Do I Need a CAQ to Study in Quebec?

Published on: July 20th, 2023
Last updated: September 19th, 2023

Quebec Immigration is unique as it is the only province that has the autonomy to select its applicants through economic immigration programs. Quebec study permits are no exception, with Quebec having its own unique process for acceptance to study in the province. One of the biggest differences is the need for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec or a CAQ. Read on to learn about the CAQ process for studying in Quebec. 

What is a CAQ?

Quebec is a popular destination for international students. The province receives over 90,000 international students per year. This represents 12% of all the international students travelling to Canada, a significant portion!

A CAQ or certificat d’acceptation du Québec, is a document that authorizes your stay here in Quebec. This certificate is needed for a number of temporary resident programs in Quebec, including to study in Quebec.

This document is required for international students in the French-speaking province. It is an acceptance certificate issued by Quebec’s Ministère d’Immigration, de Francisation et d’intégration (MIFI) and is needed for most students intending to reside in Quebec.

The purpose of the CAQ is to select international applicants who want to study and work in Quebec. It then allows them to reside in the province. The process aims to review their profiles, checking to ensure the school is designated as a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), and demonstrates the student’s financial capacity to pay for their studies and living expenses during the length of the studies.

All international students who want to apply for study programs in Quebec lasting longer than 6 months should apply online for a CAQ. This is before applying for the study permit issued by the Federal Canada Government. Both documents are necessary to acquire the student visa.

Do All Students in Quebec Need a CAQ?

Study programs less than six months in duration do not need to apply for a CAQ. This also includes language courses under six months.

Students applying for a program lasting longer than 6 months will first need to apply for a CAQ. This includes a number of programs such as Bachelor’s degrees, graduate diplomas, master’s degrees etc. This is an extra step compared to other provinces in Canada which do not have this requirement. Foreign nationals will only be eligible to submit for their study permit after they have obtained a CAQ.

Does my CAQ Allow me to Work in Quebec as an International Student?

As an International student holding a Canadian study permit, your coursework will be your main priority. However, if you are a full-time student studying in a program longer than 6 months, you can also choose to work up to 40 hours per week in addition to your studies.

Part-time students may also qualify to work during their studies. You must meet all of the requirements of a full-time student. In addition, you are studying part-time only because you are in the last semester of your study program and you don’t need a full course load to complete it, also you were a full-time student during your Canadian program up until your last semester.

However, the allowed 40 working hours per week, are due to a temporary change issued by the IRCC in October of 2022. This is due to expire on December 31st, 2023 unless an extension is passed to replace it. At that time, working ability will revert to the previous limit of no more than 20 hours a week.

International students choosing to work in Canada have the option to work either on-campus or off-campus depending on their permit. Working on-campus allows you to find a job at your school, such as in the library, the cafeteria, etc.

The second option is working off campus. You would be eligible to work off-campus if you meet all the requirements laid out by the Canadian government. This allows you greater freedom when choosing where you want to work. It can also be beneficial for students by allowing them to get a greater range of roles. This will give them experience in positions that could be beneficial for their careers after graduation.

If you are unsure if you are allowed to work off-campus, or about your specific working restrictions, it is best to consult your study permit. In addition to the resources on the Canadian government’s website, an immigration lawyer can also help you to navigate your permit and restrictions as well.

Contact a Study Specialist

Is a Study Permit Different From a CAQ?

While a study permit and a CAQ are often confused, they are two different documents. A CAQ is first needed to then be able to apply for your study permit. Both of these documents are mandatory to study in Quebec and each has its own requirements and processes.

A CAQ  is granted by MIFI – Québec Ministère d’Immigration, de Francisation et d’intégration. MIFI is a government department operated by the province. A study permit however is issued directly by the government of Canada.

What is the Difference Between a CAQ and a CSQ?

There are certain common errors when requesting information or referring to certain documentation required for the different stages of the migration process in the Study Pathway to Quebec. One of the most common mistakes is confusing the CAQ with the CSQ (Certificat de sélection du Québec).

As mentioned before, the CAQ is a certificate issued by the Quebec government that allows foreign nationals to study and work temporarily in the province of Quebec. It is a prerequisite for individuals who wish to study at a designated learning institution in Quebec. It is important to note this document does not grant permanent residency on its own.

On the other hand, a CSQ is a certificate issued by the Quebec government that indicates that the holder has been selected for permanent residency in Quebec. In other words, it signifies that the applicant meets the criteria set by the province to become a permanent resident of Quebec. After obtaining a CSQ, applicants can then apply for permanent residence with the Canadian federal government through Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The main difference between a CAQ and a CSQ is that the CAQ is for temporary stays in Quebec for study or work purposes, while the CSQ is for individuals seeking permanent residency in Quebec.

Since autumn of 2018, the new Quebec government uses the term “Certificat de sélection permanente” for the CSQ and “Certificat de sélection temporaire” for the CAQ, which can help newcomers avoid this confusion.


If you are planning to come and study in one of the cities within Quebec’s province, but you are unsure which option is best for you, we can help! Complete our free student assessment and an academic counsellor from our International Student Program department will contact you to discuss your options.

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