Immigration Documents

Last Updated: April 05, 2024 - The information below is current as of the 'last updated' date and is subject to change without notice.

On January 22, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) announced a number of updates and measures to the International Student Program.   As of 8:30 a.m. ET on January 22, 2024, most new post-secondary students applying for a study permit are required to include a provincial attestation letter (PAL) in their study permit application. For more information read below and visit our News and Updates page.

If you will be studying at SFU for more than one term, you must apply for, and be approved for, a study permit to study in Canada. Depending on your country of citizenship(s) you may also require either a temporary resident visa (TRV) or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada. 

To check to see if you need a TRV or an eTA, visit the IRCC website.  If you require a TRV or an eTA to travel to Canada, IRCC will automatically issue the appropriate document to you when your study permit application is approved.  

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 arrange to do so at an official collection point after receiving a biometrics instruction letter from IRCC. Visit the IRCC website for details of where you can give biometrics.


Your passport or travel document 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 SFU Exchange/Study Abroad Letter (also known as an admission letter or acceptance letter; sent to you via email) in your application for a study permit.


You must prove you have enough money to pay for your tuition and living expenses as well as for your return transportation to your home country. If your spouse and/or children are accompanying you, you will need to show adequate funds to support them as well.

For more information regarding IRCC's minimum requirements for proof of financial support, and examples 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.


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(s) 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 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 review typical estimated costs of living on the SFU Financial Aid website. 


As of January 22, 2024, study permit applicants are required to include a provincial attestation letter, unless exempted*, from the province where they intend to study, in their appilication.  If you are coming to SFU to study as an exchange student for 2 or 3 terms, and you are applying for a study permit outside Canada, you will require a PAL to apply for a study permit.  

* 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 PAL exemptions on the IRCC website.

You will receive your PAL by email with your SFU Letter of Acceptance/Student Exchange Letter. 

(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.

IRCC Temporary Special Measures

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced temporary special measures to assist eligible applicants affected by ongoing global events.  For more information about current temporary measures in place, please visit the IRCC website. Should you require further information, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for assistance.