US Citizens: How to Obtain a Study Permit in Canada If You’ve Been Accepted by a University

Are you an American citizen?

Did you just get accepted into a Canadian University?

Congratulations!

The next step you’ll need to take in order to legally attend university as a foreigner to Canada is to obtain a study permit.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of international students attend university or college in Canada.

In fact, between 2016 and 2020, an average of 527,000 study permits were granted every year to international students looking to study in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada).

Of those nearly 500,000 annual study permits, an average of 13,689 were granted to US citizens.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly how you can obtain a study permit in Canada as an American citizen.

Let’s begin.

What Is a Canadian Study Permit?

In order for a foreign national to study in another country, they usually have to first obtain a study permit.

The Canadian study permit is a document the Canadian government issues to allow students from outside Canada to study within the country.

It’s one of several forms of temporary residence granted to foreign nationals allowing them to live in Canada for a period of time.

The permit is granted to individuals who have been accepted at designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada.

A study permit is not the same as a visa. It doesn’t grant you access to enter and stay in Canada. In order to study in Canada, you will need to obtain both a study permit and either a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).

If you are granted a study permit, you will then be issued either a visitor visa or eTA in order to enter the country.

Here’s How to Apply for a Study Permit in Canada

Before you come into Canada to study, you will need to apply for a study permit.

You also need to have proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution in Canada. You can find a list of all Canadian DLIs here. You won’t find primary or secondary schools on the list—as they are all automatically considered designated.

Before you submit your application, you will need to have all of these documents ready:

  • Letter of acceptance from the DLI you are attending (unless you are studying at a primary or secondary school)
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of financial support

You may also need these documents depending on your specific situation:

  • Québec Acceptance Certificate (if you plan on studying in Québec)
  • A custodian declaration (only minors)
  • Letter of explanation
  • Other documents may be requested

You may apply by mail by printing off and mailing your application if you meet any of these requirements:

  • You have a disability preventing you from filling out an online application.
  • You have a travel or identity document for refugees, non-national residents, or stateless persons.
  • If you have a technical problem with the online application process.

The fee for submitting an application for a Canadian study permit is $150 Canadian Dollars.

Processing times vary depending on where you reside. However, most applications coming from outside Canada are processed in about 12 weeks on average.

Also, some applicants will be required to give biometrics with their application. Biometrics are certain physical identifiers such as fingerprints or facial recognition. If you are required to provide biometrics, this will take additional time.

If you want to fast track your application, you can apply for your study permit through the Student Direct Stream (depending on your country of residence).

There are a few other application steps that may be asked of you:

  • You may have to have an interview with officials in your country
  • You may be asked for more information
  • You may have to take a medical exam
  • You may also need a police certificate

If you submit your application without all required documents, you may have to submit them again online. There will almost always be delays in processing without all required documents.

If your application is approved, you will receive your study permit at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada. Or, if you’re already in Canada, it will be mailed to you.

Here’s Whether You Need a Permit to Study in Canada

Most foreign nationals will need a study permit in order to study in Canada.

However, that won’t be the case for everyone. Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to study at a university or college without a permit.

Before you apply for a Canadian study permit, you should ensure you actually need one before you spend the time (and money) on your application.

Keep reading to learn whether or not you’ll actually need a study permit in Canada.

Who doesn’t need a study permit in order to study in Canada:

Staff or family of foreign representatives:

If you are a family member or a staff member of a foreign representative to Canada. The foreign representative must have been accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

Members of foreign armed forces

If you’re on official duty in Canada as a foreign armed forces member. However, if any of your family members want to study in Canada, they might need one.

Registered Status Indians

If you have registered Indian status in Canada, you do not need a study permit (even if you’re a citizen of another country).

Minor children

Minors don’t need a study permit if they’re in kindergarten, they’re refugees or refugee claimants, their parents are refugees or refugee claimants, or they’re already in Canada with a parent who has a work or study permit.

They will have to apply for a study permit once they reach the age of majority (18 or 19 years old—depending on the province or territory).

Temporary residents and asylum seekers taking French courses

If you’re wanting to take French language and culture courses in Quebec, you don’t need a study permit.

Eligibility Requirements to Obtain Study Permit in Canada

In order to obtain a study permit in Canada, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You are qualified as fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (as of June 2022). If you’re under 18, you don’t need to be fully vaccinated.
  • You are enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI).
  • Prove you have the funds to pay for tuition, living expenses for you and your family coming to Canada, return transportation for you and family members coming to Canada.
  • You don’t have a criminal record (you may have to obtain a police certificate).
  • You are in good health (you may have to take a medical exam).
  • You can prove to an immigration officer that you are leaving Canada when your permit expires.

Looking to Obtain Canadian Birthright Citizenship as an American?

Are you an American citizen?

Are you wanting to obtain a study permit to study in Canada?

If so, you’ll want to reach out to a Canadian lawyer to help you with the process.

Applying for your Canadian study permit can be complicated and extensive depending on your specific situation. Applicants are commonly rejected due to missing documents or application errors.


If your application requires a correction, it can delay the entire process by months.

If you need help obtaining a Canadian study permit, or for any questions regarding living, working, studying, or immigrating from the US into Canada, reach out to us at Falcon Law.

Right now, we’re offering free virtual consultations to help Americans obtain study permits in Canada.

Click here to book a consultation today.

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