How to Apply for a Canada Student Visa

Do you want to complete your high school or post-secondary education in Canada? You will need to obtain a Canadian study permit, which serves as a Canadian student visa for the duration of your stay. Over half a million people from around the world are accepted and issued international student visas to study in Canada each year.

How to Apply for a Canada Student Visa

Canada is a top destination for international students from all over the world. Every year, over 130,000 international students choose to study at Canadian universities. Besides being a very popular tourist destination, Canada is also attractive to students. It is a highly developed country with a great teaching methodology and valuable degrees.

In addition to a high-quality education system, Canada also provides numerous possibilities and vibrant culture. That is why, a lot of people want to enroll their children in Canadian primary or secondary schools, while adults also want to start their undergraduate or graduate programs there. To be able to do this, the students must have a study visa and study permit.

Generally, 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 port of entry. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about student visas in Canada, so you can clearly understand how to have the best chance of successfully obtaining a Canadian study permit.

What is a Canadian Student Visa?

A Canada Student Visa is the visa needed for international students wanting to enroll in a program in Canada. This permit, which is a type of Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) allows students to study in Canada for a temporary period of time, and typically indicates the educational institution they are attending and course of study. It needs to be for a designated learning institution (DLI) and there’s a fee of C$150 for the application.

A Canada Student Visa allows the person who has it to start their studies in Canada. The visa for students is basically the same as a Canada Visitor Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), but the student also needs a study permit. So the Canadian student visa is a combination of either a visitor visa and a study permit or an eTA and a study permit.

The study permit grants legal authorization for a person to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. When applying for a study permit, a foreign national should be aware that there are eligibility requirements that must be met when submitting the study permit application. As well, there are certain conditions that must be met throughout the student’s time in Canada. They are as follows:

  • Always be enrolled in a DLI. DLIs are schools or universities which are approved by the provincial or territorial government to allow them to host international students. You can follow this link to check if a university is a DLI.
  • Be working to complete your study program.
  • Meet the requirements of the student visa.
  • Stop studying if you do not meet the requirements of the student visa.
  • Leave Canada immediately once your study permit expires.

However, the study permit will not allow you to get Canadian-issued documents or Canadian government benefits such as health benefits. It will however create an easier path for you to be able to apply for Canadian citizenship if that is your goal.

Who Needs a Canadian Student Visa?

Nevertheless, whether your nationality requires you to have a visitor visa to visit Canada, you will need a visa to study at a Canadian high school, college, or university. All international students who want to study in Canada and who need a visitor visa or an eTA to enter Canada must get a student visa and permit. The permit in itself does not allow you to enter Canada but coupled with a visitor visa or eTA, it gives you permission to start your studies.

However, there are a few exceptions where you may not be required to have a study permit to study in Canada if they, such as:

  • If your study program is less than 6 months in Canada, you will only need a visitor visa or eTA, but not a study permit on the condition that you complete the program in 6 months or less. If you cannot complete the short program in 6 months, then you will need a study permit.
  • If you’re taking a short self-improvement class or learning about a general interest.
  • Children or family members of the private staff of accredited foreign representatives.

Canadian Student Visa Requirements

You’ll need to get certain documents ready for your visa application. An important factor in deciding if your study permit is granted is your finances. The Canadian government must be able to see you can financially support yourself throughout your studies, whether with savings or through a sponsor such as a parent.


Generally, you’ll need the following to apply for a Canadian Study Permit:

  • Admission letter from a DLI
  • Results from a medical exam and police check
  • Two passport-sized photos of yourself
  • Proof you can financially support yourself throughout your studies
  • You may also need to provide your biometrics. You would need to do this at an approved Visa Application Center in your country.

Canadian Student Visa Application Process

To get a Canadian study permit, you must first apply to a designated learning institute. Once accepted, you may proceed to apply for a study permit. Along with the application itself, you will be required to submit certain documentation, as well as meet all requirements set by the Canadian government. Here's the full detail of the Canadian Student Visa application process.

1. Get an admission letter from a designated learning institution (DLI)

To begin with, you will need to apply to a Canadian University which are approved by the provincial or territorial government and get your acceptance letter. If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Canada, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a Canadian university, you’ll get an acceptance letter that will be required for the visa application. Then, check if you need to apply for a student visa in Canada. You can use the official Canadian study permit tool to find out if you need a study visa or permit.

2. Apply for the permit online or download an application package

As soon as you got the acceptance letter from the university, it is time to proceed to the next step: applying for a student visa, which is locally known as a study permit. However, if you’re applying for a study permit, you must apply online, whether you’re outside of Canada or already in Canada. You’re only eligible to apply on paper if you have a disability that prevents you from applying online or holds an identity or travel document for non-national residents, refugees, or stateless persons.

Meanwhile, you will have to apply online for your Canadian student visa on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website before you arrive in Canada. Send the visa application documents by post if you have a limited internet connection or cannot submit the documents online. 

3. Pay the fee for your application and keep the receipt

Ensure that you have gathered all documents required for your country, including proof that you paid the study permit fee (150 CAD). Immigration officers reserve the right to refuse study permits if they feel an applicant has not met all requirements, so it is valuable to have a qualified immigration representative review your application prior to submission.

4. Have a medical check-up from a panel physician registered in your country

Depending on your nationality, you might have to show up at a Visa Application Centre in your country to have your biometrics taken. The biometrics fee is 85 CAD. This fee is in addition to the regular visa application fee (150 CAD). Some countries are exempt from this biometrics requirement, so their citizens won’t need to visit an application center at all.

Depending on your individual situation, you might also be called for an interview. Local visa application centers will charge a small fee for using their services.

5. Receive a decision on your application

After applying for your Canadian study permit, the processing time may take up to 90 days, but it’s usually faster. This also depends on the situation in your home country. If your study permit is approved, come to Canada! Please note that you do not receive your Canadian study permit until you arrive at a Canadian Port of Entry (POE). If your permit is approved, the Canadian government will issue you a Port of Entry Introduction Letter. You must keep this letter and show it to the immigration official when you arrive in Canada in order to obtain your study permit.

Student Direct Stream

Furthermore, residents of some countries may apply through the Student Direct Stream to get their permits faster. faster. Fees start at 150 CAD and the processing time is usually around 20 calendar days. 


You can apply via the Student Direct Stream if you are a legal resident in one of these countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • the Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

Canadian visas for student dependents

During your studies, your spouse or child under 18 can also apply for a visa if they need to accompany you. It is possible for your spouse to apply for an Open Work Permit, which is valid for the same period of time as your study program. It does not require them to have a job before arriving in Canada; it simply allows them to work while they are there. If you have a child joining you during your studies in Canada, as long as you have proof of your study permit and study program, the child may enter Canada as a visitor while you are studying Canada.

How long is the Canadian Student Visa valid?

Generally, you can stay in Canada for the duration of your study permit. Look at your permit and it will tell you when it expires. In some cases, you can apply for an extension. A Canadian student visa is valid only for the length of the study program and an additional 90 days. These 90 days allow you to prepare for leaving Canada or to apply for extending your Canada study visa.

So if you do not complete your program within the time that your study permit is valid, then you will need to extend it. If you complete the program earlier than the study permit expiration date, then you will only have an additional 90 days and must leave Canada.

You must provide proof that you have completed your program by submitting the notification of graduation from your schools such as an email, a letter, or another document, or submit a copy of your degree, diploma, or certificate. The date when one of these was issued will be used as the date you completed your program and then your additional 90 days for preparation to leave Canada will begin.

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 the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the 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.

However, you may want to keep working in Canada after you finish your educational degree., 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. When you have a student visa, then it is easier to get a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), the length of which depends on the length of your study program.

Pursuing studies as an international student in Canada can be confusing and stressful. There are many schools and programs to choose and study permit applications are regularly refused for not meeting government requirements. But with this guide and other resources online, it can be simple. Moreover, you can also check out the official website of the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship commission for more detailed information.