Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Immigration Corner | How to qualify for a Canadian study permit

Published:Tuesday | April 13, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Deidre S. Powell
Deidre S. Powell

Dear Ms Powell,

I am interested in applying to go to Canada as an international student. Does everyone need a visa to study in Canada? I already have a visitor’s visa, and so I was thinking I could just apply when I get there, or at the border. I also heard about a Student Direct Stream, is it best to apply under that? Can you please tell me how to apply? What is the exact amount that I need to apply? Thank you for your time.

– A.B.

Dear A.B.,

Canada is still accepting applications for study permit worldwide. Most foreign nationals are required to apply for a study permit to attend a school in Canada if the course will last more than six months at a designated learning institution in Canada.

Courses of general interest, self-improvement, distance learning or courses that you wish to observe without obtaining credits do not require a study permit. Since the pandemic, many of the schools have changed their curriculum, and so short courses may be offered online only.

Individuals are being encouraged to apply online for a student permit, instead of submitting paper applications or applying at the port of entry, due to the pandemic. Additionally, you should note that there are restrictions on who can travel to Canada at this time. It is therefore best to apply online for the study permit before you come to Canada.


1. Obtain an acceptance letter from the school of your choice. It must be from a recognised or designated learning institution for a programme that last more than six months.

2. If you wish to study in Quebec, you must also apply for a certificate of acceptance, known as a CAQ, from the government of Quebec. These documents must be obtained before you apply.

3. You can apply for a Canadian study permit online via or by creating a personal ‘MyCIC account’.

4. You must have access to a scanner and use a credit card to pay the requisite fees.

5. You will be asked specific questions and based on your answers, you will know if you are eligible to apply for a study permit. If you are found eligible, you will be provided with a personal checklist of the documents that you will need to upload through the online portal.

6. You should print this list and collate your documents for upload. You will have 60 days in which to finalise your application, or the system will ‘time out’ and your application deleted. You would need to restart the process if you failed to submit the application within that time.

7. You should also check to see if the visa office in your country requires additional documents to process your application and ensure that this is also submitted.

8. Once you have uploaded all the required forms and documents, you will be directed to pay the fees via credit card. Study permit fee is CDN$150 and biometrics fee (if required) is CDN$85.


When you apply for a study permit, you must satisfy the immigration officer that you are eligible to study in Canada and not deemed inadmissible. You will be required to prove that you have the financial means or resources to pay for tuition fees and living expenses for your entire studies.

There is no exact amount that is required to study in Canada. It depends on the actual tuition cost and living expenses. Each university in Canada set its own fees. If you do some research online, you will see that this varies according to the course or programme of study, whether it is an undergraduate or postgraduate study. If you are undertaking a course at a college, the same principle applies.

The average tuition fees and living expenses for undergraduate international students are approximately CDN$30,000 per year. If you are undertaking a course in the humanities and business, the fees are a little less, while programmes such as engineering and medicine, dentistry and veterinarian studies are among the more expensive, as tuition fees alone is approximately CDN$25,000 for dentistry and CDN$18,000 for medicine per year.

Once you are accepted in the school of your choice, you will be provided with the details of the tuition fees and an estimate of additional fees and living expenses.


There are other factors that you should bear in mind when applying for a Canadian study permit. I strongly recommend that you consult with an authorised immigration lawyer to guide you. Here are a few of the other factors to consider:

1. You may also be required to provide a medical and police clearance certificate from your home country.

2. You must clearly demonstrate that you intend to leave Canada at the end of you studies or at the end of the time that you are authorised to stay in Canada.

3. Provide proof of a strong connection to your home country.


You did not indicate your country of citizenship/residence. If you live in China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, or Vietnam, you may be eligible for fast processing by applying online via the Student Direct Stream. This is usually processed within 20 days, especially if you submitted your biometric data to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada when you applied for your visitor’s visa.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Submit your questions or enquiries via or call 613.695.8777 to book a telephone or Zoom meeting.