Everything You Need To Know About Canada Student Visa

Are you eager to embark on a transformative academic journey in Canada? Navigating the process of obtaining a student visa can be both exciting and challenging. At StudyHQ, we understand the significance of this pivotal step in your educational adventure. Our mission is to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information on Canada’s student visa requirements and guidelines, helping you make right decisions. In this article, we will guide you through the essential visa application steps, ensuring a smooth transition into your Canadian academic experience.

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Who Needs A Canada Study Permit?

  • Most international students planning to study in Canada
  • If study program is longer than six months
  • For programs shorter than six months for certain countries
  • Students approved by DLIs
  • Citizens of visa-exempt countries might study without a permit for short periods, but extensions could require one
  • Family members of students
  • Work-Study Programs
  • Citizens of visa-required countries

Read the Canada new rules for international students in 2024. Talk to our student advisor to make your Study in Canada dream possible with easy options.


A Designated Learning Institution is an educational establishment in Canada approved by the government to enroll international students. To qualify for a Canadian student visa, one must be accepted by a DLI. While primary and secondary schools are automatically considered DLIs, not all universities and educational institutions hold this status. Prospective students can check the official Government of Canada website to confirm an institution’s DLI status by selecting their province or territory. If an institution loses its DLI status while a student is enrolled, they can continue until their study permit in Canada expires, after which they must switch to a DLI to renew their permit.

  • Visit the official IRCC website.
  • Choose your province of interest.
  • Enter the name of your institution or city to find its DLI status.
  • Note down the DLI number, which is required for your study permit application.

Difference Between SDS and Non SDS Visa

Student Direct Stream Visa

For quicker processing, individuals from select countries can utilize the Student Direct Stream.

You are eligible to apply through the SDS if you are a resident of any of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • the Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

The SDS visa pathway is designed to expedite the visa application process for eligible international students. It aims to provide a quicker processing time and streamlined documentation. For students applying under the Student Direct Stream (SDS), you’ll need to include:

  • Language Test Scores: Provide proof of language proficiency through acceptable language tests like IELTS or CELPIP, with minimum scores of 6 in each category.
  • Proof of Financial Stability: Furnish evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition, living expenses, and return transportation costs. This includes bank statements, financial support letters, and other financial documents.
  • Proof of Acceptance: Include your official letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada.
  • Valid Passport and Study Permit: Attach copies of your valid passport and study permit from your home country, if applicable.
  • Online Application Package: Complete the online application with accurate details and required documentation.
English Language TestMinimum Overall ScoreMinimum Score in Any Module
IELTS Academic6 bands5.5 bands
Pearson Test of English (PTE)Overall 60
Canada Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL)Overall 60

Non Student Direct Srteam Visa

The Non-SDS pathway is an option for students who do not meet the SDS eligibility criteria or prefer a more flexible application process. Although the processing time might be longer, Non-SDS applicants still have a chance to pursue their Canadian education. For Non SDS applicants, prepare documents like:

  • Educational Transcripts: Submit academic transcripts, certificates, and diplomas from previous educational institutions.
  • Language Proficiency Scores: Provide language test results, such as IELTS or other acceptable tests, as per the language requirements.
  • Proof of Financial Support: Demonstrate your financial capability to cover tuition and living expenses during your stay in Canada.
  • Identity and Travel Documents: Include valid identity and travel documents, along with any other requested materials.
  • Additional Documents: Depending on your situation, you might need to provide additional documents specified by the Canadian Government.
Level of StudyEnglish Proficiency TestMinimum Overall Score
Undergraduate (UG)IELTS Academic6.0 bands
Postgraduate (PG)IELTS Academic6.5 bands

Canadian Visa Eligibility Criteria 2024

Obtaining a Canadian Student Visa is a significant step towards your educational dreams. To be eligible, you generally need:

  • Enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI): You must be accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. DLIs are approved by provincial or territorial governments to host international students.
  • Financial Capacity: You must demonstrate that you have enough financial resources to cover:
    • Tuition Fees: Provide evidence that you can pay your tuition fees for the duration of your studies.
    • Living Expenses: Show that you can support yourself and any accompanying family members financially throughout your stay in Canada.
    • Return Transportation: Prove that you have the means to afford return transportation for yourself and any family members who accompany you to Canada.
  • Compliance with the Law:
    • Criminal Record: You must not have a criminal record. If required, you must obtain a police certificate from your home country or any country where you have lived for more than six months since turning 18.
    • Obeying the Law: You must agree to obey Canadian laws and regulations during your stay in the country.
  • Health Requirements:
    • Good Health: You must be in good health and willing to undergo a medical examination if required. This examination is to ensure that you do not pose a risk to public health and safety.
  • Intent to Leave Canada: You must convince the immigration officer that you have a genuine intention to leave Canada upon the expiry of your study permit. This can be demonstrated through ties to your home country, such as family, employment prospects, or assets.

Meeting these eligibility criteria is crucial for obtaining a study permit to study in Canada. It’s essential to provide accurate and complete documentation to support your application and to adhere to all application procedures outlined by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

canadian visa requirements 2024

The documents required for a Canadian student visa may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your application and the country you are applying from. However, here are some common documents that are typically required:

  • Proof of Acceptance: Obtain a letter of acceptance (LOA) from your chosen educational institution. This document confirms your admission to the school. Ensure the LOA is valid and attach it to your study permit application.
  • Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL): Most students require a PAL from the province or territory where they intend to study. This is a new requirement as of January 22, 2024. The process for obtaining a PAL varies by province, and you should check with the relevant authorities for details.
  • Proof of Identity: Provide a valid passport or travel document for yourself and each accompanying family member. Additionally, include two recent passport-size photos with names and birthdates written on the back.
  • Proof of Financial Support: Demonstrate that you can financially support yourself and any accompanying family members while studying in Canada. Acceptable forms of proof include bank statements, Canadian bank account information, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), student or education loans, tuition and housing fee receipts, sponsorship letters, or proof of funding from within Canada.
  • Additional Documents:
    • Letter of Explanation: Write a letter explaining why you wish to study in Canada and outlining your responsibilities as a student.
    • Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ): Required for studies in Quebec lasting longer than 6 months. The CAQ is issued by the Government of Quebec. Consult your school for guidance on applying for the CAQ.
    • Medical Exam: You may need a medical exam if staying in Canada for more than 6 months, recently visiting certain countries, or working in specific jobs.
    • Custodian Declaration (for minors): If applicable, include the Custodianship Declaration form, duly notarized, for minor children.
    • Other Documents: Review the visa office instructions for your country or region for any additional local requirements. If applying from a country other than your home country, you might need to prove your immigration status in that country.

Ensure all documents are provided as per the application instructions, and if any document is not in English or French, provide a certified translation. For specific details and updates, refer to the official government website or contact the relevant authorities.

How To Apply for Canada Student Visa In 2024?

  • Online Registration:
  • Document Preparation:
    • Gather the necessary documents required.
    • Consult the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country to verify documents.
    • Only authorized individuals, such as official translators or public notaries, can certify documents.
    • Check the embassy fees for Canada study visa in your country in advance.
  • Application Form:
    • Complete the application form along with any additional forms provided by the Canadian embassy.
  • Visa Fee Payment:
    • Make the visa fee payment online before submitting the form, which includes processing and biometric fees, and is non-refundable.
    • Take a print of the payment receipt and attach it to your application.
  • Application Submission:
    • As applications are accepted online, scan your documents and submit them on the immigration website.
    • The system will review your submission to ensure all necessary documents are provided and the correct visa fee has been paid.
    • Incomplete or incorrect submissions will be returned for revision.
    • The Canada Student Visa processing time can vary, so it’s better to plan ahead and submit your application in advance.

Alternative Ways To Apply For A Canada Student Visa

Depending on your nationality or circumstances, you have two additional ways to apply:

Applying for a Student Visa From Canada

  • This option is available to specific categories of individuals, including:
    • Ukrainian nationals or their family members
    • Minor children attending primary or secondary school
    • Exchange or visiting students
    • Those who completed a short-term study course in Canada (less than 6 months)
    • Holders of a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for at least 6 months, or their family members
    • Spouses (ineligible for UG students), common-law partners, sponsored immigrants, or permanent residence applicants
    • Individuals with study permits from outside Canada seeking extensions
    • Family members of Canadian-based sports teams, media representatives, clergy, military personnel assigned to Canada, or foreign representatives in Canada
  • Even if eligible, the application process must still be completed online.
  • You may also apply on-paper.

Applying for a Student Visa From the Port of Entry (POE)

  • This option is available under specific conditions:
    • Ukrainian citizens or their family members
    • Citizens of the USA
    • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) of the US
    • Residents of Greenland or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
  • To apply at the POE, obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and present the documents at the Canadian Port of Entry for review.

Applying In Person for a Student Visa

  • Certain individuals can apply in person:
    • Those with disabilities preventing online application
    • Holders of travel or identity documents issued to non-national residents, refugees, or stateless persons
  • If eligible, gather document copies and submit them at a Canadian embassy, an embassy outsourcing visa processing, or a visa application center.

Canadian Student Visa Rejection and Solutions

Canada is a prime choice for international students. However, the popularity of studying in Canada comes with a rigorous visa application process, leading to a significant number of rejections. The rejection rate has surged to 40-50% post-COVID, up from the pre-COVID rate of 15-20%.

Common Rejection ReasonsAddressing Rejections
Financial StabilityReapplying and rectifying the issue
Academic PerformanceIdentifying the exact rejection reason
Letter of AcceptanceSubmitting accurate and complete application
Language ProficiencyProviding high scores in language proficiency tests
Return PlansDemonstrating intent to return home
Course AlignmentStaying updated with immigration laws
DocumentationClear and compelling Statement of Purpose

Processing Duration of Canada Student Permits

Typically, the standard processing period for a student permit in Canada spans 12 weeks, while extensions are processed within approximately 34 days.

Processing TimeCanada Student Permits
Student Permit (Initial Application)12 weeks
Student Permit (Extension)34 days
Work Permit (Initial Application)29 weeks

canada student visa fees

Fee StructureAmount (CAD)
Study Permit Processing FeeCAD 150
Study Permit Biometrics FeeCAD 85
Work Permit Processing FeeCAD 155
Work Permit Biometrics FeeCAD 85
Study Permit Extension FeeCAD 229

Minimum Financial Requirements

The minimum bank balance for Canada student visa is set to ensure you have sufficient funds for tuition, living expenses, and more. These vary based on your study location, whether outside Quebec or within it.

For detailed financial figures, refer to the Finance in Canada. Fulfilling these criteria is essential for a successful study visa application.


Visa Validity:

  • Canadian student visa covers program duration + 90 days.
  • Use 90 days to prepare for departure or extend the visa.
  • Proof of program completion needed for extension.

Visa Extension:

  • Apply for renewal 30 days before expiry.
  • Check passport validity; expired passports affect eligibility.
  • Stay in Canada during processing; don’t leave near expiry.
  • Expired permit: Leave Canada, apply from outside.
  • Steps: Apply online or on paper; include required forms.
  • Attach documents; translations must be correct.
  • Work permit extension processing time varies; contact Consulate after 120 days.
  • Approval lets you stay until program end; denial means leaving.
  • Pay CAD 150 + CAD 85 for biometrics (if required) for extension.
  • Extend family permits if applicable; apply together for clarity.


Intake Period
Fall/September Intakes
Winter/January Intakes
Spring/May Intakes
Summer/July Intakes
Admission process usually begins 4-9 months before the term starts based on the term, program, and university.


The Study Work Permit: Working as a student in Canada is a good choice. It lets international students work in Canada while studying, providing valuable experience and financial support. It matches program duration and allows part-time work during studies and full-time during breaks. You may read Part-time Jobs for Students.

PR in Canada: International students can transition to PR in Canada after studies, mainly through the Express Entry system. Canadian education and work experience are advantageous. Want to know how much does it cost to become a Canadian citizen or how long does it take? Explore more in the PR in Canada post as you must know the rules for PR in Canada for international students.

Bringing Family Members to Canada

Your immediate family, including your spouse, common-law partner, and minor children, can join you in Canada while you pursue your masters studies. Spouse visas are no longer available for undergraduate students from 2024 as per the new rules. However, they need to apply for their own visas, specifically visitor visas, rather than study permits. You have the option to submit these applications collectively, indicating to the Canadian Consulate that you are a family unit and wish to remain together throughout your study period.

Traveling Home with a Canada Student Visa

With breaks in the Canadian school system during summer and winter, many foreign students desire to visit their home countries during these intervals.

The Canada student visa allows international students to journey abroad during their holidays. However, upon reentry to Canada, they must provide proof of their student status. This entails presenting a valid visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) along with their study permit. It’s crucial to note that even if the study permit is in effect, the visa or eTA must also be valid; otherwise, entry into Canada will be denied. Prior to departing Canada, it’s imperative to ensure that your documents are in order and valid. If they’re not, consider applying for extensions before your travel plans.

Changing Schools with a Canada Student Visa

The Canada student visa enables visa holders to switch schools during their enrollment, provided they fulfill the visa’s requirements. In the following circumstances, you must inform the Canadian Government of your school change:

  • Completing primary school and transitioning to high school.
  • Graduating from high school and commencing post-secondary education.
  • Changing post-secondary institutions as a university or college student, including:
    • Universities
    • Community colleges, CEGEP institutes.
    • Private universities, academies, career colleges, training institutions
    • Language training programs like English as a Second Language (ESL) / French as a Secondary Language (FSL) courses
  • Needing to modify conditions specified in your study permit

In these cases, you’re required to obtain a new study permit tailored to your new school. This entails navigating the application process to secure the updated study permit.

However, there’s no obligation to notify the Canadian Government when switching schools under these circumstances:

  • Transferring within the same educational level, like moving from one primary school to another.
  • Changing study programs while remaining within the same institution.
  • Pursuing a study program lasting 6 months or less.

When Your Canada Study Permit Application Gets Declined

Due to the high demand for Canadian study permits, it’s quite common for applicants to face rejection.

Ensure you prepare a well-prepared application. Here are some prevalent reasons for rejections and steps to rectify them:

  • Insufficient Financial Proof
  • Inadequate Acceptance Letter
  • Missing Documentation
  • Home Return Plans

Should your study permit application be denied by the IRCC, the refusal letter will provide the reason. While you can reapply at any time, ensure you address the reason correctly this time.

In cases you faced rejection wrongfully, you may reapply.

As we’ve checked the details of this visa, we’ve discovered its significance in education and personal growth in Canada. From eligibility criteria to application processes, financial requirements, and the potential to explore the vast Canadian landscape, this guide lets aspiring students with the knowledge to get started with their educational journey.