1. Who Needs a Study Permit?
  2. When to Apply
  3. How to Apply
    1. Start an Online Application
    2. Carleton Letter of Acceptance
    3. Graduate Students with Admission Conditional on WES Educational Credential Assessment
    4. Financial Requirement
    5. Study Plan (Statement of Purpose)
    6. Biometrics
    7. Medical Exams
    8. Application Fees and Related Costs
    9. Accompanying Family Members
    10. Student Direct Stream
  4. Processing Times
  5. After Your Application is Approved
  6. Travelling to Canada
    1. COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
    2. Applying for a Corrected Study Permit
  7. Using a Lawyer, Consultant or Agent to Prepare Your Application
  8. Learn More About Study Permits

Kindly note that the information on this web site does not, and is not intended to constitute legal advice, and instead all information, content and material is for general information purposes only. Readers should contact and consult with an authorized immigration representative to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from an authorized representative in the relevant jurisdiction and with expertise in immigration law. Only your authorized representative can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation. The content and information are provided “as is;” and no representations are made that the content or information is accurate, complete or error-free. Any liability is expressly disclaimed and Carleton University will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the use or reliance on the information or content.

Who Needs a Study Permit?

Most international students need a study permit to study at a Canadian university.

Most students must apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for their study permit before coming to Canada to study.

These are general rules, but there are exceptions.

Citizens and permanent residents of the United States may apply for a study permit as they enter Canada.

A study permit holder has temporary resident status in Canada. They may remain in Canada and study at a Designated Learning Institution for the period indicated on the permit. Most Carleton students have a study permit that indicates they may also do some work in Canada.

It’s important for students to know the terms and conditions that apply to study permit holders in Canada as well as what work may be authorized by their study permit. Students who don’t meet the conditions that apply to their status are at risk of losing their status and being asked to leave Canada.

When to Apply

You can begin your study permit application as soon as you have accepted an offer of admission from Carleton University. It may take you some time to gather some of the documents for the application. It is a good idea to review your application checklist(s) as a first step. Also IRCC’s processing times can be uncertain. Therefore it’s a good idea to start as soon as possible.

How to Apply

Your study permit application may be done either:

Your Study Permit application will automatically include an application for either a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), depending on the country that issued your passport. A TRV or an eTA is required for travel to Canada.

Your Study Permit application must demonstrate to the officer that you are coming to Canada for a temporary purpose, that your purpose is to study, and that you can afford to pay your tuition and living expenses in Canada.

The following provides a guide to the application process and answers some frequently asked questions. It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit a complete and correct application that meets all of IRCC’s requirements.

Start an Online Application

Due to COVID-19, currently the only way to apply for a study permit is online at the Government of Canada website.

  1. Create an account.
  2. Once you are signed in, look for “Start an Application “, then “Apply to Come to Canada”.
  3. Answer the questionnaire. Your answers tell the system which forms and documents to include in your application list.
  4. Complete the application forms and upload documents as PDFs or picture files.

For best results, you should also consult the visa office instructions for your country. These may include additional forms or documents, as well as special requirements for documents.

To locate the visa office instructions for your country:

  1. Look at IRCC’s instructions for applying on paper.
  2. Select your country of residence from the pull-down menu.
  3. Click “Get Documents”.
  4. You will see a document checklist and visa office instructions as the first and second items on the list.

The following documents are mandatory to submit with  all study permit applications:

  • IMM 1294 – Application for Study Permit Made Outside of Canada (This is a PDF form. You must open it using Adobe Acrobat Reader).
  • Letter of Acceptance— Student Information for a Study Permit from Carleton University (see details below).
  • Your passport — Ensure that you photocopy or take a scan of all pages that are not blank.
  • Proof that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees and living expenses for your first year at Carleton.
  • Photo— digital format.

Depending on visa office requirements, you may also need:

  • Additional application forms, according to your country-specific checklist
  • Additional supporting documents, according to your country-specific checklist
  • police certificate
  • Results of a medical exam
  • Custodian declaration — For students under 18 years of age. Please note that Carleton University cannot act as a custodian or assist in finding a custodian in Canada.
  • Study Plan, sometimes called a Statement of Purpose – Some visa offices require a study plan. It is always a good idea to include one, even if it is not mandatory. Your study plan must be personal and reflect your individual circumstances. Additional guidance on content you may wish to include can be found below.

If you want to include additional documentation and there is not a specific application line that describes it, you can either:

  • Merge it with electronically with a related document, or
  • Upload it to the optional Client Information line of the application.

Carleton Letter of Acceptance

A Letter of Acceptance from your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is a required document for your study permit application. This essential Carleton document can be found in the Admissions area of your Carleton 360 account. The file name is “Visa Letter” if you are an undergraduate, and “International Students Letter” if you are a graduate student. The title of the document in both cases is “Student information for a Study Permit”. This one-page document meets IRCC’s requirement for a Letter of Acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution. In most cases, this is the only Carleton document that students include in their study permit application.

Note that your Letter of Acceptance document contains time-sensitive information that expires within your Carleton 360 account. It is strongly recommended that you download a copy for your records.

Graduate Students with Admission Conditional on WES Educational Credential Assessment

You can use your conditional offer of admission to apply for a study permit. You may wish to include proof that you have applied for the WES assessment. You should be prepared to provide IRCC with proof that conditions have been cleared and your WES report sometime during the processing period.

Financial Requirement

Your study permit application must satisfy the immigration officer that that you have the financial means to support yourself (and any accompanying dependents) during your time in Canada. This typically includes providing evidence that, at the time of application, you have enough money for tuition fees plus living expenses (also called “room and board”) for one year.

  • Tuition – Your Carleton admission document will show a wide range for tuition. Use Carleton’s tuition and fee estimator to find actual tuition fees in the current academic year. If your first year in Canada goes into the next academic year, you may need to make a reasonable estimate of what fees will be after the university does its annual review. Actual fees for the next academic year are usually available in May.
  • Room and Board – If you will live in Residence, you can use the Residence fee for your room and board figure. If you don’t know what your living expenses will be in Canada, you can use the estimate of $10,000 CDN for twelve months for a single person. Add $3,000-4,000 for each family member.

Documents for Proof of Financial Means

This list is copied from the IRCC website. These items are suggestions: you do not need all of them.

  • Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name, if you’ve transferred money to Canada
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution
  • Proof of a student or education loan from a bank
  • Your bank statements for the past 4 months
  • A bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars
  • Proof you paid tuition and housing fees
  • A letter from the person or school giving you money
  • Proof of funding paid from within Canada, if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program

Your financial documents must satisfy the officer on all these points:

  • There is enough money available to you for your first year in Canada.
  • The money is allocated to your education (meaning that it has been set aside for your education and no other purpose). If it is not your own money, your parent or other sponsor must demonstrate the ability and commitment to paying your expenses.
  • The money is readily available, meaning not tied up in long term investments.
  • The money was obtained legitimately through employment or business earnings.

Documents should show complete contact information for account holders and financial institutions.

Letter from financial supporter

A letter should cover these points:

  • The person providing financial support identifies themselves and provides their full contact information.
  • Statement explaining their relationship to the student. If they aren’t a parent, they should explain why they are supporting the student’s education.
  • Attestation that they will pay the student’s educational expenses in Canada.
  • Mention the type of documentation that is provided as proof that they have the means to pay these expenses.

If the supporter is not the student’s parent, it is advised to notarize the letter.

Pre-Paying Tuition

Pre-paying tuition is one way to prove financial means. It is not required for all study permit applications.

Carleton University does not require students to pre-pay tuition fees. You can find university dates and deadlines for payments and refund requests at the Student Accounts website.

The Carleton Student Accounts website also answers most frequently answered questions about student money matters, including:

  • How to pay tuition by international money transfer
  • How to get a receipt

Study Plan (Statement of Purpose)

A study plan outlines why you want to study in Canada, and how your program of study will assist you in achieving your future goals. Your study plan should demonstrate to an immigration officer that your true purpose in wanting to come to Canada is to study.

Students should consider addressing the following points when putting together their Study Plan:

  • Why do you wish to study in Canada in the program for which you have been accepted?
  • What is your overall educational goal?
  • Why are you not pursuing a similar program in your country of residence/citizenship?
  • What research have you done into studies in your country of residence/citizenship?
  • How will this program enhance your employment opportunities in your country of residence/citizenship?
  • What ties do you have to your country of residence/citizenship? This is especially important for mature students. Some examples of ties are: Parents, children and other family members, membership in groups or communities, home ownership, business ownership, letter from an employer.

Your study plan should be personal and specific. Mature and graduate students should take extra care to show how their study at Carleton is a pathway from their past educational and work experiences to what they hope to accomplish in the future.

Biometrics

Biometrics are fingerprints and a photo. You must give biometrics to complete your study permit application. (US citizens are exempt.) Biometrics can be given at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or at an Application Support Center (ASC) in the United States (US). Students applying within Canada can give biometrics at a Service Canada Centre.

If you gave biometrics in the past as part of an application for a visitor visa, work or study permit within the past 10 years, you will not need to give them again. Find out if your biometrics are still valid and when they expire by using the Check Status Tool.

You must make an appointment to give biometrics. Some students may need to travel within their home country or in some cases, apply for a visa to travel to another country to submit biometrics. Find where to give biometrics.

Medical Exams

You may need to undergo a medical exam, depending on where you currently live or have visited in the last year. If you have lived in a designated country for more than six months recently, you may need a medical.

Immigration medical exams must be done by doctors approved by IRCC. They are called panel physicians and are listed on the IRCC website.

The doctor will send the full exam results to IRCC directly. The doctor will give you an “e-medical receipt”, which is the document you include in your study permit application.

Application Fees and Related Costs

You will expect to incur these costs in applying for a study permit:

  1. $150 application fee
  2. $85 biometrics fee
  3. Additional expenses that may include: photos, translations, notarization of documents, medical exam, educational credential assessment, police certificate(s), language tests, mail or courier, travel to complete Biometrics etc.

Accompanying Family Members

If you wish to have your spouse/partner and/or dependent children accompany you to Canada, answer “yes” to that question during the online eligibility questionnaire. You will then be prompted to answer subsequent questions for each person. The online system will add forms, documents and fees to your application for each family member.

Student Direct Stream

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a facilitated application stream, available to legal residents of China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal and Vietnam.

Please note that eligibility for SDS is based on country of residence and not country of citizenship. If you are currently living anywhere other than one of the countries listed above you must apply through the regular study permit application process

An application through the Student Direct Stream requires additional documentation:

Processing Times

Processing times vary by country and time of year. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) publishes processing times on its website. These are not always reliable, especially during 2020 and 2021 due to impacts and challenges of COVID-19. Students should apply as soon as they have their Carleton Letter of Acceptance and other required documents.

Please note: Carleton University has no direct influence on processing times and cannot make an inquiry or request to IRCC on your behalf about your study permit application. Information on hiring representatives to assist with your study permit application can be found below.

After Your Application is Approved

Once your application is approved, IRCC will call for your passport for insertion of the visa, if you need one. They will also issue you a Letter of Introduction. This letter is typically valid for a year or more (unless your passport expires earlier).

You will show the Letter of Introduction to immigration officials when you enter Canada. Following additional screening to ensure you still meet the eligibility criteria to enter Canada as an international student, your study permit will be printed at the Port of Entry.

Travelling to Canada

Pack these documents in your carry-on luggage so that they are easy to find:

  • Passport
  • Temporary Resident Visa or eTA
  • Letter of Introduction from the visa office
  • Your admission information from Carleton University

When you arrive at the airport in Canada, you will speak with a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer. Even though your study permit application was already approved, this officer makes the final decision to allow you to enter Canada.

Tell the officer that the purpose of your visit to Canada is to study. Show your documents and answer the officer’s questions clearly and simply.

The officer will prepare and print your study permit. You should look it over and ask any questions before you leave the immigration area of the airport. It is much easier to fix mistakes here, rather than later. You should look at:

  • Your personal information — Including your name, which should be the same as on your passport
  • The expiration date — This date may be:
    • About 90 days after you expect to finish your program at Carleton
    • The same as your passport expiry date
    • An earlier date, especially if you are studying English as a Second Language at first

If you don’t understand how the officer chose the expiry date, ask for an explanation.

  • The “Conditions” and “Remarks” areas. It is important that you understand this information. Also, if you are eligible to work as a student, then your study permit should have a sentence that starts with “May work…” or “May accept employment…”. You won’t be able to work if this sentence is missing. (Learn about your eligibility to work.)

Learn more about arriving in Canada.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

You can learn about the Government of Canada’s travel restrictions and exemptions, as well as quarantine requirements at the ISSO’s website. Contact the ISSO for pre-arrival support when you are ready to plan your travel using the form found at the website.

Applying for a Corrected Study Permit

If the CBSA officer makes a mistake on your study permit and you don’t notice until later, you can apply for a corrected document. There is no cost for this application, but processing can be slow and you have to send your original study permit with the application.

Using a Lawyer, Consultant or Agent to Prepare Your Application

Many Carleton students are able to prepare their own study permit applications. IRCC’s online system is easy to use. Members of the ISSO’s Immigration Advising Team are licensed to provide guidance and are available to provide information and support. We are not able to do an application for you, act as your representative, or make inquiries to IRCC on your behalf.

If you pay someone to do an immigration application for you, make sure they are an Authorized Representative under Canadian law: a lawyer, paralegal, Quebec notary, or Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. These professionals are members of regulatory bodies that work to protect consumers against fraud and unethical practices.

An Authorized Representative will always ask you to sign an IMM 5476 Use of Representative form to include with your application. Using an unauthorized or undeclared representative is illegal and may lead to a refusal of your application.

Applications prepared by Authorized Representatives don’t get faster processing times or other preferential treatment from IRCC.

Learn More About Study Permits

How to Apply for a Study Permit Extension from Inside Canada

Study Permit Terms and Conditions

Carleton University Compliance Reports to IRCC