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.

1. Overview of the process

When to apply

Apply as soon as you get accepted to UBC and have your Letter of Acceptance.

You must apply for your initial study permit from outside of Canada and it must be approved before you come to Canada. 

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you have the option to apply upon entry into Canada.

Check current estimated processing times

Step 1 - Learn about study permits

Before preparing your application, review the study permit page to learn about what a study permit is, who needs one, and other important details.

Learn about study permits

Step 3 - Apply

Recommended options
  1. Online through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website
Alternate options
  • In person at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)
  • By mail to the appropriate visa office
    • Download the paper application in the "Apply on paper" section of the IRCC website
  • In person at a Canadian border. Only for:
    • US citizens and US permanent residents
    • Residents of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon

The application fee is $150.

Step 4 - Submit biometrics and medical exams (if applicable) 


Submit your biometrics (fingerprints and photo) in-person at the nearest biometrics collection point. A fee of $85 will be required at the time of application.

Some students may need to travel within their home country or in some cases, apply for a visa to travel to another country to submit biometrics. 

U.S. citizens and those who have provided biometrics in the past 10 years are exempt. 

Medical Exams

You may be required to complete a medical exam. In general, submitting an upfront medical exam, or e-medical, reduces delays in application processing (see the ‘documents you might need’ section on the “Gather your required documents” page for further information). Costs of medical exams vary from country to country. 

Step 5 - Study permit approval 

If your study permit application is approved, you will be issued a Letter of Introduction.

You will need to present this letter to the Canada Border Services Officer when you arrive in Canada to have your study permit issued on the spot.

Step 6 - Get your TRV/eTA (if applicable)

After your study permit has been approved, you will automatically be issued one of these documents to travel to Canada:

  • Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), or 
  • Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

If you are from a TRV-required country, you will need to submit your passport to have your TRV (also known as a ‘visa’) inserted.   

U.S. citizens are exempt from requiring a TRV or an eTA.

Step 7 - Arrive in Canada

  1. Present your Letter of Introduction to the Canada Border Services Officer at the first place you arrive in Canada and request a study permit
  2. Before leaving the officer’s desk, ensure the information on your study permit is correct and that it states you ‘may work’ or ‘may accept employment.’ 

Step 8 - After entering Canada

After entering Canada, there are a few steps to complete, such as applying for your BC Medical Services Plan, maintaining your student status, applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and more. Section 7 of this tutorial provides detailed information, so read further.