAQ. For more information contact us.



If in doubt, please contact the MIFI and/or IRCC to ensure that you are exempt from either the CAQ Certificate, the Study Permit, or both.

1. Studying for a maximum duration of 6 months

Foreign nationals wishing to study for a maximum of six months, and who complete their course or program within the period authorized for their stay in Canada, are not required to have a CAQ or Study Permit. This is the case with foreign students who come to Canada for a short-term stay, as part of a one-term exchange program.   These students can come to Canada as visitors.  

To enter as a visitor, you need:

1. A passport that is valid for the lenght of your stay
2. A temporary Resident Visa OR an Electronic Travel Authorization, depending on your nationality. Only American citizens and permanent residents are exempt from either requirements. To learn more, please visit our page dedicated to this topic.

If you transit through another country before coming to Canada, you might also need a Transit Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization from that country.

2. Diplomatic status holders

Those with Diplomatic status in Canada are not required to obtain a CAQ Certificate or Study Permit, so long as their Diplomatic visa for Canada is valid.

3. Humanitarian categories

You could be exempt from the obligation to have a CAQ if you are in Canada and are part of one of the following categories:

  • protected persons in Canada (including refugees) under Section 95 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
  • persons residing in Québec whose spouse or de facto spouse is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who has submitted a sponsorship application on their behalf;
  • holders of a temporary resident permit under Section 24 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that is issued with a view to the eventual granting of permanent residence

Note that you will need to hold a valid study permit to be registered as long as you have not received your permanent residence status.

4. Recipients of a canadian bursary

You are exempt from requiring a CAQ for studies if you are a recepient of the Commonwealth Scholarship, or a full bursary from the Canadian International Development Agency (such as the Programme canadien des bourses de la Francophonie). You will however, need to have a valid Study Permit during the entire duration of your program.


Even if you are coming to study for a maximum duration of 6 months (ex: on a one-term exchange), you can still request a Study Permit. Here are the primary advantages:

  • Working on campus: Only students with a Study Permit with the appropriate remarks are authorized to work on campus during their academic exchange. You need to be a registered full-time student in order to have the right to work. Exchange students who have Visitor Status cannot work during their stay in Canada.
  • Extending your stay after the six-month period: If you think you might want to stay in Canada beyond six months, either to study or to work, obtaining Study Permit prior to leaving will facilitate the extension of your stay. Extending your stay beyond one term could be complicated, even impossible, if you only have Visitor status in Canada.
  • Processing times for visitor visas can sometimes be longer than for study permits.  Please consult the average processing times on the IRCC website before deciding which type of application to submit.

*If you intend to request a study permit, you will first need to apply for a CAQ for studies.  Allow 5 weeks processing time for a CAQ for studies. For more infomation

Important considerations
  1. Travel with your letter of admission from Polytechnique Montréal. Canadian customs officials may ask to see it to ensure that your stay in Canada does not extend beyond six months.  
  2. If you come to Canada as a visitor for an exchange, travel with proofs of financial capacity that show that you will have enough money to support yourself without working for the duration of your stay.
  3. You will not receive a stamp in your passport from Customs agents at the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montréal. Even without a stamp, you are legally entitled to remain in Canada and to study at Polytechnique. We advise you to keep a copy of your plane ticket as a proof of the date of your arrival to Canada, which could prove useful, for example, when filing applications if you seek to extend your stay.