Approved Study Permit: Moving To Canada As An International Student For 2023 -Apply Now

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Program Overview

As an international destination for study, Canada provides the opportunity to gain a study permit and a world-class education in a multi-cultural setting, making it a rewarding decision. Thanks to Canada’s welcoming immigration policies, many students also see this as the first step in becoming permanent residents, and eventually, Canadian! For instance, in the Arrive team, we have four members who came to Canada as international students and have since stayed to live, work and settle in Canada permanently.

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What is a study permit?

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a study permit is a document that allows foreign nationals to study at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. 

Note that your study permit is not a visa. It doesn’t let you enter Canada. You may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to be able to enter Canada. Once your study permit is approved, the Government will issue a study permit approval letter and if required, an entry visa in your passport, authorizing your travel to Canada. 

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How long is a study permit valid for?

A study permit is usually valid for the length of your study program, plus an extra 90 days. The 90 days let you prepare to leave Canada or apply to extend your stay. 

There are some exceptions to this guideline:

  • Conditional acceptance: If your school asks you to take courses (such as English or French as a second language courses) before accepting you into the main program, your study permit will be valid for the length of those courses, plus one year. After getting accepted into the main program, you must then apply to extend your stay as a student.
  • Delayed course completion: If you don’t finish your courses before the date on your permit, you must apply to extend your stay as a student. 
  • Early course completion: If you finish your studies early, your permit will stop being valid 90 days after you complete your studies, no matter what day is printed on the study permit.

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One condition of your study permit is that you must be actively pursuing study in Canada. If you take leave from your program of study, your study permit will become invalid 150 days after the date your leave was granted, regardless of your study permit’s expiry date. If you do not resume studies within 150 days, you must apply to amend your status in Canada, or leave Canada prior to this.

Preparing to apply for a student permit

  • Timelines: The application process for a post-secondary program starts at least a year in advance, so be sure to research the colleges/universities and their application processes, respectively. 
  • Identifying a program and school: A study permit can only be issued for study at a DLI. Each Canadian province and territory is in charge of their own education system. Post-secondary schools in Canada are universities, colleges, private career colleges, or vocational and technical schools, each with its own set of application rules and selection criteria.

  • For information on various study programs, costs, and tips about student life, you may refer to EduCanada. 
  • To learn more about the education system in each province and territory, you can browse the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC). 
  • Cost of living and studying: Tuition fees are a major cost component of overseas education. And don’t forget to budget for books, housing, food, clothing, travel, and transportation. Here’s a quick overview of education costs in various Canadian provinces. Note that the Government of Canada doesn’t provide health insurance for foreign students, so you may have to budget separately for private insurance.

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How to apply for a study permit: A step-by-step guide

Step 1: Enroll at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

To apply for a study permit, you need an acceptance letter from a DLI. A DLI is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are DLIs. If you plan to attend a post-secondary school.

Once a school admits you as a student, they will issue an acceptance letter. This letter is essential to apply for a student permit and is considered as a proof of acceptance.

Step 2: Get your documents ready

Having all the required documents organized and ready will ensure you’re well-prepared for a confident application. 

Here are some documents that you will need to apply for a student permit:

  • Proof of acceptance: You can include the original or electronic copy of your letter with your study permit application. 
  • Proof of identity: You, as a student, and each family member who accompanies you to Canada must have a valid passport or travel document. 
  • Proof of financial support: While applying, you must prove that you can both pay your international student tuition, and support yourself and the family members who come with you while you are in Canada. You can prove your funds with documents such as:
    • Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name, if you’ve transferred money to Canada.
    • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution.
    • Proof of a student or education loan from a bank.

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Step 3: Apply

While applying for a student permit, you can choose to apply online or send a paper-based application via mail or courier. Depending on where you’re applying from, you can find detailed instructions on how to send your application on the Canadian government website.

Step 4: Prepare for arrival

If your student permit application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction. This letter is not your study permit but a document that you need to show to an officer when you arrive in Canada. You will also receive an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a temporary resident visa (TRV) to enter Canada, as required. If a TRV is needed, the Government will ask you to provide your passport for visa stamping prior to your letter of introduction being issued.

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Upon arrival in Canada, you’ll meet a border services officer. The officer will:

  • Ask to see your passport or travel documents. This may include:
    • The letter of introduction the visa office sent you when they approved your study permit. 
    • A copy of a valid letter of acceptance from your school. 
    • Proof of funds to support yourself during your stay in Canada. 
    • Letters of reference or any other documents the visa office told you to bring. 
    • Either a valid eTA or temporary resident visa.


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