How to apply for your initial study permit (VIRS)

The information on this page may change

The immigration information on this page has been reviewed and endorsed by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) in compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. However, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice. Always refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the most up-to-date information.

Before you apply

You are applying for a study permit — not a work permit. If you’re applying online, indicate that you intend to study in the initial MyCIC questionnaire.

To apply for a study permit online, you need to indicate that you plan to study more than six months in the initial MyCIC questionnaire, even if you plan to study less than six months, to bypass the automated system. Once you get to the application form, you can indicate your actual period of study.

Avoid using the word ‘internship’ when applying for your study permit. You have been accepted as a student at UBC and are applying for a study permit.


Apply for a study permit as soon as possible after receiving your VIRS Letter of Acceptance (up to six months in advance).

You must apply for your study permit outside of Canada before arriving for your VIRS program. Choose one of the following options:

Cost: $150

Processing time: Find a visa office and check the processing time

Apply for a study permit

Supporting documents

General supporting documents: All students

  1. Letter of Acceptance: This letter will be provided by the UBC VIRS program
  2. Proof of Means of Financial Support: Get general advice from the IRCC website on proving financial support and instructions specific to your visa office
  3. Copy of your passport (include the bio-data page plus all pages with stamps, visas, or markings).
  4. Passport-style photo: If applying online, you need a high quality digital photo. The digital photo specifications are located in the online ‘help’ function in your MyCIC document checklist. If applying on paper or at the VAC, two photos are required and must meet the IRCC specifications.
  5. Letter of Explanation: If you are studying less than six months, we recommend submitting a short letter stating: “I would like to apply for a study permit even though my program length is less than six months.” This can be submitted in the ‘optional documents’ section if applying online.

Additional supporting documents: Individual situations

Visa office-specific requirements

Each visa office has specific requirements for study permit applicants in that country/region. Find the specific to your visa office, select your country of residence, click “get country-specific documents”, and select “visa office instructions”.

We suggest you submit the documents requested by the online system and all the additional documents as required by your individual office, based on your individual situation to avoid delays or rejection

If applying online, you can merge all the additional visa office-specific documents into one file and upload the file in the “Client Information” section.


Some students need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photos). Check if you need to provide biometrics. If you need to give biometrics, you will need to visit a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in person.

Medical exam

Some students need to take a medical exam with a Panel Physician approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). To see if you need to take a medical exam, check the requirements and the list of “designated countries“.

If you do require a medical exam, you have two options:

  • Apply for your study permit first and wait for a visa officer to send you a medical exam request, or
  • Take a medical exam with an approved IRCC panel physician before submitting your study permit application and then include the results in your initial study permit application. If you choose this option it may save you time, especially when you need time to gather all the required documents before submitting your study permit application.

Family Information [IMM 5645]

Some students need to submit this form. Submit only if requested.

“Schedule 1” [IMM 5257]

Submit only if you answer “yes” to one of questions three to six on page four of the “Application for a Study Permit Made Outside of Canada” [IMM 1294].

Additional information

  • Review the IRCC user guide and IRCC’s advice about getting the right documents and avoiding delays.
  • Fill out all application forms electronically on a computer. If you have trouble opening the PDFs, try saving the document onto your desktop and opening it with Adobe software. You can find more trouble-shooting tips here. When you finish, press the “validate” button to ensure your application form is filled out completely. You can still make changes after the application is successfully validated, but remember to validate again. You may edit and validate as many times as needed.
  • Some students also require a temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada. Find out if you need a TRV to enter Canada.
  • For students who require a TRV, you do not apply for a TRV when you apply for an initial study permit from outside of Canada. If you are approved for a study permit and you require a TRV, you will automatically be issued a TRV. Usually, once your study permit application is approved. IRCC will ask for your passport; you will send your passport to your visa office so they can place a sticker (TRV) on a page of your passport. You can then enter Canada.
  • For students who require an eTA, you also do not need to apply for this separately. An eTA will be issued if you are approved for a study permit.
  • If your study permit application is approved, IRCC will issue you a Letter of Introduction. You must print this out and present it to the border officer when you enter Canada. At the Canadian border or airport, the officer will then issue your actual study permit (a piece of paper).

Understanding forms

UCI stand for “Unique Client Identifier”, also known as “Client ID”. It appears on official documents such as study and work permits. For example, 0000-0000. If you do not have a UCI, leave this section blank.

O19330231062 (it starts with the letter O, not zero). As a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), UBC is issued a number, you may be asked by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to provide the number when you apply for a permit or a visa.

A “street no.” is the main number on the outside of a building. Some “street names” also contain numbers.

Write “from” today’s date and “to” the date you plan on completing your studies at UBC as a VIRS student.

Provide estimates of your VIRS fees, room/board and other (e.g. living expenses) based on one year or the length of your study duration if less than a year. See the estimated costs section for more information.

Indicate your highest level of studies that you are in or that you have engaged in. If you are currently studying, indicate this program and level of studies along with your start and end dates. If you have past education at the college or university level, you may disclose these in the ‘employment’ section.

If you do not have a job, you may write “student.” Be sure to fill out ‘current’ and ‘previous activity’. Include all part-time and full-time jobs as well as any internships, practicum placements or education at the post-secondary level in this section. If there is not enough room on the form for all of your previous work and/or study experience, create a separate MS Word document with the additional information and upload it in the (optional) “letter of explanation” section.

You cannot sign the form if applying online; instead you will upload the form without signing. You will be required to validate the form prior to submission.

After uploading all your documents, you will later be asked to electronically sign your application by typing your name.

Contact us

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  • Your student number in the subject line
  • Your name
  • Your citizenship(s)
  • All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  • Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  • If you request specific assistance, provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter

International Student Advisors
UNC 227 – 3272 University Way
Kelowna, BC Canada V1V 1V7
VIRS contact email:​