Tutorial: How to apply for an initial study permit

Step-by-step instructions, required documents, and other important information about applying for your study permit.

2. Create your document checklist

The documents you need to provide with your study permit application vary according to your country of citizenship along with other factors.

To create your document checklist, first decide how you will apply.

IRCC now directs most students who are applying for a study permit from outside Canada to submit the application through the IRCC portal. If you are applying for your spouse’s open work permit at the same time as your study permit, you should apply through the IRCC secure account as instructed by IRCC. Our tutorial and Canvas application review course go over the IRCC secure account process. However, even if you are applying through the IRCC portal, you will find our online resources helpful.

Apply online (recommended) 

Step 1

Create an IRCC secure account if you do not have one already. You will be prompted to answer a set of questions. Ideally you would use the same account for all applications, so keep this information safe. If you can’t remember your account information, it’s possible to create a new account.

For help creating an account, review the Creating an IRCC secure online account guide (pdf).

Step 2

When you have completed the questionnaire, you’ll be guided to a screen entitled "Your document checklist" that lists your required documents.

Important: In addition to this checklist generated by IRCC, you need to add any documents required by the Canadian visa office in your country.

Step 3

Get the full list of documents required by the Canadian visa office in your country:

  1. Go to the IRCC website and select your country/territory from the drop-down menu (located in the "Apply on paper" section).
  2. Click "Get documents" and then select "Visa office instructions" (the second link). This will launch a PDF specifying requirements from your visa office.

Any documents required by your visa office which are not already included in your online document checklist will need to be provided along with your letter of explanation in the "client information" section, under optional documents in your document checklist.

Apply at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)

Visa Application Centres (VACs) are private companies that have contracts with the Canadian government to provide application support services for a fee. They do not provide immigration advice or make decisions on your study permit application. Check the Visa Application Centre’s website for more information about their services.

If you will apply in person at a VAC, follow the same steps as applying on paper to create your document checklist.

Apply on paper

You can only apply by paper application if you have a disability which prevents you from applying online or you hold an identity or travel document for non-national residents, refugees or stateless persons.

To apply by paper:

  1. Go to the "Apply on paper" section of the IRCC website.
  2. Select your country/territory from the drop-down menu and click “Get documents”.
  3. You’ll notice a list of links:
    1. Click on the first link to review a general document checklist.
    2. Click on the second link to view visa office instructions for your country. These instructions include a document checklist showing additional supporting documents required by your country's visa office.
    3. The remaining links in the list will open the forms listed in the general document checklist.
  4. Submit your application through a Visa Application Center (VAC) that serves your area.

Apply at the border

Only US citizens or permanent residents, and residents of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, can apply at the border. If you are not exempt from the Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL), contact International Student Advising for support.

If you are eligible for this option, follow the same steps as applying on paper to create your document checklist and bring your completed application form and supporting documents with you.

Be sure to check if you need a medical exam, custodianship, or biometrics in advance.