To study in most Canadian universities, you’ll need to meet Canadian study permit requirements. Your study permit is one of the most important documents to have on you when entering Canada. You’ll need this to get into the country, study, live, and work as an international student!
So, how do you get a Canadian study permit? Depending on each individual case there may be several steps. But you don’t need to worry! The process may be long, but it isn’t all that complicated. Once you know what these steps are and start preparing early, your application will run through smoothly. To break it down for you, here’s our step-by-step Canada student visa checklist.
Canada’s Study Permit Requirements – A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Confirm You Need a Study Permit
In most cases, international students do need a Canadian study permit to get a degree in Canada. You don’t need to a get study permit if you’re a:
- minor (once you are a legal adult, you will need a study permit)
- family member of, or working for, accredited foreign representatives
- foreign armed forces member of a country designated for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act
- Registered Indian in Canada, regardless of citizenship
If you don’t check any of the above conditions, you’ll need a Canadian study permit to enter the country!
2. Get a Letter of Acceptance from Your University
This is the first item you need before you can start meeting Canada’s study permit requirements. To begin the application process, you need an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institute (DLI).
You’ll see this term around when looking for Canadian schools and applying for a student visa in Canada. A DLI is a school approved by Canada’s territorial and provincial governments for international students. When deciding where you want to study, make sure your school of choice is a DLI!
Applying to a Canadian university is a time-consuming process. You’ll need to gather and provide the right documents to qualify for admission. What each university asks of you may vary.
A typical application package for international students includes:
- Scans of your diploma/certificates from completing high school/undergraduate studies
- Scanned copies of your academic transcripts
- Copy of your curriculum vitae (CV)
- Scores from language proficiency tests. Depending on where you live, some universities may need you to verify your English proficiency
- Recommendation letters from 2-3 teachers/employers
- Scanned copy of your passport/other identification documents. Make sure they haven’t passed or aren’t about to pass the expiry date
- Proof that you’ll be able to financially support your studies and living expenses
Some universities might ask you for additional things, too. For example, if you’re considering scholarships, you might have to provide a separate application for this. Depending on which program you’re enrolling in, you might have to submit a portfolio of your work.
Requirements might vary across provinces and territories, too. For example, you can apply directly to some universities. For others, you might need to apply through a service like the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC).
Since a letter of acceptance is Step 1 of Canada’s study permit requirements, do start early. Check what each school you’re considering requires. Give yourself enough time for everything you need to do. Preparing early doesn’t just give you time to put together a better application. Most universities admit students on a first-come, first-serve basis. You have a higher chance of getting in when you apply early!
3. Your Canadian Student Visa Checklist
Once you have your acceptance letter from a DLI, you’re ready to apply for a Canadian study permit.
Here’s what you will need:
- A completed study permit application form
- Your letter of acceptance from a DLI
- Your passport/travel documents. Again, be sure that you’ve renewed them if you need to
- Proof of payment for the study permit application fee (CAD 150)
- Proof that you can support yourself financially while studying and staying in Canada. Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) will use your school’s estimated tuition and living expenses as a reference
- Copies of your most recent passport-sized photos. You’ll need two with your name and date of birth clearly written on the back
- Proof that you have no criminal records. You may have to request a police clearance certificate from your local police
- Proof that you’re in good health. You may need to provide medical checkup reports. Only a Panel Physician approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada may carry out these tests
- A letter of explanation. Write to the immigration officer explaining why you wish to study in Canada. Let them know in your writing that you understand your responsibilities as an international student. Before you get to writing, check out letter of explanation samples to give you an idea of what works!
- Biometrics. Check whether you need to provide biometrics depending on where you live. If you do, you’ll need to set an appointment for this at your local Visa Application Centre (VAC). There is a CAD 85 fee for this that isn’t part of your application fee
- You may be asked to sit a short interview, depending on where you live
- If you’re going to study in Quebec, you need to apply for the Quebec Acceptance Certificate
You can complete your application both online or through physical mail. We recommend applying online! Physical mail is harder to process because of Covid-19 disruptions and may cause delays.
Tip: Give Yourself 6-8 Months to Meet Canada Study Permit Requirements
This may sound like a lot of time but think about all the documents you’ll need to get and steps you need to complete. You may have to request paperwork from your bank, doctor, your local police, and more. It may take time to get your letter of acceptance too.
You also need to account for the fact that you’ll need your study permit before your school’s intake date. Since it may take up to 90 days to issue your study permit, you’ll need the wiggle room.
Taking your time to prepare also means you’re more likely not to miss anything. An incomplete or rushed application only slows you down. You may end up having to repeat the whole process if something was missing or you got a detail wrong. As a result, you may risk missing several weeks if not months of classes.
We cannot emphasise this enough: start early!
Additional Canadian Study Permit Requirements 2022
Because of the Covid-19 crisis, Canadian immigration continues revising policies to minimise risks. Here are a couple of Canada’s current study permit requirements in addition to the checklist above:
- You must have received:
- two doses of an acceptable vaccine for travel, or
- a mix of two accepted vaccines, or
- a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
- Your must have taken your second vaccine dose about a fortnight (14 days) prior to entering Canada
The border services officer has the final say on whether you clear the requirements for entering the country. So, make sure you’re carrying everything you need when you’re travelling. Upload your travel information to ArriveCAN within 72 hours before your arrival. This free, secure platform helps the Canadian government keep track of people entering the country. The goal is to monitor and contain the potential spread of the infection – your information is completely safe with ArriveCAN.
You’ll need to submit the following through ArriveCAN:
- Travel details – date of arrival, departure and arrival destinations, flight number, and so on
- Contact details and the details of others travelling with you
- Reason for travelling
- Proof of vaccination
- Details about countries you stayed in/visited in the last 14 days
- Your quarantine plan (if applicable - if you are fully vaccinated, you do not need this plan)
Concluding Thoughts: Canadian Study Permit Requirements
Hopefully, we’ve answered all your questions on Canadian study permit requirements. The process, while long, isn’t as complicated or tough to understand as it might seem at first. You just need to plan ahead, so you can arrange for all the things you need. Starting early gives you more time to put together a solid application. It also cuts down on the stress of waiting on documents and rushing things last minute. Now that you’ve got your Canada student visa checklist, we hope you’re ready to begin this long but exciting process!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does a Canada student visa cost?
The study permit application fee is CAD 15. If you need to provide biometrics and/or sit for an interview, there are additional fees. Remember to check whether these are requirements where you live!
How much time does it take to process a study permit?
It may take up to 90 days to process your study permit. However, if you’re applying through the Student Direct Stream (SDS), you might get your study permit in 20 days! Applicants from the following countries may be eligible for SDS:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Is the study permit the same as a student visa?
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, the study permit is not a student visa. Once your study permit goes through, you automatically receive a visitor’s visa or electronic travel authorisation (eTA).