Canada offers a wide range of benefits to its residents, making it rather attractive to many persons from various countries around the world. The benefits offered in Canada range from its publicly funded healthcare, quality education, multicultural society, safety and security, its inclusive culture, social welfare programs, political stability and employment opportunities.

Because of the various benefits provided, thousands of immigrants come to the country each year with the goal of becoming permanent residents, and ultimately citizens. 

Canada has various programs and pathways to permanent residence. From Work Permits, and Express Entry to Provincial Nominee Programs. One of the most popular means of coming to Canada with the objective of obtaining permanent residence is through studies.

Upon completion of your Canadian education, depending on the program and level of studies, you may be eligible for permanent residence, once specific requirements are met. Alternatively, in select circumstances, after studying in Canada for a minimum of one year you may be eligible for a Post Graduate Open Work Permit. With the work experience garnered under the work permit, you may be eligible for numerous permanent residence programs. We will explore the requirements and process of obtaining a Study Permit in Canada.


A study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government to foreign nationals who wish to study in Canada at a Designated Learning Institution.  Most foreign nationals must first obtain a study permit in order to study in Canada.

 Foreign nationals can apply for a study permit from either within Canada or outside Canada.  For foreign nationals applying from outside Canada, please bear in mind that a Study Permit is not a visa.  A visa will be issued to you upon approval, if you do not already have one.


In order to qualify for a Canadian Work Permit, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Enrollment in a Designated Learning Institution
  2. Proof of Funds
  3. No Criminal Record
  4. Proof that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires

Enrollment in a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

A Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is a school authorized by the Canadian provincial government to accept foreign students. A foreign national will not be able to obtain a study permit if the selected school is not a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

There are certain colleges and programs which do not require and will not grant you a Work Permit. Often these programs are online or for less than six months.

All Primary and Secondary school in Canada are automatically designated.  As such, they do not appear on the list and do not require a DLI Number on the application form.

The list of Designated Learning Institutions can be found below:

Designated learning institutions list –

When selecting the Designated Learning Institution, ensure the program qualifies for a Post Graduate Work Permit.

Proof of Funds

In order to obtain a study permit, you must prove that you are able to pay for studies and finance yourself while residing in Canada.

Your proof of funds requirement varies depending on how many family members are coming to Canada with you.

Proof of Funds required outside Quebec based on accompanying family members

Persons coming to CanadaAmount of funds required per year (not including tuition)Amount of funds required per month (not including tuition)
You (the student)CAN$10,000CAN $833
First family memberCAN $4,OOOCAN $333
Every additional accompanying family memberCAN $3,000CAN $255

No Criminal Record

Generally, you are required to have no criminal record in order to be eligible. However, having a criminal record does not automatically make render you ineligible, it depends on the crime committed and the date when the offense occurred.

When applying for a work permit, a police certificate is required for each country or territory where you lived for at least six months consecutively since the age of 18.

Proof that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires

When studying in Canada on a study permit, you are a temporary resident. One condition of the study permit is that you will return to your country after completion of your studies. As such the immigration officer must be satisfied that you will return home after your studies and not remain in Canada out of status. This is often achieved by showing ties to your home country.


  1. proof of acceptance
  2. proof of identity
  3. proof of financial support
  4. Other documents that may be required

Proof of Acceptance

The acceptance letter must be provided from the Designated Learning Institute (DLI). The acceptance letter will contain the  Designated Learning Institute Number, name of institution, course of study and  duration of study.

The acceptance letter is mandatory, as you must first have applied to a Canadian school and been accepted in order to obtain the study permit.

Proof of Identity

You must submit a valid passport or travel document. Lawful permanent residents of the United States must travel with a valid green card (or other official proof of status in the U.S.) and a valid passport from their country of nationality.

Passport size photo- For physical applications, two recent passport-size photos must be submitted with the name and date of birth of the person written on the back of each photo.  For electronic submission, an electronic passport size photograph will be uploaded.

Proof of Financial Support

Various documents are acceptable as proof of funds. Some of the more common options are listed below:

  • proof of 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
  • your 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
  • proof of funding paid from within Canada, if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program

Other documents that may be required

  1. Medical- Depending on your country of residence, you may be required to do a medical examination.
  2. Letter of explanation- It is advised to always submit a letter of explanation with your application. Here you may explain why you want to study in Canada and confirm you understand your responsibilities as a student. It may also be necessary to clarify irregularities or possible questions arising from your application.
  3. Documentary proof of ties to your country- Documentary proof showing relationships or assets in your home country may be used to show ties to your country.
  4. Additional documents may be required on a case by case basis.  Your job is to ensure the immigration officer is satisfied with the authenticity of your application.


After successfully applying and obtaining the acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution and gathering all relevant documents. It is time to prepare and submit your study permit application.

The application is ordinarily submitted online. This is done by creating an IRCC secure account either through the GCKey or a Sign-In Partner. Once signed in, you provide all relevant and accurate information and electronically upload all documents. Once completed, the application fee is paid online.

Alternatively, have a disability that prevents you from applying online, or hold an identity or travel document for non-national residents, refugees or stateless persons you may be eligible to apply on paper.  This is done by completing the forms on paper and mailing the forms and supporting documents to the appropriate address.


After the application is submitted, you will be required to submit your biometrics (fingerprints and photo), if this was not previously provided within the last 10 years.

Your application will then be assessed. If the immigration officer determines the application is incomplete, they may return your application without processing it or request the missing documents.  In certain circumstances, they may also request that you attend an interview with their officials.

What happens if your application is approved?

  • If you are outside Canada and do not have a visitor visa (or electronic travel authorization), you will receive an introduction letter informing you of the approval and requesting that you submit your passport. The visitor visa will be placed in your passport and returned to you, or you will receive an electronic travel authorization (if applicable). The work permit will be provided at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada.
  • If you are outside Canada and do already have a visitor visa the work permit will be provided at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada.
  • If you applied form within Canada, the study permit will be mailed to your address.

Prepared by: Grace-Ann Roberts
Published: October 20, 2023


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