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Canada Student Visa: Process, How To Apply and Requirements

Canada's esteemed universities make it a sought-after destination for higher education. Each year, a considerable number of students worldwide prioritize obtaining a Canada student visa for undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral research, or executive programs.

Several choices fuel a student’s decision to choose Canada. The first reason is definitely the fact that Canada has a world-class educational infrastructure. The second reason is that obtaining a Canada student VISA and study permit is fairly easy once you get accepted to a university there. A few other countries including its neighbor, the United States, have much stricter VISA and immigration rules and policies in place.

Here is a Youtube video on Why 70% of visas are getting rejected. 

Canada is also an extremely diverse country, with various groups of people of different ethnicities residing within its domestic boundaries in perfect peace and harmony. It also has a large student community that is welcoming to foreign students and does not create any form of bias.

Other reasons that make Canada a popular country among students are that it is also easier to gain citizenship within the country should you decide to settle here in the long term, and the weather and climate are extremely favourable for people; it is never too hot here. The rates of crime within the country are not very high, and it is usually very safe for people, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or political beliefs and affiliations.

Canada Student Visa: An Overview

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A Canada student visa, also known as a study permit, is essential for foreign nationals and international students intending to pursue courses or degrees at designated institutes of higher education. While not every foreign student needs a study permit, it's a requirement for most. It's important to note that a study permit is distinct from a visa and doesn't guarantee entry into Canada. To enter the country, you must obtain a visa separately. 

Step-by-Step Guide on Obtaining a Canadian Study Permit

The validity of a Canadian Study Permit is as long as the duration of your program plus an additional 90 days so that you can prepare yourself to either leave Canada or file an application to extend your stay.  

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to obtain a Canadian study permit:

1. Receive an Acceptance Letter

First, you need to apply and get accepted into a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. Once accepted, the institution will send you an acceptance letter.

2. Check the Eligibility

Before applying for a study permit, ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. You must prove that you have enough money to cover your tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation. You should also be in good health and have no criminal record.

3. Apply Online or Offline

You can apply for a study permit either online through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or through a paper application by mail or in person at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your country.

4. Gather Required Documents

Prepare the necessary documents, including:

  • Passport or travel document
  • Acceptance letter from the DLI
  • Proof of funds to cover your expenses
  • Immigration medical examination (if required)
  • Police certificates (if required)
  • Any other documents specified by the Canadian government or the visa office serving your country

5. Complete the Application Form

Fill out the study permit application form accurately and completely. Ensure that all information provided is truthful and matches the supporting documents.

6. Pay the Application Fee

Pay the required application fee. Fees can vary depending on whether you apply online or offline and your location.

7. Submit the Application

Submit your application along with all required documents either online or through the designated application process. If you apply online, you will need to create an account on the IRCC website and upload your documents.

8. Biometrics Appointment (if applicable)

Depending on your country of residence, you may need to schedule and attend a biometrics appointment at a VAC.

9. Wait for Processing

After submitting your application, wait for it to be processed. Processing times can vary depending on the volume of applications and your country of residence.

10. Receive Approval and Permit

If your application is approved, you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. This letter allows you to travel to Canada. Upon arrival, you will need to present this letter along with your passport and other documents to receive your study permit at the port of entry.

11. Comply with Conditions

Once you receive your study permit, ensure you comply with all the conditions, such as maintaining full-time student status and staying enrolled at a DLI.

12. Renewal (if necessary)

If your program of study is longer than the validity of your study permit, you may need to renew it before it expires. Make sure to apply for renewal well in advance.

Canada Student Visa Eligibility Criteria

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To secure a student visa for Canada, applicants must meet eligibility criteria set by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). These standards ensure financial stability, genuine study intentions, and adherence to immigration laws, facilitating a smooth process for pursuing academic endeavours in Canada.

1. Enrollment at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

To study in Canada, you must be enrolled at a DLI recognized by the Canadian government. This ensures that you're receiving education from an accredited institution.

2. Financial Proof

You need to demonstrate that you have enough funds to cover your tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation. This requirement ensures that you can support yourself and any accompanying family members during your stay in Canada.

3. Adherence to Canadian Laws

You must obey Canadian laws, have no criminal record, and obtain a police certificate if it's required. This ensures the safety and security of Canadian society.

4. Good Health

Being in good health is essential. You may need to undergo a medical exam to prove your health status, ensuring that you won't pose a risk to public health in Canada.

5. Intent to Leave Canada

You must convince immigration officers that you have genuine intentions to leave Canada once your study permit expires. This helps prevent overstaying and ensures the integrity of the Canadian immigration system.

Responsibilities While Studying in Canada

Here is the table below showcasing Responsibilities While Studying in Canada: 

Responsibility Description
Academic Progress Maintain satisfactory academic performance and progress towards completing your program.
Compliance with Permit Conditions Adhere to any conditions stated on your study permit, including work and travel restrictions.
Meeting Requirements If no longer eligible, stop studying and comply with Canadian immigration regulations.

Exceptions to Study Permit Requirements

Here is the table below showcasing Exceptions to Study Permit Requirements: 

Exception Description
Short-term Students Programs lasting six months or less do not require a study permit.
Family or Staff of Foreign Representatives Family or staff members of foreign representatives accredited by Global Affairs Canada may be exempt from needing a study permit.
Members of Foreign Armed Forces Foreign armed forces members from designated countries under the Visiting Forces Act (VFA), on official duties in Canada, may not require a study permit.
Registered Indians in Canada Individuals with Registered Indian status in Canada, regardless of citizenship, are exempt from needing a study permit.

What Documents Are Required To Apply For A Canadian Visa?

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Embarking on a study journey in Canada is an exciting prospect, but it comes with a list of necessary documents to ensure a smooth transition into the Canadian educational system. Here's a breakdown of the updated documents required for international students planning to study in Canada:

1. Proof of Acceptance

You must obtain a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from your chosen Canadian educational institution. This document confirms your admission to the institution and is a crucial part of your study permit application.

2. Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) (New Requirement - Effective January 22, 2024)

Most students need to provide a PAL from the province or territory where they plan to study. However, certain exceptions apply, such as preschool, primary, or secondary school applicants.

3. Proof of Identity

A valid passport or travel document is necessary for you and any accompanying family members. For online applications, upload a copy of the passport's information page. If approved, you'll need to send the original passport.

4. Proof of Financial Support

Demonstrating sufficient funds to cover your expenses is crucial. You can prove your financial capability through various means, including:

  • Canadian bank account statements.
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a Canadian financial institution.
  • Student or education loan documentation.
  • Bank drafts, tuition payment receipts, or proof of housing fees.
  • Letters of financial support from sponsors or scholarship providers.
  • Proof of funding from within Canada, applicable for scholarship recipients or those in Canadian-funded educational programs.

5. Letter of Explanation

This letter provides insight into your motivations and intentions for studying in Canada. It outlines your educational goals, reasons for selecting a particular institution, and understanding of your responsibilities as a student.

6. Medical Exam (If Applicable)

Depending on specific criteria, you may need to undergo a medical examination. This requirement applies to those planning to stay in Canada for over 6 months or those working in certain occupations affecting public health.

7. Custodian Declaration (For Minor Children)

If you're a minor requiring a custodian in Canada, a Custodianship Declaration form must be submitted. This form, notarized by a certified notary, ensures proper care arrangements for minors studying in Canada.

8. Statement of Purpose

You would be required to submit an essay stating the purpose of your trip to Canada and why you have chosen the particular institution. This will be prompted as an optional document in the checklist, but it is strongly recommended that you submit it.

9. Other Supporting Documents

Additional documents may be necessary based on your circumstances or specific visa office instructions. Check with your local visa office for any regional requirements or immigration status verification.

Here is the table summarising the Documents Required for a Canadian Visa:

Document Description
Proof of Acceptance Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from the Canadian educational institution confirming admission.
Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) Required for most students planning to study in Canada, except for certain exceptions like preschool, primary, or secondary school applicants.
Proof of Identity Valid passport or travel document for you and any accompanying family members.
Proof of Financial Support Various documents demonstrating sufficient funds to cover expenses, such as bank statements, investment certificates, or letters of financial support.
Letter of Explanation Provides insight into motivations for studying in Canada, educational goals, reasons for selecting a specific institution, and understanding of student responsibilities.
Medical Exam (If Applicable) Required for stays over 6 months or specific occupations affecting public health.
Custodian Declaration (For Minor Children) Ensures proper care arrangements for minors studying in Canada, notarized by a certified notary.
Statement of Purpose Optional essay stating the purpose of the trip to Canada and reasons for choosing a particular institution.
Other Supporting Documents Additional documents based on individual circumstances or specific visa office instructions.

Application Process for Canada Student Visa

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The applicants for a Canada student visa can apply online as well as offline (paper application). The general application process in both cases is as follows:

Applying for a Canada student visa can be done either online or offline (paper application), with a general process outlined below:

1. Application Fee:

Applicants are required to pay a fee of 150 CAD, along with an additional 85 CAD for biometrics.

2. Check Processing Times:

The visa application process typically takes 3-4 weeks. However, it's essential to verify the approximate processing time on the Canadian consulate website, as processing times may vary.

3. Online Application:

  • Applicants must have access to a scanner or camera to upload electronic copies of their documents and a valid credit card for payment.
  • Complete the online application form and download the application kit and instruction guide from the official website.
  • Visit the regional Visa Application Centre (VAC) to provide finger scans and submit passports, as well as confirm form submission and fee payment.

4. Offline Application:

Fill out the VFS Consent Form and attach it to the application form for assistance from VFS services.
Pay the processing fee at the VFS office, including any additional service charges. Submit the complete application and supporting documents at the nearest VFS office, where you'll receive a receipt containing a unique tracking number for online application tracking.

5. Additional Considerations:

If accompanying family members require temporary resident visas, work permits, or study permits, appropriate processing fees must be paid for each application.

Upon approval, applicants will receive notification from the Government of Canada requesting their passports. Passports can be submitted in person or through VFS, and upon completion, applicants will receive a Temporary Resident Visa and a Letter of Introduction.

After You Apply for Canada Student Visa

After submitting your application for a Canada student visa, there are several key steps to anticipate. Firstly, you'll receive an acknowledgement of receipt confirming that your application has been received by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Following this, IRCC will process your application, which may involve verifying your documents, conducting background checks, and assessing your eligibility.

1. Processing Time

The processing time for a study permit application is typically around 11 weeks, excluding the time required for biometrics.

2. Biometrics Collection

Schedule your biometrics collection appointment promptly to avoid delays in processing your application.
Biometrics include fingerprints and a photo, which are collected at designated locations. Instructions on how to give biometrics can be found on the official website.

3. Application Processing

Your application will be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure that all necessary documents are included. Incomplete applications may be returned or require additional information.
If necessary, you may be requested to attend an interview or provide further documentation, such as a medical exam or police certificate.

4. Submitting Missing Documents:

If any required documents were not submitted with your initial application, you can provide them through your online account or the web form. Please note that your application will not be processed until all required documents are received, so delays may occur if documents are submitted late.

5. Updating Your Application

If any of your contact information changes (such as address or telephone number), ensure to update your application promptly to avoid communication issues.

6. Application Status Tracking

Use the application status tracker to receive updates on your application's progress. To create an account, you'll need your unique client identifier (UCI) and application number.

7. Upon Approval

If your application is approved, you'll receive your study permit:

  • At the port of entry when you arrive in Canada or mailed to you if you're already in Canada.
  • If applying from outside Canada, you'll receive a port of entry letter of introduction allowing entry into
  • Canada, along with an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) or visitor visa if required.
  • If applying from within Canada, follow the specific instructions provided based on your eligibility.

8. In Case of Refusal

If your application is refused, you'll receive a letter explaining the reasons for the refusal.
Reasons for refusal may include inadequate documentation, insufficient funds, failure to pass medical exams, or inability to convince the visa officer of your intent to study and leave Canada afterwards.

9. Assistance and Feedback

For further clarification on a refusal or any other queries, contact the visa office that sent you the refusal letter. Provide feedback to help improve the visa application process and services offered by the Canadian government. By understanding the post-application procedures and staying informed throughout the process, you can ensure a smoother experience in obtaining your Canada student visa.

How Should You Write An SOP for a Canada Student Visa?

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An SOP or Statement of Purpose is an essay stating the purpose of your Canada student visa and why you have chosen the particular institution. Remember to be honest in your SOP, as your application is viewed by officers who read hundreds of such applications and can detect insincerity and formulaic writing easily.

The top 5 key points to consider when writing an SOP for a Canada student visa:

1. Authenticity

Ensure your SOP reflects your genuine intentions, motivations, and aspirations for studying in Canada. Avoid generic or insincere statements that could undermine your credibility.

2. Relevance

Address the specific questions provided by the immigration authorities, focusing on why you chose Canada, the selected institution, and the program of study. Tailor your responses to highlight how your academic and career goals align with the Canadian educational experience.

3. Clarity and Conciseness

Write in clear, concise language, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complex sentences. Organize your SOP with a logical flow of ideas and paragraphs to make it easy for the reader to follow.

4. Evidence and Examples

Support your statements with concrete examples and evidence, such as relevant academic achievements, work experience, or extracurricular activities. Show how these experiences have prepared you for success in the chosen program and contribute to your overall profile.

5. Proofreading and Compliance

Thoroughly proofread your SOP to correct any grammatical errors, typos, or inconsistencies. Ensure that your SOP complies with the formatting and word count guidelines provided by the institution or immigration authorities to avoid any potential issues with your application.

Canada Student Visa Fees: Understanding the Cost of Application

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When applying for a Canada student visa, it's important to be aware of the fees involved and the validity of your visa. Here's what you need to know:

1. Application Fee and Biometric Fee

A non-refundable application fee of 150 CAD is required, along with an additional biometric fee of 85 CAD.
These fees cover the processing of your application and the collection of biometric data, including fingerprints and a photo.

2. Restoration Fee (If Required)

If you need to restore your student status, you may incur a restoration fee of 200 CAD plus an additional 150 CAD for a new student permit.

3. Visa Validity

A Canada student visa is valid only for the duration of your study program, plus an additional 90 days.
The 90-day period allows you to prepare for departure from Canada or apply for a visa extension if necessary.

4. Program Completion and Additional 90 Days

Upon completing your program, you must provide proof of graduation from your school, such as an email, letter, diploma, or certificate. The date of issuance of these documents will be considered the completion date of your program, triggering the start of the additional 90-day period to prepare for departure.

5. Travelling Abroad During Breaks

The Canada student visa permits international students to travel abroad during school breaks. However, upon returning to Canada, you must ensure that your visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is valid, in addition to your study permit. Failure to present valid documentation may result in a denial of entry into Canada, so it's crucial to verify the validity of your documents before travelling.

6. Ensuring Document Validity

Before travelling outside of Canada, ensure that your study permit, visa, or eTA are all valid.
If any of your documents are nearing expiration, apply for extensions before travelling to avoid any disruptions in your student status.

Conclusion

Canada is a popular study destination for students from all over the world due to its distinct welcoming culture and internationally acclaimed universities. Student Direct Stream is a Canadian government initiative that simplifies the application process for international students. In 2019, 77,140 Indians applied for study permits through the SDS program. In the same year, the SDS program was responsible for 54.4 per cent of Canada student visa permits issued to Indian students.

How long does it typically take to process a Canada student visa application?

The processing time for a Canada student visa application typically ranges from 3 to 4 weeks. However, it's crucial to check the approximate processing time on the official Canadian consulate website, as processing times may vary based on individual circumstances and the volume of applications received.

Can I work while studying in Canada on a student visa?


Yes, international students studying in Canada on a valid student visa are generally allowed to work part-time during their studies. Typically, students can work up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as summer or winter holidays. However, it's essential to check the specific work regulations and eligibility criteria outlined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

What should I do if my Canada student visa application is rejected?


If your Canada student visa application is rejected, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for the refusal. It's essential to carefully review the refusal letter to understand the grounds for rejection. You may have the option to reapply, address any deficiencies in your application, or provide additional documentation to support your case. Seeking assistance from immigration experts or legal advisors can also help navigate the appeal or reapplication process effectively.

Is there any financial assistance available for international students studying in Canada?


Yes, there are various financial assistance options available for international students studying in Canada, including scholarships, grants, bursaries, and student loans. Many Canadian universities and colleges offer merit-based scholarships, need-based financial aid, and other funding opportunities specifically designed for international students. Additionally, external organizations, government agencies, and private foundations may also provide financial support to eligible international students. It's advisable to research and apply for relevant financial aid programs well in advance of starting your studies in Canada.

Are there any language proficiency requirements for obtaining a Canada student visa?


While there are no specific language proficiency requirements for obtaining a Canada student visa, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in English or French, depending on the language of instruction at your chosen educational institution. Some universities and colleges may require you to submit proof of language proficiency through standardized tests such as the IELTS, TOEFL, or DELF/DALF.

Know Your Author
Photo of Rohit
Rohit Rajaram
Study Abroad Expert
Rohit is a results-driven individual with a strong background in Education Mentorship, Program Management and Business Development. Holding a Master's degree in Management from ESCP Business School in Paris, Rohit combines academic excellence with extensive industry experience. Throughout his career, Rohit has consistently delivered exceptional results, driving sales, increasing turnover, and achieving targets. Known for his strategic acumen, Rohit formulates and executes successful business strategies, enhancing operational quality, customer satisfaction and key bottonline drivers. As the Co-Founder of MiM-Essay, a leading Early Career Degrees application consulting company, Rohit has successfully mentored over 10,000+ students, enabling them to secure admissions in top-ranked schools worldwide with significant scholarships. Under his leadership, the company has maintained high-quality service and exceptional client satisfaction rates. With expertise in analytics, product development and business excellence, Rohit has successfully driven the success of various initiatives. Committed to constant innovation, he is expanding the company's offerings by introducing digital and technology-powered products for comprehensive education solutions.
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