New Student Immigration information


Note: students must review our Immigration & COVID-19 Updates page for information about travelling to Dalhousie for the fall 2021 semester.

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

A study permit gives students permission to study in Canada for longer than six months. To apply for a study permit you will need to contact the nearest Canadian Visa Office with the following pieces of information:

  • 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)
  • 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.

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.

You can apply for the Temporary Resident Visa (Visitor Visa) at the same time you apply for the study permit, at an extra cost of $100 CAD.

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

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 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.


New Student FAQs

Do I need a study permit to start my courses online?

Students can engage in online learning from outside Canada without a study permit, however, it is recommended that students apply for a study permit before beginning their online studies. Students require a study permit and, if required, a visa for in-Canada learning. There are risks associated with starting a Dalhousie program without a study permit, as you may be refused. If refused, you:

  • will not be able to join the Dalhousie on-campus community when in-person classes resume,

  • may not be able to complete your program (assuming that not all programs will be offered online indefinitely), and 

  • are welcome to reapply for a study permit but there will be additional costs.

Also, if you are refused a study permit and you decide not to complete your Dalhousie courses, you may not receive a tuition refund, depending on when you inform the university of this decision. If you are willing to accept and acknowledge these risks, you are welcome to participate in online courses without a study permit. You will receive credit for all courses successfully completed online, regardless of whether you hold a valid study permit.   

All students with questions should connect with the immigration advisors in the International Centre to discuss these risks.

If my study permit gets approved, will I be able to come to Canada?

The Canadian border is open to international students. Dalhousie University is on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC) list of approved Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) that are able to welcome international students currently residing outside Canada to their campuses. Learn more about coming to Canada and quarantine arrangements for international students at Dalhousie University.

Ensure you have the correct immigration documents before traveling:·

  • A study permit approval letter (also known as a letter of introduction) 

  • A valid travel entry document (i.e. Temporary Resident Visa or eTA as applicable) 

  • A passport valid for more than 6 months at the time of entry 

  • A valid immigration medical exam the day you enter Canada (if you needed one). Your exam is valid for 12 months from the day you get it. If your exam will expire before you enter Canada, you need to get another medical exam. This applies even if your study approval letter is still valid.

If I defer my program to the next term (Winter 2022 or September 2022), when should I apply for my study permit/visa?

If a student decides to defer their academic program for the next term, it is strongly recommended that they apply immediately due to delays in processing. Students should apply for their student permits online by creating an account with Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Learn more on the IRCC website.  Requests for deferrals can be made online.

I am a new student to Dalhousie University. How will studying online impact my eligibility to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit?

Visit this IRCC site to learn more about how your post-graduation work permit eligibility is affected. 

How do I connect with an advisor to discuss my immigration questions?

You can email or book a virtual online appointment by visiting our online booking site.