Author: Al Parsai, LL.M, RCIC-IRB
Last Updated On: March 28, 2019

Designated Learning Institutions Canada

Designated Learning InstitutionHala is a Jordanian high school student. She intends to continue her studies in Canada. Hala has researched several universities and colleges in Canada. But even so, she is not quite sure if she can trust any of those schools. Many of those schools ask for $100 or more to review her application for admission to the school. Hala has heard, she must look for a designated learning institution. She, however, does not know how to make sure the schools she finds are designated.

An international student is someone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident but intends to study in Canada. Generally speaking, if the length of the study is less than six months and it is not part of a more extended program, you do not need a study permit. In these situations, you register to the program and enter Canada as a visitor. Of course, depending on your nationality, you may need a TRV or an eTA.

If the length of study is more than six months, then a study permit becomes mandatory. If you are not familiar with the concept of study permit, read the following article.

The first step in most study permit applications is to receive admission from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). But what is a DLI and how can you locate them?

What is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)?

IRCC approves certain education providers as DLIs. A Provincial body usually gives accreditation to these institutions. A typical DLI has also a few years experience in the field of education. Each Designated Learning Institution has a DLI number. Here are some examples of actual DLI numbers:

  • Burman University in Lacombe, Alberta – O19390898172
  • Ashton College in Vancouver, British Columbia – O19219876582
  • Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba – O19021102272
  • Yukon College in Ross River, Yukon – O19604209351
  • Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – O19220082122

Of course, these are only a few samples.

As you can see, each DLI number begins with the letter “O” followed by 11 digits. Sometimes a college or university has more than one campus. For example, the University of Toronto has three locations. One of them is in downtown Toronto, the other one is in Scarborough, and the last one is in Mississauga. All of them have the same DLI number though, O19332746152.

When you look up a college or university make sure your target campus has a valid DLI number, but how?

How to Locate a DLI?

There is no doubt you can directly ask a college or university if they are a designated learning institution. You may also ask about their DLI number. However, this is probably not the best approach. I recommend visiting the IRCC website. Simply, take the following steps.

  1. Visit the DLI page on IRCC website at
  2. Select the province or territory of the college or university.
  3. If the list is long, enter part of the name of the institution in the filtering box (see the image below).

List of Designated Learning Institutions

You need to write down the DLI number as you need it for your study permit application.

What about Primary and Secondary Schools?

All primary and secondary schools in Canada are designated learning institutions. They do not have a DLI number, and you do not need to present a DLI for them when you apply for a study permit. Having said that, make sure the school you are registering is a respectable and reliable institution.

What is PGWP-eligible?

If you look at the DLI table, the last column says “Offers PGWP-eligible Programs.” PGWP stands for Post-Graduate Work Permit. Suppose you finish your studies in Canada. If the program you have taken is eligible for PGWP, you could apply for an open work permit (conditions apply). If you receive a PGWP, you may stay in Canada and work for any employer. This could potentially open doors for your permanent residency under some provincial programs or the Express Entry (especially the Canadian Experience Class subcategory). You may read the following article for more information about PGWP:

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting

This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai, LL.M, RCIC-IRB

Al Parsai is a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University (Osgood Hall Law School). A respected member of CICC, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.