On January 22, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) announced a number of updates and measures to the International Student Program. The complete details can be found on the IRCC website or on our News & Updates page.

Study Permit and Immigration Documents Application Tips

Below are a few steps to begin with once you have determined the type of immigration document/s to apply for.

SFU's Designated Learning Institution's (DLI) number is O18781994282 (begins with the letter “O”).

When you are applying for your study permit:

(1) Check the application processing times

Processing times vary and fluctuate. Apply as early as you can to avoid any disappointments and allow extra time for any additional steps that may be required (such as giving your biometrics or undergoing a medical exam).

} Check application processing times

(2)  Determine where and how you will submit your application

Submit your application either online (preferred) or by mail to the visa office that is responsible for the country or region where you live.

Most study permit applications can now be submitted online. Visit the IRCC website for eligibility details and application instructions.

US Citizens: If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the USA, you have the option of submitting your application upon your arrival at a Canadian port of entry (e.g. your airport of arrival or land crossing into Canada). Please see US students: Apply at a port of entry for details.

Student Direct Stream: Depending on where you live, you may be able to get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS)

Nigeria Student Express: Study permit applicants in Nigeria may be eligible to apply through the Nigeria Student Express (NSE) pilot. Please refer to the Nigeria visa office instructions for further details.  

(3) Read the Application Guide and collect the necessary Forms and Documents required

The IRCC website provides the resources you will need to apply for your documents. Please note that to apply for a study permit, you will typically require the following items:


Available on the IRCC website.


Most study permit applicants are required to provide fingerprints and have their photograph taken as part of their application. To find out if you need to meet this requirement, visit the IRCC website.

If you are required to give your biometrics, you must pay a biometrics fee at the time of application. After you have submitted your study permit application and paid the biometrics fee, you will receive instructions on how to give your biometrics at an official collection point. Visit the IRCC website for details of where you can give biometrics.


Must be valid during the period of your academic program in Canada. If it will expire before the end of your studies, start the process to renew six months before the expiry date. If you are a US citizen, you do not currently need to have a passport to enter Canada, but you will be asked to show proof of citizenship. As this policy may change, we advise all US citizens to have valid passports.


Include your official four-page offer of admission letter in your application for a Study Permit and (if applicable) Temporary Resident Visa.

If you have already started your studies at SFU, please use your current SFU Confirmation of Enrollment Letter (which you can access via goSFU) in lieu of your original Letter of Acceptance.

New Undergraduate Students:

SFU does not issue separate letters of offer and letters of acceptance. Please submit your Offer of admission letter from SFU (4 pages in total) as the official Letter of Acceptance in support of your study permit application. 

If you have received a letter from SFU and would like to verify whether it is the correct one to include with your application, you may contact an International Student Advisor to confirm.

New Graduate Students:

If you have been admitted to a graduate program (Master's or PhD), you will receive a two-page Offer of Admission package including the Admission letter and Study/Work Permit information form from the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies office. Please ensure to include both your Admission Letter and the Study/Work Permit information form to apply for your study permit. 

The Study/Work information form will indicate the maximum length of your program, detail any funding you have been offered, and provide the estimated tuition and fees for your first year.

If your program has a mandatory internship or co-operative education (co-op) component, this will also be indicated on the Study/Work Permit information form and can be used as your "Evidence of Work Requirement in Study" to request a Co-op/Internship work permit, in addition to a Study Permit. Co-op work permits are fee exempt.


You must prove you have enough money to pay for your tuition and living expenses for at least one year. If your spouse and/or children are accompanying you, you will need to show adequate funds to support them as well. Please review typical estimated costs of living on the SFU Financial Aid website.

For more information regarding proof of financial support, including a list of acceptable documents, please visit the IRCC website. You should also consult the instructions provided by the Canadian visa office for your region to see region-specific requirements and recommendations.

Guidelines for preparing your financial support documents:

  • Any financial documents that are not in your own name should be accompanied by proof that you have access to the funds shown. 
    • For example, if you are including a copy of your parents' bank statement and/or proof of your parents' employment as evidence of financial support, you should also attach a signed letter from your parents confirming they will be supporting you during your studies. 
    • It is also helpful to include proof of your relationship with the person funding you.
  • The source and history of the funds must be clear enough for an officer to understand. 
    • Large deposits made to accounts without evidence of the origin of the funds may not be considered as reliable evidence of your ability to afford studies in Canada.
  • Funds must be readily accessible to you.
    • Proof of assets such as property ownership may be included with your application; however, these should not be seen as a replacement for more accessible funding sources (e.g. bank accounts, employment, etc.)
    • Proof of funding from SFU (in the form of a scholarship or an offer of employment as a Teaching or Research Assistant) may be included as evidence of financial support. However, because these funds have not been disbursed to you yet, we recommend you avoid relying solely on funding offered by the University for your study permit application. Please ensure you are showing additional sources of readily available financial support as well.


Starting on January 22, 2024 before 8:30 AM (Eastern Time), students applying for study permits are now required to submit attestation lettersunless exempted*, from the province where they intend to study.

Provinces in Canada have been given until March 31, 2024, to establish a new process for students to obtain the attestation letters. We will update this page once we have more information from IRCC.

* Graduate students in master's or doctoral degrees and those applying for study permits in the preschool, primary, and secondary levels are a few of those who will be exempted from this requirement. Learn more about the exemptions here.


Although not all visa posts will require one, we strongly recommend that all students write a study plan to include with your application. It is important to demonstrate that your plan to study in Canada makes sense in the context of your academic and professional history, as well as your future goals.

Your study plan should be a maximum of one page long, and should address the following:

  • Why do you wish to study in Canada in the specific program for which you have been accepted? 
  • What is your overall educational goal? 
  • Why are you not pursuing a similar program in your country of residence or citizenship? 
  • What research have you done into studies in your country of residence or citizenship? 
  • How will this program enhance your employment opportunities in your country of residence or citizenship? 
  • What ties do you have to your country of residence or citizenship?
  • Any additional details as per the visa office instructions for the location where you will apply (in cases where a study plan is required by the visa post) - click here and select a country from the drop-down list to access specific visa office instructions


(4) Consult the instructions provided by the Canadian visa office serving the country or region where you live to determine if you are required to provide additional requirements, forms or documents

Contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist if you have any questions about your application or the application process. Some applicants may also require:


An immigration medical examination is required if you have resided or stayed temporarily for six or more consecutive months in a designated country or territory in the year preceding your application.

If this is a requirement for you, start the process early. Medical examinations may take several months to process. If your medical examination result has expired, you must allow enough time to obtain a new one before returning to Canada. The Canadian representative from your home country will inform you of the procedures, and you should familiarize yourself with the requirements before leaving your home country.

For more information about immigration medical examination requirements, please visit the IRCC website.

(B) CUSTODIANSHIP DECLARATION FORMS (impacts students under the age of 19 only)

Students under 19 years of age may also require custodianship declaration forms certifying that they will have a legal custodian in Canada.  Please see Students under 19 years: Custodianship for further details.

(C) OVERCOMING CRIMINAL INADMISSIBILITY (for students who have been convicted of a criminal offense)

If you have previously been convicted of a crime, please visit the IRCC website for information on overcoming criminal inadmissibility.

Next steps:

Monitor your email as well as your online IRCC account for any updates or requests for further information, and respond promptly to any requests you receive.

Once IRCC has all the necessary information and documents required, an immigration officer will make a decision on your application and you will be notified of the outcome.

For more information about what happens after you apply, visit the IRCC website.

If your application is approved

Upon final approval of your application submitted outside Canada, you will be issued a Letter of Introduction (also known as a study permit approval letter or Port of Entry letter). You will need to present this letter to the officer upon your arrival at the port of entry to Canada in order to have your study permit issued to you. For more information on the arrival process, see Travelling to Canada.

If you require a temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) to enter Canada, this will also be issued to you when your study permit is approved:

  • If you require a TRV, you will be given instructions on how to submit your passport to the visa post so that the visa counterfoil can be issued.
  • If you require an eTA, this will be issued electronically and the eTA number will be noted on your study permit approval letter.

If your application is refused

If your study permit application is refused, you will be given written reasons for the refusal. Your options in the event of a refusal may vary depending on the circumstances and reason/s why your application was refused.

Please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for further guidance if you receive a refusal decision on your study permit application. Alternatively, you may reach out to an Authorized Representative such as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant or lawyer external to SFU for assistance.

You can also find some general information regarding refusals on the following pages of the IRCC website:

Visit our video resources page for an overview of the study permit application process and helpful tips to complete and strengthen your application.

Study Permit from Outside Canada Workshop