The ultimate guide to your Canadian study permit

Updated on: Jan 9, 2024
The ultimate guide to your Canadian study permit
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If you’re interested in studying in Canada one of the first things you’ll need is a Canadian study permit. Canada is a fantastic country for international students, with plenty of world-class institutions and vibrant, multi-national student communities.

Whilst some people can apply for a study permit from within Canada, you’ll probably have to do this before you arrive in the country. 

There are several key stages in the Canadian student visa process you’ll need to get right. From the important Canadian student visa information for international requirements to fees and exemptions, we provide everything you need to get your application off to the best possible start.

What is a Canadian study permit?

The Canadian immigration authorities issue study permits to eligible international students, which allows them to study in Canada. 

A study permit is not a visa and you will need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorisation to enter the country. The visa authorities will provide either the visitor visa or electronic authorisation once your study permit is authorised. 

While holding a study permit, you can stay for the duration of your course plus an additional 90 days. In addition, you can prepare to leave the country or extend your stay during these extra days.

Also Read: Which Canadian Student Visa Do I Need?

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How much does the permit cost?

The average study permit processing fee is CAD 150. The fee for the biometric and any additional third-party tests like medical tests are added in addition to the primary processing fee.

How to apply for a permit?

It is advisable to apply for your permit to study in Canada as soon as you receive your course offer. 

Generally, things run smoothly if you are prepared and organise your documentation before starting your application. But, sometimes there can be delays, and it can even take up to 3 months to obtain your study permit.

By starting the application early, you can give yourself time to overcome any issues that might come up during the process. To help you prepare everything you need to complete the permit application process, we provide a step-by-step guide below. 

1. Formalise your Canadian university application

 If you haven’t already, the first step when applying for a Canadian study permit is confirming your acceptance at a Canadian university.

Firstly, you will need a firm acceptance, alongside an acceptance letter, to begin your Canadian student visa application. Below, we list some of the most popular universities in Canada for international students. 

 2. Check whether you need a Canadian student visa

Generally, most students need a Canadian student visa for their time in the country. However, there are a few allowances. These exemptions are for the following reasons. 

  •  Anyone who’ll complete their course in six months or less
  • If you are under the age of 18 or 19 (depending on the province you’re studying in)
  • If you’re a member of the armed forces on active duty whilst studying
  • If you’re a family member of an official foreign representative in Canada

If you need to double-check your permit requirements to enter Canada, use the official government tool to find out whether you need a study permit.

3. Start your Canadian student permit application

Once you’ve finalised your university application you can get started on your permit application. 

In Canada, student visas are known as “study permits”. The permit doesn’t allow you to enter Canada. As well as your permit, you’ll also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorisation.

Firstly, you should start your online application straight after being accepted to your course. All permit applications are completed through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

Before you start your application process, make sure you have all of the following documents. Failure to provide information for any of this documentation can slow down the process. 

  • A letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI) - If you have a conditional offer, you might need to take an English or French language course before commencing your studies in Canada.
  • Proof of identity - A valid passport or travel document, along with two passport-size photos
  • Proof of financial support - You must prove you've got enough money to support yourself and any family members whilst in Canada. This could include student loans, bank statements or official letters from sponsors. Excluding tuition fees, you’ll need a minimum of 10,000 Canadian dollars per year to cover your living expenses.
  • Letter of explanation - This is like a personal statement, helping visa officers understand why you want to study in Canada. Also, this document show that you understand your responsibilities as a student.

4. Know what Canadian student visa fees are due

Currently, the Canadian student visa application fee is 150 Canadian Dollars. However, you might have to pay additional fees for medical exams, biometrics data collection and language tests, such as TOEFL, PTE Academic and IELTS Academic.

Also, don’t forget to pay any further tuition fees for your institution. Make sure to include all these fees when assessing your budget.

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5. Canadian student visa requirements for international students

As part of the Canadian student visa application process, it’s important to understand the requirements and responsibilities of international students. These are essential for maintaining your study permit and may form part of the interview process.

Here are some of the important requirements to remember whilst studying in Canada.

  • Always maintain your enrolment at your institution of study.
  • Make progress toward completing your course.
  • Respect all conditions of your study permit. For instance, you might not be able to take on paid employment whilst studying. 
  • Leave Canada when your study permit expires. It is usually only valid for the duration of your studies and an additional 90 days. 
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6. The Canadian student visa process: Interviews and biometrics

Once you’ve filled in your online application form and submitted the associated documents, you are likely to book an appointment at a Canadian visa application centre in your country. 

Here, you will have your biometrics data taken. This includes things like fingerprints and official photos. Presently, the standard biometrics fee is 85 Canadian dollars. This is not included in the regular Canadian student visa fee of $150.

As part of this process, you might also have an interview with a Canadian immigration official. However, this is nothing to worry about. Student visa interviews take place to show you are a genuine student. The interview also helps you to demonstrate your responsibilities in the country.

Before the interview make sure you practice and prepare. Go through your application to recollect the information you entered. Ask your family members to give you a mock test or try talking in front of the mirror. 

Be calm and confident on the day of the interview. Remember to dress professionally, be early and answer all the questions clearly.

7. Applying through the Student Direct Stream

The Canadian student visa process can take up to 90 days. As a result, make sure you give yourself plenty of time when applying.

If you are a resident of certain countries, you can speed up your application through the Student Direct Stream. This usually takes around 20 days and is open to students from several countries including Brazil, China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Further eligibility information and how to apply for a Canadian student visa are available on the Canadian government’s website.

Once your Canadian student visa is approved, you will receive confirmation via the online portal. But, if you’ve applied from outside Canada, you’ll be sent a “port of entry letter of introduction”. This shows that you are allowed to study in the country. On arrival in Canada, you will show this to border services, alongside your visitor visa or electronic travel authorisation.

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Canada Study permit Checklist

Before, during and after your application, keep checking that you have the following documents available. These are essential for your application process to run smoothly and to help you gain entry to study in Canada.

If you have all of these documents to hand, the application process is easier and quicker so you can focus more on your dream course. 

  • Proof of acceptance - A confirmation letter from the university.
  • Proof of identity - A valid passport, two passport-size photos with your name and DOB written behind the photograph.
  • Proof of funds - You need to show that you can support yourself financially throughout your education. You can do this by providing your bank statements, education loan documents or a letter from the university if you are going to study on a scholarship.
  • Letter of explanation - In this letter, you should try to explain best why you want to study in Canada and your understanding of the responsibilities you will have as an international student. This will help the reviewing officer assess your mindset.
  • Immigration Medical Examination - You might need to submit a Medical examination report depending on your home country. If required, you will have to get tested by a listed doctor. After completing the detailed test, the doctor will forward the results to Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC).
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Types of Canada Visa and Factors Affecting Processing Time

Visa typeProcessing Time
Canada Tourist Visa32 Days
Canada Study Visa (Study Permit)6 Weeks
Canada Work Visa (Work Permit)8 Weeks
Canada Super Visa54 Days
Canada Family Visa11 Months
Express VisaUp to 47 months

Source: Atlys

Related tags:
Canadian student visa
How to apply for a Canadian student visa
Canadian student visa application
Canadian student visa fees
requirements for international students
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