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Study Permit Application: 5 Steps to Study in Canada

Published on: September 21st, 2023

Canada is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international students coming from all over the world. Before you can come to study in Canada, there are a few simple steps you must take. It is important to know how to apply and exactly what documents to show the Canadian authorities.

Find out if you are eligible to study in Canada

If you want to come to Canada for post-secondary education, read through our five simple steps for applying for your Canadian study permit:

Step One: Choosing the Right Academic Program in Canada for You

Before embarking on your journey to study in Canada, it’s crucial to start by selecting the ideal academic program for you. Often underestimated, this initial step holds immense importance, as it lays the foundation for your entire educational and professional experience in Canada.

First and foremost, carefully evaluate your interests and career goals. Opting for a program that aligns with your passions and long-term aspirations greatly increases the chances of success and personal fulfillment. However, there are additional critical factors to consider.

Ensure that the educational institution you choose is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) recognized by the Canadian government. This designation is essential for international students, as it guarantees a quality education and makes you eligible for a Canadian study permit.

Moreover, if your goal is to stay in Canada and gain valuable work experience after graduation, it’s essential to verify whether the program you select is eligible for a Post-Graduation work permit (PGWP). This permit allows you to work in Canada for a specified period after completing your studies, providing a unique opportunity to gain international work experience.

To summarize, choosing the right program, confirming the institution’s recognition, and ensuring PGWP eligibility will set you on the path to a successful study experience in Canada. Remember, it’s not just about obtaining an acceptance letter; it’s about making informed decisions that will shape your future in Canada and beyond.

Step Two: Prepare Study Permit Application

Once you are accepted into a Canadian Designated Learning Institution, you will receive a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) . This should be included when applying for your Study Permit. The acceptance letter must contain specific information and while most schools will be familiar with the requirements, you can always verify the contents of your letter by comparing it to IRCC’s sample letter of acceptance.

Once you receive your letter of acceptance, you can begin preparing your Canadian study permit application. This application requires extensive documentation proving your intentions in Canada and your ability to support yourself. The exact documents required vary from country to country, but you can verify your individual document requirements by consulting the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

Please note that if you are applying to attend a school in the province of Quebec, you must obtain a certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) before you can submit a study permit application.

Generally, when you submit the study permit application you will have to provide the following documentation, in addition to those documents requested for your country:

  1. Acceptance Letter
  2. Proof of Financial Support: You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and any accompanying family members during your first year in Canada. You are required to show proof that you can cover your tuition fees as well as your cost of living (accommodations, food, etc.).
  3. Proof of Identity: When applying for a study permit in Canada, you and accompanying family members must have a valid passport or travel document. Online applicants should upload a copy of their passport’s information page, and if approved, submit the original passport. (Citizens of the United States have specific identification options). Additionally, two recent passport-size photos with names and birthdates on the back are required.

Other documents

  1. Letter of Explanation: A letter clarifying your reasons for studying in Canada and your understanding of your student responsibilities. Required even if your program doesn’t mandate a study permit.
  2. Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ): Necessary for studying in Quebec for over 6 months. Obtain an attestation of issuance from the Government of Quebec, with guidance from your school. Not needed for shorter Quebec programs.
  3. Medical Exam: Mandatory if you plan to stay over 6 months, recently visited specific countries, or intend to work in roles safeguarding public health. Verify if you need one based on your circumstances.
  4. Custodian Declaration (Minor Children): If a minor requires a custodian, include the Custodianship Declaration form, with both pages notarized. The custodian in Canada signs the first page, while the child’s parents or legal guardians sign the second.
  5. Re-entry Permit (if applicable): Obtain this if your passport issuer requires it. Ensure compliance with any other specific document requests based on your situation.


Refer to local visa office instructions and comply with any additional requirements. Ensure you have proof of immigration status if not in your home country during the application.

Remember to collect these documents in advance, as processing times may vary, and don’t travel unnecessarily to gather them.

Step Three: Submit Study Permit Application

Once you’ve checked and double-checked that you’ve included all required documents for the study permit application, you are ready to submit.

You should submit your application using the online web portal. If you are unable to submit online due to a disability or because of a problem with the online application, you can submit a paper-based application in hard copy to your designated visa application centre (VAC).

Processing times vary greatly from country to country, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, so be sure to plan in advance.

Step Four: Travel to Canada

If you are living outside of Canada and your application is approved you will receive a Letter of Introduction as well as a travel visa (if required for your country of citizenship). These documents will authorize you to travel to a Canadian Port of Entry (POE) to obtain your study permit. Your study permit will not be mailed to you, you can only pick it up when you land at a Canadian POE and speak to a border official.

If you are living inside of Canada and your application is approved, then your study permit will be mailed to you.

Immigration Tip

The document allowing international students to study in Canada is called a study permit rather than a study visa. The term ‘visa’ refers to a document which allows you to enter Canada, while a ‘permit’ allows you to participate in certain activities, like working or studying.

Step Five: Maintain your status

If your study permit is approved and you enter Canada as an international student, you must meet the requirements below in order to maintain legal status in Canada:

  • Always be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI);
  • Make progress towards completing your program;
  • Respect any conditions listed on your study permit;
  • Stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements, and;
  • Leave Canada when your permit expires.

If you’re ready to start your adventure by finding a program of study in Canada, complete our free student assessment and one of our experts will contact you to discuss study programs that interest you.

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