Study permit

A step-by-step guide to apply for a study permit - from a lawyer's perspective.

Studying in Canada can be a life-changing experience, offering access to world-class education and diverse cultural experiences. However, the journey to obtaining a Study Permit, which allows foreign nationals to study at Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), requires careful planning and adherence to specific guidelines.

In this guide, we break down the steps for successfully applying for a Study Permit and offer insights into key considerations.

Important: As of January 22, 2024, applicants must provide an attestation letter from the province where they are applying. Some exceptions apply. Your study permit will be returned as incomplete without this attestation letter. Learn more how to obtain an attestation letter here.

Step 1: Choose a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

The first crucial step in applying for a Study Permit is to secure admission to a DLI, which is typically a post-secondary institution meeting provincial requirements for education delivery. To ensure a smooth process, it's essential to verify whether your chosen educational institution is a DLI and whether the specific program you intend to pursue qualifies for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Opting for a program with a duration of at least two years and Post-Graduate Work Permit eligibility can open doors to a three-year PGWP. More on that below! It's important to note that programs lasting less than eight months are not eligible for PGWPs, and one-year programs grant a one-year PGWP.

How long does it take to get a Study Permit in Canada?

The processing time for a Study Permit can vary depending on your home country and other factors. As a general rule, it's recommended to apply at least five months before your program's start date. This allows ample time for processing and ensures you receive your Study Permit in time for your studies.

What if my Study Permit is not approved in time?

If your Study Permit isn't approved before your program's start date, you may need to consider deferring your course to a later intake. It's essential to understand your educational institution's policies regarding tuition deposits and fees, as these may vary. Many schools offer multiple intakes throughout the year, including winter (January), Spring/Summer (May), and Fall (September). Speak to your institution about your options and relevant deadlines.

Step 2: Obtain a Letter of Acceptance from Your DLI

Once you have been accepted into a DLI program, you'll need to obtain a formal letter of acceptance. This document is vital and serves as evidence of your acceptance to the educational institution. The letter must contain specific details, including your personal information, contact information for the institution, program details, estimated program duration, start date, registration deadlines, tuition fees, and any conditions related to your acceptance or registration. The Canadian government encourages DLIs to use a specific template for the letter of acceptance to ensure consistency and compliance.

Conditional Letter of Acceptance: If your program requires completion of a prerequisite course, like English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL), you'll receive a study permit for the length of the prerequisite program plus one year. After successfully completing the prerequisite program, you'll need to apply for a new study permit, demonstrating that you meet the admission requirements for your main program.

Step 3: Applying for a Study Permit

The next step is to submit your Study Permit application. Before you begin, it's crucial to determine whether you're eligible to apply from within Canada or if you must apply from outside the country.

You cannot apply for a Study Permit at the port of entry. This means that you generally need to apply for a study permit before you come to Canada. If you're already in Canada, you cannot apply for a Study Permit unless you meet specific criteria.

Once you have confirmed your eligibility and determined your application location, you will need to complete the required application forms and gather supporting documents. Note that the document checklist is specific to your country of origin, so be sure to check the Visa Office instructions before starting your application.

The documents you will need to submit with your Study Permit application include proof of acceptance, proof of identity, proof of financial support, a letter of explanation outlining your study plans and your responsibilities as a student, and any documents specified in the country-specific checklist.

Did you know that you can check for mistakes, errors and missing information with Their algorithm can identify 60+ errors. A small mistake can lead to a missed admission.

What is the key to a successful Study Permit application?

A successful Study Permit application involves several important factors. You must meet your DLI's admission requirements, demonstrate sufficient financial support, and provide a well-prepared letter of explanation. This letter should outline your study plans and confirm your understanding of your responsibilities as a student in Canada. To increase your chances of success, it's advisable to conduct thorough research about your chosen DLI and program of study and seek guidance from an immigration expert.

Why are Study Permit applications sometimes rejected?

Study Permit applications can be rejected for various reasons, such as misrepresentation, inadequate finances, a lack of logical connection between your prior education or career and your chosen program in Canada, low language skills, family ties in Canada, or the submission of other Permanent Residence (PR) applications like Express Entry. To avoid these common pitfalls, it's crucial to consult an immigration lawyer and address any specific concerns in your application. Around 40% of study permit applications are rejected!

Timing is Key: Applying for a Study Permit

To ensure a timely and smooth process, we recommend applying for your Study Permit at least five months before your intended start date. Ideally, you should submit your application as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance from your DLI, and have proof of funds.

Dealing with Potential Delays: Planning and Communication

If, for any reason, your Study Permit isn't approved in time for your intended intake, you'll need to consider deferring your course to a later intake. It's important to be aware of your school's policy regarding tuition deposits and other fees to avoid financial losses. DLIs typically offer multiple intakes throughout the year, such as winter (January), Spring/Summer (May), and Fall (September). Consult with your DLI to understand deferral deadlines and alternative intakes.

In the event that your Study Permit approval is delayed, it's recommended to discuss these options with your DLI as early as possible to align with relevant deadlines and plan accordingly.

The Challenges of Obtaining a Study Permit

Getting your Study Permit application approved involves various factors, and the outcome depends on individual circumstances. It's challenging to predict whether your application will be accepted or rejected without a thorough understanding of your unique situation. That's why it's advisable to educate yourself about the application process, research DLIs and programs carefully, and consider seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer.

While the Study Permit application process may appear straightforward, there are numerous reasons why applications get refused. It's crucial to be aware of common factors leading to Study Permit refusals. To discuss your specific circumstances and to understand how you can improve your chances of approval, it's highly recommended to schedule an immigration consultation.

Beyond your Study Permit

A study permit can be your pathway to a work permit and permanent residency in Canada.

What Is a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?

A PGWP is a work permit that allows international students who have completed eligible programs at DLIs to gain valuable Canadian work experience. The length of the permit depends on the duration of your program, offering up to three years of work opportunities.

How Does a Study Permit Lead to a PGWP?

By first obtaining a Study Permit and then successfully completing your program, you become eligible to apply for a PGWP. This work permit opens doors to gainful employment in Canada, helping you build a strong foundation for your future. There are numerous conditions and exceptions that will determine if you are eligible for a PGWP. This includes the length of the program, your status as a full-time student, and other requirements.

How Does a PGWP Lead to Permanent Residency?

Gaining Canadian work experience through a PGWP can be a stepping stone to Permanent Residency. Programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) under Express Entry consider candidates with Canadian work experience as strong PR candidates.

A Canadian Study Permit is not just a travel document; it's the key to accessing quality education, building a career, and potentially securing Permanent Residency in one of the world's most welcoming nations. Embrace this opportunity, embark on your educational adventure, and let your Canadian journey unfold.

Here to help

Cédric Marin is an immigration lawyer. He helps applicants provide complete application to reduce the risk of refusal. In addition, Cédric regularly appears before judges of the Federal Court of Canada to argue and overturn refused study permit applications. He has developed a detailed understanding of the most common reasons for refusals, how to mitigate risk and provide complete applications to get approved.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and it is not legal advice. This blog is not a substitute for professional legal advice, and it may not be appropriate for you. Always do your own research and due diligence before making any decisions related to immigration matters. Do not rely exclusively on this blog. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, immigration laws and regulations can vary and change over time. It is important to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer if you are unsure how to proceed.

Latest Articles

Contact Cédric today to book a consultation

Speak with an immigration lawyer