Canada is one of the most sought-after countries for immigration, for several reasons: universal health, employment opportunities, cultural and religious diversity.
In addition, Canada is internationally recognized for its high-quality education system and welcomes many international students every year. However, to study in Canada, it is essential to obtain a study permit. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the step-by-step procedure to obtain a study permit in Canada and to become a student in Canada, taking into account the specificities concerning Quebec and briefly explaining how the Canadian educational system works.
We will first briefly present the Canadian study system in order to have a better understanding of the different procedures (I).
Then, we will approach the procedure to follow concerning the study permit at the federal level outside Quebec (II).
Finally, we will explain the specific procedures to follow to obtain a study permit in the province of Quebec (III).
I. Understanding the Canadian educative system
In Canada, each of the 13 provinces and territories operates its own school system and follows government standards, so each province and territory is responsible for the administration of its education system.
This means that laws, policies and educational programs can vary from province to province. Each province has its own Ministry of Education that sets the standards and regulations for elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.
As a result, different provinces may have different curricula, admission criteria, school calendars, inclusive education policies, graduation requirements and teaching regulations.
For example, the province of Quebec has a distinct education system due to its French-speaking majority. Quebec offers French language programs and follows an education system based on the college and university model.
School is compulsory in Canada from the age of 6 until about 18. After high school, students have the choice between college and university. Both education systems help students prepare for their future.
In college, students can learn practical and technical skills specific to their desired career. They can study subjects such as graphic design, web development, culinary arts, occupational health, and many others. Colleges often work with employers in different industries to develop the latest curricula. College courses typically range from one to three years in length, and at the end, students earn a certificate or degree.
At university, students often study in-depth, theoretical subjects such as law, medicine, art history, engineering, and many others. The length of a university education generally ranges from three to seven years, and at the end, students earn a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.
Quebec has a unique education system. After high school, students can attend a college of general and professional education (CÉGEP). CEGEPs offer a two-year program of study called the college program of studies (DEC), which prepares students for university or the job market.
|French education system
|Quebec education system
|Rest of Canada education system
|Childhood (3-6 years), elementary school (6-11 years)
|Primary (6-12 years)
|Childhood (5 years), elementary school (6-11 years)
|Middle school (11-15 years), high school (15-18 years)
|Secondary school (12-17 years)
|Secondary school (12-17 years)
|No direct equivalent, post-secondary education begins
|CEGEP (17-19 years)
|No direct equivalent, post-secondary education begins
|University (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD), Leading schools
|University (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD)
|Community college, technical college, university (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD)
|Grading out of 20
|Usually out of 100 or letter grade (A,B,C, …)
|Usually out of 100 or letter grade (A,B,C, …)
|Length of academic year
September to June, with regular holidays
|Late August to June, with summer, winter and spring holidays
|September to June, with summer, winter and spring holidays
|File-based selection for high school and university students
|University admission is based on CEGEP
|University admission is based on high school grades
|Final high school diploma
|French high school diploma
|Final high school diploma
|Final high school diploma
II) THE PROCEDURE FOR BECOMING A STUDENT IN CANADA OUTSIDE QUEBEC:
First, we’ll provide some preliminary information about the process (A). Next, we’ll look in detail at the various requirements (B) as well as the documents needed to submit a visa application (C). Finally, we’ll give you precise guidance on how to apply for a visa, and what to expect once you’ve submitted your application (D).
A) Information on the process
A)1. What is a study permit?
A study permit is an official document issued by the Canadian government, allowing foreign students to reside temporarily in Canada to pursue full-time studies at a designated educational institution. This document is of vital importance to international students wishing to study in Canada, whether at a university, college, or language school.
The study permit is issued by Canadian immigration authorities and is a legal requirement for international students unless they are exempt.
This document indicates the authorized length of stay in Canada, generally linked to the duration of the program of study. It also specifies the conditions with which the student must comply, including maintaining full-time student status, respecting the start and end dates of studies, and the obligation to leave the country at the end of the program, except in the case of an application for an extension of stay or a change of status. In fact, after a study permit in Canada, you can obtain an open work permit to work at any job and then obtain Permanent Residency.
The study permit confers legal status on international students, allowing them to stay in Canada for the duration of their studies. To maintain this status and take full advantage of the opportunity to study in Canada, it is essential to comply with the conditions laid down by the Canadian authorities and to respect the regulations in force.
A) 2. Study permit fees
Here are a few key points to consider regarding the fees involved in obtaining a study permit:
– Application fee
International students must pay an application fee of $150. We strongly recommend that you consult the current rates on the official Canadian immigration website or the office responsible for processing applications: https://www.canada.ca/fr/immigration-refugies-citoyennete/services/etudier-canada/permis-etudes.html
– Biometrics fees
In some cases, international students are also required to pay a biometric fee, which covers the collection of fingerprints and the taking of a biometric photo in the amount of C$ 85.
– Additional processing fees
Depending on the province or territory in which you plan to study, specific additional processing fees may apply.
A) 3. processing time for a study permit application
The time it takes to process an application for a study permit may vary depending on various factors, such as your country of origin, the program of study you have chosen and the province where you plan to study.
Processing times can also vary depending on the time of year, with some periods receiving a higher volume of applications than others.
It is always possible to obtain an estimate of processing time by consulting an immigration lawyer or by visiting the following official link:
B) Eligibility requirements
The eligibility requirements for a student visa in Canada are as follows:
– You must have received a letter of acceptance from a designated educational institution in Canada.
– You must also demonstrate that you have the necessary financial resources to cover tuition fees, living expenses and additional expenses during your stay in Canada.
– If requested by the Canadian authorities, you may be required to provide proof that you have no criminal record and that you pose no threat to the security of Canada.
– The Canadian authorities may also ask you to undergo a medical examination to prove that you are in good health and do not pose a risk to public health in Canada. Finally, you’ll need to prove that you intend to return to your country of origin once you’ve completed your studies.
C) Documents required to obtain a study permit:
C) 1. Proof of acceptance:
Obtaining a study permit in Canada requires the submission of certain documents. First of all, you must provide a copy of the acceptance letter from the school that has admitted you.
IRCC, or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, is the government agency that oversees immigration and citizenship in Canada.
For a school to welcome international students to Canada, it must be designated by IRCC.
A designated school is one that has been approved by a provincial or territorial government to welcome international students.
The list of Designated Educational Institutions (DEIs) is available on the IRCC website, which you can consult at :
It is very important to check that the school you are interested in is on this list before applying for a study permit.
As for the documents requested by the schools, this may vary depending on the school and the program of study, but generally they include:
– Proof of language proficiency: You may need to prove that you are able to take classes in the school’s language of instruction (English or French). This may involve taking a language proficiency test, such as TOEFL or IELTS for English, or TEF for French.
– Academic transcripts: Schools will want to see transcripts of your previous studies to verify that you have the necessary prerequisites for the program you want to follow.
– Letters of recommendation: Some schools may ask for letters of recommendation from previous teachers or employers.
– Personal essay or statement of intent: Some schools may ask for a personal essay or statement of intent in which you explain why you want to take the program and how it fits into your career plans.
– Proof of financial support: You may need to prove that you have the financial means to pay for your studies and support yourself while in Canada.
Please check with the specific school to which you are applying for the exact list of required documents.
If you receive a conditional acceptance from the school to which you have applied, this means that you must take prerequisite courses. These may be English or French language courses, for example. You’ll then need to pass these courses before you can be admitted to your main program of study.
If you are accepted into a preparatory study program before being admitted to your main program, the Canadian authorities will issue you a study permit for the duration of these courses, plus an additional year.
However, once you’ve been accepted into your main program, you’ll need to apply for a new study permit to extend your stay as a student.
If you are a family member of a person whose application for a study or work permit was approved in writing before your arrival in Canada, you are not required to provide a letter of acceptance.
C) 2. A valid passport:
When you apply for a study permit in Canada, you must have a copy of your valid passport to prove your identity and foreign resident status, as well as a passport photo that meets the standards specified by Canadian immigration.
C) 3. Proof of financial means:
To submit your application you will need to prove that you can support yourself.
You can prove that you have financial resources by :
– Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name, if you have transferred money to Canada;
– A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution;
– Proof of a student loan issued by a bank;
– Your bank statements for the past 4 months;
– A bank draft that can be converted into Canadian dollars;
– Proof of payment of tuition and housing fees;
– A letter from the person or school giving you money;
– or proof of funds paid into Canada if you have a scholarship or are part of a Canadian-funded study program.
It’s important to note that you’ll need to provide official, authentic documents to support these financial proofs. If members of your family are accompanying you while you are in Canada, you will also need to prove that you or they will be able to support themselves.
|Financial resources required per year (not including tuition fees)
|Financial resources required per month (not including tuition fees)
|You (the student)
|10 000$ CA
|Your first family member
|4 000$ CA
|Each additional family member accompanying you
|3 000$ CA
Official source :
It is therefore important to set aside these funds to cover housing, food, transportation, health care and other living expenses during your stay in Canada.
Make sure you have these financial resources available before you apply for a study or visit permit, so that you can meet the requirements for proof of financial support at the time of application.
C) 4. Letter of explanation:
This letter is optional but can be important in helping the visa officer understand who you are and what your goals are. You should explain in this letter why you wish to study in Canada, and that you understand your responsibilities as a student. You must include this letter with any application for a study permit, even if you do not require a study permit for your program.
C) 5. Medical examination
A medical examination may be required in the following situations:
– If you plan to stay in Canada for more than 6 months.
– If you have recently visited certain countries identified as posing public health risks.
– If you plan to work in a position requiring mandatory public health protection, such as health care, education or childcare.
In these cases, you may be required to undergo a medical examination to assess your health and ensure that you do not pose a risk to public health in Canada.
However, it is important to note that for certain study or work permits, a medical examination is not systematically required, even for a stay of more than six months. This depends on several factors, including your country of origin or countries you’ve recently visited, and the type of work you plan to do in Canada.
Here’s a link to the IRCC website where you can check whether you need a medical examination:
D How do I apply for a student permit, and what steps do I need to take once I’ve applied?
D) 1. Prepare your documents
You’ll need to assemble all the necessary documents, such as a letter of acceptance from the educational institution, your valid passport and financial proof. It’s important to provide as many documents as possible to ensure that your application is complete.
The application for a study permit must be made online, whether you are outside Canada or already in Canada, on the Canadian immigration website Canada.ca.
D) 2. Steps after submitting your application
Once you have submitted your application, the typical procedure includes the following steps:
– You will receive confirmation of receipt of your application for a study permit. This may be in the form of an acknowledgement of receipt or a tracking number, depending on the country.
– Your application will be processed by the relevant authorities. This may take some time, depending on the volume of applications and country-specific processing times.
– Once your application has been assessed, a decision will be made regarding the approval or rejection of your study permit. You will be notified of the decision by e-mail, post or in person.
– If your application is approved, you will need to obtain your study permit. Follow the instructions provided to retrieve your study permit, whether it is a physical or electronic document.
– Respecting the conditions of your study permit: Once you’ve obtained your study permit, make sure you respect all the conditions indicated on it, such as attendance requirements, continued enrolment at the designated educational institution, and so on.
III) HOW TO BECOME A STUDENT IN QUEBEC
To come to Québec for training of more than 6 months as a foreign student, you must obtain 2 documents:
– A Quebec acceptance certificate (CAQ) for studies, issued by the Quebec government:
– A study permit, issued by the Canadian government.
The criteria for obtaining a CAQ are as follows:
– Admission to a designated educational institution in Québec
– Demonstrate your financial ability to meet the costs of studying and living in Quebec
– Pay the fees for the examination of your application
– Agree to respect all the conditions of your Quebec acceptance certificate (CAQ).
A) Admission to a designated educational institution in Québec
To apply for a study permit, you need a letter of acceptance from a Designated Educational Institution (DEI).
A DIE is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to accept foreign students.
All elementary and secondary schools in Canada are DIEs. You can consult a list of DIEs at Canada.CA :
Demonstrate your financial capabilities.
To study in Quebec, you need to demonstrate your financial ability to cover the various costs: tuition, transportation and living expenses.
As a guide, here are the amounts in Canadian dollars that you must be able to provide between January 1 and December 31, 2023:
– For a person under 18: $7,176
– For one person aged 18 and over: $14,349
– For two people aged 18 and over: $21,046
– For two people over 18 and one person under 18: $23,575
– For two people over 18 and two people under 18: $25,444
It’s also important to factor in the installation fee for the first year, which is $500 Canadian. All this information is available at
In addition, you must demonstrate that you have health and hospitalization insurance for yourself and all accompanying family members for the duration of your stay in Quebec. However, if you can prove that you already have valid health and hospitalization insurance in Quebec, or if your country of origin has a social security agreement with Quebec, you won’t need to prove your financial capacity for insurance.
To demonstrate your financial capacity, you must present one or more of the following documents to immigration at the time of your application:
– Recent proof of funds transferred;
– This may also include proof of your assets and other sources of income, a recent authorization to transfer funds from the exchange control office in your country of origin or residence;
– Recent official confirmation that you have received a scholarship;
– A bank statement for the last three months, showing your current account balance and proof that you are the account holder; and
– An up-to-date bank book, with proof of ownership.
If another person is covering the costs associated with your study stay in Quebec, you will need to provide the documents a declaration of financial support form, detailed financial proof of this person, as mentioned in the previous section.
For full details, visit https://www.quebec.ca/education/etudier-quebec/conditions-requises
C) payment of application fees
The examination fees for a CAQ/PERMIS D’ÉTUDES as of January 1, 2023 are as follows:
– International student: $124
Please note that these fees are non-refundable, even if your application is refused. In addition, they cannot be deducted from the fees charged by the Canadian government.
It should be noted that other fees related to the study permit application, imposed by the Canadian government, may also be required.
You’ll find all the details at https://www.quebec.ca/education/etudier-quebec/demande-selection-temporaire#c115477
D) Compliance with the obligations of the Quebec acceptance certificate:
It is imperative that you comply with the conditions of your Quebec acceptance certificate (CAQ), failing which it may be revoked.
You must agree to:
– Follow the level of education indicated on your CAQ for Studies or on your letter of attestation of issuance of the CAQ for Studies.
– Have health and hospitalization insurance for yourself and accompanying family members for the duration of your stay.
– Make your studies your main activity, as a full-time student.
However, this condition does not apply if you are:
– A temporary worker.
– A family member accompanying a temporary worker.
– A family member of a foreign student.
– A person with refugee or protected person status in Canada.
– A person seeking asylum.
– A foreign student in the final semester of his or her program of study.
It is essential to respect these commitments to maintain the validity of your CAQ and continue studying in Quebec.
E) Obtain CAQ and study permit in Canada
Once you’ve obtained your Quebec acceptance certificate (CAQ) from the Minister Immigration and Francization et Integration (MIFI) of Québec, there’s one more important step to take to study in Canada: obtaining your study permit.
The CAQ is an authorization issued by the Quebec government, certifying that you have been accepted into an educational institution in Quebec. However, to study in Canada, you must also obtain a study permit from the federal government.
To begin the process of obtaining a study permit, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
– The Study Permit Application Form, available on the official website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
– Proof of acceptance from the designated educational institution in Canada to which you have been admitted.
Your valid passport.
– Proof that you have the financial resources to support yourself during your studies and your stay in Canada.
– Proof of health insurance covering the duration of your stay in Canada.
You will need to submit your application for a study permit to IRCC, following specific deadlines and procedures.
Once your application has been approved, you will receive a letter of introduction (sometimes called a port-of-entry letter) that will allow you to travel to Canada. Upon arrival, a border services officer will assess your eligibility and issue your study permit.
It’s important to note that the process for obtaining a study permit may vary depending on your country of origin. We therefore recommend that you consult the IRCC website or contact the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country for specific information on the requirements and steps to follow.
For more detailed information on the process of obtaining a study permit, please refer to section II) of this article, where we have discussed in detail the steps you need to take to study in Canada.
By following these steps, you will be well on your way to completing your study project in Canada once you have obtained your CAQ from the MIFI.
The law firm has a direct platform with Immigration Canada to file your application on your behalf as a Canadian lawyer.
We offer three types of packages:
– Canadian immigration law consultation: you have an hour’s call with a Canadian lawyer who will choose the best way for you to immigrate to Canada. Once you’ve chosen the program, you’re free to complete your file on your own or with the help of the firm;
– The A to Z turnkey immigration package: we send you an e-mail with the list of documents we need (we’ll help you if you have trouble retrieving the documents), and we take care of everything from checking the documents, filling in the forms, interacting with the Canadian authorities and submitting the file via our lawyer platform, to following up until you obtain your study/work/permanent residence permit; or
– The proofreading package: you choose your program, gather the documents and fill in the forms, and when you send them off, we’ll proofread the forms and documents to make sure there are no inconsistencies/errors that could delay your file or, in the worst-case scenario, have your study/work/permanent residence permit refused.