STUDY PERMIT (A Guide for International Students)

If you are planning to study in Canada, the first step is to get information about the schools and education system in the country as each province and territory has their own education system. Provinces and territories designate schools that can accept international students, hence the term designated learning institutions (DLI). If you have decided to study in Canada, you will need a study permit, but before you can apply for it, you must first secure an acceptance letter from a DLI, otherwise, your application will be refused.

What is a study permit?

It is a document (written authorization) that allows foreign nationals to study at DLIs in Canada that is usually valid for the length of the study program, plus an extra 90 days. If you finish your program before the date on your permit, the extra 90 days will be counted from the time you finished your studies and not on the date written on your permit. If you will finish your studies after the date on your permit, you must apply for an extension of your stay as a student, otherwise you will need to stop studying and leave Canada.

You must apply for a study permit before traveling to Canada. The study permit is not a visa and does not let you enter Canada. Depending on the country of your citizenship, you may need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to enter Canada. For those needing visa, when you apply for study permit, you will be automatically issued a visitor visa if your study permit application is approved.

How to apply for study permit?

There are two (2) ways to apply for a study permit:

  1. Student Direct Stream (SDS) – online application which offers a faster way (ideally 20 days from application) to obtain study permit, however, it is only available for legal residents of certain countries. You can check here if your country is included in the list eligible for SDS.  
  • Regular stream or Paper-based application – this is a longer process (may take up to 90 days or even longer) that is available for those that are not eligible or do not want to apply under the SDS.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

In order to be able to apply for study permit, you must:

  • be enrolled at a DLI
  • prove enough funds to pay for your:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses and return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • obey the law, have no criminal record and get a police certificate (if required)
  • be in good health and get a medical exam (if required)
  • prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires.

Possible Grounds for Refusal of Application

Submission of all the required documents does not guarantee approval of your application. Sometimes, applications may be refused if you failed to:

  • show proof of enough funds to support yourself and/or family members who are with you in Canada while you are studying;
  • pass your medical exam, if you needed to get one;
  • convince the visa officer that your main purpose for application is to study or
  • convince the visa officer that you’ll leave Canada at the end of your study period.

A study permit is not equivalent to permanent residence. You may be granted a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) which authorizes you to work in Canada for a certain period after you compete your studies. This will allow you to gain Canadian work experience that could also help improve your eligibility score for permanent residence. You must note, however, that although you might have a dual intent of pursuing further studies and improving your educational eligibility for permanent residence application later on, when you apply for a study permit you must convince the visa officer that the main purpose is still to study and advance your career in your home country, failing which could result to denial of your application.

If you need assistance or guidance in applying for a study permit, feel free to contact us 403-648-3121 or by email at

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