How to Apply for Canada study permit for International Students - - Canada Immigration Newsletter
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How to Apply for Canada study permit for International Students

Guidelines to successfully apply for Canada study permit – Updated July 10 2021. Canada is home to 21 of the world’s top 500 universities and 32 in the top 1,000.

In 2020 Canada had over 650,000 international students and was ranked as the world’s third-leading destination of foreign students.

Canada’s international student population grew by 13 per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year. That marked yet another year of double-digit growth. Some 404,000 international study permits took effect in 2019.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.


Generally, you must apply for a study permit before you come to Canada. Some people can apply for a study permit from within Canada. In some cases, you can apply when you arrive in Canada at the port of entry.

Most importantly, make sure you understand which option is available to you.

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Processing Canada study permit applications for the fall 2021 semester

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced the fall 2021 semester processing update on its website. IRCC says that if you submitted your complete study permit application by May 15, 2021, you should get a decision by August 6, 2021. This on time to attend the fall semester.


It is important that you submit your biometrics and immigration medical exam by May 15.

We’ll process complete applications submitted after May 15, 2021, as quickly as possible—but we can’t guarantee that you’ll get a final decision before the fall semester begins.

Some applications take longer to process and may not be finalized by August 6, 2021. For example, applications that

  • are incomplete
  • require the officer to request more information from you

Quebec students

Important message if you submitted your study permit application by May 15, 2021, without the official copy of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).


IRCC says that you must submit the official copy using your online account or our web form by June 30, 2021.

Otherwise your application may not be processed in time for the fall semester.

Why Canada is so attractive to international students

There are many reasons why more than 650,000 international students choose to live and study in Canada each year.

  • Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) research shows that international students choose Canada due several reasons. For example, the country’s strong quality of education, as well as its reputation as a multicultural and tolerant society. Canada has high academic standards. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is highly respected around the world. Moreover it is often recognized as equivalent to programs in the United States and countries in the Commonwealth.
  • Some 60% of international students reported to CBIE that they are interested in becoming permanent residents of Canada after their studies.
  • Canada offers international students one of the world’s most competitive packages. Canada allows them to work while they study. Thereafter, they obtain a post-graduation work permit to gain Canadian work experience. Moreover, they can apply to remain in Canada as permanent residents.
  • The quality of an education and the standard of living in Canada are amongst the highest in the world. Yet, tuition fees for international students are lower in Canada than in many other countries. Lower even than in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Canada has 650,000 international students -ranks 3rd globally

Video: Study, Stay and Work in Canada

Who can apply for a Canada study permit?

Foreign students who have applied for and been accepted into a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may apply for a Canadian Student Visa to come to Canada for the program to which they have been accepted. To be eligible you must:

  • have been accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada.
  • prove that you have enough money to pay for your:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
  • be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
  • also be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary.
  • and satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.

See also  Find Universities in Canada.

You must have an acceptance letter from the DLI before you submit your application for a Canada study permit.

Apply for a Canada study permit – Application steps

Step 1: Understand the Requirements

Start planning for Canadian study permit at least a year in advance. Also you must know admission requirements for various Canadian institutions. 


Generally, DLIs require

  • an updated passport
  • proficiency in either English or French and proof of passing prescribed language tests and
  • proof that you can finance your study as well as the cost of living in the country

Step 2: Choose your Course and Institution

Only admission to a Designated Learning Institute  (DLIs) qualify an international student for a Canada study permit. 

Therefore be sure that the institution your are applying to is listed on the government’s DLIs. 

Furthermore, it is advisable to have chosen a specific major course when applying for Canada study permit. Although you may switch courses later.

Step 3: Take the Language Proficiency Test

Every international student must prove proficiency in English or French.

To prove language proficiency, you must take

Some institutions also accept the Cambridge English: Advanced or TOEFL exam score.

See also ★ How to immigrate to study in Canada without IELTS

Step 4: Apply to Universities

It is possible to take this step during Step 3 or even earlier. 

You contact your chosen institution (see IRCC DLI List) to obtain their applications, and submit them fast. 

See also  Find Universities in Canada.

As application fees range between $100 to $250 per institution you may want to apply to only the top 5 on your list.

To avoid delay, make sure you provide complete and accurate information with all necessary documents.

If satisfied with your application the institution will send you a letter of admission which you will need to process your study permit application.

Step 5: Apply for a Study Permit

After you get an admission letter from you then apply for your Canada Study Permit or student visa.

You can apply online or visit your local visa application centre. Your application must be accompanied by the following:

  • admission letter
  • your passport, and
  • documentary proof that you have adequate finances to study in Canada
  • “Certificat d’acceptation du Québec” (CAQ) if you are going to a Quebec institution.

Step 6: Travelling to and entering Canada

If you succeed, you will be issued a visa with a specified date from which the permit comes into force.

This is the date you are allowed to enter Canada. 

Be sure to plan your travel only for entering Canada on that day.

Upon arriving in Canada at an port of entry, an immigration officer will verify your permit and other documents  before allowing you to enter Canada. Once stamped you are on your way to pursue your studies in Canada.

IMPORTANT: Visa procedures, processing times, and the rules for travelling to end entering Canada have changed significantly as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. Please see latest IRCC COVID-19 travel guidelines.

Processing time is the average for how long it takes from when an application is received to when IRCC makes a decision. Learn more about processing times.

What happens after you complete your studies?

Canada has made it much easier for international students to work during and after their studies.  In addition the federal government has implemented a path for them to become Canadian permanent residents.  See International Students – Work and Permanent Resident Eligibility

Many of Canada’s provincial immigration programs are also specifically targeted at international students.  See Provincial Nominee Programs Finder.

Working While You Are on Student Visa

International students who are attending full-time programs are allowed to work without a work permit on their own campus or the campus of other institutions within the same municipality. In order to be eligible to work on-campus, you must hold a valid student visa and be enrolled full-time in your institution.

Foreign students can also work off-campus up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as the winter and summer holidays or spring break. To be eligible for off-campus jobs you must have a valid student visa and remain in satisfactory academic standing as determined by your institution and must be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.

You do not qualify to work off-campus if

  • enrolled in English as a Second Language or French as a Second Language program
  • taking a general interest course or program

Bringing Your Family to Canada

You may bring your spouse, common-law partner, and dependent children to Canada to be with you while you study. Your spouse or common-law partner can work anywhere in Canada with an Open Work Permit during your studies.

Your Health Care Responsibilities

The government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of international students. Each province handles its own Health insurance. It varies from province to province. Therefore contact your school ahead to inquire if they offer any health care benefits.

Canada Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP)

After graduating from your program you may qualify to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. 

Canada uses the program to provide graduating international students a three-year work experienc.

You do not need to have a job offer to get the open work permit.

In order to be eligible, you must:

  • have received written confirmation of graduation (e.g. by transcript, official letter or graduation certificate);
  • apply for the PGWPP no later than 90 days after receiving written confirmation of graduating;
  • have a valid student visa (your study permit has not expired).

Permanent Resident Eligibility

International students who have completed their studies and have gained a certain amount of work experience within Canada (via PGWPP) may apply for permanent resident status under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). See detail PGWPP information here Canada Post-Graduate Work Permit Program.

VIDEO – Apply for Canada study permit

International Students: Study, work and stay in Canada

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.