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Student Visa Canada: What You Need to Study in Canada

Are you planning to study abroad in Canada? If so, you’ll need to apply for your study permit, also known as a student visa. A Canada student visa allows someone to enter Canada as a student. Your study permit itself will be issued on arrival, allowing you to study full-time at a designated learning institution (or DLI) in Canada. To be eligible, you must be enrolled in a study program listed under the Canadian government’s Designated Learning Institution (DLI) list. You must apply for a student visa before travelling to Canada, and you must have all the essential documents gathered (and translated, if needed!), like a Statement of Purpose and proof of funds for a Canada student visa before applying.

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Below, we’ll break down study permit application requirements and go over what Canadian border services officers (AKA Canadian visa officers) check for. Depending on where you travel from, your requirements may vary. Also, study permit guidelines and requirements are subject to change. For these reasons, we suggest you stay up to date. You can do this by checking the Government of Canada’s international student resources. The Government of Canada’s website is the official source of information for students who want to study in Canada.

Note: In addition to your study permit, you must also obtain a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). Thankfully, this is incorporated into the application process, so you’ll most likely receive one automatically just by applying for your study permit.

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Letter of Acceptance (LOA)

If you still have to choose your program and institution, it’s time to do that. Once you have selected your program, your college or university must send you an official letter of acceptance (LOA). You must include the original LOA with your student visa application.

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Students who will study in Québec must also apply for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Certificate of Acceptance to Québec, or CAQ). Most temporary foreign workers and students who intend to reside in Québec require a CAQ.

Proof of Identity for Canada Student Visa

You must submit a valid passport or travel document, as well as two recent passport-size photos. Please include your name and date of birth on the back of both photos. Also, you should have a minimum of one blank page in your passport for your student visa to go on.

If you have family members travelling to Canada with you, each member is also required to submit their application. If possible, we recommend applying for your visas together, to prevent delays. Adults and children may have different requirements. These documents must allow you and your family to return to your home country.

Purpose of Visit

This is your opportunity to share why you wish you come to Canada: to enhance your education. You may need to share certain details or supporting documents within this step, such as your past education credentials, work experience, career plans and progression, and a language proficiency test. Accepted language proficiency tests include IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE, among others.

Proof of Funds for Canada Student Visa

You must have the financial capacity to support yourself, and your family members if applicable. This may also be referred to as proof of funds for Canada student visa, or proof of financial support. Learn more about how to assemble your proof of financial support on our blog.

You can prove you have the financial capacity to afford your international studies in Canada with:

  • A letter of support from your parents, other family members, or your school
  • Current bank statements (requirements vary, but from within the last six months are best)
  • Balance certificates
  • Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name
  • Documentation of a student loan and/or scholarships
  • Proof of tuition and housing payments
  • Sources of income of your financial sponsor, if applicable.
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Note that the minimum financial requirement to study in Canada has increased as of 2024. You’ll need to show you have access to at least C$20,635, in addition to your travel costs and first year of tuition, in order to receive your study permit.

Letter of Explanation or Statement of Purpose for Canadian Visa

Part of what Canadian visa officers check for when deciding to grant you a Canadian student visa is your letter of explanation or statement of purpose. This letter must help the person reading your application understand why you’re coming to Canada. It’s an opportunity to explain why you want to study in Canada, and what makes you a great candidate for your program.

It’s important to acknowledge the responsibilities of an international student as well. If you have a gap in your studies, low grades, or have chosen a different program than your previous area of education, the Statement of Purpose included in your Canadian study permit application is where you can explain your rationale.

Ties to Your Home Country

Though you won’t need to attach a separate document, you’ll need to fill out this section in the study permit application. Here, you must show your economical and emotional incentive to return to your home country after graduation. Think of things like your family, any property you own or rent, investments, or similar ties.

Personal Documents

You may need to include additional documents, depending on the requirements of your country. You may have to provide the following:

  • Biometrics
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
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