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How to Get a Canadian Student Visa

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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.

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Hi Carlos, I've replied to your comment here.

Hi,my name is samuel. I have an admission offer from a university in canada. I want to know that in the course of processing my student visa,will the embassy ask me to pay my fees and present the receipt? Or i have to pay the fees before i start processing my application?

Hello, I am Himel. I wanna do under graduate on "Human resource & management" on any Canadian University with relatively low cost . Can anyone help me on this regard?


I am receiving a funding of 24000 CDN/year for my post graduate studies. Please tell me if I can be granted study permit on this scholarship because I don't have enough funds in my bank account.

Mobeen, how did that go? Did you need to provide extra proof of funds?

Hi there. I have received a scholarship and an acceptance letter from a university and now need to apply for a study permit. However, I am working in the UK and need to apply as a South Africa. Is it possible to get the medical record and police clearance whilst in the UK? Thank you.

I have recently get letter of acceptance from a Canadian institute. Now I am preparing for study permit application. I have question whether to submit academic documents e.g Certificate , transcript etc, to the visa office along with the application form? In the CIC document checklist its not mention anything about that. Can you give me appropriate information please? Thanks

Hello, as far as I'm aware you do not need to provide an academic transcript or certificate to apply for your study permit. However, you will need your letter of acceptance. Hope this helps.


I recently just got into Memorial University of Newfoundland and I have a few questions. My grandfather is giving me the money for tuition for the first year and I have someone helping me with room and board cost. If I get this transferred to a Canadian bank account, do I have to have four months bank statements because I plan on opening the account tomorrow?

Also, if I was to have a letter for a proof of funds, is it okay if my significant other who is from Newfoundland writes that letter and shows proof through bank statements? We are not married but are in a conjugal relationship.

I have Canadian Student visa and going for Fall Intake. before going to Canada I want to go to USA as a visitor. Can I get Visitor visa easily if I have Canadian student visa?

Hi Jay, you can read about the steps you'll need to take to gain a visitor visa for the US here.

I have admission at University of Saskatchewan Canada to study Post Degree Nursing which is 2 years program but I will have to do prerequisite course 15 credit units before applying for post Degree Nursing now I have been offered an admission for the prerequisite courses which is for one term in the department of Arts and Science but on my admission it reads 4 years program I called the school that it was a mistake on their part and they replied me no that after I my completion of my 5 prerequisites I can Change to my Post Degree Nursing now I am scared how can I explained this situation to CIC for my study permit and scared I am not science background but my present job as flight attendant we were trained to do apply first aid and ba y delivery onboard and other safety job. Please what is my chances of getting the study permit ?

hello, I'm from Ecuador, I was already accepted in a school in Vancouver. The program last more than 6 months. I would like to know if I need both a Study Permit and a TRV (Temporary Resident Visa), or is it enough to apply for the Study Permit to be able to travel and study. Thanks

Hi Jorge, you can find out if you need a temporary resident visa as well as a study permit on the Government of Canada's website. :)

Hello, can you please answer my two questions?
1. I have won the Connaught scholarship for studying at the PhD program (UToronto) - basically 35 000 per year. Should I upload any other financial documents in addition to that?
2. I am currently working. Is it necessary to provide a document proving that I am employed and that my employee will gladly accept me back after four years at PhD? I am afraid that it would be a very difficult task.
Thank you!

Did you need to provide extra proof of fund in addition to your funding?

Visa sestion asked for acadimic documents, but I did not find the place where I can upload the same....

Hello Sabrina, I'm an international student currently studying in Ottawa. My study permit and student visa are close to be expired ( first week of April) and from what I found regarding extending these two, I need to start my application at least 30 days before the expiry date. I already submitted my study permit application but I haven't started my student visa application yet. One of the documents needed for the visa application is my study permit, which the application is in progress. I was wondering if I'm able to start my application when my study permit is extended, which will exceed the 30 days prior deadline, or will this be an issue I need to resolve? Would I be able to stay in Canada without my study permit or visa until I receive them? Thanks.

Hi Amirreza, you can stay in Canada while a decision is reached about your study permit under an implied status. You can find out more on the Government of Canada's website. Hope this helps!

Sabrina, I plan on covering my tuition with a student loan and have a parent sponsor me. How do i go about providing this when it comes to my proof of funds? Does the money need to be in my account or can it come from their account?

This whole process is so confusing to me. I just want to make sure I submit the right documents the first time.

Hi Michael, to prove you have the financial requirements, you could provide a letter from the parent outlining that they will sponsor you, bank statements from your parent to prove they can afford to do so, and proof of your student loan. Alternatively, you could provide proof of a Canadian bank account in your name if the money has already been transferred to Canada. Hope this helps.

Hi, I'm 17 and from Germany. I have an acceptance from a High School in Vancouver and a host family and I will stay in Canada for 2 1/2 months (April-June), but I'm not sure if I need a study permit. Could you tell me if I need one? And if yes how long it takes to get a study permit? :)

Hi Angie, I don't think you'll need a study permit in this case, but you could contact the high school in Vancouver to double check this.

Hi, I am a Bangladeshi student. i completed graduation on Mathematics get 47.23% marks. I need a scholarship in Canadian university with out tuition fees & part work permit that i carry my leaving cost on study time. Is it possible?

Hello, you might be able to find a scholarship to cover your tuition fees, and you can work in Canada while you study, but it's not recommended to rely on part-time work to cover your living expenses - you'll also need to prove you have enough money to support yourself as part of the financial requirements for your student visa. Please take a look at our list of scholarships to study in Canada, and our complete guide to studying in Canada contains information on working while you study. Hope this helps!

Hello there! I'm from Pakistan and I want to join a highschool in Toronto, Canada. My aunt lives there. Will I get a student visa because I heard that I won't if I want to study highschool. Kindly help me out.

Hi Mazahir, if you're under 18, you're considered a minor in Canada - you can find out how to gain a study permit here. Hope this helps!

Hello, I am joe, I just got an acceptance letter from a Canadian university,I want to know if my financial status needs to be for the 2 years course I am applying for or if I prof one year financial status it's okay for my visa to be approved. And also to find out how much will be sufficient for me to have in my account and if I will still need a sponsored. Thank you,

Hi Joe, I believe you only need to prove you have financial support for the first 12 months to obtain your visa. How much you need depends on if you study in Quebec or not - you need CA $10,000 if you study outside Quebec, or CA $11,000 if you do, plus funds for tuition fees. 

Hi Sabrina,
I have $20000 in my account for three months. My mother-in law and her niece promise to support me but they can only provide a letter to support, T4, and two months copy of their paystubs. Is this enough proof to grant my student visa?

Hi Allan, I think this would be sufficient proof of finances. Good luck with your application! :)

Thanks Sabrina. I forgot to tell you i am already accepted to attend the class on september. I am just worried immigration might deny my visa application.

I am an electrical engineer with 10 years of work experience in electrical design. I want to pursue master of engineering in power systems from Canada. Can u tell me if my 10 years of work experience will be a deterrent?

Hi Jayashree, I wouldn't have thought your work experience would be a problem at all. :)

Hey! I have a question regarding the student visa applications. I am currently already in Canada, under a 6-month visitor visa. No physical copy required, since I am staying shorter than the required time frame. I have already been accepted at a school in Canada, already have the necessary funding and proof of which, but I'm unsure of what exact form and things I need to do. Do I need to leave the country to get a student visa? Do I just apply online with a specific application, or just the standard Student Visa Application? If I do need to leave the country, will I have to remain outside until the student visa goes through? I would much prefer to stay in Canada, but I am capable of moving out if necessary.

Hi Patrick, on checking the Government of Canada's website, it seems that you need to apply for your study permit from your home country or another country where you are lawfully admitted. Alternatively, you could apply for it either via mail or in person at the Visa Application Centre in Los Angeles. You can find out more here. Hope this is helpful.

I want to know the documents i need to submit with my visa application for canada student visa, i got admission into one of the university in canada and my husband want to sponsor me.

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

Hi, Im 29 years old Sri Lankan citizen , have done G.C.E in commerce subjects in 2005 I did not pursue any secondary education after that , I worked as an airport services agent for 2 years straight after high school and then worked as a beauty advisor in retail upto this date. I am presently in Australia. I now want to make a huge career change and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse , I want to study the 4 year bachelor of nursing program at brandon university. I did some research and found that lot of students got their study permit application rejected due to Proposed Study not being reasonable or not matching previous studies or employment etc. . My question is due to my high school studies being in commerce stream , work experience in retail , age being 29 , and proposed studies is in nursing , will any or all of these affect my study permit application to Canada?

Thank you for the info,
I would like to be enlightened about Canadian study permit. As an international graduate student, If I have two offers of admission (e.g University of Alberta and University of Guelph), and I secure a study permit for a DLI (e.g University of Alberta), can I use the same permit for University of Guelph without going to University of Alberta.

Hi Shakirudeen. Yes, the Government of Canada's website states that you can change institutions that are at the same level of study without needing to apply for another study permit, but you must notify Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) if you do so. 

Hi, I'm Martin from Argentina. Thank you for the information, was very clear!!
Does anyone know a full-time study program to learn french, where I can apply for a Student Visa? Maybe a University program...I don't want a degree in French language, but just to learn french, so I can get by. Thank you in advance for your help!

Hello, I am Khan from Bangladesh. I have received a research scholarship worth C$ 21,000/year to do PhD studies in a Canadian University. Now I am going to submit study permit application. I would like to know if I still need to submit things like bank statement, a bank draft and so on? or the award letter would suffice for the purpose? Also should I need to submit IELTS academic test result when the University admitted me upon meeting the language proficiency requirement? I shall be grateful if someone could help me with information in this respect.

SK, how did your application go? Did you need to provide other proof of funds?

Hi Khan, yes, the award letter would be an example of a document you can use to prove you've received a scholarship - I don't think you'll need to submit a bank statement as well. Yes, you'll need to submit your IELTS result along with your university application. Hope this helps.

Hi Sabrina, Thanks for your quick reply. I am not clear about my later question. If the University already offered me a place upon meeting the language proficiency requirement (upon verifying the original IELTS Test score), should I also need to submit original copy of IELTS result to the Visa Office? Waiting your reply.

Hi Khan, I believe you only need to show the university your IELTS result, not the visa office - here's a link to the application requirements for students from your country.

Hello, my name is Abu, am from Ghana and would like to study in Canada ( mechanical engineering) what are the possibilities and how do i benefit full funding through out my study?

Hi Abu, you may be able to find a fully funded scholarship to study in Canada - please take a look at this list of scholarships. To find out more about studying in Canada, please see our complete guide. :)

i am from India and i want to do graduation in Canada for B.Com with Computer Applications. But now i joined for the course in one of our colleges in Kerala, India. i wanted to know whether i could apply for the same in a canadian university. May i know the best college for doing Bcom?