Can my children go to school after I make a refugee claim?
All children living in Ontario have the right to attend school. It's against the law for a school to refuse to admit a child who is under 18 years old only because the child, or the child's parent or guardian, is in Canada as a refugee or without any immigration status.
A child under 18 who is claiming refugee status, or who has no status in Canada:
- does not need a study permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and
- does not need to pay fees to attend elementary or secondary school.
In Ontario, the Education Act says that children must attend school. A child can be excused from going to school only for a reason that is included in the Act. For example, a child can be excused if they are sick, if it's a religious holiday, or if they are being “homeschooled”. If you plan to teach your child at home, you need to tell your child's school board. It's a good idea to get advice from the school board about what is expected if you choose to homeschool your child.
Your local school, other professionals, and community members have a duty to tell a child protection agency if:
- you don't send your child to school,
- your child misses a lot of school, or
- there are concerns about your homeschooling.
Children over 18
Your child will need a study permit if they are over 18 and they have been accepted to attend college or university while your refugee claims are being decided. And they will probably have to pay international tuition fees until your refugee claims are accepted.
You can ask the school if your child will be exempt from paying international fees. Your child might be eligible for scholarships and grants but they won't be eligible for a loan through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) until your refugee claim is accepted.