It is very common that short term students come to Canada as tourist to undertake a program which is less than six months in length. Once in Canada, their desire to pursue post-secondary education or to further their English skills arises. At this point they are in a position where their status needs to be extended, changed, or both.
In general, visitors cannot change their status to students within Canada and the application has to be filed overseas. It is worth mentioning that the applicant may be able to be physically present in Canada while the application is being processed overseas, this applies as long as the applicant holds legal status within the country. Please note that filing the application to change the conditions overseas does NOT grant legal or implied status in Canada. You will be responsible for maintaining active your legal status within the country. This means that sometimes two different proceedings have to be filed for at the same time, one being the application for the study permit, and the other one the extension of your status as a visitor to remain in Canada while waiting for the study permit.
Some visitors to Canada usually apply to change their status at a visa office in the USA, however it is well known that processing times there are slower, therefore, it may be worth to consider applying in your country of origin while you are physically present in Canada.
The only exceptions to apply for a study permit within Canada are as follows:
- Minor children studying at the primary or secondary level.
- Visiting or exchange students. Usually the ones who come to Canada for a defined period of time and attend a Canadian Institution that has an agreement with their home institution.
- Students that completed a short-term course or program of study that is a pre-requisite for acceptance at a designated learning institution. Note that this does NOT include English University path programs because these programs are optional and are not a pre-requisite, in other words, they are not mandatory.
If you are planning to change your status as a student while being a visitor, it is recommended to do it as far in advance as possible trying to avoid the expense and the burden of having to file for two processes at the same time.