How to apply for a Canada study permit

Every year, Canada continues to attract a high and steady volume of students from all over the world.

Over 200,000 international students get accepted to study in various Canadian Post-Secondary schools (universities and colleges) annually.

If studying in Canada is your dream, then you must first get a Canadian Study Permit.

You must understand that as an international Student, permission to study in Canada can only be validated by a Study Permit.

Asides from the requirement for excellent academic performance which includes good grades, in other to become a student in any of the Top Universities in Canada, you have to apply for and obtain a Canadian Study Permit which serves as a document of validation that enables you to take part in an academic, vocational or professional training in any University, College or any other type of educational institution in Canada.

It is noteworthy that you may not need a study permit if your study program lasts only six months or less than that.

This article will teach what a study permit entails, who needs to apply for one, the various processes involved in obtaining a study permit, and how to use a study permit having obtained one.

What Is a Study Permit?

A Study permit is a Document issued by Canadian Immigaration Officials or authorities to foreign students that serve as a permission or validation to study in a Canadian institution of learning.

This Permit enables international (foreign) students to study at Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) in Canada. International students will not be allowed to study in Canada if they do not possess a Canadian Study Permit.

It is important to note that a Study Permit is different from a Visa. While you need a visa to access to go to Canada, a study Permit on the other hand,  allows you to become a legal student of any of the prestigious universities in Canada.

It is ideal to apply for a study permit before you travel to Canada.

Who Needs To  Apply For a Study Permit?

Ideally, every foreign student who wishes to study in Canada will need to obtain a Canadian Study permit. However, there are a few cases of exception.

You will not be required to obtain a Canadian Study Permit if you fall under any of the categories outlined below:

  • If you are a family or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada who is accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), trade and development Canada.
  • If you are a member of a foreign armed force from the Visiting Force Arms on official duty in Canada.
  • If you have a registered Indian status in Canada, you will not need to obtain a Study Permit even if you are from another nation.
  • If you apply for a study program that will last only 6 months or less.
  • If you are a temporary resident or asylum taking a course in French Language or other Culture courses.
  • Minor children do not need to apply for a Study permit if they are in kindergarten, or refugees or refugees claimants, or their parents are refugees or refugees claimants, or if they are in preschool, secondary or primary school and happen to be with their parents in Canada who has a work or study permit.

However, when the children reach the majority age (18 or !9) depending on the province, they will have to apply for and obtain a Study Permit form if they want to continue studying in Canada.

Who Is Eligible To Apply For a Canadian Study Permit?

You are eligible to study Canada if you fulfill the following conditions

  • You must be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada.
  • You must prove that you are financially capable to handle your tuition fees, living expenses while in Canada for yourself and family members (if any comes with you) and transportation for you and your family members to return home.


  • You must prove that you obey the Law and have no records of Criminal activities. Sometimes you are asked to bring a Police Clearance Certificate if required.
  • You must be in good health and may be asked to take a Medical exam if required.
  • You must prove to an Immigration Officer that you will leave Canada after your Study Permit expires.

Applying For Your Canadian Study Permit

Before you start your application process for a Canadian Study Permit, there are some important documents that you need to have at hand. They are as follows:

  1. A Valid Passport: To be able to successfully apply for a Canadian Study Permit, you need to have a valid passport that would last for as long as you intend to stay.

This means that if you are applying for a two-year program and you intend to travel by November 2022, then your passport should be valid until November 2024.

  1. Proof Of Acceptance By a Designated Learning Institution: A Designated Learning Institution is any University or College that is recognized by the Immigration Department of Canada.

In order to apply for a study permit, you must first get an acceptance letter from the University or College of your choice.

  1. Passport Size Photographs: during your application process, you could either opt for an online or offline application. If you have opted for an offline application, you will need to  present 2  passport size photographs that conform to the standard required by the immigration officials

On the other hand, if you opted for an online application, you will have to upload digital copy of the passport photograph which meets the required standards.

  1. Proof Of Funds: When applying for your Study Permit, you will need to provide proof to show that you are financially able to carter for your stay in Canada.

Ideally, the Canadian Immigration department expects a student to have at least $100,000 CAD for every year of your stay. This is to cover for your tuition fees and other living expenses such as transportation, housing, feeding and lifestyle

Additionally, you must prove that you have enough finances to fund your return fare after the end of your study program.

  1. Immigration Medical Examination: The Canadian Immigration Department requires that all international Students undergo a Medical Examination from enrolled and registered doctors.

Intending students are advised to book a medical appointment with the listed doctors at least a week before applying for their study permit as this would give the doctors enough time to get all necessary results and upload them.

Sometimes, the doctors may have to refer you for an X-ray or other laboratory tests even after carrying out a complete medical exam. Scheduling an appointed on time gives room for all this and helps to ensure that you have your medical report just in time for your application process.

  1. Statement Of Purpose: When applying for a Canadian Study Permit, you will be required to submit an essay stating the reason/purpose of your trip to Canada. You will also have to include why you choose a particular institution in this essay.

Although this document is regarded as secondary in the checklist, it is highly advised to submit one alongside your application form.

Steps In Applying For a Canadian Study Permit.

The following steps are involved in the application of a Canadian Work Permit

  • Get your Acceptance Letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • Check Your Eligibility Status
  • Prepare and Submit Your Study Permit Application
  • Pay Application Fee
  • Travel to Canada

Get a Letter of Acceptance From a Designated Learning Institution

In order to apply for a Canadian Study Permit, you must first receive a standardized letter of Acceptance from an Institution of Learning recognized and authorized by the Canadian Immigration Department to accept foreign students otherwise known as a Designated Learning Institution.

This means that before you apply for a Canadian Study Permit, you first have to apply and get accepted into the Designated Learning Institution of your choice. You must acquire this Letter of Acceptance before you are qualified to apply for a study permit.

Check Your Eligibility Status

You must ensure that the following criterias are met to be eligible to apply for a Canadian Study permit.

  1. Letter Of Acceptance from a Designated Institution of Learning (DLI). This means that you will have to apply to the school first and wait till you get an acceptance letter which must contain the following information:
  • Name of the DLI.
  • Contact information of the Designated Learning Institution.
  • Personal Information such as your Name, Date of birth, and mailing address.
  • Details of study Program including level of study program, duration of study program, start date of study program and completion of study program.
  • Expiry date of acceptance letter.
  1. Proof Of Finances And Funds

You must provide proof that you have sufficient finances to support you in your first study year for your tuition fees, housing, feeding and other cost of living for yourself and any other accompanying member of your family.

These funds can be under your name, a family member’s name, a parent’s or guardian’s name or a financial sponsor’s name.

  1. Other Supporting Documents

Some other supporting are required to submitted with your study permit application. These documents vary based on your country and nationality.

You can always consult your immigration officer to find out the documents that are specific to your location.

Prepare  And Submit Your Study Permit Application

When you have ensured that you meet all the eligibility checks, you can then go ahead to prepare your Canadian study permit application.

Before you apply for your study permit, ensure that you have all the required documents ready and handy as you could be denied a permit if you do not possess the complete documents needed.

You could either choose to apply online or offline.

To apply online, you have to send a create an account on the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website where you can submit an electronic application. You must ensure you have access to a scanner to scan the documents you need to upload. You must also have an active credit card which you will use to make payment of the required application fee.

To apply offline, you will be required to submit a paper based application form. To be able to properly fill out the application form, you may need to download the application kit and carefully read the instructions and guidelines. This application kit contains all vital informations about study permits that would be of great assistance in completing your application form.

In both cases of applying either online or offline, you will be required to fill a Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) consent form and attach it to your application form. This form will be required to get any form of help from the VFS for your visa application process.

Additionally, it is advisable to employ the services of an experienced immigration officer to help in your application process. This is beneficial because they have sufficient knowledge to ensure the most accurate, comprehensive and acceptable application possible.

Payment Of Application Fee.

When submitting your application form, you must pay a visa application fee of $150 CAD. You may also be required to pay VFS global charge fee. These fees are non – refundable in all cases.

Travel To Canada

Once your study permit has been approved, you can now make preparations to travel.

It is important to note that you do not recieve your Study Permit until you get to a Port of Entry (POE) which in most cases is an airport.

If your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction which you’ll present to the immigration officer at the port of entry who will in turn issue your Study Permit to you.

Maintaining The Validity Of Your Study Permit

As a foreign national, during the duration of your study program in Canada, it is important to always meet certain requirements to maintain your status as an eligible student and maintain the validity of your study permit. These requirements includes;

  • You must always be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution
  • You must make progress towards completing your course of study
  • You must obey all conditions listed in your study permit
  • You must stop studying if you no meet the necessary requirements
  • You must leave canada when the duration of your stay as stated in your study permit elapses.

How Long Does It Take To Process a Study Permit?

Processing times differ for different locations. It could extend for as long as 90 days or more. 

It is advisable to start the your application process as soon as you receive a valid letter of acceptance from your preferred choice of institution.

Can My Study Permit Be Renewed?

In some cases,your study permit could expire before the completion of your study program. 

In this kind of situation, you will have to apply for a renewal of your study permit to be able to remain in Canada. Ideally, you have to apply 30 days before the expiration of your current Study Permit.

Students can submit their application either via mail or online.

Can I Work While Studying?

As an international student, you are qualified to work up to 20 hours during university semesters and full time during school breaks such as winter and summer breaks without needing a work permit. But you must have the must meet the following requirements;

  • You must have a valid study permit
  • You must be a full time student
  • You must be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution at university level  or a Vocational program at secondary level in  Quebec.
  • You must be studying in an academic, professional or vocational program that leads to getting a diploma, degree or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
  • You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada to work and receive benefits from Canadian Government.

You must note that your study permit becomes invalid 90 days after the completion of your study program. If you want to still want to remain in Canada after this time, you have to obtain a post graduation work permit to be able to seek work after graduation.

This work permit remains valid for a period of three years.

Important Note:

Students who are interested in studying in the Province of Quebec, you will have to first apply for and obtain a Certificat d’Acceptation De Quebec (CAQ) from the Quebec government before submitting your application to the IRCC.

What If My Application For a Study Permit Is Not Approved?

Getting your application right the first time saves you both time and money. Although there are some reasons why applications can be declined, these factors can as well be avoided. Some of them include:

  • Unsuitable Acceptance Letter. You must obtain undeniable acceptance letter from a registered Canadian Designated Learning Institution.
  • Incomplete Or Missing Documents. If you fail to attach certain important documents such as language test score, travel history, etc to your application, it will be rejected. Ensure you have all the necessary documents ready before you submit your application.
  • Inadequate Proof Financial Of Financial Funds. Having just enough to process your application isn’t enough proof of financial support. Your application will be more appealing and convincing if you have financial proof of support for at least the first year of your study program.
  • Intent Of Return. Study Permits and Visas are only temporary. Hence, you must be able to prove that you have adequate plans to return to your home country after the completion of your study program.

It is important to note that you will be told why your application has been refused in a refusal letter by the IRCC. This is to ensure that the issue is handled properly if you intend to apply again.

In cases where you think your application was rejected wrongly,you can make an appeal for it to be addressed.


Canada is a door to a world of opportunities. Asides from a world class educational standard, it also provides a serene and safe living environment and job opportunities during and after your study program.

Also, it is easier to get a work permit and permanent residency if you already studied in Canada.

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