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Studying in Canada at a DLI - why is it important?

CUAC Blog team - in recent months there has been more and more attention on institutions offering low standard of education in Canada and heavily recruiting international students. The Canadian federal government is currently considering giving those institutions that recruit responsibly and carefully, a special consideration for those applying for a study permit to those institutions.

In this blog from Warda Shazadi Meighen,

a Partner at Landings LLP in Toronto, Canada, Meighen explains the fundamentals of making sure that the institution you are applying for admission at has what we call "DLI" designation. If confused or concerned about whether an institution has DLI status feel free to reach out to your country CUAC office (see or write us at

If you plan to study in Canada, before applying for a study permit, it is important to ensure that you have an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI). A DLI is any learning institution approved by a provincial or territorial government.

Reference; Section 211.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Canada’s current laws indicate that study permits are limited to applicants who are accepted into study programs that are a designated DLI. For students planning to attend primary and secondary schools in Canada (up to grade 12), these institutions are already DLIs. However, if you plan to attend a post-secondary institution (after grade 12), it is important you consult the Government of Canada list to ensure that the institution you plan to attend qualifies as a DLI.

Reference: Paragraph 216(e) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

After graduation, consider the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program

If you plan to remain in Canada and work after you finish your studies you can apply to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program. The PGWP allows students who have graduated from a DLI to obtain an open work permit after graduation. This will also advance the chances for students to successfully pursue permanent residency after gaining Canadian work experience.

However not all DLIs make a student eligible to apply to a PGWP. For this reason it is important that you ensure the program you apply to can grant you eligibility to a PGWP in order to remain in Canada and work after your studies. If your DLI does not make you eligible to a PGWP you will have to return home once you have completed your studies.

Once you have completed your program of study, you are allowed to work while you await a decision for your PGWP application. You must meet all the eligibility requirements for a PGWP. One of those requirements is that you must spend at least 8 months at the DLI. You are not eligible for a PGWP if you have (i) received a PGWP in the past, (ii) studied English or French as a second language and not completed any other certificate diploma or degree, (iii) been funded by Global Affairs Canada, or (iv) if you have completed the majority of the program through distance learning.

Reference: Section 186 (w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Overall, choosing the right designated learning institution is important when deciding to study in Canada. This will protect your future opportunities regarding being eligible for a PGWP as well as further options to pursue permanent resident status.

Warda Shazadi Meighen is a Partner at Landings LLP in Toronto, Canada


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