How to Get a Canadian Study Permit
A study permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows international students to study at a designated learning institution in Canada.
Once you obtain a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution such as a university or college, you need to submit an application to IRCC to obtain a study permit. This CanadaVisa page walks you through the process of getting a Canadian study permit.
An applicant for a Canadian study permit may include his or her family members on the application, so that they may accompany the applicant to Canada. An accompanying spouse may be able to obtain an open work permit, enabling them to work for any Canadian employer, and minor children may be able to study at Canadian elementary and secondary schools. To learn more, click here.
Most international students require a study permit. You do not need a study permit if your program in Canada is for six months or less. In addition, minor children and other individuals may be exempt from requiring a Canadian study permit. To learn more about studying in Canada without a study permit, click here.
How to obtain a study permit
It is important to apply for a study permit immediately upon receiving the letter of acceptance. Study permit processing times vary, and applicants may see delays during busy times — particularly during the summer months.
To view an estimate of the study permit processing times per country, click here.
In order to be eligible to submit an application for a Canadian study permit, a prospective student must:
- Obtain a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution in order to submit an application for a study permit
- Prove that he or she has sufficient financial support to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation to his or her home country
- Obtain a Certificat d'acceptation du Quebec (Quebec Acceptance Certificate, or CAQ) if he or she wishes to study in Montreal or elsewhere in the Province of Quebec
- Have clean record. Applicants with a criminal background, or who pose a risk to Canadian security, may be refused. IRCC may request an applicant to supply a police clearance certificate
- Be in good health. IRCC may request an applicant to complete a medical examination; and,
- Satisfy the immigration officer that he or she will leave Canada at the end of the stay authorized by the study permit
The applicant may also be required to submit the following supporting documents:
- Passport for the applicant and every family member included on the application;
- Two passport photos for the applicant and each family member included on the application, with the full name and date of birth written on the back;
- Photocopy of marriage certificate, if applicable; and,
- Any further documents required by specific visa offices.
Fast-track option: Student Direct Stream (SDS)
You can get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) if you live in one of the following countries:
- The Philippines
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
IRCC’s processing standard for most SDS applications is 20 calendar days. Applications must be submitted online.
Citizens of these countries must be residing in the country to be eligible for the SDS (e.g., they cannot be residing in another country if they want to apply for a study permit through the SDS).
To be eligible for the SDS, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a legal resident living in either India, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago or, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
- Have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian designated learning institution
- Live outside of Canada when you apply for the study permit
- Have proof that you have paid your tuition for your first year of study in Canada
- Have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) with a participating Canadian bank of $10,000 CAD
- Obtain a Certificat d'acceptation du Quebec (Quebec Acceptance Certificate, or CAQ) if you plan to study in Quebec
- Obtain a medical exam before submitting your application (if you are required to get one)
- Obtain a police certificate before submitting your application (if you are required to get one)
- Have your most recent school transcripts (secondary and post-secondary)
Obtain a language test result of at least the following:
- A minimum of 6.0 in each skill on the IELTS (reading, writing, speaking, and listening)
- A TEF score equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of a minimum of 7 in each skill (reading, writing, speaking and listening)
Applicants for a Canadian study permit are required to prove they have enough money to cover the first year of tuition fees. They also need to have the financial resources to support themselves, and any accompanying family members, each year.
Financial resources may be proven with the following information:
- Canadian bank account statements in the applicant's name, if money has been transferred to Canada
- Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating financial institution
- Proof of a student or educational loan from a financial institution
- The applicant's bank statements from the past four months
- A bank draft in convertible currency
- Proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees
- A letter from the person or institution providing you with money; and/or
- Proof of a scholarship or funding paid from within Canada
Family or friends of the applicant may also submit letters confirming that they will support the applicant during his or her studies.
The following table show the amounts that a student is required to possess (all amounts in Canadian dollars):
|Number of people||All provinces except Quebec|
|Single student||Tuition plus $10,000 for a 12-month period (or $833 per month)|
|For one accompanying family member add:||$4,000 for a 12-month period (or $333 per month)|
|For each additional family member, add:||$3,000 for a 12-month period per dependent child of any age (or $255 per month)|
In Quebec, the financial requirements for prospective students are different. In addition to tuition fees, a prospective international student is required to show that he or she has the following funds, dependent on his or her situation.
If an application is approved
If an application is approved, the prospective student will receive:
- A Letter of Introduction (LOI) confirming the approval. This letter is not the study permit. The prospective student will need to present the Letter of Introduction to the immigration official when arriving in Canada. The immigration official may then issue the study permit to the student.
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if he or she is from a country whose citizens need an eTA. In such cases, the eTA is indicated on the Letter of Introduction.
- As the eTA is linked to the applicant's passport, the applicant must travel with the passport used in the study permit application.
A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), if he or she is from a country whose citizens need a TRV.
- The TRV will be in the passport. The holder must enter Canada before the expiry date on the TRV.
- The TRV will also indicate if the holder can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or multiple times (a multiple-entry visa). All applicants are automatically considered for multiple-entry TRVs.
- An individual submitting an application for a study permit does not have to submit a separate application for a TRV. If the application is approved, the TRV will be issued along with the Letter of Introduction.
Study permit renewal
After obtaining a study permit, students may need to renew or change the study permit during the course of their studies in Canada. To learn more about renewing, extending, or changing the conditions of a study permit, click here.
If a student at a post-secondary institution wishes to change institutions, study program, or level of study he or she does not need to apply for a new study permit. However, he or she is required to update IRCC upon changing institutions. For example, a student may move from Bachelor level to Master's level, or from Geography to Philosophy, or from a college to a university, without applying for a new study permit. He or she does not need to apply for a change to the condition of the study permit. A student may study in Canada as long as the study permit is valid.
However, an international student moving from elementary school to high school, or from high school to a post-secondary institution, is required to apply for a change in the conditions of the study permit.
Options after graduation
Study permits expire 90 days after graduation, regardless of the date printed on the study permit itself. It is extremely important that international graduates update their status with IRCC within 90 days of graduation, or they risk losing status in Canada.
Many graduates are eligible to apply for a Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP allows the holder to work for any employer anywhere in Canada for up to three years after graduation. Work experience gained on a PGWP may help facilitate an application for Canadian permanent residence, especially through programs such as the Canadian Experience Class and certain Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams. Click here to view the list of Canadian immigration options you can pursue after studying in Canada.
If an international graduate does not apply for a PGWP, he or she may do the following to maintain legal status in Canada:
- Apply to change status to a visitor;
- Obtain another work permit if they are eligible for one (e.g., an employer-specific work permit);
- Apply for another study permit to continue a different study program. For example, a graduate may wish to continue on to a Master's degree program after graduating with a Bachelor degree; or,
- Leave Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions
Foreign nationals are usually required to apply for a study permit if they wish to study in Canada. However, there are exceptions.
If the program you are joining is less than six months long, you do not need a study permit.
If you are a family member of a foreign diplomat, or if you are a member of staff of a foreign diplomat, you do not need a study permit to study in Canada.
Family members include spouses and common law partners and dependent children.
In addition, if you are a member of foreign armed forces of a country that is a designated state under the Visiting Forces Act, you do not need a study permit. To find out if your country is listed as a designated state, please click here.
If you know you need a study permit, you may be required to apply for one as though you are outside of Canada.
You should apply for a study permit as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance (LOA).
Processing times may vary depending on different visa offices. They are faster for those who are eligible under the Student Direct Stream. To find out processing times for your local or regional visa office, please check the processing times here.
It is a fast-track program to process study permit applications within 20 calendar days. It is only available to residents of the following countries:
- The Philippines
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Candidates must also meet additional criteria, such as scoring at least a 6.0 on each skill of the IELTS Academic test, and obtaining a GIC of $10,000 CAD.
You may include your spouse/common law partner, and dependent children in your application. Your partner may then obtain an open work permit, and your dependent children may be able to study in Canadian public schools.
To find out if you need an eTA depending on the country issuing your travel document or passport, please follow this link.
To find out if you need an TRV depending on the country issuing your travel document or passport, please follow this link.
A DLI is an institution that is approved by the province or territory to host international students. To find out if the institution you are applying to is a DLI, please check the DLI list.
Yes, if your study permit says that you can work on or off campus. If so, you can legally work in Canada for up to 20 hours per week without applying for a work permit, as long as you remain a full-time student (part-time status is acceptable if you are in your last semester of studies). You can also work full-time during regularly scheduled breaks (e.g., summer and winter holidays).
Yes you can. You do not need to change your study permit if you are changing institutions or programs. However, you need to let IRCC know if you have changed your institution.
If you wish to move to a DLI in Quebec from another province or territory, you are required to obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ).
A study permit expires 90 days after the end of your program.
If you are taking prerequisite courses, your study permit will expire 1 year after the end of those courses. After that, if you are accepted into your main program, you will be required to apply to extend your stay as a student.
If you do not finish your program before the date on your study permit, you will be required to apply to extend your stay as a student.
If you finish your program early, your study permit will expire 90 days after that, regardless of the date on your study permit.
You are required to apply to extend your study permit at least 30 days before your current study permit expires.
Yes. You may be able to leave Canada during your studies. Upon returning to Canada, you must prove that you are currently enrolled in your institution. You must also make sure that your visa or eTA is still valid, if applicable.
Eligible graduates may apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in order to stay in Canada and obtain Canadian work experience.
To find out if you would be eligible for the PGWP, follow this link.
If you are not eligible, or if you choose not to apply for the PGWP, you must maintain legal status in Canada by:
- Apply for other types of work permits depending on your situation and eligibility (e.g., a work permit that is tied to one employer)
- Apply to change your status to visitor, or
- Apply for a second study permit, allowing you to continue your studies.
International graduates would usually be eligible for the PGWP as long as:
- You completed a PGWP-eligible program from a designated learning institution
- Your program was at least eight months long
- You were a full-time student during every semester. Part-time status is acceptable in your last semester of studies, or if you became a part-time student as a result of coronavirus disruptions.
- You have a transcript or letter confirming that you have completed your studies
- You apply within 180 days of completing your program and obtaining your transcripts.
Contact the Cohen Immigration Law Firm for Assistance
Do you need assistance studying in Canada? The Cohen Immigration Law Firm can help. Cohen Immigration Law offers over 45 years of Canadian immigration expertise.
Please contact us to schedule a free telephone consultation with one of our lawyers.