New Student Immigration information

As an international student, there are number of documents you need to study in Canada. You are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and obeying 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) in order to enter and study in Canada.

More information and how to apply for the documentation you need to study in Canada

Study Permit

If you plan to study in Canada for more than six months, or your program is more than six months long, you need a study permit. You must apply for it before arriving in Canada.

If accepted directly into a program requiring an internship (e.g., B. Commerce, Corporate Residency MBA, etc. ), you must apply for your co-op/internship work permit at the same time (i.e., request within the same application) as you apply for an initial Study Permit.

  • A valid passport
  • Your letter of acceptance to Dalhousie or University of King's College
  • Proof or statement of adequate funds to live and study in Canada
  • Letter from your sponsoring agency (if applicable)
  • Co-op/Internship letter (if applicable)
  • The $150 CAD processing fee
  • Other documents may be required: refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ( IRCC) website and the Canadian Visa Office for more information 

Please Note:  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. Please use the follow appropriate designated learning number:

  • Dalhousie University (includes Agricultural Campus): O19209939282
  • Dalhousie University ESL Programs: O19091594822
  • University of King’s College: O19391556768

United States citizens and permanent residents can apply for a study permit at any port of entry into Canada. You will need the information noted above.

If you attended high school in Canada on a "secondary school" study permit, you must update your permit to a "post-secondary" study permit. To update your study permit you must complete an application to "Change Conditions and Extend your Stay in Canada as a Student."

Students bringing family members need to ensure their family members have all the required immigration documents.

Getting your permit at the airport

When you are given your permit at Canadian Border Services at the airport, it is important that you review your study permit.

Make sure your first name, last name, gender and date of birth are correct on your study permit. If they are incorrect, this is your opportunity to politely ask the Immigration Officer to make corrections.  

Make sure that your study permit has the following work conditions printed on it:
"May work 20 hrs off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR". 

If your permit does not have this written on it, you can ask the Immigration Officer to issue you a permit with those conditions. If you do not have these conditions on your permit when you leave the airport, you will not be able to work as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or in any part time job.

Co-op/Internship Work Permit

International students who must participate in a mandatory co-op, internship, practicum, or placement (i.e. one that is a requirement for their program) must apply for a co-op work permit. This applies whether the work is on- or off-campus, paid or unpaid, during the academic year or during the summer, and regardless of the number of hours involved.

If accepted directly into a program requiring an internship (e.g., B. Commerce, Corporate Residency MBA, etc. ), you must apply for your co-op/internship work permit at the same time (i.e., request within the same application) as you apply for an initial Study Permit.

If you are accepted into a co-op/internship program after you begin your program, you can apply for the co-op/internship within Canada. View detailed instructions on how to apply for a Co-op Work Permit.

Temporary Resident Visa

Citizens and permanent residents of designated countries will require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). The TRV allows you to enter Canada as a temporary resident. It is placed in your passport.

Please visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ( IRCC) website for an application guide, fees, and the necessary forms.

Please note: If you apply for an initial study permit, the Temporary Resident Visa (Visitor Visa) will be automatically assessed for a Visa. You do not need to apply separately.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals entering Canada by air. 

Do I need an eTA?
To view the list of countries whose citizens require an eTA, please visit

Citizens of my country need an eTA. How should I apply?
If you apply for a study permit on or after August 1st 2015, you will automatically be issued an eTA along with your permit.

How long will my eTA be valid?
You eTA will be vaild 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.

Custodian for Minors in Canada

If you are a minor (less than 19 years old), your study permit application package may require you to have a custodian.  Please refer to the table below for what to do:

  Ages 18-17 Ages 16 and under
Custodian Requirement


As of September 15, 2011, the custodianship requirement became discretionary for students between 17 years of age and the age of majority in the Canadian province or territory where they intend to study. In Nova Scotia, the age of majority is 19 years of age.


Dalhousie University unfortunately does not act as a custodian for any international students

If you do not have any relatives or close friends in Canada who could act as your custodian, it is best to arrange for a homestay.

Housing Arrangements

We recommend that you live in a Dalhousie residence.

Living in residence offers an ideal living environment with comprehensive support facilities that may look favorably to a visa officer when assessing an application.

We recommend that you live with your custodian or in a homestay
Documents to support your study permit application

Apply to residence

Pay the application fee

If your application is accepted you will receive written confirmation from the Residence Office that you have been guaranteed a space in residence. 

Use the Residence Office letter and include it in your study permit application.

Custodianship Declcaration (IRCC)

Homestay Agreement

Application tips

Writing a Study Plan

Study plans are not always requested in a study permit application, but it is a good idea to include key information in a letter of intent that will accompany your application. In partnership with Mount Saint Vincent University and Nova Scotia Community College, Dal has created the Guidance for Study Plans and Letters of Intent (pdf - 8.4 MB) document to support you.

Apply Early
Once you have received an acceptance letter from Dalhousie University and secured financial assistance, begin the process of applying for your study permit, co-op work permit (if applicable to your program), and or visa immediately. Processing times can take several months.

Applying to “study”
The primary focus of your application is your intent to study in Canada. It is not recommended to mention other long-term interests.

Keep a copy of your medical/police certificate
You may need a medical exam and submit a police record as part of your application. Keep a copy of the medical certificate or record. You may need it for future immigration applications. Bring these certificates/records with you when you travel to Canada.

Keep your Study Permit/Visa Application Number 
If you transfer to another university or college in Canada you will need to know your application number.

Bring the letter from the visa office with you
The Canadian visa office will issue a letter confirming the approval (included in the package sent back to you). This letter is not your Study Permit. Show this letter to immigration officials when you enter Canada. You will then be issued a Study Permit (and Co-op Work Permit if requested in your application).