In the Know: Drowning in Documents

UVic Global Community Newsletter: November 18, 2019

In the Know: Advice for International Students is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seeking, incoming exchange, and incoming study abroad/visiting.

Does it feel like you're drowning in documents?

As a temporary resident of Canada, there are important documents you must apply for and maintain.

It isn't fun, and sometimes it isn't easy, but keeping track of these documents is an essential part of your international student experience.

Take a moment to consider some of the documents you already have and some other documents you might need along the way.

Your travel document

Most likely, your travel document is a passport issued by your country of citizenship.

If your passport will expire while you are inside Canada, contact your country's nearest consular office for instructions.

Your Canadian immigration documents are often set to expire when your passport expires. Start the process of renewing your passport at least nine months before it expires to ensure you will have enough time to extend your Canadian immigration documents.

Your Canadian immigration documents

Canadian immigration documents are issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Temporary resident visa

A temporary resident visa (TRV) is a sticker attached to one of the pages in a passport.

International students from certain countries need a TRV to enter Canada.

You do not need to stop studying or leave Canada if your TRV expires. However, you must have a valid TRV in your passport every time you want to leave and re-enter Canada.

Instructions for a TRV application are available on the IRCC website

If you need a TRV to enter Canada, you do not also need an eTA.

Electronic travel authorization

An eTA is electronically linked to a passport. 

International students from certain visa-exempt countries need an eTA to enter Canada by air. If you need a TRV to enter Canada, you do not also need an eTA.

You do not need to stop studying or leave Canada if you do not have a valid eTA. However, you must have a valid eTA every time you want to re-enter Canada by air.

Check the status of your eTA on the IRCC website. If you do not have a valid eTA, you can apply for one on the IRCC website.

Study permit

A study permit is a piece of paper that is usually folded up and stapled to one of the pages in a passport.

With very few exceptions, every international student who intends to complete a degree program at UVic must have a study permit.

Some exchange students and study abroad/visiting students also have study permits.

If you have a study permit, it determines the length of your stay in Canada and allows you to engage in studies at a Canadian institution. If you meet certain eligibility requirements, your study permit will also allow you to work in Canada.

It is very important to know the expiry date on your study permit. If your study permit expires before you apply for an extension you must stop studying, and you may also need to leave Canada.

Instructions for a study permit extension application are available on the IRCC website.

Reminder: Other documents like your BC Services Card and your Social Insurance Number will most likely be set to expire when your study permit expires. Start the process of extending your study permit four months before it expires to ensure you will have enough time to extend or renew your other documents.

Visitor record or entry stamp

A visitor record is a piece of paper that is usually folded up and stapled to one of the pages in a passport. An entry stamp appears on one of the pages in a passport and was made by an officer at a Canadian port of entry.

Some exchange students and study abroad/visiting students do not have study permits.

If you do not have a study permit, your visitor record or entry stamp determines the length of your stay in Canada. Without a study permit, you are generally not eligible to work in Canada.

It is very important to know the expiry date on your visitor record or entry stamp. You must either leave Canada or submit an application to extend your stay before the expiry date.

Visit or contact International Student Services (ISS) if you do not have a study permit and you want to extend your stay in Canada.

Work permits

If you want to participate in a co-op work term, an internship or any other employment that is an essential part of your program of study, you must apply for a co-op work permit.

If you want to stay in Canada and work after completing your degree program at UVic, you may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner who wants to work in Canada, they may be eligible to apply for an open work permit.

Make sure you understand the restrictions associated with working in Canada BEFORE starting to work. Do not work without proper authorization.

Don't drown. Be organized!

Your travel document and your Canadian immigration documents are only a few of the many important documents you must deal with during your stay in Canada. There are also documents related to health insurance, being a tenant, working, filing income tax returns, banking and the list goes on.

Advisers at ISS are available to help you understand what documents you have and why you have them. We can also help you understand what documents you need and how to get them. But in the end YOU are responsible for obtaining the correct documents, keeping them valid and always abiding by their terms and conditions.

Here is the best advice we can offer: Be organized!

Students, who are organized, spend less time worrying about their documents and more time enjoying their international student experience.

Some tips for being organized:

1) Check the expiry date on your travel document and on each of your Canadian immigration documents.

2) Set an alarm on your phone or make a note in your planner nine months before the expiry date on your travel document and four months before the expiry date on each of your Canadian immigration documents. If you need to extend or renew a document, be sure to start the process well in advance.

3) Set up a compact and portable filing system so you can keep everything related to your documents together in one place.

4) Keep an electronic copy of your documents; in case you lose a document you will have an electronic version. 

If you have questions about any of these topics, please visit or contact the ISS. Want to know what else is going on? Join the to receive regular updates about opportunities and events, both on and off campus.