Study permits: Letters of acceptance (LOAs)

Study permits: Letters of acceptance (LOAs)

Establishing acceptance to a designated learning institution (DLI) [R219(1)]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) strongly encourages designated learning institutions (DLIs) to use the template provided for the Letter of acceptance (LOA) (PDF, 73.68KB). It contains all of the necessary information and will facilitate the processing of study permit applications.

Students can establish acceptance to a course or program of study by showing officers an original LOA (or a scanned copy if the applicant is applying through e-Apps) from the DLI that they will be attending.

The following list of items should be included in the LOA from the DLI submitted by the student at the time of their study permit application:

  • full name, date of birth and mailing address of the student;
  • name of the institution and official contact;
  • DLI number;
  • telephone, fax, website and email information for the institution;
  • type of school or institution (for example, private or public and, in cases where the institution is publicly funded but not a university, indication as to whether the institution is a post-secondary college, a post-secondary community college or a post-secondary technical college);
  • the field or program of study, level and year of study into which the student was accepted;
  • the estimated duration or date of completion of the course;
  • date on which the selected course of study begins;
  • the last date on which a student may register for a selected course;
  • the academic year of study that the student will be entering;
  • whether the course or program of study is full-time or part-time;
  • the tuition fee;
  • scholarships and other financial aid (if applicable);
  • an expiry date indicating the date until which the LOA is valid;
  • any conditions related to the acceptance or registration, such as academic prerequisites, completion of a previous degree, proof of language competence, etc.;
  • clear identification of the educational institution, normally confirmed through its letterhead;
  • for study in Quebec, the requirement of a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ);
  • where applicable, licensing information for private institutions normally confirmed through letterhead.

See a sample Letter of acceptance (LOA) (PDF, 73.68KB).

Letter of acceptance (LOA) exemptions [R219(2)]

An LOA isn’t required if, the application for a work or study permit of the family member of a foreign national is approved in writing before the foreign national enters Canada. This exemption does not guarantee the approval of a study permit application.

Note: The family member of a foreign national who applies for a work or study permit from within Canada is not exempt from the requirement to obtain a LOA when applying for a study permit.

Conditional letters of acceptance (LOAs)

When successful completion of a prerequisite course or program is required before admission into a program of study, the DLI may issue a conditional LOA to a foreign national. This letter should be submitted when the applicant applies to enter Canada as a temporary resident.

When the completion of a prerequisite program, such as English as a second language (ESL) or French as a second language (FSL), is a condition for enrolment in a subsequent program, officers issue a study permit for the length of the prerequisite program plus 1 year.

Students who successfully complete their prerequisite program will then need to apply for a new study permit and demonstrate they have completed the admission requirements.

Missions overseas should still take into consideration the bona fides and available funds for the main program, should the prerequisite be passed, before issuing the travel document for the prerequisite study program.

Note: Foreign nationals who have been issued a study permit for a prerequisite program are not eligible to work off campus in Canada until they begin their main program of study.

Joint programs involving more than one institution

Students applying for a study permit for an academic program that is jointly offered by more than one institution in Canada (that is, a university and a college) must submit an official LOA that clearly indicates this. Both institutions must be designated by the province or territory to host international students. The LOA should be issued by the DLI in Canada that will be granting the degree, diploma or certificate (or, in cases where a degree, diploma or certificate is granted jointly by more than one institution, the LOA should be issued by the institution at which students will begin their studies). The letter should note that the program of study includes courses or sessions (semesters or courses will be specified) given at the other institution (institution name, type [college, university, technical institute, etc.], and location will be specified).

Officers should associate the study permit application to the DLI that will be granting the degree or diploma (or, where a degree or diploma is granted jointly by more than one institution, the institution at which students will begin their studies).

Officers should also manually input into the Remarks the name of the second institution at which the program is offered.

Study permit renewals

If officers have any doubts when reviewing a study permit renewal application, they are authorized under subsection 220.1(4) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to request that students provide evidence that they are or were in compliance with the conditions of their study permit. The applicant may be requested to submit a letter of enrolment or transcript issued by a DLI to indicate that they are enrolled and actively pursuing studies at a DLI.

Concerns about an institution

Although, as of June 1, 2014, the issuance of study permits is limited to those accepted at a DLI, there may be cases where students present an LOA from an educational institution where concerns exist about its academic or administrative practices.

Verifying letters of acceptance (LOAs) for post-secondary study permit applications and study permit extension applications

All post-secondary DLIs must verify the LOA included in post-secondary study permit applications submitted outside Canada received by IRCC as of December 1, 2023.

As of January 30, 2024, all post-secondary DLIs must verify the LOA or letter of enrolment included in post secondary study permit applications and study permit extensions submitted from within Canada.

DLIs must complete the verification activities in the portal or by email when requested by IRCC.

When an applicant submits their study permit or study permit extension application, a verification activity will be created in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) once the application is promoted. The DLI will receive a daily email notifying them that a verification activity requires their attention in the IRCC LOA verification portal. The DLI must log in to the LOA verification portal to complete the verification activity. DLIs have 10 calendar days to complete the verification activity. For administrative flexibility, GCMS will temporarily accept validation for 15 calendar days.

As this is a temporary measure, DLIs are expected to be able to complete the verification process in 10 days once this measure is lifted. Further communication will follow as to when the temporary extension will be lifted.

If the activity is completed within the allotted time frame (status changed to “Verified – Match”, “Verified – No Match”, or “Cancelled”), the information will be sent to GCMS and the application will be ready for processing. IRCC won’t process any applications until the time frame has passed.

If the verification activity isn’t completed by the DLI (that is, the DLI doesn’t respond), the application will be closed and the study permit processing fee will be refunded. IRCC will send a letter to the applicant advising them that their DLI didn’t validate their LOA, their application is closed and their study permit processing fee will be refunded.

Note that there may be instances where the verification is completed by email. These LOA verifications must also be completed within the same time frame (by the due date indicated in the email).

Note: According to the Government of Quebec website, Vocational Training Centers are institutions that offer secondary level programs.

The Quebec following vocational training programs do not require LOA verification as they are considered to be of secondary level:

  • Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS)
  • Attestation of Vocational Specialization (AVS)
  • PreWork Training Certificate (PTC)
  • Training Certificate for a Semiskilled Trade (TCST)

The LOA Verification is not mandatory for Vocational Training Centers that offers secondary level programs only. Officers are to follow regular processing procedures for secondary studies.

Extension of LOA verification due to unforeseen circumstances

If one of the unforeseen circumstances listed below prevents or impedes the DLI from completing an LOA verification activity, the DLI must immediately email IRCC to request an extension. IRCC will reply to advise if the extension is granted and for how long, and to provide instructions on completing the verification activities during the granted extension time frame. Note that if the extension is granted, the applications submitted for studies at the DLI won’t be processed until the verification is complete or the date granted for the extension has passed.

A DLI may be granted an extension of up to 30 days for an LOA verification in one (or more) of the following unforeseen circumstances:

  • prolonged failure of power, communications or other infrastructure systems
  • a natural disaster
  • a public health emergency
  • a labour dispute

Validation status definitions in the LOA verification portal

DLI will input one of the verification statuses below in the portal:

  • Verified – Match: The DLI verified and confirmed that the LOA submitted by the applicant to IRCC in their application was issued by the DLI.
  • Verified – No Match: The DLI verified and confirmed that the LOA submitted by the applicant to IRCC in their application was not issued by the DLI.
  • Cancelled: The LOA submitted by the applicant to IRCC was cancelled by the DLI.
    • Note: This status could also include a Deferred LOA because the LOA submitted at the time of application was cancelled and a new LOA was issued.