The diverse culture, world-class education, and beautiful landscapes make it a top destination for international students. However, before you can immerse yourself in this enriching experience, you need to secure a student visa.
Canada is known to be one of the world's top study-abroad destinations for many students all over the world. The number of international students in the country grows bigger yearly.
As welcoming as the country is, there are certain rules every student must follow when traveling to study in Canada.
The Canadian government requires a study permit for those who wish to stay longer than six months, and knowing what to expect from the application process is the best way to ensure everything goes right before you leave home.
So, What is the difference between a Study permit and a Study Visa or eTA?
Study permits is the term used in Canada to refer to student visas. Your study permit allows you to stay in Canada, but you need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa to enter the country.
Once your study permit has been approved, you will receive an eTA automatically.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of obtaining a student visa in Canada, from application procedures to essential requirements and expert tips to ensure a smooth and successful application.
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Canada Student Visa Requirements
Before you apply for a Canadian study visa, you'll need to get certain documents ready for your visa application. An important factor in deciding if your study permit is granted is your finances.
The Canadian government must be able to see you can financially support yourself throughout your studies, whether with savings or through a sponsor such as a parent.
Generally, you'll need the following to apply for a Canadian Study Permit:
- Admission letter from a DLI
- Results from a medical exam and police check
- Two passport-sized photos of yourself
- Proof you can financially support yourself throughout your studies
You may also need to provide your biometrics. You would need to do this at an approved Visa Application Center in your country.
How to Get a Student Visa in Canada
Studying in Canada requires a student visa, officially known as a study permit. This permit allows you to study at designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada.
NOTE: Not everyone needs a student visa. There are agreements between Canada and some countries, exempting students from obtaining the permit. If you're unsure whether you will need a study permit for your stay in Canada, you can find out by answering a quick questionnaire detailing your situation.
Follow these steps to successfully secure your student visa:
Step 1: Acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
Before applying for a study permit, you must receive acceptance from a DLI in Canada.
This acceptance letter is a crucial document for your visa application and should include details about your program, duration, and fees.
You need to apply and be accepted into a Canadian university before you start your application for a Canadian student visa.
For you to be eligible for a student visa, your chosen university must be a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) – a school approved by the territorial government to host international students.
The duration of your student visa may change according to the conditions detailed in your letter of acceptance. If you have received a conditional offer – meaning that you are required to take extra courses before starting your main programme – your visa will be valid for the duration of these prerequisite courses plus one year.
Once this visa has expired, you'll need to apply for a new one.
Step 2: Gather Required Documents
To ensure a seamless application process, gather the necessary documents as mentioned above. I'll also list them here again.
According to the Canadian government, you will need the following:
- The original or electronic copy of your letter of acceptance from a DLI;
- Proof of identity (a valid passport or travel document, plus two recent passport-sized photos);
- Proof of funds guaranteeing you will be able to financially support yourself during your studies (enough to cover your tuition fees and living costs, or a minimum of $10,000 CAD per year of study);
- A letter of explanation detailing your reasons for studying in Canada and assuring your understanding of your responsibilities as an international student;
- A Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) if you are planning on studying in Québec;
- A Custodian Declaration, if you are under 17 years old;
- The receipt for your payment of the $150 CAD study permit fee.
Step 3: Apply Online or Through VAC
Apply online through the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or through a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your country.
Once you have every necessary document, including your acceptance letter from a DLI, you can start your online application for a study permit.
- Read the instruction guide to make sure you know the steps of the process;
- Create an online account and sign in (you will use your account to pay your fees, submit your application, and check your status);
- Fill out the forms online with your detailed personal information (name, address, background, and education);
- Upload the required documents (acceptance letter, identity, proof of funds, letter of explanation, and others);
- Pay your fees at the end of the application;
- Regularly check your application status for updates or extra requests.
Interviews are not necessarily part of the Canadian student visa process. However, depending on the officer's assessment of your application, you may be called in for an interview.
In this case, you will receive a letter containing the interview date, time, and place.
If your application is approved, your student visa will be valid for the duration of your studies, plus 90 days. You can use this extra time to prepare for your departure from Canada or apply for a visa extension if you wish to stay.
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Step 4: Biometrics Appointment
If you are applying from outside of Canada and have never given your biometrics before, you will be required to collect your fingerprints and photo at an official Visa Application Centre.
You will need to pay an $85 CAN fee (in addition to the $150 CAN study permit fee) and set an appointment at an official biometric collection site.
Residents from some countries will also need to provide a medical exam done by an approved panel physician to complete their application.
After submitting your application, patiently await processing. This can take several weeks, so ensure you apply well in advance of your intended start date.
It can take up to 90 days to process your visa application, so it's wise to get it submitted as soon as you have a valid letter of acceptance from your college or university.
Step 5: Receive Port of Entry (POE) Letter
Upon approval, you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) letter of introduction. This letter is required to enter Canada and obtain your study permit.
Now, make sure that you arrive in Canada no more than 90 days before your program's start date. Present your POE letter to the immigration officer, who will issue your study permit.
Expert Tips for a Successful Application
- Apply Early: Begin the application process well in advance to account for processing times and unexpected delays.
- Financial Proof: Ensure you provide credible proof of funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses.
- Clear Intentions: During interviews, convey a clear intention to return to your home country after completing your studies in Canada.
- Check Processing Times: Regularly check IRCC's website for estimated processing times to manage your expectations.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I work while studying in Canada?
Yes, as a full-time student with a valid study permit, you can work on-campus or off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session.
Can I extend my study permit?
Yes, you can extend your study permit from within Canada if you decide to continue your studies or pursue further programs.
Is there an age limit to apply for a study permit?
No, there is no age limit for applying for a study permit in Canada.
Can I travel outside Canada with a study permit?
Yes, you can travel outside Canada while holding a valid study permit, but ensure you have the required documents to re-enter Canada.
Can I bring my family with me to Canada?
Yes, your spouse/common-law partner and dependent children may be eligible for an open work permit and study permit, respectively.
What should I do if my study permit is expiring?
If your program completion date is delayed, apply to extend your study permit before it expires to maintain your legal status in Canada.
Securing a student visa to study in Canada is a process that requires careful planning, attention to detail, and adherence to immigration regulations.
By following the outlined steps and expert tips, you can increase your chances of a successful visa application and embark on an exciting educational journey in one of the world's most welcoming and diverse countries.
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