A Comprehensive Guide to obtain a Study Permit in Canada


Canada is a top tier destination to receive excellent education. If you are a foreign national and are interested in studying in Canada, it is vital that you are aware of all of the policies and procedures needed to be a successful applicant. This article is a comprehensive guide that helps to answer all of your questions about applying and obtaining a study permit.

What is a Study Permit?

A study permit is an issued document that allows foreign nationals to attend designated learning institutions in Canada. Your study permit is approved depending on your acceptance into a Canadian school. Nonetheless, you are allowed to switch your program, school, field of study, or level of study without having to apply for a new study permit as long as you are studying at a post-secondary level. When going through the process of applying for a study permit, there are eligibility requirements and procedures that must be completed when both submitting the study permit application, and as well as throughout the student’s time in Canada. Immigration consultant at VCIC enable international students to complete the study permit application process without mistakes by guiding them with specific information required at every stage of the application, so that they won’t experience any confusions throughout the process.

What is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)?

A Designated Learning Institution, or DLI, is a college or university approved by either a provincial or territorial government that hosts international students. DLI schools play a large role because it is essential to get a letter of acceptance from a DLI in order to go through the process of receiving a Canadian study permit. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are considered to be designated learning institutions. To find out whether your desired educational institution is listed on the DLI list, click here to view the detailed list of all acceptable DLI educational institutions.

How do I find the right institution?

When deciding to come to Canada to receive education, it is necessary to first choose a program that fits your interests, passions, and goals. This task can be daunting, considering that Canada has an abundance of different educational institutions and programs to choose from. To start the process of finding the right institution for you, it is important to research the type of program you would like to take. Decide on whether you would like to attend a university to obtain a degree, or attend a college to obtain a diploma or a certificate. Think about how your secondary education will help towards your future career goals depending on the program and classes you will take based on your goals. There is a wide variety of  educational institutions that you can choose from that specialize in different areas, so it is crucial for you to choose the right educational institution that suits your personal preference and needs. Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help if you are unsure of what path you would like to take. To get a better idea of what schools offer, you could:

  • Attend information sessions
  • Attend a virtual or in-person tour on campus
  • Speak to an academic advisor through email, over the phone, in person, or virtually
  • Speak with a school representative or current students


If you cannot attend an information meeting in person due to living overseas, research the school’s website to find the contact information on who to reach out to, research resources and accommodations for international students, and look at reviews from current or former international students. 

When you narrow down on which program you are interested in studying, the next step is to determine which educational institution in Canada is right for you. Research the provinces you are interested in living in, before making your final decision of moving to Canada. There are certain factors you should consider when comparing different educational institutions, such as:

  • Location of the school
  • Costs of living
  • Tuition costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Size of classes
  • Ways to get involved in the school
  • Social life
  • Safety
  • Student loans
  • Accommodations and support for international students


Once you have made a decision on your top educational institution that you are most interested in, apply to study there. Keep in mind that if you are indecisive on a few choices, apply to all the schools you are interested in and see which ones you get accepted to. This will give you a higher success rate of getting accepted rather than only applying to one educational institution. Be sure to contact your immigration consultant or immigration services in Canada to receive more advice on choosing the right educational institution. 

How long is the study permit valid for?

A study permit is typically valid for the length of your study program at the time of application, with an additional 90 days. This means that the study permit will no longer be valid 90 days after studies are completed, regardless of the date indicated on the permit. These 90 days allow you a grace period to decide on either leaving Canada or choosing to extend your stay – the decision must be made and executed before the study permit expires. Many students choose to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit, which allows recent graduates to stay in Canada and work. If the program changes, or if you decide to switch programs that will then take longer to complete, you must apply for an extension to the study permit. 

Eligibility criteria for a study permit

A foreign national is allowed to study in Canada if the following criteria is met: 

  1. Enrolled at a DLI
  2. Able to pay for: 
    1. Tuition fees
    2. Living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
    3. Return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  3. Obey the law, have no criminal record and get a police certificate (if required)
  4. In good health and get a medical exam (if required)
  5. Prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your study permit expires

How to apply for a study permit, documents needed to apply and cost

Commonly, you must apply for a study permit before you come to Canada. Some people can apply for a study permit from within Canada. In some cases, you can apply when you arrive in Canada at the point of entry. Contact your immigration consultant in Canada to make sure you understand which option is available to you.

In order to apply for a study permit, you are required to fill out all of the required documents. Contact your immigration consultant and click here to find out more information on all of the necessary documents that are needed to be completed. Once you are approved to apply for a study permit, it is important to note that the cost of the study permit costs $150 CAD.

Application Processing Time

To minimize stress and complications, It is highly recommended that you don’t waste any time in applying for the study permit. Considering the processing time could take an average of three months conditional to the country from which you are applying form, be sure to apply for the study permit as soon as you obtain your acceptance letter from a Canadian college or university. If you are interested, you can check the status of your study permit application on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website, where information is updated on a regular basis. 

Working while on a study permit

If you are enrolled in full-time studies at a Canadian educational institution, you may be eligible to work part-time, or possibly, full-time. Students with a study permit are allowed to work up to 20-hours a week, or full time during a scheduled break from school. With a Canadian study permit, you do not need to apply for a work permit to work part-time; but, it must be stated on your study permit that you are accredited to work in Canada. If your study permit does not accept employment in Canada or if it does not affirm that you may work but you are eligible, you can apply to have your study permit modified. There are different study programs that require students to complete an internship program or a Co-op placement in order to graduate. If you meet the rules and requirements for an intern or co-op permit, you may be allowed to work full-time as part of your educational experience.  

Can I switch institutions while I'm in Canada?

International students in Canada are allowed to change their educational program or institution as long as they have a valid study permit. If you decide to change post-secondary schools, the school you plan to change to must also be a DLI, and you must make sure that you meet the required criteria stated in your study permit. Please check the DLI list and confirm your new school is a DLI before you commit to changing schools. Inform Canadian Immigration Services (CIC) to change post-secondary schools by reporting to the federal government through your online account. 

Process of changing college in Canada involves following certain steps through your online account in the portal:

  • Signing into your online account.
  • Go to the “Designated Learning Institution Student Transfer”
  • Click on the “Transfer from DLI number”
  • Type your study permit application number to find your application
  • If required and necessary, enter more information about your original study permit
  • Renew the information about your new college or program, by typing the new DLI number, student identification number, and the date you are going to start your new program
  • Enter your new college’s DLI number, your student ID number and as well as the date you are going to start your new study program.


Keep in mind that if you don’t let the CIC know about the educational institution change, your old school will report you for not being a registered student because you are breaking the rules of the study permit. There is a possibility of: 

  • Being asked to leave the country
  • Preventing you from coming to Canada in the future (you may not be approved for another study or work permit in the future).

Can my family come and see me?

Moving to a foreign country, often all on your own, is very daunting and anxiety inducing. Being away from your loved ones can be difficult at times considering you don’t have your main support system in arms reach. Fortunately, you are allowed to bring your spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children, with you when you move to Canada. They may be eligible to also apply for a study or work permit, or a visitor visa. To find out more information on how to submit their application with yours, contact your immigration consultant for Canada or click here

Can I stay longer after my studies are over?

If you want to stay in Canada longer after your studies are over, you need to extend your study permit, and should do this at least 30 days or more before your current study permit expires. 


If you have applied to extend your study permit before it expired but have yet to receive a decision from the CIC on your application, you are automatically approved to stay in Canada and are considered a temporary resident until the application is decided upon. This means that you can keep studying in Canada until you get an approval on your application.


If you haven’t applied to extend your study permit, your Canadian status is lost. You have 90 days to apply to restore your status and extend your permit. This means that until the permit is restored, you have lost your status in Canada. There’s a CAN$200 fee to restore your status, as well as a CAN $150 fee for the new study permit. Contact your immigration consultant or click here to find out what to do if your study permit has expired and you have yet to apply to extend it.

How can an immigration consultant from VCIC help you with a study permit?

Our patient and dedicated Canadian immigration consulting team at VCIC will help you to find the right school, the right province, and the right program based on your wants and needs. We will help you to start a meaningful journey in Canada by supporting you in the process of building a resume, sharing different opportunities that can arise, and providing you with the knowledge you need to live a comfortable, safe, and fulfilling life in Canada. VCIC will be with you every step of the way, and we are guaranteed to leave you feeling satisfied and confident.

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