Many international students travel to Canada every year to study there. As Canadian Universities and colleges are very good and world-renowned, it is no wonder that there are many study permit applications issued every year. But what do you need to get a study permit in Canada? 

The requirements are very straightforward. You will need a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution situated in Canada. Then you will also need proof of funds, tuition fee payments, as well as visa processing fee payments. This, and a valid travel document (your passport), will cover most of the documents you need.

One of the best ways to ensure your processing time is short is to submit all the necessary documents at once. You will need to do so to avoid extending the waiting time because every day spent collecting additional documents is a day wasted. Typically, it takes around 20 days to process a study permit application for international students, but this mostly depends on you. Let’s move on and see why good organization is the key. 

Requirements for Study Permit

There are several requirements to get a study permit to enter Canada. Student visas and study permits are issued every year, and at any given moment, there are between 500,000 and 600,000 foreign students learning in Canada. Among the documents needed to be considered and to get a chance for a study permit approval are the letter of acceptance, financial support documents, and other supporting documents. Always have copies of documents ready during the application process. 

Letter of Acceptance

What is a letter of acceptance in Canada? A letter of acceptance is a simple letter or a document that affirms that you have been accepted as a student for a certain program of study in a Canadian learning institution (the Designated Learning Institution – DLI). Without this paper, no initial study permit application can be made, as the permit conditions differ based on what you will be studying. A letter of acceptance generally serves to verify that you have applied to and been accepted to a Canadian university. Immigration officers will not process your application without this document. 

Some students may get a conditional acceptance. These usually state that you will first need to take language courses or additional differential courses to be able to attend a study program. These are usually (but not always) issued to the students of medicine and law students. 

Financial Support Documents

You will also need to show proof of having sufficient funds to support yourself while in Canada. The numbers vary, and they typically rise every year. You will need enough funds to cover the expenses of the University or college tuition fees, as well as enough funds to support yourself while there. In addition to this, you will also need CAD155 to pay for the study permit processing fee and an additional CAD85 for the biometrics fee. 

During your application process, you may be called into a visa office or a consular office in your own country to give your biometrics – two passport-sized photos and your fingerprints are generally enough. When it comes to the funds, a simple bank statement in your or a family member’s name will be enough.

You will need CAD10,000 plus additional funds for an accompanying family member if they are coming with you (CAD4,000). These numbers exclude tuition fees. If you plan to study in Quebec, you will need even more funds: CAD13,134 per adult applicant. 

There are several documents you can use to show your owning of financial support: 

  • a valid bank statement, 
  • a GIV certificate (Guaranteed Investment Certificate)
  • a valid Canadian bank statement (if you have deposited your funds in a Canadian bank already)
  • proof of a student loan from your bank
  • proof you have paid your tuition and housing fees (for wire transfer, a bank statement or a report is usually enough)
  • a letter from the person or institution that will support you financially while you are in Canada or
  • proof of funding if your studies will be paid for by a Canadian institution

Supporting Documents

Among these, you will also need proof of identity, a letter of explanation, a medical exam, a custodian declaration (for minors only), as well as the Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) if this is where you plan to study. Note that you may not need all of these documents. Always check with your local visa officer and see whether there have been any simplifications to the process or not. 

As proof of identity, you will generally be asked to bring a valid passport or another travel document with you. Your passport must be valid for the duration of the study permit. If this is not the case, once your passport is no longer valid, you will need to apply for another study permit. Always travel with the passport that the study permit has been issued to, or you will not be admitted into the country. 

A letter of explanation is a literal letter that you need to write. This letter will be sent to your visa officer. In the letter (in English or French, depending on where you want to study), you should outline your goals and desired outcomes of studying in Canada. You will need to say what you plan on doing after coming BACK to your home country. 

You will need a medical exam document if you’ve travelled to certain countries, if you plan on working or studying in places where your health issue may compromise the health of others, as well as if you plan on staying in Canada for longer than six months. You will be getting this document from doctors in your country of citizenship. If any more documents are needed, the local visa office will contact you. Since these may take a while to get a hold of, you may want to make a document checklist with the entire range of documents on it. 

How To Apply for a Study Permit?

When applying, patience and good organization are the key. You will need to prepare all the above documents before you start the application process, but not too long before – beware that some documents are only valid for a certain period of time. Your passport-sized photos, for example, should not be older than a few months. Any recent change in your facial features should be reflected in the photos. 

Examine Your Eligibility

When applying, you will need to examine your eligibility first. Do you have a good enough likelihood to be accepted to a particular university? Do you plan on applying to multiple Universities? Do you have enough funds to support yourself while in Canada? Have you been involved in any activities that may lead to your visa application being rejected or you being deemed inadmissible to Canada by the border police?

Get Your Application Ready

To get your application ready, you will need to create your document checklist, gather all the documents (and check again), and then complete the application form. When it comes to medical exams, there are specialized exams, and you will need these to make sure your application can go through in a single go. Alternatively, you may want to wait with these, but you will need to get them on short notice upon notification by the corresponding offices to prevent any long halts to your processing time. 

Submit Your Application

When submitting the application, you will need to do that through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Website. You can also apply through your Visa Application Centre (VAC). If you have a disability, you can also apply by paper, but this may take a longer time. We only recommend applying for an extension or a renewal on paper, although you should always check the processing wait times to make sure that this is still the fastest option. 

Please beware that some technical aspects may be necessary to ensure a smooth online application. Whenever submitting documents in an electronic form, always check the format of the document you are trying to upload and the size of the document itself. This is true for photographs, PDFs, and all other images you may need to submit. 

Wait For Approval

You will spend some time waiting for the processing time, so it is best to start the application early enough to ensure that you do get to make it to Canada in time for the beginning of your studies. An average student waits around 12 weeks or 90 days for their approval. 

If you lack some of the documents, you will be notified, and the application process will be put on hold until you send the missing documents. Make sure to send them all at once, as the time it takes to deliver a parcel or gather a missing document differs from country to country. Remember that time is of the essence. If you have all the documents and you have been approved, the Visa Office will issue you a Letter of Introduction (LOI). Please beware that your Canadian study permit will be issued to you only once you are on Canadian soil – so at the Port of Entry (usually an international airport or a land border crossing if you are coming from the USA). 

Once you have your approval, but you live in a TRV-required country or an eTA-required country, you will need to apply for these as well. In this case, you will get them relatively fast and will be asked to present your passport for the TRV to be inserted or applied to it. US citizens and people with US permanent residence do not need any of the two. Please beware that this information may change at any money, and always check for the newest developments in the study permit process. 

Who Are Exempted from Study Permit?

Not all students need to fulfill all study permit requirement entries, and not all students will need a study permit. In general, there are a few student categories that can study in Canada without it. These include students on short-term studies (usually a single semester), minor students, and students who are members of foreign armed forces. 

Students for Short-Term Studies

When it comes to students who come to Canada to study for a period shorter than six months, they do not need a study permit. However, in case of extensions or study periods longer than six months (even by a short time), they will need to apply for a study permit before the initial six months have passed. This does not mean that you will be allowed to enter Canada under the pretense that your course of study is shorter than six months and then apply. Longer study periods MUST have a valid study permit. 

Minor Students in Canada

If you are a minor in the province you will be travelling to (18 or 19 years of age, depending on the province), you do not need a study permit. You do not need it only if you will be attending: 

  • a kindergarten
  • a primary school
  • a secondary school 

And if your parents are refugees or refugee claimants or if you are accompanying a parent who is in Canada to work or study. 

Students That Are Members of Foreign Armed Forces

If you are a member of a foreign armed forces who is on active duty in Canada, you do not need a study permit to join an educational institution in Canada. If you are unsure of your status, please get in touch with an Educational counsellor and check in with them. This is enabled through the Visiting Forces Act. 

What is a Student Work Permit?

A student work permit is a special type of work permit that is issued to students that allows them to work under certain conditions, for a specified time, and for specific employers that are not on the ineligible employer list. With a document like this, you can join the Canadian workforce, but only for up to 20 hours a week while the classes are in session or for up to a full-time (40 hours a week) during scheduled breaks in classes (summer and winter break). 

Additionally, depending on the conditions stated on your study permit, you may also be able to work both on campus and off campus without a student work permit. With this in mind, you should always check the IRCC website for the latest information. Beware that with some study programs, which include internships, you will also need separate student work permits. 

Types of Student Work Permits

Considering how costly studying in Canada can be, even with all the scholarships and grants in place, let’s consider what you can do to ensure that you get to work. In Canada, you can work on-campus, off-campus, or join an internship co-op program as a student in a particular study program. 

On-Campus Work

When it comes to on-campus work, this includes a variety of jobs that you can perform either at the college/university or in local businesses, such as cafeterias, bookshops, etc. To be eligible for on-campus work, you will need: 

  • to be a full-time student at a public college, university or technical school, a private university or college in Quebec, as well as a private institution that can provide you with a degree
  • to own a valid study permit 
  • to possess a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Off-Campus Work

You can work off-campus only if your study permit conditions allow it or if you have an off-campus work permit. For this, you will need the following: 

  • A valid study permit
  • To be a full-time student
  • To be registered at the post-secondary level at your learning institution
  • To be registered in a course or program that is at least six months long 
  • To be signed up for a technical, educational, or even professional training program

Internship Co-Op Student

With some study programs, you will need to do a round of internships to get the degree. If this is the case with your study program, your work experience will be signed into the curriculum as a separate course. To be able to do the internship, you will need a work permit and a study permit. You will also need: 

  • Proof that the internship employment is vital to the course of studies you are enrolled in
  • The internship cannot make up more than 50% of the total study program
  • A letter from the department or a higher instance in your educational institution stating that the work is an integral part of the studies and, therefore, unavoidable

What Is a Student Direct Stream (SDS) and How To Apply?

If you wonder how to study in Canada from the Philippines or any other country, for that matter, there is a unique access program to Canadian Universities and a possible study permit called the Student Direct Stream (SDS). Under this platform, you can make the application, but only if eligible. This way, you do not have to send all the documents in as you would in a normal application. 

This helps speed up the process, and SDS applications are typically processed in around 20 days. When called, you will have to present yourself to give your biometrics and will also have to meet all the eligibility requirements. Although this process allows you to get the Canadian study permit, you will still need an eTA or a TRV. 

work and study canada

How To Turn Your Study Permit to Permanent Residency?

Once in Canada, you may not be able to overstay your study permit. In fact, most students have to leave the country for a fixed period of time (90 days) after graduation. During this time, many people decide to simply stay for longer. To do this and stay within legal confines, you will need to apply for permanent residence with a visa officer or through the Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Program. 

To do this, you will need to have studied in Canada. You will also need to have applied for and received a three-year work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). You will also need to have spent at least 1,460 days in Canada (being physically present there) in the past five years. Considering how long an average program of study is, this is a very feasible thing to achieve. 

How Long To Process a Study Permit?

In general, it takes 12 weeks or 90 days to process an initial study permit application. In some cases, usually depending on your country of citizenship and how many applications have been received, it can take longer or shorter, but this changes from country to country and year to year. 

In general, any tardiness on your side may end up in you waiting for a longer time than usual for your Canadian study permit. Sending incomplete documents or being tardy when called in to give your biometrics can also slow the process down. To make sure the entire process is smooth and fast, it is best to start the process early enough to make sure that you give yourself enough time to collect all the documents and to give enough processing time to the visa officers. 

Check Out 5 Things Before You Apply for Canada Study Permit. Student Visa Application Guide:


Is Studying in Canada Expensive?

No, studying in Canada is not expensive. In fact, Canada is the cheapest among the developed English-speaking countries to study in. An average tuition fee for a single year is as low as CAD6,800 and a large part of this can be covered by a scholarship. In addition to this, there are also many grants and part-time work possibilities to help you cover these expenses. 

Who Can Sponsor Me To Study in Canada?

When looking for a way to study in Canada while being sponsored by somebody or by an entity, you should know there are several ways to do this. You could be sponsored by the Canadian government, by a Canadian company, or even by a company from your own country of residence. Getting sponsored by a family member may be frowned upon, especially as Canada wants to make sure you can return home after your studies. 

What Are The Common Reasons Why Canadian Study Visa Gets Rejected?

There are a number of reasons why your study permit or study visa got rejected. Any kind of criminal activity attached to your name will automatically fail you. This is the reason why a police transcript is necessary for most visa applications. Having strong family ties to Canada and little to your own country can also be a reason to get rejected for a visa. 

Is College Free in Canada? 

No, college in Canada is not free. In fact, an average school year in Canada will cost you CAD6,800 before scholarships and grants. This is still much cheaper than in many other developed countries, so you may want to keep Canada on your list. Getting a full scholarship or being sponsored by someone or a legal entity can help you overcome up to 100% of these expenses. 

Final Thoughts

Applying for a study permit in Canada is not a difficult process, although it does take time and patience to wait for the 90-day processing time to end. In most cases, you will be given your study permit, but you will also need to apply for an eTA or a TRV – to be able to enter the country. Following our guide will increase the likelihood of you finishing the process in a short time and with a few headaches, but always remember that each visa application is reviewed separately and on an individual basis.