Study in Canada: Letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution is mandatory

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Posted on May 30, 2024


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A vital first step in the application process for international students hoping to study in Canada is receiving an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI). A DLI is a school that has been granted permission to accept overseas students. This DLI acceptance letter is required in order to obtain a Canadian study permit.

Selecting the Right DLI and Program

Selecting the appropriate degree level and curriculum is crucial, particularly if you intend to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after finishing your coursework. Students can only be eligible for a PGWP at specific DLIs, so make sure the school you have chosen satisfies these requirements.

Guide to verify if your institution is on the approved DLI list

  1. Visit the DLI-specific official website of the Canadian government. Current information on universities approved to admit international students can be found on this website.
  2. Choose the province or territory in which your organization is situated. By doing this, you can focus your search on relevant universities within your field of interest.
  3. Enter the name of the school, city, and any other relevant details into the search fields. This will help you find the specific institution you are looking for.
  4. Note Down the DLI Number once you find your institution in the search results.
  5. Make sure to enter this DLI number in the “Details of intended study in Canada” section of your study permit application.

A Canadian institution may have distinct DLI numbers for each of its campuses or colleges. Ascertain that the DLI number you find and record corresponds to the precise campus or place where you intend to study.

The DLI number of the school of your choice must be included in your study permit application. An essential component of your application is this number, which begins with the letter “O.”

Exemptions from Providing a DLI Number

Certain students are exempt from needing a DLI letter or number. These exemptions include:

  1. Students in Primary or Secondary Schools: Primary and secondary schools in Canada do not have a DLI number because they are all automatically designated.
  2. Family Members of Foreign Nationals: A family member of a foreign national may apply for an open study permit without a DLI letter if they have a job or study visa that has been officially granted in writing prior to entering Canada.
  3. Some Quebec Institutions: The province government of Quebec has designated several institutions, however they lack a distinct DLI number.

Generally, your study permit doesn’t need to be changed if you decide to switch programs within the same Designated Learning Institution (DLI). There are a few exclusions, though:

  1. Conditions on Study Permit: You might need to update your study permit if any of the specified conditions are impacted by the program modification.
  2. Program Duration: You must apply for an extended study permit before the existing one expires if your new program will last longer than the allotted time.

You do not require a new study permit if you are transferring institutions within the same academic level. But you have to let Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) know about the modification. Verify that the new institution you’re attending is a DLI because study permits aren’t granted to non-DLIs.

If you go from one post-secondary education level to another, say from a bachelor’s to a master’s, you do not need to apply for a new study permit.

Depending on when an institution loses its DLI designation, overseas students are affected in different ways:

Before Study Permit Issuance:

If your application includes a letter from an institution that loses its DLI status before your permit is issued, you have three options:

  • Withdraw your application.
  • Submit a new letter of acceptance from a different DLI.
  • Do nothing, which will result in a refusal of your application.

After Study Permit Issuance:

If your institution loses its DLI status after you have received your study permit, you can either:

  • Transfer to another DLI.
  • Continue your studies at the non-designated institution until your permit expires. Note that your study permit will not be renewable for the non-designated institution.