Study Permit Application Guidelines

*Canadian federal government laws are subject to change without warning, therefore some information presented herein may not always be up to date. To confirm, please contact with any questions or concerns.

Permits, Visas and More

To study as an international student in Canada, several documents are required. It is your responsibility as a student to maintain your immigration status and comply with immigration regulations while you are here.

International students must apply for a Study Permit and possibly a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter and study in Canada.

A Study Permit is a document issued to foreign nationals who wish to study in Canada for a period of more than 6 months. You need to apply for study permit before arriving to Canada. A study permit is different from a visa as it does not allow you to enter Canada. To enter Canada, International students will need Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Initial Study Permit Application 

All international students studying for more than 6 months require a student authorization to enter Canada. This allows you to live in Canada to attend university.

Contact a Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate. To find the closest office, visit the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. 

It is important to apply for your study permit as soon as you have received your Cape Breton University acceptance letter. You should apply online or at the closest Visa Application Centre.

To apply for a study permit, you will need to identify the university by its designated learning institution number (DLI) on the study permit application form. Cape Breton University’s DLI number is:


Document requirements can vary by country, be sure to check your specific embassy/consulate requirements. To apply for a study permit, you will need the following documents:

  • A valid passport for the duration of your studies
  • An original letter of acceptance from Cape Breton University
  • Evidence of adequate funds to cover tuition and living costs
  • You may be required to take a medical examination with a doctor designated by the Canadian government. The visa officer in your country will provide more information on this requirement.
  • You will also be required to submit biometrics (fingerprints and photograph)

Do not allow your study permit to expire for any reason. If your study permit will expire before you have completed your studies, you must renew it at least one month before the expiry date. The International Student and Study Aboard Centre can help you with this.

Study Permit Extension

Your valid Study Permit allows you to study and stay in Canada as a student. Know the expiry date and make sure to renew it two to three months before the expiration date.

  • If you want to extend your stay in Canada as a student in order to complete your academic program, you must extend you study permit before it expires. Check the expiry date on your study permit, and make sure you apply before that date.
  • You need to extend your study permit to maintain your student status, and continue studying and working (on and off campus) in Canada.
  • You need to extend your study permit prior to the expiry date by applying online or by paper application. It is recommended to apply for renewal at least 2-3 months before your current permit expires. If you do this you will be able to remain in Canada and continue studying and working under “maintained status” (previously called implied status) until IRCC has decided with respect to your application, even if your study permit expires while you await processing.

If you need to apply for a study permit renewal The International Student and Study Aboard Centre can help you with this.

For more detailed information please visit IRCC website:

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)

Your valid Temporary Resident Visa allows you to enter Canada. Know the expiry date and make sure to renew it two to three months before the expiration date.

  • Only citizens of specific countries require Temporary Resident Visas to enter Canada. TRVs are often issued for the same length of time as the study permit. If you have a study permit, a TRV is not needed while inside Canada, but it is a good idea to keep a valid TRV in case of sudden trips outside of Canada.
  • Not everyone requires a TRV to enter Canada. Citizens from visa-exempt countries do not require a TRV to travel to Canada as a temporary resident (visitor, student, or temporary worker). Check the IRCC website to see if you need a valid TRV to travel to Canada.
  • If you are planning to travel outside of Canada, you will need a TRV to re-enter Canada. We recommend you apply for a new TRV before you travelling outside of Canada. This is only for Citizens of non-Visa exempt countries.

Visit Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s website for detailed instructions for applying for a Temporary Resident Visa, including application forms, a list of documents, fee payment instructions, etc.

  1. Determine your eligibility
  2. Read the applying for a Visitor Visa (Temporary Resident Visa) Instruction Guide before you begin your application
  3. Check IRCC’s application processing times. It can take weeks or months to process an application.
  4. Decide how you will apply. Check the website of the local Canadian Visa Office or Visa Application Centre (VAC) and determine what methods of application are accepted (online and/or paper applications)
  5. Prepare all of your forms and documents
  6. Find out if you need to give your biometrics (fingerprint and photograph)
  7. Pay your application fee, review, and submit your application.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Your valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) allows you to enter Canada. Know the expiry date and make sure to renew it two to three months before the expiration date. The eTA is a requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals entering Canada by air or transit through a Canadian airport. These travellers do not need an eTA when arriving by car, bus, train or boat (including a cruise ship).

Citizens from select visa-required countries may be eligible to apply for an eTA, instead of a visa, to travel to Canada by air. However, these travellers need a visitor visa when arriving by car, bus, train, or boat, including a cruise ship.

To view the list of countries whose citizens require an eTA, please visit

If you apply for a study permit after August 1st, 2015, you will automatically be issued an eTA along with your permit.

Your eTA will be valid for up to 5 years or until the expiry of your passport (whichever comes first)

You can verify the status and expiration of your eTA by using the Check eTA status tool. To do this, you will need the eTA number noted on the email confirmation and details from the passport you used to apply for your eTA.

Documents you need to enter Canada

A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will ask to see your travel documents when you arrive in Canada.

The required travel documents include:

  1. A valid passport or travel document
  2. The letter of introduction from the visa office that you received when your study permit was approved (this letter contains your permit reference number and the CBSA officer need this letter to issue your study permit
  3. A valid temporary resident visa (if required)
  4. A copy of the letter of acceptance from the designated learning institution at which you are accepted to study
  5. Proof that you have enough funds to support yourself during your stay in Canada
  6. Letters of reference or any other documents recommended by the visa office where you applied. Carry these items and all other valuable papers, cash, etc. with you at all times. Do not put these items in your checked luggage.

All persons must establish that they meet all the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations before being authorized to enter or re-enter Canada.

If there are no problems at the point of entry, the officer will let you enter Canada and will issue your study permit.

You should:

  • Check the study permit to make sure your personal information is accurate
  • Check the expiry date on your study permit. You must leave Canada by this date or apply to extend your study permit if you will not be finished your studies by that date.

Understanding the terms and conditions of your study permit

The conditions listed on your study permit tell you:

  • The educational level you are permitted to study at
  • That you must remain enrolled at a designated learning institution
  • That you must continue to make progress toward completing your program
  • If you are allowed to work in Canada and if so, what industries you are restricted to working in
  • Whether you need to report for a medical examination, observation or treatment
  • If your travel within Canada is restricted
  • When you must leave Canada

If you wish to change any of the terms and conditions on your study permit, including your level of a study permit, including your level of study, you must apply to amend your record of landing.

If you are a post-secondary student with a valid study permit, you do not need to apply if you want to change your program of study or the institution where you are studying. With that, you do need to notify IRCC through your online account if you are transferring from one designated learning institution to another.

Please note: It is an offense under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act if you do not comply with the conditions imposed on you when your entry to Canada was authorized, or when your study permit was issued.