Embarking on a journey of higher education in the vibrant and culturally rich landscape of Canada is a dream for many international students. However, navigating the intricacies of Canadian student visas can be a daunting task without the right guidance.
Establish yourself on the path to becoming an international student in Canada by discovering all you must know about Canadian Student Visas!
What Are Canadian Student Visas?
If you are considering studying in Canada, one of the most important things you need to know about is the Canadian student visa. It is a legal requirement for most international students, with a few exceptions.
Canada Study Permit
The Canada study permit is an essential document that allows international students to study in Canada’s designated learning institutions (DLIs). It is issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the government ministry responsible for immigration and citizenship matters in Canada. The study permit is usually valid for the duration of the study program, plus an additional 90 days.
A study permit does not by itself allow you to travel to or enter Canada. To do so, you will need a Visitor Visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).
Student Direct Stream (SDS)
The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is an expedited study permit processing program for students from certain countries. It aims to provide faster and more streamlined visa processing for eligible students, with application processing times as fast as 20 calendar days. To be eligible for the SDS, you must be a legal resident of countries such as China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, or Vietnam.
You must also provide proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution, proof of payment for the first year of tuition fees, and proof of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of 10,000 CAD.
How Can I Get a Canadian Student Visa
Step 1: Check If You’re Eligible to Apply for a Canadian Student Visa
Before applying for a Canadian student visa, you need to make sure you meet the eligibility criteria. The requirements to apply for a Canadian student visa include:
- Enrolling at a Canadian DLI
- Demonstrating you have sufficient funds to pay for your
- Tuition fees
- Living expenses for yourself and any family members in Canada
- Return transportation for yourself and any family members in Canada
- Having no criminal record (demonstrated via a police certificate)
- Proving you are in good health (shown via a medical exam), and
- Showing a Canadian border officer you can leave Canada when your study permit expires
Step 2: Gather The Required Canadian Student Visa Documentation
To apply for a Canadian student visa, you will need to gather the required documentation. This may include your:
- Proof of acceptance in the form of an original or electronic letter of acceptance (LOA),
- Proof of identity via an original, valid passport,
- Proof of financial support via bank statements, student or education loan, or Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC),
- Letter of explanation,
- Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) attestation (if your study program is more than six months),
- medical exam clearance document, and
- custodian declaration (for minors).
It is important to ensure that all your documents are complete and accurate to avoid any delays or rejections.
Step 3: Apply Online or at a Visa Application Center
Once you have gathered all the required documentation, you can proceed with the application process. You can either apply online through the IRCC portal or submit your application at a Visa Application Center (VAC) in your country.
When applying, you will need to pay the application fee of 150 CAD and provide biometric information, if required. It is recommended to apply well in advance of your intended study start date to allow for processing times. It can take 3 months to get a Canada study permit, depending on the country you are applying from.
When applying for a Canada visitor visa, study permit, or work permit, you may need to submit your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph). If you must give your biometrics, don’t submit your study permit application by mail. Instead, submit it at the VAC closest to you when they collect your biometrics.
Step 4: After You Apply for a Canadian Student Visa
After you have submitted your application, you will need to wait for a decision from the IRCC.
During this waiting period, it is important to keep track of your application status and any updates from the IRCC. Once your visa is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction that you will need to present to the immigration officer when you arrive in Canada.
Benefits of Studying in Canada With a Canadian Student Visa
Studying in Canada offers numerous benefits to international students. Here are some of the key advantages of obtaining a Canadian student visa:
Canada’s Affordable Tuition and Living Costs
Compared to other popular study destinations, Canada offers relatively affordable tuition fees and living costs. The country provides high-quality education at a reasonable price, making it an attractive option for international students. Additionally, there are scholarship and funding opportunities available to help students finance their studies in Canada. Examples include the:
- Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program (CCSEP),
- Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarships,
- Study in Canada Scholarships,
- Organization of American States (OAS) Academic Scholarship Program, and
- Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Vanier CGS).
Being a Recipient of Canada’s High-Quality Education
Canada is renowned for its world-class education system. Studying in Canada means you will receive a high-quality education that is recognized and respected worldwide, giving you a competitive edge in your future career.
The country boasts top-ranking universities and colleges that provide excellent academic programs across a wide range of disciplines. Top-rated universities listed in the top 100 of Times Higher Education World University Rankings include the:
- University of Toronto (nr 18),
- University of British Columbia (nr 40),
- Mcgill University (nr 46), and
- McMaster University (nr 85).
Canada’s Great Work Opportunities During And After Graduation
One of the major benefits of studying in Canada is the opportunity to work while you study. International students with a valid study permit can work part-time on campus and, in some cases, off-campus as well. If you don’t have a study permit, you must apply for a Canadian work permit to work in Canada as a student.
This allows students to gain valuable work experience that can establish them on a path to Canadian permanent residency through programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and supplement their income. Furthermore, Canada offers excellent post-graduation work opportunities through the Postgraduate Work Permit (PGWP), allowing students to stay and work in the country after completing their studies.
Safe and Peaceful Environment in Canada
Canada is known for its safe and peaceful environment, making it an ideal place for international students to study. The country consistently ranks high on safety and security indexes, ensuring a comfortable and secure experience for students.
According to Statistics Canada, the Crime Severity Index has remained relatively stable at 5,668 reported crimes per 100,000 people, indicating comparatively low crime levels in Canada.
Be Welcomed Into Canada’s Diversity and Inclusive Society
Canada is a multicultural country that celebrates diversity and promotes inclusivity. As an international student, you will have the opportunity to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and gain a global perspective. Canada's commitment to multiculturalism ensures that international students feel welcomed and valued, creating a vibrant and inclusive community.
How Do I Renew My Study Permit in Canada?
To renew your study permit in Canada, you need to apply for an extension before your current permit expires. The renewal process is similar to the initial application process, and you will need to provide updated documentation, such as proof of enrollment and financial support. It is important to apply for the renewal well in advance to ensure continuity of your studies.
What is The Difference Between a Student Visa and a Study Permit?
A student visa and a study permit are often used interchangeably, but they refer to slightly different things. A student visa is a document issued by the Canadian visa office in your country of residence, which allows you to enter Canada.
On the other hand, a study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government that allows you to study in Canada. In most cases, you need both a student visa and a study permit to study in Canada.