Children’s Right to Education

  • In Ontario, children have the right to attend school even if they or their parents do not have immigration status in Canada. Canadian laws state that schools do not have the right to refuse a child admission into school who is under 18 years of age only because the child or the child’s parent or guardian is in Canada without immigration status. Children under 18 years of age without status in Canada do not need a study permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to go to school.
    In Ontario, the Education Act states:

    “A person who is otherwise entitled to be admitted to a school and who is less than eighteen years of age shall not be refused admission because the person or the person’s parent or guardian is unlawfully in
    (Section 49.1)

    The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states:

    “Every minor child in Canada, other than a child of a temporary resident not authorized to work or study, is authorized to study at the pre-school, primary or secondary level.” (Subsection 30 {2})


  • More on this topic can be found on
    the Community and Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) website.


Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell Policy.

The Ontario Ministry of Education follows a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” immigration policy for all Ontario schools, whereby school officials are not allowed to “ask” about a student, parent or guardian’s immigration status.

Where to get Legal Help?
  • If you have been unable to register your child for school because of your lack of status in Canada, you might want to contact a lawyer or a community legal clinic. You can find the community legal clinic nearest you by visiting
    the Legal Aid Ontario website. Or, you can call Legal Aid Ontario
    at 1-800-668-8258 or 416-979-1446.


  • Justice for Children and Youth is a specialty legal clinic that deals with legal issues that affect children and young people under the age of 18. There is more information on their website or you can call them at
    1-866-999-5329 or 416-920-1633.

  • Students and Parents’ legal guide on the Right to Attend School in Ontario, Attendance Rights