What is a Study Permit?

A Study Permit is the immigration document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that provides permission for an international student to study in Canada. This permit is your status document while you are studying in Canada and you must make sure to meet the requirements of your study permit. See here for more information about the conditions under a study permit.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your Study Permit is valid for the duration of your academic program in Canada.

If you are from a country that requires an entry visa (TRV) OR an eTA, this will be issued for you upon approval of your study permit – you do not make a separate application for a travel visa. On approval, you will be given a visa or eTA and a letter of introduction to travel to Canada and you will be issued your study permit upon arriving at the Port of Entry in Canada.

When to Apply

The Study Permit application process can be lengthy. It is very important you apply for the permit as soon as you receive the Proof of Acceptance letter. We recommend applying a minimum of 3-4 months before your program start date. Be sure to check with IRCC to determine the estimated processing time based on your country of application.

Proof of Acceptance (POA)

You will need your Proof of Acceptance letter (POA) (also called Letter of Acceptance) to submit with your Study Permit application. The POA will be available to download on your application portal, where you will also find your Admission Letter. Please note that OGS Canada does not issue POAs under normal circumstances. POAs are generated automatically in your portal and should become available to you 6-8 months before your program start date.

Confirming Enrollment Decision

Once you claim your NU account, use your Northeastern credentials to login to the applicant’s portal using the link provided in your acceptance package.

Payment (Deposit or first-year tuition for SDS)

During enrolment confirmation, international students (from one of the 14 SDS countries) will have the option to indicate how they would like to apply for their study permit processing, e.g. SDS or Non-SDS.

After confirming enrolment, you should receive an email in 5-10 business days (to both the registered email account and the NU Student email) from Student Accounts Canada with payment instructions.

International students applying for a study permit through the non-SDS process are not required to pay the first-year tuition in advance. They will receive a deposit invoice for $500 CAD.

International students applying for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) process will receive an invoice which will include the estimated first year tuition fee.

Payments can be made via wire transfer or credit card, and must be initiated online through your payment portal.

After you make the payment using the payment portal, you will be issued a receipt within two weeks, depending on your method of payment, to attach to your study permit application. The confirmation email will be sent from the Student Accounts Canada team. All payments are due 30 days from the invoice issue date.

For further information about payments, please see here or reach out to Student Accounts Canada here for questions.

Apply for your Study Permit

Students may apply for their Study Permit via an online application portal or via paper application. You also have the option of using the services of an authorized third party application collection service, called a Visa Application Centre (VAC). If you are able, apply using the online application portal, as generally, online applications are processed more quickly than paper applications. Estimated processing times per country are available on the IRCC site.

All the information you need for the Study Permit application process is available on the IRCC website. This process is not managed by Northeastern University and we do not have additional insight into processing times or delays.

If you choose to use the services of an immigration advisor or lawyer to assist you with your application, please be certain to choose someone who is legally permitted to represent you to IRCC. To determine if a person is an authorized representative, please read the guidelines here.

Documents Required for Initial Study Permit

Please visit the official IRCC website for the complete details.

Please make sure to also read the visa office specific guidelines for your country of nationality.


New Policy Updates – December 2023

As a reminder, starting January 1, 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement for study permit applicants will be raised so that international students are financially prepared for life in Canada. Moving forward, this threshold will be adjusted each year when Statistics Canada updates the low-income cut-off (LICO). LICO represents the minimum income necessary to ensure that an individual does not have to spend a greater than average portion of income on necessities.

For 2024, a single applicant will need to show they have $20,635, representing 75% of LICO, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs. This change will apply to new study permit applications received on or after January 1, 2024.

Please monitor IRCC webpage for detailed updates of the proof of financial support for study permit applications.

Next Steps

If your application is approved, the visa office serving your country of residence/citizenship will issue you a Letter of Introduction. Please read through your Letter of Introduction/Port of Entry letter (POE) closely and carefully. Further instructions related to requirements for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), Entry Visa, or eTA will be included in this letter. Please note that it is imperative that you take any next steps outlined in your Letter of Introduction (POE) in a timely manner. Do not book your travel arrangements to Canada until you’ve received your Letter of Introduction.

Co-op or Internship Work Permit

You may also apply for a co-op permit when you apply for your study with your initial study permit.  

  • You may upload your POA document as your “School Letter” to the IRCC portal as proof that Co-Op is part of your program. You may be given a Co-op work permit at the border with your Study Permit. 

For more information about co-op permits and work during your co-op see the Co-op Permit page. 

Student Direct Stream

Please read this section if you are applying from an SDS eligible country.

Depending on your country of citizenship AND country of residence, you may be eligible for the Student Direct Stream processing, which provides expedited processing, usually in 3-4 weeks. To qualify to use the Student Direct Stream, the student should be a citizen and residing in one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

Student must pay upfront one year of tuition in order to show IRCC a copy of the receipt and purchase an investment certificate to cover living expenses for their first year of living expenses (the actual cost of living varies greatly depending on accommodation and other variable expenses, so the required GIC may not be sufficient for all your living expenses).

To learn more about the Student Direct Stream, please visit the IRCC website.

To be eligible, applicants must meet specific requirements by providing documentation up front. Please check the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for more information and instructions.

The amount billed on the SDS payments is an estimate of fees for the year. Exact tuition rates are updated every year. You are responsible for checking the amount per credit hour for your program. Depending on your program and the number of courses you take, you may end up owing more or less for the year. If you have paid more than the amount owed for the year, it will sit in your account as a credit; if you have paid less, you will be billed the difference at the beginning of the next semester.

Proof of Acceptance Letter and SDS

When confirming your enrolment, you will need to indicate whether or not you are applying via SDS. This information is given to Student Accounts to generate an invoice for you. If you do not indicate SDS, you will not be invoiced and you will be counted as a non-SDS applicant. Errors will delay your ability to gather the documents required for your study permit application, so please pay attention when completing any forms or confirmations.


Once you have indicated SDS on your application, you will receive an invoice and payment instructions from Student Accounts Canada. You will need to pay the invoice in order to get the receipt required for your study permit application.

PLEASE NOTE THAT ONLY SDS ELIGIBLE STUDENTS WILL BE INVOICED IN ADVANCE. ALL OTHER STUDENTS WILL BE BILLED AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH SEMESTER BASED ON COURSE REGISTRATION. For non SDS students, paying your fees up front does not guarantee a higher likelihood of a positive decision on your study permit application.