1. When to Apply
  2. How to Apply
  3. Get Started
    1. IRCC Secure Account
    2. IRCC Portal
  4. Documents Required for a Study Permit Application
    1. Carleton Letter of Acceptance
    2. Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)
    3. Financial Requirement
    4. Study Plan (Statement of Purpose)
    5. Biometrics
    6. Medical Exams
    7. Application Fees and Related Costs
    8. Accompanying Family Members
  5. Student Direct Stream
  6. After You Submit Your Application
    1. Processing Times
    2. Approval
  7. Travelling to Canada
    1. Applying for a Corrected Study Permit
  8. Using a Lawyer, Consultant or Agent to Prepare Your Application
  9. 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.

When to Apply

You may begin your study permit application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as soon as you have accepted an offer of admission from Carleton University. You may need some time to gather all of your documents for the application. These documents are listed and explained in your online application checklist and in visa office instructions (explained below).

This webpage provides an overview of the process and answers some frequently asked questions. You may also wish to view the ISSO’s video series on Applying for a Study Permit.

Continuing Carleton students who are not in Canada when their study permit expires may also use the process described here to apply for a new study permit. However, they will need additional documentation from the university and should contact the ISSO for guidance.

How to Apply

Your study permit application will be done online, using one of the two application systems at the IRCC website:

Both systems are easy to use. It is your choice.

  • There is no advantage in terms of priority given to the application or processing time.
  • The portal uses a dynamic online application form instead of PDF application forms.
  • The file upload limit is 2 MB4 for the Portal; 4 MB for the IRCC Secure Account.
  • The Portal is a dedicated system for visas and study permit applications from outside of Canada only. A Secure Account may be used for more types of applications to IRCC, such as study permit renewals and work permit applications.
  • The Portal is a separate account that is not connected to your IRCC Secure Account, if you have both.

Your application for a Study Permit will automatically be an application for the travel authorization you need for Canada. This is either a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), depending on the country that issued your passport. U.S. citizens and green card holders don’t need a TRV or an eTA.

Whichever system you use, your 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.

This page 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.

Get Started

IRCC Secure Account

Go to the Sign-in Page.

  1. Create an account.
  2. Once you are signed in, look for “Start an Application “, then “Apply to Come to Canada”. Choose the option for “visit, study, work”.
  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.
  5. Pay fees, electronically sign and submit your application.

IRCC Portal

  • If this is your first Portal application, you may need to request an invitation code
  • Sign in to the IRCC Portal.
  • Terms and Conditions: Read and accept to continue
  • Start an Application: Apply for visitor visa, transit visa, or study permit.
    • On a subsequent sign-in Continue an application you haven’t submitted.
  • Get Ready to Apply to Visit or Study in Canada. Read the information, following links for additional details. Check the box beside “I acknowledge that I’ve read and I understand the above information. I’m ready to start my application.” Then click “Start application”.
  • Answer the application questions. After each section, select “Save and Continue”. Once you begin an application, you have 60 days to complete and submit. If you don’t submit within that timeframe, the system will delete your application.
  • Pay fees, electronically sign and submit the application.

Documents Required for a Study Permit Application

The following documents are required for all study permit applications:

  • IMM 1294 – Application for Study Permit Made Outside of Canada (in the Secure Account only). This is a PDF form. You must open and fill it using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
    • In the Portal, the same information is collected through a dynamic e-application form.
  • Letter of Acceptance— Student Information for a Study Permit from Carleton University (details below).
  • Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) – This is a new requirement in 2024 for some students. Details below.
  • Your passport — Photocopy or scan 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

For best results, you should consult the visa office instructions for your country of residence. These may list additional forms or documents, as well as special requirements for certain documents. To locate the visa office instructions for your country:

  1. Go to 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 find a document checklist and visa office instructions in this list.

Depending on visa office requirements, you may need:

  • Additional application forms
  • Additional supporting documents; or documents that meet certain specifications
  • police certificate
  • Results of an immigration medical exam
  • Custodian declaration — For students under 18 years of age. Students of age 17 may not need a custodian, at the discretion of the immigration officer. 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.

If your online application does not list a particular document that you want to include, you can either:

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

Carleton Letter of Acceptance

A Letter of Acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is a required document for your study permit application. This essential Carleton document can be found in the Admissions section 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.

You should not include your entire admission package in your study permit application. If you have an entrance scholarship, you can include one of the following among your financial documents:

  • Scholarship letter (undergraduate students)
  • Statement of Standing on Admission (graduate students)

Your Letter of Acceptance document contains time-sensitive information and expires within your Carleton 360 account. It is strongly recommended that you download a copy for your records, as this document may be useful in the future.

Please note that Carleton Undergraduate Admissions and Graduate Admissions verify offers of admission as required by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) several times a week as part of their normal practices. Students do not have to request LOA verification.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)

PALs are not required for students applying for a study permit to study in a master’s degree or doctoral degree program. These students may indicate in their applications to IRCC that they are eligible for an exception from the PAL.

Some other categories of students don’t need PALs. See these complete details on the IRCC website.

Undergraduate students must include a PAL with their application. In most cases, the PAL is generated automatically once the student accepts their offer of admission to a program of study at Carleton. Students should allow up to a week for the PAL to appear in their Carleton 360 account. For more details about PALs, please see International Undergraduate Admissions 2024 Study Permit FAQs.

Financial Requirement

Your study permit application must satisfy the immigration officer that you have the financial means to support yourself and any accompanying dependents during your time in Canada. You should demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to pay for tuition fees plus living expenses (also called “room and board”) for at least your first year.

An immigration officer may also investigate whether enough money will be available to pay the cost of the entire program of study. This amount doesn’t necessarily have to be all in the bank at the time of the study permit application, but documentation should satisfy the officer that there will be a continuing source of sufficient income, from employment or business, for example.

  • 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 can make a reasonable estimate of future fees by adding a small percentage to the current tuition. This estimate will be acceptable for your study permit application.
  • Room and Board – As of January 1, 2024, estimated living expenses for students are based on Canada’s cost of living index. The figure for 2024 is $20,635 CDN for a single student. This figure will be adjusted yearly. Additional funds are needed for accompanying family members. See the IRCC website for details.

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/or housing fees
  • A letter from the person or school giving you money
  • Proof of funding paid from within Canada (such as a scholarship)

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

Your financial documents must satisfy the officer on each of 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.
  • The money is available without the student having to work in Canada.

Letter from Financial Supporter

The person providing financial support should:

  • Identify themself and provide complete contact information.
  • State (and document) their relationship to the student. If they aren’t a parent, they should explain why they are supporting the student’s education.
  • Attest 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 advisable 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 in advance of the published dates and deadlines for payments. 

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

  • How to make an international payment to a Student Account
  • 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 to achieve your future goals. Your study plan should demonstrate to an immigration officer that your true purpose in coming to Canada is to study.

Students address the following points in 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.

All study plans should answer these questions, but each student’s study plan should be personal and include specific details. Graduate students should take extra care to show how their program of study at Carleton connects their past activities and future goals. They should demonstrate that they are knowledgeable about career or business opportunities in their home country.


Biometrics are fingerprints and a photo. Valid biometrics are required for a complete 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.

After you submit your application, you will receive instructions for giving biometrics. You must then make an appointment. 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.

If you gave biometrics 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 by using the Check Status Tool.

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, called panel physicians and 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.

Medical exam results are valid for one year.

Application Fees and Related Costs

You can 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 eligibility assessment part of the online application. You will then be prompted to answer questions related to each family member.  The online system will create an application list for each person, below that of the principal applicant.

Student Direct Stream

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a facilitated application stream, available to legal residents of Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.

Eigibility for SDS is based on country of residence and not on 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:

After You Submit Your Application

Be alert for email notifications of new messages in your application account. The first message will be an acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) with your application number. If IRCC requests you to take action, or supply additional documents, there will be a strict deadline for you to comply.

Processing Times

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) publishes processing times on its website. These are not a service guarantee. Students should apply as soon as they have their Carleton Letter of Acceptance and other required documents.

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 a representative to assist with your study permit application can be found below.


Once your application is approved, IRCC will call for your passport for insertion of the visa, if you need one. As a next step, they will issue a Letter of Introduction through your application account. You should travel to Canada while your visa and Letter of Introduction are valid.

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 received initial approval from the visa office, 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 pay particular attention to:

  • 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, you may ask for an explanation.

  • The “Conditions” and “Remarks” areas. It is important that you understand this information.

Learn more about arriving in Canada

CBSA Travel Information for Students

ISSO Transition and Engagement Support for New Students

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.

Using a Lawyer, Consultant or Agent to Prepare Your Application

Many Carleton students prepare their own study permit applications. Members of the ISSO’s Immigration Advising Team are licensed immigration professionals, and can provide information and support. We cannot complete your 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