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Canada Immigration - Designated Learning Institution

A DLI, or Designated Learning Institution, is a school that accepts overseas students. To receive a Canadian study permit, you must obtain an acceptance letter from a DLI. If you intend to remain in Canada after completing your studies and apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), it is crucial that you select the correct institution and program, as only certain DLIs will qualify you to receive one.

Applicants must give the Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number for their desired institution. The DLI number is the number beginning with the letter "O" on the application form for a study permit.

quick facts

Do I need to inform IRCC when changing DLI's?

  • Changing from primary education to secondary education - Not necessary.

  • Changing from secondary education to post-secondary education - YES

  • Changing from one post-secondary level to another post-secondary level - Not necessary.

Designated Learning Institute

Designated Learning Institution (DLI) Canada


Each post-secondary institution that accepts foreign students has a special DLI number. The application for a study permit includes the DLI number. It is the number whose first letter is "O." Make sure your institution is listed on the Designated Learning Institutions list if you want to study abroad in Canada (DLIs). Smaller colleges or schools with multiple campuses may have different DLI numbers for each location.

A school is not permitted to accept international students if it has not been designated as a DLI by its provincial or territorial authority. A study permit application that you submit for a non-DLI school will be rejected. You may stay on campus until your study permit expires even if the school you are attending loses its DLI status. If not, you can transfer to a different DLI.

Changing Programs within DLI's.

It is not necessary for an international student to change their study permit or notify IRCC of the changes if they choose to switch programs at the same designated learning institution (DLI). There are a few exceptions to this, though:

  • The foreign national must contact IRCC to inform them of the changes if their study permit contains any conditions, and if the change in programs will affect those conditions.

  • Foreign nationals must apply to extend their study permits before the original expiration date if they switch to a program that lasts longer than the study permit's validity.

  • In cases when the new study program lasts as long or longer than the original, the foreign national must apply to extend their study permits before the original expiration date.

Changing Schools within DLI's.

An international student does not need to apply for a new study permit if they choose to transfer institutions while continuing their studies at the same level, but they must inform IRCC of the institution change. Due to the fact that non-DLI schools are not permitted to accept international students, the student must confirm that the new institution is a designated learning institution (DLI). A certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ) is required if a foreign student wants to transfer from an institution outside the province of Quebec to an institution inside the province of Quebec. This is due to Quebec's particular requirements for students from other countries.

IRCC does not restrict the number of times that an international student can transfer from one institution to another as long as they meet all the requirements.

Extending Your Study Permit at a DLI


If you plan to extend your study permit, you need to apply for an extension at least 30 days before the expiry of your original study permit. You will not be able to extend your study permit beyond your passport’s expiry date, so make sure that you have a passport with enough validity. 


The Student Direct Stream (SDS) at DLIs


The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a program that allows for faster processing of study permit applications for students from certain countries. To be eligible for the SDS, you must be a resident of one of the participating countries and you must be planning to attend a Designated Learning Institution in Canada. 

Need help in applying for a Study Permit for Canada? Hire an authorized paid representative.

IMMERGITY Immigration Consultant are very experienced with the application process and can help you navigate the system. We will also provide valuable insights and tips on how to increase your chances of success. Get in touch now.

If you're thinking of hiring a representative, be sure to check that they're authorized by IRCC. You can verify our credentials by clicking here.

Hiring a representative is not required, but it can be helpful, especially if you're not familiar with the application process. If you decide to hire a representative, be sure to choose someone who you trust and who you feel comfortable working with.

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