i This website contains general information and resources related to policies, procedures, and application processes for international students.

For the latest updates and specific information on COVID-19 including impacts on immigration applications (e.g. study permits, work permits, visas), travel restrictions, work eligibility, and medical insurance, please refer to our FAQ page:

COVID-19 FAQ for International Students

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 immigration documents:

(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.

(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 SFU letter of acceptance (also known as an admission letter; sent to you via mail or e-mail) in your application for a Study Permit and (if applicable) Temporary Resident Visa.

Graduate Students: If you have been admitted to a graduate program (Master's or PhD), you will receive an Offer of Admission and Funding letter from the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows office. This will be sent electronically, followed up with a hard copy by mail. Both are considered official and can be used to apply for your study permit.

The second page of the Offer of Admission and Funding letter is a Study Permit information form, which 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 Permit information form and can be used 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, 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. You can demonstrate proof of sufficient funds using documents such as a bank draft, transfer letter of credit, scholarship funding letter, official letter of your sponsorship or, as in the case of some graduate students, a letter offering employment at SFU as a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant.  Please review typical estimated costs of living on the SFU Financial Aid website.

For more information regarding proof of financial support, please visit the IRCC website


Although not all visa posts will require one, we strongly recommend that you 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 us if you have any questions about your application or the application process. Some applicants may also require:


A 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 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: