In most cases, prospective international students who wish to study at a Canadian post-secondary institution need to provide a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution when applying for a Canadian study permit.

Applicants must provide the Designated Learning Institution number (DLI #) for their school of choice. The DLI number is the number that begins with the letter “O” on the study permit application form. 

In certain cases, students may be exempt from providing a letter from a DLI, or from providing a DLI number in their application. These cases may include, but are not limited to:

  • Students at a primary or secondary institution. These schools are all automatically designated, and no DLI number is provided.
  • A family member of a foreign national whose application for a work permit or a study permit is approved in writing before the foreign national enters Canada. In this case, the family member may obtain an open study permit.
  • Some institutions in Quebec are designated by the provincial government, but do not have a unique DLI number. 

Sometimes, institutions may lose their designated status. Depending on when the status is lost, the international student may be affected.

  • If an individual submits an application for a study permit with a letter of acceptance from an institution that is not a DLI, the study permit application is refused.
  • If an individual submits an application for a study permit with a letter of acceptance from a DLI, but the institution loses its designated status before the study permit can be issued, the student has three options. He or she may: 
    • Withdraw the application;
    • Submit a letter of acceptance from a different DLI;
    • Do nothing, in which case the application will be processed according to the information provided. The application will therefore be refused.
  • If an individual receives a study permit for a DLI, and the institution loses its designated status after the study permit is issued, the student has two options. He or she may:
    • Transfer to another DLI;
    • Continue studying at the non-designated institution until his or her study permit expires. In this case, the study permit may not be renewed for the non-designated institution.

For the complete list of designated learning institutions, please visit this page.

Are you eligible?

To find out if you are eligible for a Canadian Study Permit, fill out a free assessment form.

Study Assessment Form

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