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Study permits and visas

As of January 22, 2024, most students need to provide a provincial attestation letter (PAL) from the province or territory where they plan to study. Some exceptions apply. Find out more.

The most important document you need before you arrive in Canada as an international student is a study permit.

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Learn more about study permits and visas:

How to get a study permit

Before you apply for a study permit, you need:

A designated learning institution is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are designated learning institutions.

If you plan to attend a post-secondary school, such as a college or university, make sure it’s on the list.

If you need to take certain courses before you are accepted into your program (conditional acceptance), you’ll be given a study permit for the duration of those courses. Once the college or university accepts you into your chosen program, you must apply to extend your study permit.

Note: If you plan to attend a college or university in Quebec, you need a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) from the Government of Quebec before you apply for a study permit. Your CAQ can act as your provincial attestation letter for Quebec but it must meet certain requirements. Your school can tell you how to apply for the CAQ.

About your study permit

As an international student with a study permit, you must:

First, it’s important to confirm that you are eligible to apply for a study permit.

Check your study permit eligibility

Apply for a study permit

There are 2 ways to apply for a study permit: Online or by going to a visa application centre in your country.

We suggest you apply for a study permit as soon as you have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian college or university and provincial attestation. It can take up to 3 months to get a study permit, depending on the country where you are applying.

Biometrics collection

You may need to give your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) when applying for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit for Canada. If you need to give your biometrics with your application, you will have to go in person to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) closest to you.

Find out if you need to give your biometrics.

If you’re required to give your biometrics, don’t submit your study permit application by mail. Instead, please submit it at the VAC when they collect your biometrics.

What to do after you apply for a study permit

You can check the status of your study permit application on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website. The information is updated daily. First, you need to set up an account on the site.

Sometimes, the processing centre will ask you to send more information. Learn more about the application process.

How to apply for a travel or work visa

Not everyone needs a travel or work visa, but before you arrive in Canada, you should determine whether your plans require you to get a travel or work visa.

Stays less than 6 months

If your time in Canada will be less than 6 months, you’ll need one of the following visas as an international student:

To find out which travel visa you need, answer these online questions.

Work visa during your studies and beyond

If you are attending a post-secondary program in Canada you may be eligible to work during your studies. You can work part-time without a work permit if you meet all of these requirements:

If you want to be part of a work placement while studying, you’ll need to apply for a work permit.

Learn more


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