Study Permit

To study in Canada for any period longer than six months, you will need a study permit. A study permit is an official document issued by the government of Canada which grants you temporary resident status and allows you to study at a designated learning institution (DLI) such as the University of Lethbridge.

Please keep in mind that your study permit is not an entry document. To enter Canada, you will most likely require either a Temporary Resident Visa or an electronic Travel Authorization. No separate application is required for these; you will receive the correct entry authorization automatically along with your Letter of Introduction when your study permit is approved. For more information about these documents, see our “Entry Documents” section.

Initial study permit applications are processed at Canadian embassies and consulates worldwide. Your permit application may be processed at a visa office within your home country or in a neighbouring country.

Since your initial study permit application can take time to put together, we recommend that you apply for your study permit well before you plan to travel—plan ahead and make a note of processing times. Ideally, you should apply for your study permit as soon as you receive a Letter of Acceptance from the University of Lethbridge. ​​

Usually, you must apply for your study permit before you come to Canada. You can only apply for a study permit from within Canada in certain, specific cases. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a resident of Greenland, or a resident of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, you can apply for a study permit at the Port of Entry.

You can:

  • Apply online through the IRCC website.
  • Apply on paper at a Visa Application Centre (VAC). A VAC is a third party organization that collects and securely sends your application and passport to the processing visa office. Applying in person at a VAC may be the best option if you are required to submit biometrics.

Documents for submission will vary depending on your country of residence and citizenship. Review the visa office instructions for your country of residence here; once you have selected your country of residence, find the document checklist and visa office instructions PDF (if applicable) and save or print both. Refer to these documents often. Many countries require the visa office instructions checklist to be included with the initial study permit application.

For most initial study permit applications, you will be required to submit:

  • IMM1294: Application for a Study Permit Made Outside of Canada
  • Proof of identity: Valid passport or travel document
  • Letter of Acceptance from uLethbridge: Provided after you accept your offer of admission
  • Attestation Letter (PAL) from the province of Alberta (unless exempt)
    • Check if you require a PAL here
  • Proof of financial support: Check the IRCC website for required amounts and types of proof accepted
  • Statement of Purpose/Study Plan:
    • This is a brief overview of your intended studies in Canada and helps the visa officer understand your specific situation and your long-term career/study goals. 
    • Sometimes referred to as a "letter of explanation" or "cover letter". 
    • You may want to watch our "How to write a study plan" webinar found on our Pre-Arrival page for more helpful information and suggestions. 

You may also need to submit the following additional documents:

  • Biometrics: digital copies of your fingerprints, retinas and photos
  • Medical Exam: You may arrange a medical exam with an IRCC panel physician and include your medical report with your study permit application, or apply for the study permit and wait for instruction from the visa officer.
  • Family Information Form (IMM5645 or IMM5707- whichever is listed in the application package for your country)

You can view a complete guide on how and where to apply for your study permit here.

Immigration Medical Examinations

You will be required to have a medical examinations if:

  • you will be coming to Canada for more than 6 months and have lived in one of these designated countries for at least 6 consecutive months in the past year, or
  • you plan to work in a field where you will be in close contact with children, the elderly or vulnerable populations such as health care.  Students in the Bachelor of Nursing programs or Bachelor of Education programs are required to have a medical examination in order to complete their practicum experiences.

You must see a doctor on the approved list of panel physicians. Look here for full details.


Currently, the processing fee for an initial study permit application is CAN$150. An additional fee of CAN$85 is required for biometrics.  If you access the services of a Visa Application Centre, they will charge a fee; the biometrics fee will be included in the VAC fee.

Generally, your study permit is valid for the duration of your study period plus 90 days (so that you may arrange for travel home or apply to extend your stay). If you finish your program earlier than expected, your permit will expire 90 days after the date you complete your studies, regardless of the expiry date printed on your permit. If your study permit will expire before the completion of your studies, you will need to submit an application to extend your study permit prior to the expiry of your current permit. We recommend that you submit the extension application around 3 months prior to the expiry of your current permit.  

There may be conditions on your study permit indicating the level of studies you can attend and whether or not you are permitted to work inside Canada. It is important that you understand and comply with the conditions of your study permit. Review your study permit carefully when you receive it.

If you hope to work while you are a student, either on or off-campus, tell the border services officer. Ensure that one of the following statements is listed on your study permit before leaving the immigration area of the airport:

  • 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
  • May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies (for English for Academic Purposes program students or exchange students)

One of these statements must be present on your study permit to apply for a Social Insurance Number, which is required to work in Canada.

Once your application for a study permit is approved, you will be sent a Letter of Introduction by the visa office, along with your temporary resident visa or the details of your eTA. The Letter of Introduction is not your study permit. 

When you enter Canada you will meet with a border services officer. Present your Letter of Introduction, your Letter of Acceptance, and other necessary proof and documents, and answer questions as directed. You will then be issued your study permit. Remember that the border services officer has the final say on who is allowed to enter Canada.

When the border services officer issues your study permit, ensure that all of your personal details are correct, and that your study permit enables you to study at the University of Lethbridge.

  • If you notice an error on your Study Permit, request the Border Officer to make a correction on the document before leaving the airport counter

For more details on what to expect when you come into Canada, see the "Entering Canada" section under Pre-arrival Information.

If you already have a valid study permit for post-secondary studies in Canada, you must notify IRCC that you will be transferring to another DLI. Changing the post-secondary school on your account is free and requires no application process. 

Remember that if you complete a program in Canada, your study permit expires 90 days after you complete your program, regardless of the date printed on your study permit.  If you are coming to uLethbridge after completing a program at another institution, you must apply to change conditions or extend your stay in Canada as a student within 90 days of completing your program. If you do not submit an application to extend your study permit before it becomes invalid, you must stop studying and working immediately. 

If you are currently studying in Canada at the high school level, you can begin your post-secondary studies with your valid study permit for secondary studies. We recommend that you apply for a new study permit for post-secondary study prior to beginning your program at uLethbridge. Use your Letter of Acceptance to apply to change conditions or extend your stay as a student in Canada. Be aware of IRCC's application processing times. You will not be able to work on or off campus until you receive your new study permit for post-secondary studies. 

In Alberta, the age of majority is 18. If you are under the age of 17, you must either be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or have a custodian appointed to you in Canada. A custodian is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who will be responsible for providing you with care and support in lieu of your parents. You do not need to live with your custodian, but your custodian should live within a reasonable distance.  Custodianship for 17 year old students is optional, but is at the discretion of the immigration officer.

If you need to extend your study permit, we recommend applying two to three months before the listed expiry date. Always make sure you are aware of your study permit’s expiration date and apply for an extension well in advance. If you apply to extend your student status in Canada before your permit expires, you may remain in Canada under maintained (implied) status until you receive a decision. Maintained status allows you to remain under the same conditions as your previous study permit until a decision is made on your application, as long as you do not leave Canada.

If you want to remain in Canada for longer but you will no longer be studying, you may be able to apply to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor, or you may be able to apply for a post-graduation work permit, if you have completed your program.

If you required a TRV to enter Canada, your original TRV likely expires at the same time as your initial study permit. If you have had to extend your study permit, you will not be automatically issued a new TRV. This means that if you plan to travel outside of Canada, you must apply for a new TRV in order to be able to return. We recommend planning well in advance to make sure that you have all the documents required for travel. Processing times can be found here and you can begin the TRV application process from inside Canada here. 

If your study permit expires and you have not applied to extend your study permit, for a work permit, or to stay in Canada as a visitor, you lose your status as a temporary resident in Canada. You may also lose your status if you do not respect the conditions on your study permit.

In some cases you may apply to restore your status as a student. You must submit your application within 90 days of losing your status. You will be required to adhere to all previous conditions of your study permit, and you will be required to pay fees:

  • $229 to restore your status and
  • $150 to extend your study permit

You must explain on your application how you lost your status. If any family members have lost their status, they must also apply and pay the necessary fees to have their status restored. You may stay in Canada until a decision is made on your application, but you will not be able to study or work while you wait.

Submit your Study Permit Application Online

The online application is ideal for applicants who do not need to submit additional documents. You must apply online if you wish to apply via the Student Direct Stream. If your country of residence has specific visa office instructions, consider applying on paper at a VAC.

Submit your Study Permit Application at the VAC

If your country of residence has additional requirements for a study permit application (as listed in the visa office instructions), we recommend applying on paper at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Last updated: June 5, 2024 at 2:30pm