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5 Steps to Getting your Canadian Study Permit

Published on: December 21st, 2017
Last updated: August 17th, 2022

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: Get your Acceptance Letter

In order to apply for a Canadian study permit, first you must obtain an acceptance letter from a Canadian university. 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. As well, the letter must come from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). This is an organization authorized by the Canadian government to host international students.

Finally, it is worth noting that not all programs of study are eligible for post-graduation work permits (PGWP). It is important to ensure that your program is eligible for a PGWP prior to applying.

Step Two: Prepare Study Permit Application

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.).

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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