For international students contemplating studying in Canada, the Canadian study permit program presents compelling prospects for academic advancement and cultural immersion. Understanding Canada’s study permit program, however, is crucial as it forms the foundation of your journey as an international student in the country.

To assist with your education journey in Canada, we are providing this guide to assist foreign nationals with understanding the country’s study permit program, its application process, available work opportunities, and other relevant aspects.

Please be advised that the information is provided as a general overview. For detailed and up-to-date information on study permit requirements and processes, please refer to the official Government of Canada website. 

  1. Study Permits

A study permit is an official document issued by the Government of Canada that allows international students to study at designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada. It serves as your authorization to pursue your chosen studies, stay in Canada as a student for the duration of your program, and opens doors to various opportunities for personal and professional growth. Here are some key points to understand about the Canadian Study Permit Program:

  • Who needs a study permit: Most international students will require a study permit to study in Canada. However, there are a few exceptions. Citizens of certain countries may be exempt from needing a study permit if their program of study is less than six months or if they are taking short-term courses or programs.
  • Study permit eligibility requirements: To be eligible for a study permit, you must meet certain criteria. This includes having an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution, demonstrating sufficient financial resources to cover your tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation, and proving that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.
  • Duration and validity: A study permit is typically issued for the duration of your program of study, including an additional 90 days after the completion of your studies. It is essential to ensure that your study permit remains valid throughout your stay in Canada.
  1. Recent Trends: International Students Studying in Canada

Canada, a leading destination for international students, has recognized the immense value of international education. In fact, according to Canada’s International Education Strategy (2019-2024), international students contributed an estimated $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supported almost 170,000 jobs for the middle class in 2018. To maintain its competitive edge, Canada has implemented a strategic approach to international education, focusing on diversifying its student population and enhancing global ties. We have provided a few statistical insights below about study permits issued by the Canadian Government within the last eight years (Source: IRCC).

1) Since 2015, Canada has increased the number of study permits issued to foreign nationals to continue and diversify its student population and enhance the country’s global ties.

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2) In 2022, Ontario was the intended destination for nearly half of all issued study permit in Canada.

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3) International students from India accounted for 40% of all Canadian study permit holders in 2022. Provided below are 14 other countries that followed.

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  1. Researching DLI Programs in Canada: Key Considerations

It’s essential to adequately prepare and gather the necessary information to determine which educational institution you wish to study in Canada. We have highlighted a few key considerations that international students should look at if they are looking to pursue studies in Canada.

  1. Researching Canadian Educational Institutions: Start by exploring the wide range of designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada. Consider factors such as program offerings, academic reputation, location, and tuition fees. Researching multiple institutions will help you make an informed decision about where you’d like to study.
  2. Choosing the Right Program of Study: Think about your academic interests, career goals, and the program that aligns with them. Explore the different disciplines and fields of study offered by Canadian institutions. Consider the program duration, curriculum, faculty expertise, and potential opportunities for research or internships.
  3. Meeting Admission Requirements: Each educational institution sets its own admission requirements, which may include academic qualifications, tuition/application fees, language proficiency (English or French), standardized test scores (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS), and specific prerequisites for your chosen program. Review the admission criteria for your desired program and ensure that you meet or can fulfill these requirements.
  4. Language Proficiency Requirements (English or French): Proficiency in English or French is usually required for admission to Canadian educational institutions. Take the necessary language proficiency tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Achieving the minimum language score required by your chosen institution will be essential for a successful application.
  5. Financial Planning: Studying in Canada involves financial considerations. Evaluate the costs of tuition fees, living expenses, accommodation, health insurance, and transportation. Create a realistic budget and explore scholarship opportunities, financial aid programs, or potential part-time work options. Ensure you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses and tuition costs throughout your study period.
  6. Applying for a Study Permit

Applying for a study permit is an important step in your journey as an international student. This section will brief you on the application process, required documents, and submission methods.

  1. Check your eligibility: You may check your eligibility for the Canadian Study Permit program through the IRCC’s website provided here:
  2. Required documents:
  3. Valid passport or travel document
  4. Letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • If you plan to study in Quebec, you must provide a valid attestation of issuance of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ)
  1. Proof of sufficient financial funds to cover your first year of study, including tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation. Amounts must be sufficient for yourself and if applicable, any accompanying family members.
  2. Language proficiency test results (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL)
  3. Proof of Application Fee Payment
  4. (If applicable) Proof of Biometrics Medical Examination
  1. (If applicable) Police certificate from your resident country

Please be advised that you may also be required to provide additional documents specific to your situation (e.g., educational transcripts, educational gap explanation). These requirements will vary from country to country. You can consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, or you can contact our firm, and one of our lawyers will contact you with assistance.

  1. Online application submission: The online application system provides a convenient and efficient way to apply for a study permit. Create an account, complete the application form, upload the required documents, pay the fee, and submit your application electronically.
  2. Application fees and processing times: Study permit application fees are subject to change, so it’s important to check the official Government of Canada website for the current fee structure. Processing times can vary depending on various factors, including the volume of applications and your country of residence. Check the website for estimated processing times or contact the nearest Canadian visa office or embassy for more information.
  3. Wait for processing: After submitting your application, allow sufficient time for processing. Processing times can vary, so it’s important to apply well in advance of your intended start date.
  4. Decision and study permit issuance: Once your application is processed, you will receive a decision on your study permit application. If approved, you will be issued a study permit.
  5. Working Opportunities with a Canadian Study Permit:

Canada offers various employment opportunities for international students, allowing them to gain valuable work experience while studying. These opportunities not only provide financial support but also contribute to personal and professional growth. Here are some common avenues for work as an international student:

  • On-campus employment: As an international student with a valid study permit, you can work on the campus of your designated learning institution (DLI) without a separate work permit. This includes jobs within the university or college, such as library assistants, research assistants, or campus tour guides. Working on campus helps you immerse in the academic community and connect with fellow students and faculty members.
  • Off-campus work permits: With a valid study permit, you may be eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as summer or winter holidays. To work off-campus, you’ll need to apply for a work permit through the Off-Campus Work Permit Program (OCWP). This program allows you to gain experience in Canadian workplaces beyond your institution.
  • Co-op and internship programs: Many Canadian institutions have cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs that integrate work experience with academic studies. These programs provide you with practical, hands-on learning opportunities in your field of study. Co-op positions are often paid, and they allow you to apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios while building professional networks.
  • Post-graduation work permits: Upon completing your program of study, you may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). The PGWP allows you to work in Canada for a specified period, usually up to three years, depending on the duration of your program. This work experience can be invaluable for enhancing your skills, exploring career opportunities, and potentially transitioning to permanent residency in Canada.

It’s important to note that certain work experiences may be eligible for consideration under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. The NOC is a standardized system used by the Canadian Government to classify and categorize occupations based on skill types and levels. Work experience gained in specific NOC skill levels may be relevant for future immigration or permanent residency applications through programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

To determine if your work experience can be counted towards an NOC, it’s crucial to review the NOC guidelines and consult with authorized immigration authorities or legal professionals. They can provide detailed information on how your specific work experience aligns with the NOC and its implications for your immigration or permanent residency goals.

  • Why was my Study Permit Rejected?

Common problems that international students may encounter with their study permit applications include:

  1. Incomplete or inaccurate documentation: Failing to provide all the required documents or submitting incorrect information can lead to delays or even rejection of the application. It’s essential to carefully follow the instructions provided by the immigration authorities and ensure all documents are accurate and up to date.
  2. Low grades: AnIRCC officer may reject a study permit application if the applicant has poor academic performance in “core courses” or “core subjects” relevant to their intended program of study in Canada.
  3. Insufficient financial support: Demonstrating adequate financial resources to support oneself during the study period is crucial. If applicants fail to provide sufficient evidence of funds or their financial documents are not deemed acceptable, their applications may be denied.
  4. Inadequate proof of ties to home country: Immigration officials want to ensure that applicants have strong ties to their home country and a genuine intention to return after completing their studies. If individuals cannot convincingly demonstrate their ties, such as family, employment, or property, their study permit applications might be rejected.
  5. Lack of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI): To be eligible for a study permit, applicants must have an acceptance letter from a recognized DLI in Canada. Failure to provide this acceptance letter or choosing an institution that is not on the designated list can result in application refusal.
  6. Medical and security issues: Applicants need to undergo medical examinations and may be subject to security checks. If there are concerns regarding an applicant’s health or security, it can affect the study permit application process.
  7. Submission timing: Applying too late may not allow sufficient processing time. It’s crucial to submit the application within a reasonable timeframe.

It’s important to note that individual circumstances can vary, and it’s recommended to consult official immigration resources or seek professional advice to ensure accurate and up-to-date information specific to one’s situation.

  • Helpful Resources

When applying for a study permit in Canada, it’s essential to have access to relevant information and support. Here are some helpful resources to assist you throughout the process:

  • Online study permit application portal: The Government of Canada provides an online portal where you can submit your study permit application. This portal offers step-by-step guidance and allows you to track the status of your application.
  • Designated learning institutions (DLIs): DLIs are educational institutions approved by provincial or territorial governments to host international students. Consult the official list of DLIs to find the institutions eligible to receive international students.
  • Contact information for assistance: If you have questions or need clarification regarding the study permit application process, contacting Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can provide you with the necessary guidance. Visit the IRCC website for contact information and available support channels.
  • Additional resources for immigration and citizenship: The Government of Canada offers various resources to help you navigate the immigration and citizenship processes. Explore the official websites and online portals dedicated to immigration, refugees, and citizenship for comprehensive information.

Remember to regularly check the official Government of Canada website for the most up-to-date information and requirements specific to your situation. Please note that individual circumstances can vary, and it’s recommended to consult authorized immigration resources or seek professional legal advice to ensure accurate and up-to-date information specific to one’s situation.

  • When might I need a lawyer?

A lawyer may be needed or recommended in the following situations related to study permit applications or other immigration matters:

  1. Complex or unique circumstances: If your case involves complex legal issues or unique circumstances, such as previous refusals, criminal history, or medical inadmissibility, consulting a lawyer can provide expert guidance and increase your chances of a successful application.
  2. Eligibility concerns: If you are unsure about your eligibility for a study permit or have concerns about meeting the requirements, a lawyer can assess your situation, identify potential issues, and advise you on the best course of action.
  3. Document preparation and submission: Lawyers can assist with preparing and organizing your application materials to ensure accuracy and completeness. They can also handle the submission process, reducing the risk of errors or omissions.
  4. Legal representation: If your study permit application is refused or you encounter other immigration-related challenges, a lawyer can provide legal representation, advocate for your rights, and help you navigate the appeals or review processes.
  5. Immigration options beyond study permit: If you are considering other immigration pathways, such as permanent residency or work permits, a lawyer can provide comprehensive advice, assess your options, and develop a strategic immigration plan.

While hiring a lawyer can be beneficial, it’s not mandatory for every case. However, if you have concerns or specific circumstances, consulting with an immigration lawyer can provide valuable assistance with limiting risks and helping you navigate the application process.

  1. Conclusion

Studying in Canada as an international student can be a transformative experience, providing you with world-class education, career opportunities, and a multicultural environment. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the Canadian study permit program, make informed decisions, and embark on an exciting educational journey in Canada.

If you are looking for assistance with applying for a study permit or other immigration matters in Canada, our team of professionals at Borders Law can help. We are a team of experienced lawyers specialized in immigration matters, dedicated to helping foreign nationals like you achieve their educational goals in Canada. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, we have assisted countless individuals with successful Canadian study permit applications and turned their dreams into reality. You can review the testimonials of some of our past clients or book a consultation with one of our lawyers.



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Richa Jain

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