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How to write a statement of purpose (SOP) for your Canadian student visa application

How to write a statement of purpose (SOP) for your Canadian student visa application

Getting into a university or college in Canada is just the first step if you want to study there as an international student. Before you start packing, you need to make sure you can get a study permit in Canada. As part of your study permit application, you may need to include a statement of purpose (SOP) or letter of explanation in addition to standard documents like a letter of acceptance from your school and proof that you have enough money.

In this article, we explain what a study permit SOP is and why you need one. We also give you tips on how to write a statement of purpose that will help you get a Canadian student visa.

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

A key part of your Canadian study permit application is a statement of purpose (SOP), also called a letter of explanation or letter of intent (LOI). Even though it’s not required by law, the Canadian government recommends that you include an SOP to help visa officers understand why you want to study in Canada and decide whether or not to grant you a student visa.

As part of the admissions process, many universities and colleges in Canada also ask students to submit a SOP or research statement. Your study permit SOP will be different from these, though.

Why is an SOP required for Canadian study permit applications?

Not all student visa applicants are interviewed. Most Canadian study permit applications are approved or denied based solely on paperwork and a statement of purpose.

Your SOP helps Canadian visa officers verify that you are a real student, know why you want to study in Canada and understand your responsibilities as an international student.

The good news is that 30% of study permit applications are denied annually. If your paperwork is complete and your SOP makes a strong case for studying in Canada, you should get a student visa.

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How do you write a SOP for a study visa to Canada?

Your dream of studying in Canada may or may not come true depending on how good and detailed your SOP is. To write a convincing SOP and increase your chances of getting a Canadian study permit, make sure your SOP includes the following important points:

1. Why you want to study in Canada

You need to show why you want to study here instead of at a university or college in your own country or in a different country. Canada is a good place to study for many reasons, such as its high quality of education, lower tuition fees than countries like the U.S. or the U.K., and its diverse classrooms. Explain in a few sentences why you want to go to school in Canada.

2. Why you applied to a specific university or college

In this paragraph, talk about some of the reasons you chose to apply to a certain DLI. For example, the school you chose might have a high ranking, get good reviews, be known for its research facilities, or have a lot of successful alumni. Don’t say things like “This university will help me reach my career goals.” Instead, talk about what makes the school special.

3. What study program you’re interested in and why

Visa officers want to know why you want to attend a certain school. If your program is related to what you’ve learned or done, talk about how interested you are in the field and how this next step will give you the academic or technical skills you need to advance in your career. Explain why you chose a program that doesn’t fit with what you’ve learned and how it will fill important skill gaps.

4. If you have a gap year in your education or work experience, explain how you used that time

If you took a year off between school and work, explain what you did with that time.
Even though a gap year might not hurt your chances of getting a Canadian student visa, you should explain how you spent your time. Whether you were taking care of a sick family member, learning new skills, or doing volunteer work during your time off, use your letter of explanation to explain what happened.

5. How you plan on funding your studies in Canada

When applying for a study permit, you must show proof of funds, but your SOP should explain how you will pay for your studies. If you have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), a Canadian bank account, a grant or scholarship, or someone else paying for your first year’s tuition and housing, mention it.


6. Your post-study plans

The main thing a visa officer wants to know is that you plan to go home after you finish your studies and won’t stay in Canada illegally after your study permit runs out. You might want to talk about what you want to do with your education when you get back to your home country. For example, you could bring a global view to your industry or make yourself more marketable in your home country’s job market.

7. If you understand your responsibilities as an international student

This doesn’t need a paragraph, but add details where needed. If you want to work part-time while in school, say you’ll limit yourself to 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during winter and summer breaks. Note: Off-campus work is unlimited until December 2023.

8. Other information to include in your student visa SOP

You might want to add other information to your application for a study permit to make it stand out from the rest. Bring people’s attention to your good grades or high IELTS score. You can also write a few sentences about your good behavior, how much you care about school, or how you plan to balance school and part-time work.

How long should a statement of purpose be when applying for a Canadian study permit?

The Canadian study permit statement of purpose should be 500–1,000 words. Even though the government doesn’t limit words, don’t exceed two pages.

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Universities and colleges may require a longer SOP. Some DLIs require an 800–2,000-word essay SOP. Others want a questionnaire-style SOP with word limits for each answer.

Tips for writing a great SOP for your Canadian student visa application

  1. Carefully plan your SOP outline
  2. Write down your academic and work experience in reverse chronological order. 3. Write down your accomplishments that are related to your study program.
  3. Don’t use technical terms.
  4. Don’t lie about your purpose statement
  5. Write your SOP in French or English.
  6. Write your own SOP. 8. Check your SOP for mistakes before you send it.



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