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If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and want to study in Canada for a period longer than six months at post-secondary level, you will need a Canada study permit.

Explore this page, as well as our other study in Canada resources, to learn more about the process of coming to Canada to study on a study permit.

Do you prefer to learn by video? Check out this comprehensive webinar on studying in Canada which we produced in partnership with Doherty Fultz Immigration:

About Canada study permits

What is a Canadian study permit?

A document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) to someone who wants to come to Canada to study, or continue ongoing studies in Canada.

What are the requirements for a Canadian study permit?

At the very minimum, you will need to present with your application a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI) and minimum funds (see below) along with a provincial attestation, as Marc Miller announced on January 22, 2024. Additional documentation depends on your circumstances.  The Canadian study visa requirements also includes the payment of student visa fees and the ability to provide proof of funds for your Canadian study permit. More information on proof of funds and general requirements for a study permit in Canada can be found below.

Are there activities for which study permit in Canada is not required?

Generally, a study permit is not required for:

  • attending preschool;
  • completing a distance learning program;
  • settlement and integration courses offered by a provincial or territorial government through settlement and integration providers (including francization courses offered by the Government of Quebec, as they are considered settlement and integration courses and not language courses by IRCC);
  • following audit courses (where a student is permitted to attend an academic course without obtaining credits);
  • taking courses included in tour packages as a secondary activity for tourists;
  • taking a course which is not academic, professional or vocational in nature that is of general interest and can be completed within the period authorized upon entry to Canada; or
  • taking a course or a program of study which is six months or less that can be completed within the period authorized upon entry into Canada.

In addition, certain family members or private staff accompanying a foreign representative accredited by Global Affairs Canada, as well as members of the armed forces from certain countries, may be able to study for longer than six months without a study permit.

Upon completion of a study program, graduates may be eligible to obtain a post-graduation work permit.

Can family members accompany an applicant to Canada?

An accompanying spouse or common-law partner may be able to obtain an open work permit if their partner is completing a Masters or Ph.D. degree or is part of a medicine or law program. Minor children may be able to study at Canadian elementary and secondary schools.

Where to submit your study permit application?

The process for submitting your Canadian study permit application depends on the country from which you’re applying. Consult the Canadian government’s official page to find out your requirements.

How much do study permits cost?

On submitting the study permit application, the applicant will need to pay government processing’s fees of $150 CAD.

How long do study permits applications take to process?

This depends on which processing office will be processing your study permit application. when planning your studies in Canada, you should have a rough idea on how long your local office is taking to process files. Make sure you give your application enough time to be processed.

How long are study permits valid for?

Your study permit should be valid for the duration of your studies. If not, you will need to apply to extend your study permit prior to its expiry to ensure you can continue studying in Canada.

Can students switch programs or schools once in Canada?

This depends on the situation. In any event, in order to change either programs or schools, the student must be enrolled in a designated learning institution (DLI) and be actively studying in Canada.

Changing levels:

If students are changing their level of studies and they have a  valid  study permit, they do not need a new study permit to do this. You should still advise IRCC of this change.

Changing schools:

For post- secondary students, any school you plan on changing to, should be a DLI. In addition to this, they need to advise IRCC of this intended change, before the proceed to change schools.

Post- secondary students include any student studying at the following types of institutes:

  • Universities
  • Colleges (CEGEP (in Quebec)
  • Private universities and colleges
  • language training schools.

 

Canada study permit: eligibility requirements

In order to be eligible for a Canada study permit, prospective students must:

  • obtain a letter of acceptance from a DLI;
  • prove enough funds to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation;
  • satisfy Canadian immigration authorities that they will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized by the study permit; and
  • be admissible to Canada (police background checks and/or a medical may be requested).

There may be additional requirements, depending on the applicant’s circumstances.

Minimum funds to Study in Canada

Canadian study permit applicants must prove they can support themselves and accompanying family members, if applicable, while in Canada.

Proof of funds for a study permit can be proven with:

  • proof of a Canadian bank account in your name, if you have transferred money to Canada;
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution;
  • proof of a student/education loan from a bank;
  • bank statements for the past four 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; and/or
  • proof of funding paid from within Canada, if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program.

Check out our analysis on which bank provides the best option for a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC).

The minimum funds requirements are outlined below. The requirements for students destined for the province of Quebec are different, and follow this first table.

Minimum funds: all provinces except Quebec

Persons coming to CanadaAmount of funds required per year (additional to the tuition)Amount of funds required per month (additional to the tuition)
You (the student)$20,635 $1720
First family member$4,000$333
For each additional accompanying family member$3,000$255

Minimum funds for Quebec

Persons coming to CanadaAmount of funds required per year (additional to the tuition)Amount of funds required per month (additional to the tuition)
You (the student)$11,000$917
First family member (18 years or older)$5,100$425
First family member (under the age of 18)$3,800$317
Every additional accompanying family member (18 years or older)$5,125$427
Every additional accompanying family member (under the age of 18)$1,903159

Studying in Quebec

As the section above suggests, there are separate requirements in place for students who wish to attend one of the many universities and colleges in Montreal, or any other location in Quebec.

In almost all cases, individuals who wish to study in Quebec also need to apply for and obtain a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (certificat d’acceptation du Quebec, or CAQ) before they apply for a study permit. This entails additional fees and processing times compared to the regular Canadian student visa processing times.

The CAQ is generally valid for the duration of the study program, up to a maximum of 49 months.

Health care for Students

The government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of international students. Health coverage for international students is different, depending on where you live. For details about your province, consult our guide to health insurance for your first months in Canada.

Prospective international students, as well as new arrivals in Canada who remain uncertain, are encouraged to contact the institution they are applying to / have applied to / are attending for more information about health insurance.

We also encourage you to read our guide which will help you figure out if you need health insurance as an international student.

How to avoid a study permit refusal.

Unfortunately, study permits have a high rate of refusal due to the discretionary nature of their processing. There are some tips to avoid a refusal:

  1. Provide sufficient proof of finances. At a minimum, you should provide funds to cover your first year tuition and living expenses. However, the more funds you have available to you, the more likely you are to be approved.
  2. Intention to leave Canada. As part of the application process, applicants must demonstrate an intention to leave Canada. This can be done via family ties to the applicants home country, career prospects in their home country and any other document the applicant has to help demonstrate that the applicant till return home if they need to after their studies. This is often confusing for the applicant as certain international students can apply for a post graduation work permit, under certain conditions,  on completion of their Canadian program therefore allowing them to stay in Canada.
  3. Program of study- sometimes, applicants gain admission to a program in Canada which doesn’t make sense with their career to date or their previous education. It is important therefore to pick a program/ school in Canada which you can justify and which makes sense. For instance, if you have a masters in computer science and wish to do a 1 year program in hospitality, the processing officer may question your intention. In this case, it may be better to study in depth, a specific section of computer science to further your knowledge in this industry and further your careers prospects.

Getting help with a Canadian study permit application

Moving2Canada works with experienced, regulated Canadian immigration consultants who provide consultations. The consultants we work with will get to know you and your family, if applicable, and provide the kind of expert one-on-one advice that many newcomers to Canada have found highly valuable. If you choose to retain the services of a consultant all the way to obtaining your new status in Canada, the cost of the consultation will be deducted from the balance of fees.

Learn more about our recommended regulated Canadian immigration consultants.