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. For a list of DLIs by province.
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.