Every designated post-secondary institution in Alberta is required to have publicly available policies and information about their:

  • tuition and tuition refund policy
  • academic requirements for admission
  • appropriate English language requirements for admission
  • academic policy
  • other policies outlined in the designation checklist

These policies must be made publicly available and communicated to potential and current students.

Academic advisors at designated institutions must also ensure international students are aware of specific requirements.

Approved programs

International students are able to enrol only in post-secondary programs and courses that are either:

  • approved by the ministry or
  • have ministry-recognized, third party, quality oversight

Distance education programs

International students can participate in distance education courses delivered online. They do not need a study permit to participate. However, students are not likely to receive a study permit if they are only taking an online learning program in Canada.

Upgrading or bridging programs

The Alberta Designation Requirements (ADR) guide provides information about accepting international students into:

  • academic upgrading
  • bridging programs

This category includes:

  • secondary education equivalency
  • informal courses or modules for improving language skills
  • programs that prepare students for a level of study or program when they do not meet its admission requirements

Apprenticeship programs

Apprenticeship programs are not eligible for designation. These programs are limited to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

International students and temporary visa holders do not meet eligibility requirements. However, they may enrol in trade certificate and diploma programs at polytechnics and career colleges in Alberta.

Study permits

International students need a letter confirming their enrolment into a designated program at your institution to apply for a study permit in Canada.

Make sure your students are aware of study permit requirements and how to apply.

Institutions should direct international students to clear and accurate information about options for their:

  • work
  • visa
  • immigration

Only licensed and registered immigration consultants can provide advice and counsel about immigration matters. If an institution does not have a licensed or registered consultant, it should direct students to contact the Government of Canada.

Tuition and fee payments

The Government of Canada outlines the documents international students need to enter Canada.

These regulations do not require that international students pay fees or tuition in advance to the institution when applying for a study permit.

Working while studying

If they meet eligibility requirements, international students may be able to work off campus without a work permit for up to:

  • 20 hours a week during regular academic session
  • full-time during regularly scheduled breaks

Learn more about eligibility requirements.

International students enrolled in the following programs are not eligible to work with a study permit:

  • language programs (such as English or French as a Second Language) as designated institutions
  • academic upgrading coursework (such as secondary education equivalency)
  • coursework that does not lead to a certificate, diploma or degree
  • academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate, and that it less than 6 months long

Health care insurance

Every international student in Alberta needs health coverage.

Institutions should encourage their international students to get appropriate health care insurance before they arrive in Canada. International student advisors must also be well informed about health insurance options.

Institutions must communicate their health insurance policy to international students when they are accepted into a program:

  • some institutions require students to purchase health insurance before arriving in Canada
  • other institutions offer health insurance through their institution, which students can opt out of
  • institutions are not required to establish their own health care plans for international students

Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)

International students must apply within 90 days of arriving in Alberta to be covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). Students should be aware that coverage varies depending on the length of their stay.

Before they arrive in Alberta

International students are not covered by Canadian health insurance providers until they either arrive in Canada or begin studies.

In Alberta for less than 12 months

International students enrolled in programs that are shorter than 12 months are not eligible for coverage under AHCIP. Students should arrange for another type of health insurance coverage before they arrive.

In Alberta for longer than 12 months

International students studying for 12 months or longer can apply for AHCIP at no cost.

Learn more about AHCIP for international students.

Student supports

International students should be able to access key supports through your institution, such as:

  • academic and career counselling
  • medical services
  • mental health services
  • housing

If your institution does not offer these supports, you will need to be able to refer students to similar services in your community.


To connect with the International and Intergovernmental Coordination Branch:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Email: [email protected]

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