You must first obtain a Canadian study permit, which also serves as a Canadian student visa for the duration of your stay, in order to study in Canada. If your course or program lasts six months or less, you do not need a Canadian study permit. Applying for a permit before arriving in Canada, on the other hand, may be a good idea; otherwise, if you decide to continue your studies in another program, you will have to leave Canada to apply for a study permit through a visa office.
If you already have a study permit in Canada and want to continue your studies, you can renew it from within the country. A study permit permits full-time students at an accredited higher education institution to work part-time on campus. Off-campus employment may also be available as part of your program, as a co-op or intern, as a permanent resident in Canada, or after graduation.
How to Get a Study Permit in Canada
You can apply for a Canadian study permit online or by paper application on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Paper applications typically take twice as long to process as electronic applications, so double-check the processing times ahead of time. You’ll need a credit/debit card and the ability to create electronic copies of your supporting documents to apply online (i.e. using a scanner or camera). The visa office in your country will give you specific instructions on which documents you need to bring; this may vary depending on where you are. If you require assistance, please contact your nearest visa application center (VAC).
The following is the procedure for obtaining a Canadian student visa:
To begin, obtain a standardized acceptance letter from a recognized higher education institution. Students studying in Quebec must also apply for a CAQ, or certificate of acceptance, from the Quebec government. This is required before applying for a study permit. You can obtain it by going online, printing a form, or requesting a paper form from your university, which will also provide you with subject-specific advice.
The next step is to obtain a Canadian student visa application package, which can be obtained from the CIC website or by contacting your local visa office, as well as the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country. If you are from a designated country, you may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit (find out if you do here), but this will not complicate matters too much because it will be processed concurrently with your study permit application.
You must first complete a few personal questions on the CIC website before receiving your application package. These questions will help you determine whether you are eligible to apply for a Canadian student permit online and what documents you will need to submit.
If you are determined to be eligible, you will be given a 60-day personal checklist code and must submit your application online. Make a copy of the page with the code for future reference. The page will also include an application guide, a tuition fee estimate, a list of documents required with your application, and next steps instructions.
When you’re ready to apply, create a MyCIC account and enter your personal checklist code. You will then receive your personal document checklist, which will allow you to upload and send your documents to CIC. For this, you’ll need a printer or a scanner.
You can submit your completed application to CIC once you have all of your documents and application form ready, as well as paid your fees.
Some applicants may be required to attend an interview in person at their nearest visa office.
Additional requirements for Canadian student visas
Some or all of the additional Canadian student visa requirements listed below may also apply:
Biometrics may be required for applicants from Europe, the Middle East, or Africa (photograph and fingerprints).
Some applicants may be required to undergo a medical examination and/or a police background check before submitting an application. If you have a criminal record, you will be unable to obtain a study permit; you may be required to provide a Police Clearance Certificate as proof.
Unless you are from the United States or Saint Pierre and Miquelon, you must present a valid passport that allows you to return to your home country after finishing your course. Two passport-sized photos with your name and date of birth written on the back are also required.
A proof of financial support is also required for a Canadian student visa. This is in addition to your tuition fees and is currently set at CA$10,000 (US$7,650) per year of stay (CA$11,000/US$8,400 if applying to study in Quebec). You must also ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover your return transportation.
Bank statements, evidence of a Canadian account in your name if the money has been transferred, a bank draft in a convertible currency, proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees, a letter from a person or institution providing you with money, or proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are enrolled in a Canadian-funded program are all acceptable documents.
Using the Student Direct Stream to Apply
The Student Direct Stream, which allows students from China, India, the Philippines, or Vietnam to apply for a study permit more quickly, was recently introduced in Canada. With the exception of an IELTS score of at least 6, or a 7 in the Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens for French, or having graduated from a Canadian-curriculum high school, the requirements are similar to those for a regular study permit. If you do not meet the requirements for the Student Direct Stream but do meet the requirements for the regular study permit, your application will be reviewed and you will not be processed more quickly.
Following Application Procedures
If your Canadian student visa application is approved, you will be given a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction, while students from countries requiring an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and/or a temporary residence visa will be given these if necessary. The eTA will be associated with your passport. You must travel with the passport you used to obtain your study permit. The eTA will be valid for five years or until the expiration of your passport, whichever comes first.
Present these documents, along with your passport, proof of finances, and letter of acceptance (along with any other recommended documents), to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Canada, which will issue you a Canadian study permit and allow you to enter the country.
Working and studying in Canada
If you want to work part-time while studying in Canada, you can now work up to 20 hours per week on or off campus during university semesters, and full-time during breaks like the winter or summer holidays, without needing a work permit.
To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
It is necessary to have a valid study permit.
You must be a full-time student.
In Quebec, enroll in a postsecondary designated learning institution or a secondary vocational program.
Take part in a six-month academic, vocational, or professional training program that results in a degree, diploma, or certificate.
You will also need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada to work in Canada or receive government benefits and services.
Because your study permit will expire 90 days after you finish your program, you’ll need to obtain a post-graduation work permit if you want to stay in Canada after finishing your studies and looking for work. This is only good for three years.
You can get ready to study abroad in Canada by following our comprehensive guide.