KGA Education Consult

Are you thinking about moving to Canada to study?

If so, you will need a study permit before you can pursue your education as an international student. A study permit is a document issued to foreign nationals by the Canadian government, allowing them to study at Designated Learning Institutions.

Here’s a list of the steps you will need to take to obtain your study permit and prepare for your move to Canada.

Step 1: Choose and enroll in a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

Before you can apply for a study permit, you will need to decide where you want to go to school. Provinces and territories designate different schools to enroll international students. These schools are known as Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). All primary and secondary schools in Canada are DLIs. You can find a list of post-secondary DLIs here.

Once you have selected a program and school of interest, it’s time to apply. Your application must include a letter of acceptance from a DLI.

Step 2: Ensure you meet the eligibility requirements

In addition to an acceptance letter from a DLI, there are several other eligibility requirements you will need to meet to apply for a study permit. These include:

  • Proof of funds. You will need to provide proof you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and living expenses (for you and any family members), as well as return expenses for yourself and any family members.
  • No criminal record. You may be required to prove you have no criminal record. You may be required to get a police certificate.
  • Good health. You may be required to get a medical exam to prove you are in good health.
  • Proof you will leave after permit expires. Finally, you will have to prove to an officer you will leave after your study permit expires.

Step 3: Get your documents in order

To apply for a study permit, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of acceptance. This is a letter of acceptance from your school. You can provide the original acceptance letter or an electronic copy.
  • Proof of identity. You and any family member travelling to Canada will need to provide a valid passport or travel document and two recent passport-sized photos.
  • Proof of financial support. You can use the following documents to provide proof of funds:
  • Canadian bank account in your name, if you’ve transferred money to Canada. The Scotiabank StartRight® Program provides banking support to international students. You can book an appointment with Scotiabank to set up a student account.
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution. Scotiabank offers a Student GIC Program that can be used to help demonstrate proof of funds.
  • Student or education loan from a bank.
  • Bank statements for the past four months.
  • Bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars.
  • Proof of paid tuition and housing fees.
  • Letter from the person or school giving you money.
  • Funding paid from within Canada, if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program.

You might also be required to provide:

  • Letter of explanation. Explains why you want to study in Canada and that you understand your responsibilities as a student.
  • Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ). If you want to study in Quebec for longer than six months you must include the CAQ document issued by the Gouvernement du Quebec. You can contact your DLI for details on how to apply for the CAQ.
  • Other documents. Other requirements may apply based on your country or region. You can check with the visa office for further instructions.

Step 4: Apply for Study Permit

You can complete your application for a study permit online or using a paper copy. Depending on where you apply (outside Canada, inside Canada or at a port of entry), there are different instructions on how to proceed. Instructions are on the Government of Canada website here.

To complete the application process, fill out the online or paper application, provide all documentation and pay your fees. Fees include application processing costs and a biometric fee. Biometrics includes your fingerprints and a digital photograph. Other fees may apply for a police certificate or medical exam based on your specific application.

You will get your study permit upon approval of your application.

Student Direct Stream (SDS)

Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for the Student Direct Stream (SDS). This program allows you to expedite the study permit process. The aim is to process SDS applications within 20 calendar days. To get faster processing you must provide your biometrics as soon as possible and meet all other eligibility requirements. The SDS application is only available online. Visit the Government of Canada website here to see if you are eligible for the SDS program.

Note: A study permit is not a visa. You may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) before you can travel to or enter Canada. If you require one of these documents, you will receive it with your study permit.

Step 5: Arrive in Canada

Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you want to set up some of your basic necessities so you can feel prepare and comfortable before the school year starts.

  • Find a place to live. When looking for accommodation, you can start by investigating your post-secondary institution’s on-campus options. Living on-campus can be a convenient choice as accommodations are often furnished and close to campus, making it easier for you to meet other students. You can also look for off-campus options using resources like Search4StudentHousing and RentFaster.
  • Set up a mobile plan. Most mobile phone providers offer student plans and packages. You can usually choose between a pay-as-you-go (prepaid) plan or a monthly contract option. Some of the top telecommunication companies in Canada include TelusRogers and Bell. Be aware that in order to secure a monthly contract option, a credit check is often required. It can be more difficult for newcomers who have no Canadian credit history.
  • Find a job. If you are interested in working part-time while you attend school, there are opportunities on and off campus. Working while studying can also be a great way to form business relationships with people and organizations that may want to employ you after graduation. You can visit the Government of Canada Job Bank to explore different employment opportunities.
  • Open a bank account. To ensure you are financially set up, you may want to open a bank account.  You can reach out to Scotiabank for more information and assistance in setting up a GIC, opening a student bank account and building a credit history. From now until January 31, 2022 you can also enter for a chance to win $30,000‡ towards  tuition, plus earn $60 with a no-monthly fee Student Banking Advantage® Plan1.


Check out Scotiabank’s website for helpful financial resources on student banking, budgeting, credit card use and more.

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