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How to apply for a Study Permit as an International Student in Canada

Canada is an excellent choice for international master's students. We explain the application requirements for a study permit before traveling and starting your studies in Canada.

Aug 7, 2023
  • Study Abroad

What is a Study Permit in Canada?

A study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government allowing non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents to study at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. A DLI is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. You should apply for a study permit before you travel to Canada.

Your study permit is different from a visa. It will not let you enter Canada. You may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If your study permit is approved, you will be issued one with your study permit.

Students must apply for a study permit before traveling to Canada. In some cases, you can apply when you arrive in Canada at the port of entry. Make sure you understand which option is available to you.

What documents do I need for a Study Permit in Canada?

When applying for a study permit in Canada, you will need the following:

  • letter of acceptance from the designated learning institution (DLI) you'll be attending
  • valid passport
  • motivation letter explaining why you want to study in Canada
  • you might need a medical exam:
  • if you plan to stay in Canada for more than six months
  • You've recently spent time in certain countries
  • You plan to work in specific jobs where public health must be protected

If you plan to study in Quebec, you must provide a valid attestation of issuance of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).

What Financial Proof do I need for a Study Permit in Canada?

You must prove that you can support yourself and the family members accompanying you in Canada.

What documents do I need to show my finances:

  • a Canadian bank account in your name if you've transferred money to Canada
  • a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution
  • proof of a student or education loan from a bank
  • bank statements for the past 4 months
  • A bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars
  • Proof you paid tuition and housing fees
  • a letter from the person or school giving you money, or
  • If you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program, you must show proof of funding paid from within Canada.

Your study permit will be processed once you have submitted a complete application.

How to apply for a Canadian Study Permit?

You can apply online for a Canadian study permit, whether you're outside of Canada or already in Canada.

Students can only apply on paper if they:

  • have a disability that prevents them from applying online
  • hold an identity or travel document for non-national residents, refugees, or stateless persons

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How to apply for a Study Permit if you are outside of Canada?

Legal residents in specific countries applying to study at a Canadian university can get their study permit faster online through the Student Direct Stream.

Apply for your Study Permit online on the Student Direct Stream, through the following tips:

1. Know the fees you have to pay

Typically, your program fees will include:

  • processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application
  • biometrics

You'll be asked to pay your fees at the end of your application.

2. Be aware of third-party fees.

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to pay third parties for:

  • police certificates
  • proof of language proficiency
  • medical exams
  • services at a visa application center if you use one

You'll pay these fees directly to the third party.

3. Biometrics fees

In most cases, you should pay a biometrics fee when you submit your application. The biometrics fee covers the cost of collecting fingerprints and digital photos.

4. Create your online account for Student Direct Stream and sign-in

You can use your account to:

  • submit your application
  • pay your fees
  • check your status

We hope these tips have helped you navigate the steps to apply for a study permit in Canada. Good luck.

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.

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