You are here

Interested in studying in Canada?

Check out our comprehensive guide!

How to Get a Canadian Student Visa

Canada main image

To study in Canada, you’ll need to obtain a Canadian study permit, which serves as a Canadian student visa for the duration of your stay.

You won’t need a Canadian study permit if your course or program lasts six months or less. However, you might want to apply for a study permit anyway; otherwise if you decide you want to continue your studies on another program, you’ll need to leave Canada to apply for a study permit through a visa office.

Once you have a Canadian study permit, you can apply to renew it from within Canada if you decide to continue your studies. For full-time students registered at an accredited higher education institution, a study permit also allows you to work part-time on campus. You may also be able to work off-campuswork as a co-op or intern as part of your program, stay in Canada as a permanent resident or find work after you graduate.

Applying for a Canadian study permit

Applying for a Canadian study permit

You can apply for a Canadian study permit either online or through a paper application, which can be obtained from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.

Paper applications typically take about twice as long, so it’s always recommended to check the processing times well in advance.

To apply online, you’ll need a credit/debit card and the ability to create electronic copies of your supporting documents (i.e. using a scanner or camera). The visa office in your country will provide specific instructions about which documents you need to provide; this can vary depending on your location. If you need assistance, you can get help at your nearest visa application center (VAC).

Follow this process to obtain your Canadian student visa:

  1. Firstly, you must obtain a standardized letter of acceptance from a recognized higher education provider. Students studying in Quebec must also apply for a certificate of acceptance, known as a CAQ, from the government of Quebec. You must acquire this before you can apply for a study permit. You can get the CAQ online, by printing out a form, or by requesting a paper form from your university, which will also provide advice on this subject.
  2. The next stage is to get a Canadian student visa application package, either from the CIC website or by contacting your local visa office, or the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country. You may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit if you are from a designated country (find out if you need to get one here), but this will not complicate matters too much as it’ll be processed at the same time as your study permit application.
  3. In order to get your application package you’ll need to answer a few questions about yourself on the CIC website. These questions will determine whether you’re eligible to apply online for a Canadian student permit, and what documents you’ll need to provide.
  4. If you’re found eligible, you’ll receive a personal checklist code, valid for 60 days, which you’ll need in order to submit your application online. Make sure to print out the page containing your code for future reference. The page will also include an application guide, an estimated tuition fees amount, a list of documents you will need to submit with your application, and guidelines for your next steps.
  5. When you’re ready to apply, create a MyCIC account, where you will enter your personal checklist code. You’ll then receive your personal document checklist which allows you to upload and send your documents to CIC. You’ll need a printer or a scanner to do this.
  6. Once you have your documents and application form ready and have paid your fees, you can submit your completed application to CIC.
  7. Some applicants may have to attend an interview at their local visa office.

Additional Canadian student visa requirements 

Canadian visa requirements

Some or all of the following additional Canadian student visa requirements may also apply:

  • Applicants from Europe, the Middle East or Africa may need to provide biometrics (photograph and fingerprints).
  • Some applicants may also need to get a medical exam and/or police check before submitting their application. You will not be able to get a study permit if you have a criminal record and you might be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate as proof of this.
  • Unless you’re from the US or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you will need to prove you have a valid passport which allows you to return to your country of origin after your course is complete. Two passport-sized pictures are also required, with your name and date of birth written on the back.
  • Canadian student visa requirements also include proof of funds to support yourself. At present this is CA$10,000 (~US$7,550) for every year of your stay (CA$11,000/~US$8,300 if you’re applying to study in Quebec) on top of your tuition fees. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough money to pay for transportation to return home.

To prove you have this money, you can provide any of the following documents:

  • Bank statements
  • Evidence of a Canadian account in your name with the money transferred
  • A bank draft in a convertible currency
  • Proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees
  • A letter from a person or institution providing you with money
  • Proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarshipor are undertaking a Canadian-funded program.

Applying through the Student Direct Stream

Applying through the Student Direct Stream

Canada recently introduced the Student Direct Stream, which students from China, India, the Philippines or Vietnam can apply for in order to get their study permit faster.

The requirements are similar to the regular study permit, although there are stricter language requirements – you need to have an IELTS score of at least 6, or a 7 in the Niveaux the Compétence Linguistique Canadiens for French or have graduated from a Canadian-curriculum high school.

If you don’t meet the requirements for the Student Direct Stream but do meet them for the regular study permit, your application will be reviewed for the regular study permit option and you won’t get faster processing.

Next steps after applying

If and when your Canadian student visa application is approved, you’ll receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. Students from countries which require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and/or a temporary residence visa will be issued these if required.

The eTA will be linked to your passport. It’s important that you travel with the passport you used when you applied for your study permit. The eTA will be valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Present these along with your passport, proof of your finances and your letter of acceptance (and any other documents that you’ve been advised to take) to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Canada, who will then issue your Canadian study permit and allow you access into Canada.

Working while you study in Canada 

Working while you study in Canada

If you’d like to get a part-time job to help support yourself while studying in Canada, you can now qualify to work on or off-campus for up to 20 hours during university semesters and full-time during breaks, such as the winter or summer holidays, without the need for a work permit.

To qualify, you must:

  • Have a valid study permit
  • Be a full-time student
  • Be enrolled at a designated learning institution at post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at secondary level
  • Be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.

You will also need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

Your study permit will become invalid 90 days after you have completed your study program, so you’ll need to acquire a post-graduation work permit if you want to stay in Canada after your studies and seek work. This is valid for three years. For advice on finding a job after university, please download our guide

This article was originally published in January 2014. It was last updated in August 2020.

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Related categories:

Oyindeinyefa N, Ibadin J & 231 others saved this
anna@qs.com's profile image
Written by Hasna Haidar

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles


Hey, I need some information about study visa. I got my offer letter from st claire college. I scored 6 bands overall in one module 5.5 .

I completed my graduation in 2013 with 65% marks in bca. Afterthat i went to nz and studied there. Lived there 2 years. And went back in 2016 .
Now i received offer letter in pgdm, international business management in logistics..
What are the chances acc to my profile. I have to pay fee and all in next days. I need honest answer before apply.

My daughter is a Singapore citizen, My dwife sister is a Canadian living in Quebec / Montreal. If she can sponsor my daughter, can she proceed her studies under subsidised course fee?

Nice article... well guidance can help the student to pursue a career in an international university.

Hi. I applied for a university in Canada and got accepted just this month ( April). I have my acceptance letter , a valid passport , and proof that my family can financially support me. Do I need to have my residence offer also with me before I apply ( the university will send me a residence offer in May). Do I have to wait for the residence offer and then apply for the residence offer? Or can I apply immediately for my study permit visa in canada without it? plz respond I need advice

My name is Thwe.I am from Myanmar and now studying in a university in Japan.I am planning to transfer to university in Canada.I would like to apply Canada visa from my home country.Is it possible if I apply visa from my country while I am currently living in abroad?

Hi Thwe, you can most certainly apply for a Canadian student visa while you're still in Japan - this can be done at your nearest visa application center, but you'll need to clearly state in your application the reason(s) why you're not applying from your home country. I hope this helps. 

Hello ma am
Benedicta from Nigeria am
Currently In search of a scholarship to do my mater in public health in any of the school in Canada that can offer me a scholarship please I hope to hear from you thank

Hello Benedicta. We have an article on scholarships to study in Canada (which you can find here), and we've also briefly covered postgraduate international scholarships for African students to study anywhere in the world, in this article. You might also want to consult the official websites of the universities you're interested in applying to, most will provide up-to-date information on any available scholarships. I hope this helps. 

Very nice article

Hello am wills from Cameroon but currently in China, please can anyone help me to know how to get an admission for a university in Canada in electrical engineering bachelor thanks

Hi Wills, here's a link to our complete guide on How to Study Abroad in Canada, which includes advice on how to apply. You might also like to check our latest ranking by subject for electrical engineering (you can narrow down the results to show only Canadian universities). 

I have just got admitted to Toronto School of Management but I currently do not know anyone in Toronto how can I get cheap
Accommodation off campus, in Toronto. Anyone has any idea

have you submitted your visa application

You can search it in kijiji

Hello my names are Anyaoha Chibuike Benedict I am currently living in Indonesia but from Nigeria please I want to know what it takes to for me to run my bachelor degree in Canada with the less fee from any universities in Canada

Canada visa is tough to get it.While there are stumbles,but there's also splutions.

Hello...am Alpha Sesay, currently lives in Turkey from Sierra Leone.
I wanted to further my education to degree, but I don't have the financial support. I need a support from any university that will offer me scholarship so I can further my education to higher level.... I will look up to you. Thank you

Hello, if you'd like to study in Canada, you can find a range of scholarships here.

Hello I am student nurse here in Liberia, with one of a communities colleges. I really want to further my education in Canada. How can I go about this whole process as a student?


My Question is that I have done Bachelor of commerce in 2008, After that I have start my career in Most reputed multinational company in that I have gained 10 years of experience in Market Research Analysis as role of Analyst. Just now I have appeared in Ielts exam and i got score of overall 6.0. speaking 6.5 listening 5.5 Reading 5.5 and writing 5.5. I want to apply for Postgradution study in Canada. Is there any chance for me. as i have 10 years of gap since my last degree most of people are saying you want get student visa,it might get rejected due this study gap.

Could you please help me out in this, is there any other option how get student visa for Canada.


Donot even try der ! Refusal will be there

you will be getting admission. But the college or university will ask you about Why do you want to start your studies after a long gap?

Hello I need to know all the process and criteria to apply for my masters program in any university in canada.. Please help me out... With the full details

Hi Oyewande, please take a look at our article on graduate study in Canada.

Hi, my name is Godiya E Joshua, From Nigeria. I need scholarship to study nursing in Canada.thank you.

Hi Godiya, please take a look at our lists of nursing scholarships around the world and scholarships to study in Canada

A good site, where you understand how to fill out the forms canadasimple.com. Helped me.

Hi I am naveed .from Pakistan I want study in Canada top universities .give me scholarship b.a based

My name is waheedullah Ghawsi and I am from Afghanistan I wish to do BBA from torrontto Canada. so what would be the best university for it/ and can I get a scholarship and what would be the cost per annum

Hi i am fariha from Rawalpindi can you help me to get visa of Canada for bsc in medical on top university.

Fariha ap pakistan sa ho to mara bahi bi waha sa ha junaid butt id ha check os na bi medcial ma lana ha to aplie kia ha ap sister os sa help ly lo ap ko bata dy ga

Aoa Dear Jamal Bhai meiny V Lena Hy bSc Mein KindLy Bhai ka Numbr Dey dein

student visa is yet another categories immigration designed to process application of students willing to pursue higher education in Canada.

hi there, my question is if I'm planning on completing my BA at a university where the fees are approximately CAD$8000 a year, do I need to show proof of CAD$32,000?

Sabrina, iam from Nigeria I will love to study in Canada or Australia, can you pls help me

Hi Im Nafeel,

Ive got admission from confederation college canada for business administration. But i got my visa refused the first time. I have showed 43,000Cad in my account. The reason for refusal was not enough of funds plus purpusfully shown for visa purposes. Now im goin to reapply the visa. Please suggest me a good method to obtain visa this time.

Hi there My name is aran i'm from iraq i want to study master in Canada how i can get Visa thank you

Hi there Sabrina.My name is Murad ali from Pakistan im studying in A.level in pre.medical can you kindly tell me how much percent i have to get in A.level(intermediate)so that i will get admission in any university in canada.
thank u please inform me

I was rejected a Canadian visa to study in Toronto on reason of lack of funds in March 2017, despite having US$40000 in my account. And I got admission to Australian National University in May, only to be refused CoE after waiting for almost six weeks since payment. They said my visa refusal by Canada made them to deny me an admission. Can I still apply to another reputable university in Australia without being deprived of CoE?

Hi there,
My name is Ehab and I recently got admitted into Brandon University for a BSC program. I had some questions in regards to the requirement of funds for the study permit. I currently have $20,000 in my account and the fees for the program per year are approximate $8000. My uncle is also willing to finance my expenses in Canada and will write a letter and provide proof (bank statement). So my question is would this be good enough to attain a study permit? Your assistance on this matter would be highly appreciated. Thanks.

Hi Ehab, I've replied to your query here. :)

Please help me I'm from Pakistan i want go to Canada thanks

Hey !
My name is Thaer , from Syria . I am studying IT in Damascus university , after tow months will be done from the first year and i am thinking abou continuing my education in Canada. Could you please help me by writing me what am i soposting to do nu ?
With regards

Thought-provoking writing , I was fascinated by the specifics . Does someone know where my business might be able to obtain a fillable LA Students Year Guidelines form to use ?

Hello Dear, My Name is Surafel Mehari from Ethiopia. And I Graduated BSC degree in Information Technology in 2013 from Wollo University in Ethiopian and know I have three years working experience as a system engineer in Ethiopian science & Technology Information center . I'm looking for a Full MSC scholarship to study Information technology or computer sciences in any country. I have Good grade in University. Please help Thanks.

Hello ma'am
I have 87% in ssc
80% in hsc
7.94cpi in engineering
7.5 bands in ielts
I want to study in canada which university should I apply

Hi Sabrina

Would appreciate if you answered my question ASAP.

I am a 31 year old guy with no formal education, mainly due to political problems in my country in the 80s and my refugee status. But I have 10-year work experience as a travel agent and sales executive. Nonetheless my most passionate dream has been enrolling in (perhaps a Canadian) university and getting a degree one day. I have now finally earned almost enough to materialize that dream. But I have a few problems I need your help in finding a solution for:

1. In order to enroll, the universities that I have looked up require 10th, 11th and 12th year high school degrees and score-cards. But since I already mentioned that I have no formal education, what I have in mind is to pass only 12th year high-school exams in my country of origin (math & science) in order to get the university enrollment. Is this possible, and if not what can I do to get accepted?
2. I have saved about CAD $40,000. According to my calculations, this will last two years (tuition and living costs). I am planning to work part-time during my studies and save for the third year while there (I am looking for a 3 year degree). Is this financial plan feasible?

Thanks and have a good one.

Hi dear we re are you from can you tell so I can help you

Haii Sabrina,
I am Akib Zaka, from india I got the admission letter from Delhouise University Canda, I also pay the fee of that program which is MS in Internetworking. I did my engineering with 70%,I have taken the IELTS exam in 2 times but unfortunatly I got only 5.5. Can I am eligible for student visa for Canada. & also tell me IELTS is required foe the embessy or an admission process. Kindly give me the favorable responce as soon as possible.

Thanx & Regards
Akib Zaka

How do I get a scholarship study in Canada