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The basics
Canada: Visa Guides - Must read

How to apply for a student visa in Canada

We’re here to help you make sense of the visa application process for international students looking to study in Canada.

Applying for a Canadian student visa

Famous for its friendly locals and vibrant cities, Canada is often considered one of the safest places in the world to study as an international student. With its high standard of living and academic institutions providing top-quality education, it’s easy to see the attraction.


As with any country, applying for a visa may seem difficult at first but don’t worry, it’s well worth the effort. We are here to guide you through the process.


Canadian study permits


Unlike other countries, Canada does not supply ‘student’ visas. Instead, you must apply for a ‘study permit’. If approved, you will automatically be granted a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) with your permit.


It’s worth knowing that a study permit has many benefits, and you can choose to apply for one even if it is not a legal requirement for your chosen course.


Before you begin your application, use our helpful table to see whether you will need a study permit.


I want to study in Canada for…

Study permit required?

up to (maximum) six months (applying from outside Canada)

No – a visitor visa or eTA is enough

up to (maximum) six months (applying from inside Canada)


for more than six months



This article will show you the process of applying for a Canadian study permit.


What courses can I study?


With a study permit, international students in Canada can study any course offered by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).


What does a Canadian study permit allow?


Typically, a study permit allows you to study and live in Canada for the duration (length) of your course. After your course ends, you can normally stay in Canada for an additional 90 days.


If you would like to bring your family members with you, they will require separate visas. You should submit all family visa applications when you apply for your study permit.



Not all international students are allowed to work in Canada. If your study visa allows you to work, this must be on-campus. You may work as many hours as you like, but you must apply for a social insurance number. You will not be able to work:


  • before your study programme begins
  • after your study programme has finished
  • if your studies are part-time
  • during any breaks you take from studying (excluding breaks between semesters).


Under limited circumstances, you may be allowed to work off-campus. If this is the case, any on-campus work you do will be limited to term-time only and no more than 20 hours per week.

Find out more about work and study permits on the Canadian government website.


Other rules

International students in Canada must:


  • be enrolled in their course every academic semester
  • make progress towards completing their course
  • have authorisation from their DLI for any break in studies (authorised breaks cannot be more than 150 days)
  • inform the government any time they change their post-secondary school.


Be aware that every visa is unique. Visas are granted on a case-by-case basis. Yours may include other conditions depending on your circumstances.


Get ready

Before you apply for your Canadian study permit, you will need:


  • a current passport (or other valid travel documentation); and
  • proof of acceptance.


Proof of acceptance

Once you have applied and are accepted to your study programme, your DLI will issue you a proof of acceptance letter.


Note: Sometimes, you may receive a conditional acceptance, meaning you will need to take some necessary courses before you can start your study programme. In this case, your study permit will only be valid for the length of the necessary courses plus one year. You will then have to reapply to extend your study permit.


Health Insurance

You must have a health insurance plan for the length of your stay in Canada. Depending on your circumstances and where you are studying, you may be covered by a provincial (local government) healthcare plan. If this does not apply to you, you must arrange your own insurance.


Discover more about the different provincial regulations for international student health insurance


When to apply

You can apply for your study permit as soon as you receive your proof of acceptance.



The price of a Canadian study permit is CAD 150. If your situation means you have to supply biometrics (fingerprints and photographs), you will have to pay an additional fee of CAD 85.


You will also need to show that you have the funds (money) to support yourself while you are in Canada and can afford a departure ticket. In addition to your tuition fees, you will need to prove you have access to the following amounts of money:


DLI location

Amount (per year)



Amount (per month)

outside Quebec

CAD 10,000

CAD 833

inside Quebec

CAD 6,569

CAD 547


To prove this, you can supply:


  • proof of a Canadian bank account in your name
  • a Guaranteed Investment Certificate from a Canadian financial institution
  • proof of a student loan 
  • bank statements from the past four months
  • a bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars
  • proof you have paid your tuition and housing fees
  • a letter from a person or school funding your studies
  • proof of funding paid from within (inside) Canada (for scholarships or Canadian-funded educational programmes).


We have helpful articles available about the Canadian cost of living and what tuition fees cost.


Knowledge of English

Although there are no English language requirements to obtain a study permit, it is likely that your education provider will require evidence of your language level.


Other study permit requirements



You may be required to give fingerprints as part of your application. Find out if you will need to supply fingerprints.



You must be in good health. Depending on your circumstances, you may be asked to have a medical examination.



You must be of good character with no criminal record. You may be asked to supply a police certificate as evidence of this.



You will need to supply two recent passport-size photos.


Letter of explanation

You will need to write a letter explaining why you want to study in Canada, that you understand your responsibilities as a student and that you intend to return home after you complete your studies.


Quebec Acceptance Certificate (if applicable)

If you want to study in Quebec for more than six months, you need to apply for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ). These are issued by the local government. Your DLI can tell you how to apply for a CAQ.


Find out more about what you will need to study in Quebec.



Depending on the country you apply from, you may need to supply other documents. You can find out more about this at the Canadian embassy where you live.


Completing your application

You can apply for your study permit online or on paper. Make sure you have your credit or debit card to hand to pay the fees associated with your application. You can begin your application for a Canadian study permit online.


Depending on where you live, you may be able to get your study permit faster if you apply using the Student Direct Stream.


After you apply

A decision will usually be made within three months (less if you apply from inside Canada or by Student Direct Stream).


For more information on decision times, you can use the tool provided by the Canadian government.



At present, Canada is only accepting visitors over 18 who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are under 18, you don’t need to be fully vaccinated to study in Canada, but you will be limited in where you can study. You can find precise details on COVID-19 legislation on the Canadian government website.


If you follow the procedure and keep up to date with all the relevant requirements, applying for a Canadian visa can be a smooth process. Why not explore some of the universities in Canada?