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12 December 2023

6 minutes read

Do I Need a Study Permit to Study in Canada? Navigating the Process for International Students

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Embarking on an educational journey in Canada is an exciting opportunity for many international students. Known for its prestigious universities, diverse culture, and welcoming environment, Canada stands out as a top destination for higher education.

However, navigating the process of obtaining a study permit can be challenging. This comprehensive guide will help you understand whether you need a study permit to study in Canada, and how to successfully apply for one.

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Understanding the Canadian Study Permit

A study permit is more than just a formality; it’s your gateway to a world-class education in Canada.

This document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is essential for most international students planning to study in Canada for longer than six months.

The Essentials of a Study Permit

A study permit allows you to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. It is different from a visa, which allows you to enter the country.

To maintain your status as a student, you must be enrolled at a DLI and make progress toward completing your program.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Status

Maintaining your status means more than just attending classes. It involves adhering to the conditions of your study permit, such as not exceeding allowed working hours and staying enrolled in your program.

Failing to maintain these conditions can result in losing your student status and, in severe cases, being asked to leave Canada.

Do You Always Need a Study Permit?

Not every international student requires a study permit. For instance, if your course or program lasts six months or less, you might not need one. However, if there’s a chance you might extend your studies, it’s advisable to apply for a permit beforehand.

Planning for Future Studies

If you start with a short-term course and decide to continue with further studies, having a study permit makes the transition smoother. Without it, you will have to leave Canada to apply for a study permit if you wish to continue studying.

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Applying for a Study Permit

The application process for a Canadian study permit involves several key steps. It starts with obtaining a Letter of Acceptance from a recognized educational institution and ends with receiving your study permit.

Step-by-Step Guide to Study Permit Application

Navigating the application process for a Canadian study permit can be complex. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand and efficiently manage the process:

Step 1: Confirm Eligibility

Before you begin, ensure that you are eligible to apply for a study permit. Eligibility criteria include having been accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada and proving that you have enough funds to cover your tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Documents

Prepare the following documents:

  • A valid passport.
  • Letter of Acceptance from a DLI in Canada.
  • Proof of financial support.
  • Passport size photographs.
  • Immigration Medical Examination (IME) report, if required.
  • Police clearance certificate, if necessary.
  • Statement of purpose explaining why you want to study in Canada.

Step 3: Complete the Application Form

Download and complete the study permit application form (IMM 1294) from the IRCC website. Make sure all information is accurate and the form is fully completed.

Step 4: Pay the Application Fee

The application fee for a study permit is required to process your application. Ensure to keep a receipt of your payment as it needs to be submitted with your application.

Step 5: Submit Biometrics

Depending on your nationality, you might need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photograph). You will receive a letter instructing you on how and where to give your biometrics.

Step 6: Submit the Application

You can submit your application online or via a paper application at your nearest visa application center. Online applications are generally processed more quickly.

Step 7: Attend an Interview, If Required

In some cases, you may be asked to attend an interview at your local Canadian embassy or consulate.

Step 8: Wait for the Decision

Processing times can vary depending on your country of residence and the completeness of your application. During this time, you may be asked to provide additional information.

Step 9: Prepare for Arrival in Canada

Once your application is approved, start preparing for your arrival in Canada. This includes arranging for accommodation, and health insurance, and familiarizing yourself with Canadian culture and the area where you will be living.

Step 10: Travel to Canada

Ensure that you have all necessary documents (including your study permit and Letter of Acceptance) ready to present to the immigration officer upon your arrival in Canada.

Remember, the key to a successful application is ensuring that all documents are complete, accurate, and submitted on time. Stay informed about any changes in the application process by regularly checking the official IRCC website.

Navigating the Application Process

When applying, it’s crucial to provide accurate and complete information. Delays and rejections often occur due to incomplete or incorrect submissions. Also, be aware of the processing times which vary depending on your country of origin.

Financial Proof for Study Permit

Proving that you can financially support yourself during your studies in Canada is a critical part of the application. This includes tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation costs.

Demonstrating Financial Capability

You may provide bank statements, scholarship letters, or letters of financial support from a sponsor. This proof reassures the IRCC that you won’t face financial hardships during your stay.


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Additional Requirements and Considerations

Beyond the basic requirements, there are additional factors and scenarios that prospective students should consider.

When applying for a Canadian study permit, there are several additional requirements that applicants need to be aware of. These additional criteria are crucial to ensure a smooth application process:

  1. Medical Examination: Applicants from certain countries may be required to undergo a medical examination. This exam must be conducted by a doctor approved by the Canadian government.
  2. Police Clearance Certificate: A police clearance certificate may be required to prove that you have no criminal record. This is necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Canadian community.
  3. Biometrics: Depending on your nationality, you may be required to provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) as part of your application.
  4. English or French Language Proficiency: While not always mandatory, providing proof of proficiency in English or French can strengthen your application. This can be demonstrated through standardized language test scores like IELTS or TEF.
  5. Statement of Purpose: A well-written statement of purpose that explains your reasons for wanting to study in Canada, your choice of program, and your long-term goals can be a crucial part of your application.
  6. Proof of Return to Home Country: You may need to provide evidence that you will leave Canada after your studies are complete. This can be in the form of ties to your home country like family, employment, or property.
  7. Custodianship Declaration (for Minors): If you are a minor (under the age of 18), you must provide a custodianship declaration signed by your parents or legal guardians and your custodian in Canada.
  8. Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ): If you plan to study in Quebec, you will need a CAQ along with your study permit. This document is issued by the Government of Quebec.
  9. Financial History: Providing a detailed financial history can help establish your financial stability and ability to support yourself while in Canada. This may include bank statements or evidence of a scholarship or funding.
  10. Additional Forms for Certain Countries: Depending on your country of origin, there may be additional forms or documents required by the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country.
  11. Health Insurance: While not a requirement for the study permit itself, having health insurance is crucial as medical care in Canada can be expensive without it.
  12. Updated Contact Information: Ensure all your contact information is current and accurate, including addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Meeting these additional requirements is vital for a successful study permit application. Each of these points ensures that the Canadian government has a complete understanding of your background, intentions, and preparedness for studying in Canada.

Study Permit for Minors

If you’re a minor planning to study in Canada, the requirements differ slightly. For instance, you may need to have a custodian in Canada or provide additional documents concerning your guardianship.

Special Regulations for Minor Students

Minors must follow specific guidelines set by the Canadian government, especially regarding living arrangements. These measures ensure the safety and well-being of underage international students.

Extending or Changing Your Study Permit

Your educational journey might evolve, requiring you to extend your stay or change institutions. In such cases, you must apply to modify or extend your study permit accordingly.

Keeping Your Permit Up-to-Date

Ensure you apply for an extension at least 30 days before your current permit expires. Changing schools also requires notifying IRCC through your account on their website.

Working as an International Student in Canada

Many students wish to work while studying to gain experience and support themselves financially. With a study permit, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks.

Balancing Work and Studies

While working can be beneficial, it’s important to balance it with your academic responsibilities. Overworking can lead to exhaustion and negatively impact your studies.

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Studying in Canada as an international student is a rewarding experience that requires careful planning and understanding of the rules and regulations regarding study permits.

By following the guidelines and staying informed about the requirements, you can ensure a smooth and successful academic journey in Canada.

Remember, while this guide provides a comprehensive overview, immigration policies can change. Always refer to the latest information from IRCC or seek advice from a qualified immigration advisor for your specific circumstances.


Q1: Can I travel within Canada or abroad with my study permit?

Yes, you can travel within Canada. For international travel, ensure your study permit and visa or eTA are valid for re-entry into Canada.

Q2: What happens if my study permit application is denied?

You can reapply if your application is denied. It’s important to address the reasons for the denial in your new application.

Q3: How long can I stay in Canada after completing my studies?

Generally, you can stay for up to 90 days after completing your studies. This period allows you to prepare to leave Canada or apply for a work permit.

Q4: Can I bring my family with me while studying in Canada?

Yes, your spouse or common-law partner can apply for an open work permit, and your children can study in Canada at the pre-school, primary, or secondary level.

Q5: Is health insurance required for international students in Canada?

Health insurance is not a federal requirement but is highly recommended. Some provinces may require it, and universities often have their own health insurance plans for students.

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