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What rights do children have to attend school?

In Ontario, children have the right to attend school even if they or their parents do not have immigration status in Canada. 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) (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada or CIC).

In Ontario, the Education Act says that children must attend school. The only way that a child can be excused from attending school is for one of the reasons set out in the Act. (For example, children may be excused if they are sick.)

A child who is six years old before the first day of school in September must go to school. Most children start school earlier, by attending a kindergarten program.

It is against the law for a school to refuse to admit a child who is under 18 only because the child, or the child's parent or guardian, is in Canada without immigration status.

Learn more: Helping parents without immigration status get their children into school.

Find information in French about children’s right to attend school in Le droit à l'éducation : un droit légalement reconnu à chaque enfant.

Last updated: Mar 1, 2016


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