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Designated Learning Institutions

Designated Learning Institutions

Canada’s List of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs)

In most instances, international students who plan to study at a Canadian post-secondary institution are required to submit a Letter of Acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) when applying for a Canadian study permit or becoming eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The Letter of Acceptance serves as proof that the student has been accepted into a program at a recognized institution in Canada. It is an important document in the immigration and visa application process, demonstrating the student’s intention to pursue studies in Canada and their eligibility for certain permits and benefits.


A Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is an educational institution that is authorized to admit international students. If you wish to obtain a Canadian study permit, it is essential to secure a letter of acceptance from a DLI. Additionally, if your plan involves staying in Canada after completing your studies and applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), selecting the right institution and program becomes crucial, as only certain DLIs make you eligible for the PGWP.

When applying for a study permit, applicants must provide the Designated Learning Institution number (DLI #) for their chosen school. This number, which begins with the letter “O,” is included on the study permit application form.

DLI Exemptions

In specific situations, students may be exempt from providing a letter of acceptance from a DLI or including a DLI number in their application. These exemptions may apply to:

1. Students at primary or secondary institutions: These schools are automatically designated, and no DLI number is required.
2. Family members of foreign nationals with approved work permits or study permits: If a family member has received written approval for their permit application before entering Canada, they may obtain an open study permit.
3. Some institutions in Quebec: These institutions are designated by the provincial government but do not possess a unique DLI number.

Loss of DLI Status

Occasionally, institutions may lose their designated status, which can impact international students depending on the timing of the loss.

1. If an individual applies for a study permit with a letter of acceptance from a non-DLI institution, the study permit application will be refused.
2. If an individual applies for a study permit with a letter of acceptance from a DLI, but the institution loses its designated status before the study permit is issued, the student has three options:
a. Withdraw the application.
b. Submit a letter of acceptance from a different DLI.
c. Take no action, in which case the application will be processed based on the provided information, resulting in refusal.
3. If an individual receives a study permit for a DLI, but the institution loses its designated status after the permit is issued, the student has two options:
a. Transfer to another DLI.
b. Continue studying at the non-designated institution until the study permit expires. However, in this case, the study permit may not be renewed for the non-designated institution.