Study Permit

Ultimate Guide to Securing Your Study Permit Canada: Simplified Steps & Tips

Canadian Immigration Lawyer
Updated on 
April 2, 2024
Published on 
April 2, 2024
Eager to study in Canada but unsure where to start? Securing a study permit Canada is essential, and we’re here to streamline the process for you.
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This no-nonsense guide dives into what you need to apply, how much it’ll cost, and the timing to consider. Ready to get your study journey on track? We’ve got the knowledge you seek laid out ahead.

Key Takeaways

  • The Canadian Study Permit application process involves creating an online account, digitizing documents, and paying fees, including a biometrics fee, with applications subject to specific conditions and variable processing times.
  • Proof of financial support for living expenses, now set at a minimum of CAD 20,635, is crucial, with a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) being an acceptable form of evidence, and applicants must meet additional health and security checks.
  • Study Permit holders must maintain conditions set out by IRCC, including enrollment at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and adherence to study requirements, with options for permit renewal, family accompaniment, and pathways to work or permanent residency following graduation.

Navigating the Study Permit Canada Application

Your Canadian study journey starts with understanding the Study Permit application process.

You will need a letter of acceptance and a Provincial Attestation Letter - both of these will be issued from your Designated Learning Institution after applying for a study program.

To apply for a study permit, you will need numerous documents to show your proof of funds and intent to return to your country. An online account is your first step towards achieving your goal of applying for a study permit. This account is your one-stop-shop for all things related to your study permit, from paying fees, submitting your application, to checking on the status of your application.

Before jumping into the application forms, like the IMM1294, there are several preliminary steps. These include answering specific questions to create a personalized document checklist and reading local visa office instructions for specific application requirements. For a successful applying online process, it’s necessary to have a valid credit or debit card and the capability to digitize required documents. Remember, the fees you pay include processing fees for yourself and any included individuals, as well as a biometrics fee for the study permit application.

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Starting Your Journey: Understanding Study Permits

A Canadian Study Permit is a document issued by the Canadian government that grants foreign nationals the legal authorization to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. But what makes you eligible for a Study Permit? The criteria generally include being accepted by a DLI, having proof of financial support, and agreeing to adhere to certain conditions set out for international students.

Among the conditions that a Study Permit holder must have ‘sufficient and available funds, without working in Canada,’ for tuition, living expenses, and return transportation. Given the variable processing times and potential delays, especially during peak periods, it’s wise to apply for your study permit promptly after receiving an acceptance letter from a DLI.

The Student Direct Stream: Fast-Track Your Application

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is an expedited study permit processing option that’s like a fast lane for legal residents of certain eligible countries. If you’re residing in an eligible country and meet specific additional requirements, this fast-track option is worth considering.

The beauty of the SDS is the processing standard for most applications. You can expect your application to be processed within just 20 calendar days from submission. This swift processing ensures you can start your Canadian education journey without unnecessary delays.

Financial Proof for Study Permit Approval

Providing proof of financial support is a key requirement for obtaining your Study Permit Canada. From January 1, 2024, individual applicants must demonstrate access to at least CAD 20,635 for living expenses, excluding tuition fees and travel costs.

Remember, as an international student in Canada, your financial support should not be dependent on the prospect of working in the country. The Canadian government accepts various financial instruments as proof of funds, such as a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a Canadian financial institution. And don’t worry, there’s no need to prove financial support for the entire duration of your study program; demonstrating proof for the first academic year is sufficient.

Designated Learning Institutions: Your Gateway to Canadian Education

Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) are central to your Canadian study adventure. These primary and secondary schools, as well as other educational establishments, are recognized by provincial or territorial authorities, allowing them to host international students.

DLI accreditation is a rigorous process. Schools must collaborate with their respective provincial or territorial authorities to meet specific criteria. Once these criteria are met, the information is sent to the federal level for processing. After fulfilling accreditation requirements, schools are enrolled in the DLI portal to obtain their DLI number, which is then added to the publicly accessible DLI list that is regularly updated.

As a study permit holder, you must be enrolled in a DLI to extend your permit. In case a school loses its DLI status, you can still study until your current permit expires but must transfer to maintain status for re-entry into Canada.

Preparing for the Study Permit Application

The preparation phase for your initial study permit application is of utmost importance. It begins by:

  1. Reading the instruction guide thoroughly to understand how to accurately complete each field of the study permit application form.
  2. Having access to a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of documents.
  3. Having a valid credit or debit card for the online application procedure.

It’s imperative to obtain and follow the visa office-specific instructions for the country or territory from which the study permit is being applied, as these instructions include detailed document requirements. Along with the application submission, remember to pay the biometrics fee, which covers fingerprint and photo collection, integral parts of the study permit application process.

Gathering All the Documents

The process of gathering all the documents begins with a personalized document checklist provided to each applicant. This checklist is generated based on answers given in an online tool.

Digitizing your documents is an integral step in the application process. For this, you would need to use a scanner or camera. Having all the documents in the correct digital format ensures a smooth submission process.

Medical Exam and Security Checks

Medical exams and security checks also form a significant part of your study permit application. Applicants may need to undergo a medical exam as part of the application process. Also, security checks, including police certificates, might be required.

Remember, you may need to pay additional third-party fees for medical exams, police certificates, and language testing, which are not included in the payment made through the online account. Upon re-entry into Canada, study permit holders may be asked to present valid immigration medical exam results, if applicable.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL): A New Requirement

Starting January 22, 2024, a new document named Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) is required for most study permit applications in Canada. Anyone planning to apply for a study permit should take note of this development.

Provincial Attestation Letters are expected to be issued by provinces by March 31, 2024, and educational institutions are responsible for requesting a PAL on behalf of the student. Several provinces, including Ontario and British Columbia, already have specific procedures in place for issuing Provincial Attestation Letters to international students. However, certain study permit applicants, such as preschool to secondary students, master’s and PhD students, and those applying for study permit extensions, are exempt from needing a PAL.

Maintaining Your Status: Conditions While Studying in Canada

Once your study permit is secured and you’ve commenced your education in Canada, upholding your student status becomes a top priority. To maintain the validity of your permit, you must meet specific conditions, including being enrolled at a designated learning institution and actively pursuing studies.

Moreover, to maintain your student status, you are required to:

  • Progress towards completing your program’s courses
  • Cannot take unauthorized leaves longer than 150 days from your study program
  • Inform the authorities of any changes in post-secondary schools
  • Apply for authorized leaves for valid reasons such as medical or family emergencies
  • Leave Canada when your permit expires or end your studies if you no longer meet student requirements.

Remember, failing to meet study permit conditions can lead to you being asked to leave Canada and may have negative implications for future immigration applications.

Bringing Family Members Along

Canada acknowledges the challenges of studying abroad without the presence of your loved ones. Therefore, it allows your spouse and children to accompany you while you study in Canada, provided you’re a full-time student with a valid study permit. When proving financial support for your study permit, you must include additional funds for each family member accompanying you. But beware! Applying with a spouse and children may suggest an intent to move permanently to Canada, which can impact your study permit application.

Recently, there has been numerous important changes to spousal open work permits.

If your children intend to attend post-secondary educational institutions in Canada, they must apply for their own study permit.

Options After Graduation: Transitioning to Work or Permanent Residence

Your Canadian journey doesn’t have to end with the completion of your studies. The country offers several post-graduation work permit options and pathways to permanent residency. The open work permit under the Post-Graduate Work Permit program allows holders to work for any employer in Canada for up to three years after graduation.

The program also extends to students who have:

  • transferred between schools
  • completed Canadian study programs with overseas components
  • graduated from certain Quebec schools and master’s programs
  • flight school graduates

A valid passport is necessary for the full duration of the Post-Graduation Work Permit; if it expires sooner, the permit is only issued up to the passport’s expiry date. Also, work experience gained on a Post-Graduation Work Permit can facilitate eligibility for the Express Entry – Canadian Experience Class program and certain Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams, leading to permanent residency.

In 2024, IRCC has indicated that they intend to change the rules and place limits for PGWPs, mostly for colleges. Master and PhD students can qualify for the PGWP easier compared to previous years.

Various options for permanent residency include the Express Entry – Federal Skilled Worker program, Provincial Nomination Programs, and other valid immigration pathways enhanced by Canadian work experience.

Renewing or Changing Your Study Permit

While studying in Canada, there may be situations where you need to extend or modify your study permit. If you wish to continue your education in Canada, you must apply to extend your permit at least 30 days before it expires. However, an extension cannot be granted beyond the expiration date of your passport.

While awaiting a decision on their extension application, students are allowed to continue their studies under the same conditions of their current study permit, provided they stay in Canada. If your study permit expires, you must restore your status as a temporary resident and apply for a temporary resident permit to continue your education in Canada.

Legal Resident Travel Considerations

As a holder of a study permit, certain rules and requirements govern your travel to and from Canada. An electronic travel authorization (eTA) or visa, which serves as your travel document, will be issued automatically along with the study permit, without the need for a separate application or fee.

Upon returning to Canada, you must possess the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Study permit
  • Either an eTA or visa
  • Proof of sufficient funds

You also need to ensure that you have no criminal or immigration convictions to re-enter Canada, or if you do, that you have undergone the official rehabilitation process. Failure to present the necessary documents may result in delays or being denied entry at the Canadian border.


In conclusion, securing a Letter of Acceptance and a Study Permit Canada is a significant step in your journey to study in the beautiful country of Canada. The process may initially seem daunting, but with the right understanding of the application process, document requirements, financial proofs, and adhering to the necessary conditions, it becomes a manageable task.

Remember, the key is to start early, stay organized, and be thorough in your preparations. Secure your study permit, enjoy your Canadian educational journey, and who knows? This may be the start of a life-long relationship with Canada!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is it taking to get study permit in Canada?

It can take up to 3 months to get a study permit for Canada, so it's advisable to apply as soon as you have all the required documents in place.

What is a Study Permit Canada?

A Study Permit Canada is a document that allows foreign nationals to legally study at a Designated Learning Institution in Canada. It is issued by the Canadian government. Some individuals may not require a study permit if they studies will be less than 6 months.

How do I apply for a Study Permit Canada?

To apply for a Study Permit Canada, you can use an online account to pay fees, submit your application, and track its progress. This is the most efficient and recommended method.

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Disclaimer: The information in this blog is general informational and it is not legal advice. Do not rely exclusively on this blog. Always conduct your own research and due diligence. The information in this blog not a substitute for professional legal advice, and it may not be appropriate for you. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, immigration laws and regulations can vary and change over time. It is important to consult with an immigration lawyer if you are unsure how to proceed.

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