Study Permit

Study Permit

The number of international students in Canada is over 684,385  a figure that is constantly growing.
There are four steps to studying in Canada: Choosing a study program; getting a Letter of Acceptance from a Canadian school; receiving a provincial attestation letter from the province or territory that the school is located in, and finally, getting a study permit.

Among the major advantages of studying in Canada is it provides you with more potential opportunities to apply for Canadian permanent residence status.


What is a study permit?

A study permit is a written authorization issued to international students authorizing them to study in Canada. International students are now a prescribed class of persons who may obtain temporary resident status and who have been issued study permits or who are authorized by the Regulations to study. Therefore, international students have the same obligations as temporary residents.

In other words, Study Permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows a foreign national to study in Canada for a limited time.

Most international students require a Study Permit to study in Canada. To learn more about studying in Canada without a study permit, click here.

Once you obtain a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) such as a university or college, you will also need to obtain a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) to submit an application to IRCC to obtain a 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.


Do you need a study permit?

You need to apply for a study permit if:

  • The program of study is six months or longer. (You may need a visitor visa depending on the country you are from)
  • You intend to apply for another program after your initial six month period.
  • You work on campus, take an internship/co-op training, or take a paid practical training course that is part of the educational program.

If you need to apply for a study permit, you need to be accepted first by an accredited educational institute. Students are required to demonstrate financial stability for the minimum of first year of studies.


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.

In order to be eligible to submit an application for a Canadian study permit, a prospective student must:

  • Obtain a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in order to submit an application for a study permit;
  • Obtain a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) from the province or territory where the DLI is located (unless a student meets the requirement for not needing a PAL);
  • 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:

  • India
  • China
  • The Philippines
  • Pakistan
  • Vietnam
  • Morocco
  • Senegal
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • 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, 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
  • Have a letter of attestation from the province or territory where the DLI is located
  • 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 proof that you can pay your travel costs
  • Have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) with a participating Canadian bank of $20,635 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) and
  • Obtain a language test result of at least the following:
    • A minimum of 6.0 in each skill on the IELTS Academic or General Training (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);
    • CELPIP General (minimum score of CLB 7);
    • CAEL (minimum score of 60);
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic (minimum score of 60); and/or
    • Educational Testing Service (ETS) TOEFL iBT Test (minimum score of 83).


Financial support

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 $20,635 CAD for a 12-month period
For one accompanying family member Tuition plus $25,690 CAD
For two accompanying family members Tuition plus $31,583 CAD
For three accompanying family members Tuition plus $38,346 CAD
For four accompanying family members Tuition plus $43,492 CAD
For five accompanying family members Tuition plus $49,051 CAD
For six accompanying family members Tuition plus $54,611 CAD
For more than six accompanying family members Tuition plus $5,559 CAD for each person


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.


Number of people Total amount required
One accompanying family member under age 18 $7,541
One accompanying family member age 18 or older $15,078
Two accompanying family members age 18 or older $22,115
Two accompanying family members over age 18 and one member under age 18 $24,773
Two accompanying family members over age 18 and two members under age 18 $26,737


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.

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.


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FAQs Study Permit