Pre-arrival Guide for Graduate Students

Pre-arrival Guide

For International Graduate Students Preparing to Study in Canada at the University of Lethbridge


Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Lethbridge (uLethbridge).  My name is Imarú Baquero, and I am the Manager of International Student Services.  It is my pleasure, along with our International Student Advisors and International Student Specialist to provide support and assistance to international students.

This guide was developed to provide you with information regarding coming to Canada and your application for a Canadian Study Permit. You will find answers to most of your questions here, so please read this guide thoroughly! If you still have questions, please email us at and we will do our best to help.

The University of Lethbridge has about 600 international students from over 90 countries.  As of September 2020, our full-time enrolment is approximately 8,984 students.  The University offers a wide range of recreational, cultural, social, and educational activities in addition to its academic programs.

The main campus of the University of Lethbridge is located in Lethbridge, Alberta, a very friendly and safe town.  It is approximately 220 kilometres (about a 2-hour drive) south of Calgary, Alberta.

The International Centre is located in the lower level of the Students’ Union Building, Room SU060. Please feel free to stop by anytime. It is a convenient place for you to meet other students from around the world, seek advice, obtain information on campus activities, and learn about workshops and events organized for you.

I look forward to welcoming you to our campus soon! Please let us know if we can assist you before your departure.



Imarú Baquero
Manager, International Student Services
University of Lethbridge

Applying for your Study Permit

Apply immediately for a study permit. Application processing times vary, but it is recommended to apply for your study permit as soon as possible upon receiving a Letter of Acceptance.

Your “Letter of Acceptance – Use for applying for Canadian Study Permit” is the only document you need from the university in order to apply for your study permit.

You can find detailed instructions on how to begin your application process here.

If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada, you do not have to submit a separate application or pay additional fees. It will be issued by the officer at the same time as your study permit authorization.

Accepting your Offer of Admission

To accept your offer of admission and pay your tuition deposit online (using Visa or MasterCard), visit the Bridge. To accept your offer of admission using another payment method, please see the instructions on the Confirmation of Admission (COA) in your offer of admission.  The payment of your $500 tuition deposit is non-refundable

Once you have received approval of your study permit, notify the International Centre immediately.  Email us at and include your full name and University of Lethbridge ID number. Please provide a scanned copy of your Letter of Introduction (stating approval of your study permit), and temporary resident visa (TRV) (if applicable).

When you arrive at the University of Lethbridge, please stop by the International Centre with your study permit (and TRV, if applicable).  This will ensure that you do not have trouble obtaining documents or registering for your next term.

Weather & Clothing

Lethbridge has a varied climate. The summers are warm and dry with temperatures reaching highs of over 30°C and the winters reaching temperatures well below 0°C (sometimes as low as -30°C). Our wide range of temperatures and weather conditions can make packing a challenge. Be sure to bring warm clothing or be prepared to purchase some for the months of November through April. You will need a warm winter jacket, boots, gloves, a hat, sweaters, and other warm clothing. A light jacket with a hood is recommended for fall (September - November) and spring months (April - June). In general, people dress casually in Lethbridge. Jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and a good pair of walking shoes tend to be the clothing items of choice for most uLethbridge students. In addition, you may wish to bring some formal clothing for special occasions. If you have traditional clothing or accessories you would like to wear on special events for international students, bringing it would be great.


If you are bringing any electrical equipment, it should be compatible with Canadian voltage which is 110 volts, 60Hz. It is also possible to purchase adapters for electrical outlets.


Airlines will restrict the weight of the baggage that may accompany you on your flight and charge you heavily for excess. Please check with your airline for baggage allowance. You may want to ship some of your belongings to Canada rather than bring them all with you on the airplane.

Finally, be sure that you carry all of your necessary documents (Letter of Introduction for your study permit, valid passport, TRV, documents/papers used to obtain study permit, Letter of Acceptance from the University of Lethbridge) with you on the plane in a safe, secure place. Do not pack your documents in your suitcase, as officials will ask to see them when you arrive in Canada.

We recommend that you do not carry a lot of cash with you when you travel. Most stores, restaurants, and hotels accept major credit cards (VISA and MasterCard). You should bring enough money to cover your expenses during your first month of study: temporary accommodation, restaurant meals, textbooks, supplies, rental deposits, and utility hook-up fees.

Alternatively, you may bring a bank draft with you, and then deposit it in the bank of your choice when you arrive in Canada. Note that it might take from ten to thirty days for your bank draft to be processed.

Students are encouraged to send money to their university student account using Western Union once they have received approval of their study permit. You can find more information here.

If you enter Canada with $10,000 CAD or more (in any form – cash, cheques, bank drafts, traveller’s cheques), you must declare it to the Border Services Officer upon arrival.

In general, we recommend that you arrive at least two weeks before the start of classes.  This will give you time to get settled and become familiar with your new home before New Student Orientation and the start of classes.

When planning your arrival for the Summer term, please note:

  • Classes typically begin in the first week of May.
  • A formal New Student Orientation is not offered for the Summer term; it is highly recommended that you visit the International Centre shortly after you arrive in Canada for a personalized orientation meeting.

When planning your arrival for the Fall term, please note:

  • New Student Orientation will typically take place in the last week of August or first week in September.
  • Classes typically begin in the first week of September.
  • Most University offices and services, including the International Centre, will be closed on the first Monday of September for Labour Day holiday. 

When planning your arrival for the Spring term, please note:

  • New Student Orientation will typically hold in the first week of January.
  • Classes typically begin in the first week of January
  • All University offices and services, including the International Centre, will be closed between December 25 and January 1 inclusive each year. Most businesses are also closed on December 25, so plan your arrival accordingly.


Yes! New Student Orientation (NSO) and Graduate Student Orientation (GSO) are the best way to start of your studies.  At NSO, you'll learn what is expected of you as a uLethbridge student, meet with faculty and staff, become familiar with campus resources and, of course, meet other students new to uLethbridge!

  • New Student Orientation for the Fall term will typically hold in the last week of August or first week in September.
  • New Student Orientation for the Spring term will typically hold in the first week of January.

New Student Orientation is free to attend!

For Calgary Campus, the New Student Orientation dates may be different from those above.  Watch your uLethbridge email for an invitation to Calgary Campus NSO!

It is important to be realistic about how much your cost of living will be each month. If you are single and plan to live in shared accommodations, you need to plan to spend a minimum of $1,000 a month on living costs. If you choose to live alone or are bringing your family, your costs will be higher. It is important to ensure you have adequate funds to cover your academic and living costs for the year without depending on work from outside sources.

If you are depending upon meeting some of your financial requirements through money you will receive in Canada, you need to find out if the money will be available upon your arrival in Lethbridge.

Keep in mind that your first month’s expenses can be high given the costs associated with setting up a new residence, such as paying an extra month’s rent as a security deposit, buying furniture and household items, purchasing warm clothing, etc.

Typically, graduate students choose to live off campus. The cost of living off campus varies depending on the type of accommodations you choose (e.g. living with roommates, living alone), and other lifestyle choices. The figures below provide an estimate of the range in cost of living off campus (lower range for single students in shared accommodation; higher range for families and those preferring not to share accommodation). These estimates represent minimum living expenses only and do not include your tuition costs.

**You should estimate around $200-$250 per class on textbooks and supplies**



Estimated monthly cost - Lethbridge

Estimated monthly cost - Calgary 

 Rent and utilities

 $600 - 900

 $800 - 1100




 Personal Expenses and clothing



 Local Transportation (City Bus Pass)

 Included in student fees for Lethbridge campus


 Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan1




 $1,200 - 1,700

 $1,562 - 2,062

     1Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan is provided at no extra cost

Your decision to bring your family with you when you come to Canada will depend on your financial situation and the ease of obtaining immigration documents for your family members.

You should budget a minimum of $4,000 a year in additional expenses for your first dependent (spouse or child), and an extra $3,000 per additional dependent, according to IRCC's requirements for financial support. Cost of living for a family of four for one year would be upwards of $20,000. This does not include childcare expenses, which average between $650 and $900 per child, per month. Please note that government subsidies are not available for childcare. Given this, you may wish to arrange for your family to come at a later date, after you have familiarized yourself with life in Canada and are satisfied that enough money is available to support them. 

Some students with sufficient financial resources may prefer to apply for immigration documents for their family members at the same time as they apply for their study permit. If your family members are denied temporary status in Canada, this may affect your decision to study here.

If you have specific questions related to your family members' applications to come to Canada, please contact us.

All University students must have basic health insurance. When you get to the University, drop by the Health Centre (SU020) and learn how to register for the Alberta Health Care Insurance plan, the province of Alberta's basic health insurance.  Alberta Health Care will cover the cost of your doctor's bills, hospital bills, surgery and medical tests. There is no cost for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

In addition, you will be automatically enrolled in an extended health insurance plan called the Student Union Health and Dental Plan, which is included in your tuition and fees. This plan provides coverage for medical costs which are not covered by Alberta Health Care, such as ambulance, medication, dental work, eye care, etc.

When you are traveling to Canada be sure to carry all of the following information with you. Do not pack it in your suitcase.

  • Valid Passport
  • Letter of Introduction approving Study Permit application (issued by Canadian visa office)
  • Temporary Resident Visa or eTA (if required; not to be confused with your Study Permit)
  • Original Letter of Acceptance from the University of Lethbridge
  • Proof of funds available (e.g.: bank draft, funding schedule, tuition receipt, letter of credit, or other proof)

Also be sure to carry a change of clothes, any medication, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, or other important items in your carry-on bag, in case your luggage is delayed. This is common in international travel.

At the Port of Entry

At the Canadian Port of Entry (the airport or border where you enter Canada), you will be required to show the Canada Border Services Officer your Letter of Introduction. When the officer issues your study permit, check that your name is spelled correctly and that the biographical details (birth date, country of citizenship, etc.) are accurate.

If you plan to work on or off-campus, tell the Border Services Officer. Ensure that one of the following remarks is listed on your study permit before leaving the immigration area of the airport:

  • May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies
  • May work 20 hrs off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR
  • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria

These remarks must be present on your study permit in order to apply for a Social Insurance Number, which you will need to work in Canada.

  • Clothes
  • Towels
  • Bed sheets and pillow covers
  • Alarm clock
  • Winter jacket
  • Winter boots
  • Winter gloves and hat
  • Sweaters and other warm clothing
  • Jacket
  • Backpack
  • Camera/Cellphone/Tablet/Laptop
  • Music/MP3
  • Medicine and prescriptions
  • Contact list
  • Traditional dress from your country
  • Traditional music or instrument that you play
  • Items from your country that can be used in displays and presentations
  • Your country flag