Study Permit and Study Visa

Study Permit and Study Visa


A study permit is a document issued by IRCC that serves as permission for international students to study in Canada. Foreign students cannot study at any program longer than 6 months in Canada without getting a valid study permit. The duration of the validity of a study permit corresponds to the length of the program of studies plus 90 days following program completion or the expiry date of the student’s passport, whichever occurs first.

Student Visa is a sub-category of Temporary Resident Visas. This type of visa allows students to stay and study in Canada, issued for multiple entries. The duration of the validity of the visa corresponds to the duration of study permit or validity of passport.

Foreign nationals may Study Permit and Temporary Resident Visa in order to study in Canada. Study Permit holder may study programs that are longer than 6 months. The duration of validity may vary depending on the personal situation of the applicant and the length of the program. Temporary Resident Visa allows international students to re-entry Canada during their study in Canada, and its validity duration equals to the duration of the study permit or passport.

It’s important to note that from the beginning of 2024, before applying for a study permit, students who do not qualify for a PAL exemption must obtain a LOA issued by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) (the only school in Canada allowed to accept international students), as well as a PAL issued by the province or territory where the DLI is located.

The Requirements for Study Permit Application:

  1. Be accepted by a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI)
  2. Have enough funds to support their study and stay in Canada
  3. International Students under 17 may need to have a Canadian guardian designated by parents
  4. Pass the immigration medical exam
  5. Have no criminal record
  6. At the beginning of 2024, obtaining a PAL (Provincial Attestation Letter) will also become a requirement for students who are going to study in Canada for undergraduate, junior college, etc. (please see the detail information below)

Study Direct Stream Criteria:

  1. Be a legal resident living in one of the following countries: China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal or Vietnam
  2. Provide a copy of a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  3. Proof of Upfront medical exam
  4. A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000
  5. Proof of payment of first year’s study tuition fee
  6. IELTS Score and band at least 6 in English or NCLC 7 for French

Study Permit Extension Criteria:

  1. Be enrolled in Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLI)
  2. Have enough funds to support their study and stay in Canada

PAL (Provincial Attestation Letter)

What is PAL? PAL is a verification method that is used to verify that an applicant has obtained a study place within the maximum quota set by the federal government. If an educational institution has used up its quota of PAL for the year, it will not be able to submit further applications or study permits for that year.

IRCC issued a notice at the beginning of 2024 specifying that starting in 2024, PAL will be required when applying for Canadian study permit. Specifically for most new international students at university or undergraduate level, PAL will be part of their application for a study permit in addition to a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) issued by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). The purpose is to help maintain and strengthen that integrity of the Canadian Citizenship student system while supporting sustainable population growth.

IRCC has informed all provinces and territories that they must establish an implementation framework and process for issuing PALs to international students by March 31, 2024.

**Note: IRCC has indicated that they will return any study permit application received without an accompanying PAL unless the applicant is exempt.

Who need or who doesn’t need a provincial attestation letter (PAL)?

According to IRCC’s notice, PAL is required in the following cases:

  • Primary and secondary school students
  • Master’s or doctoral degree students
  • Students whose application we received before 8:30 a.m. EST on January 22, 2024
  • You’ve entered Canada and one of the following situations described under subsection 215(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) applies to you:
    • You’re a temporary resident who is a visiting or exchange student studying at a designated learning institution (DLI).
    • You have a study permit and are applying for a study permit extension.
    • You have a work permit.
    • Students who have already been approved for a study permit and intend to travel to Canada for an upcoming program.
    • You’re under a removal order, but can’t be removed from Canada at this time.
    • You have a temporary resident permit valid for at least 6 months.
    • You’re a protected person.
    • You’re eligible for permanent residence
      • Based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
      • Base on a current public policy, or
      • As a spouse or common-law partner (through the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class).
  • You’ve entered Canada and you’re the family member of a foreign national who lives in Canada and who is in one of the following situations described under subsection 215(2) of the IRPR:
    • A study permit holder
    • A work permit holder
    • A temporary resident permit holder with a permit that’s valid for at least 6 months
    • A member of armed forces in another country under the Visiting Forces Act
    • An accredited foreign government representative
    • A participant in certain sports activities or events
    • A worker in Canada who is a member of a foreign news company.
    • A religious worker
    • A protected person
    • Eligible for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
    • Eligible for permanent residence based on a current public policy
    • Eligible for permanent residence as a spouse or common-law partner (through the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class)

Basic Steps Towards getting a PAL

Some international students looking to study in Canada will first need an LOA from their chosen DLI, and to confirm their acceptance wit their school (usually by way of a deposit). The exact details around the monetary amount and nature of the deposit can vary depending on the specific DLI that an international student attends, thus IRCC recommends that students correspond directly with the school to understand the specific information relevant to them.

Once admission is confirmed, DLIs will then apply to the relevant provincial government on the student’s behalf for a PAL. Once a PAL is received, schools will make it available to the student, who may then use the letter, along with their LOA and other needed documents, to obtain a Canadian study permit.

The process is summarized as following (remember, different provinces and different educational institutions will have different methods and requirements, and students can consult the school for specific circumstances):

Step 1: Get an Offer from a DLI

Step 2: Accept the Offer (Accept the Offer by: pay the appropriate deposit or other ways)

Step 3: The school submits the PAL application to the provincial government on behalf of the student (the school may send a PAL confirmation form to the student and submit the PAL after the student has confirmed it)

Step 4: The school is approved PAL, notify the students by email, and send the PAL letter to the students

Step 5: Students apply for a Canadian study permit with the PAL, LOA, and other documents required for application

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