New Student Immigration information

As an international student, there are number of documents you need to study in Canada. 

Important: throughout your time in Canada, you are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and complying with Canadian immigration regulations.

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 require a study permit. In some cases, you may also require a Provincial Letter of Attestation. You must apply for both before arriving in Canada.

To apply for a study permit, you will need to identify Dalhousie University by its Designated Learning Institution number (DLI) on the study permit application form. Please use the following appropriate DLI number:

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

To apply for a study permit, you require the following:

  • A valid passport
  • Your letter of acceptance to Dalhousie or University of King's College
  • Provincial Attestation Letter (if applicable)
  • Proof of financial sufficiency to live and study in Canada
  • A letter from your sponsoring agency (if applicable)
  • A co-op/internship letter (if applicable)
  • Payment of the $150 CAD processing fee

Other documents may be required. Refer to Preparing and Applying for a study permit page on IRCC’s website for more information about the requirements or contact the nearest Canadian Visa Office for more information.

It is recommended that you apply for your study permit as soon as you have the required documents.

United States citizens & Permanent Residents (USA)

United States citizens and permanent residents also have the option of applying for a study permit at any port of entry into Canada. If you choose this option, you are still required to secure a PAL in advance of reaching the port of entry. PALs have a validity period, so make sure that your PAL is still valid the date that you enter Canada. 

International Students at Canadian High Schools

If you attended high school in Canada on a "secondary school" study permit, you can continue to use your existing study permit, but you must update it to a “post secondary” study permit. This will allow you to work on and off campus. 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 to enter Canada.

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.

Visa

A visa is different than a study permit. A visa is a travel document that allows you to enter (and re-enter) Canada. A study permit allows you to remain in Canada. There are two types of visas, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).  Depending on your citizenship, you may require one or the other (or none at all). Visit the following IRCC website to determine if you require a visa and, if so, which visa. 

Please note: if you are applying for a study permit for the first time, you do not need to submit a separate visa application.  If your study permit application is successful, you will automatically be issued a visa at the same time.

Temporary Resident Visitor

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.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals entering Canada by air. To view the list of countries whose citizens require an eTA, please visit Canada.ca/eTA. An eTA is electronically linked to your passport. It is valid for up to five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. If you get a new passport, you will need to get a new eTA.

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.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)

In 2024, the Government of Canada implemented changes that affect the study permit application process for some new international students. Students who are affected by this change are now required to submit a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) with their study permit application.  Please read the following section carefully to determine if you require a PAL.

Not all international students require a PAL. The following groups do NOT require a PAL:

  • Students applying to a Master’s or Doctoral degree program.
  • Master’s level students applying to a qualifying program less than 6 months.
  • Exchange/visiting students who are coming to Dalhousie for less than 6 months.
  • Students applying to an online Master’s or Doctoral degree program.
  • Students with a valid study permit applying to extend their study permit from inside Canada.

Who else does not need a PAL?

  • Students applying to extend their study permit from inside Canada.
  • Students applying to restore their study permit status from within Canada.

Students in the following groups REQUIRE a PAL when applying for a study permit:

  • Students applying to an undergraduate degree program.
  • Exchange/visiting students coming to Dalhousie for longer than 6 months.
  • Joint degree students coming to Dalhousie for longer than 6 months.
  • Students applying to a graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate (non-degree) program longer than 6 months.
  • Students applying to a professional program.
  • Master’s level students enrolled in a qualifying program longer than 6 months.

For more information about which groups require a PAL and which groups are exempt, visit IRCC’s Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) page.

How to request a PAL:

  1. Log in to your Application Portal and click on your Admission Offer Reply Form to accept your offer.
  2. Pay your confirmation deposit (if applicable). Refer to your Letter of Acceptance (LOA) in the application portal for more information.
  3. Return to the Application Portal to complete the Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) Form (the form will appear after your confirmation deposit has been processed).
  4. We’ll assess your form and follow up as soon as possible.

a) it’s determined that you do not require a PAL, you will be issued a revised LOA via your Application Portal.

b) If it’s determined that you do require a PAL, and if your PAL request is approved, you will be issued a revised LOA and a separate PAL via your Application Portal.

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).