To study in Canada, you’ll need a Canadian study permit, which is like a Canadian student visa for the time you’re there. If your course or program lasts less than six months, you do not need a Canadian study permit. Still, it might be a good idea to apply for a permit before you come to Canada. If you don’t, and you decide you want to study in a different program, you’ll have to leave the country to apply for a study permit at a visa office.
If you want to keep studying in Canada after you get a Canadian study permit, you can apply to renew it from inside Canada. With a study permit, you can work part-time on campus if you are a full-time student at an accredited college or university. You might also be able to work off campus, as a co-op or intern as part of your program, stay in Canada as a permanent resident, or find work after you graduate.
Applying for a study permit to study in Canada
You can get an application for a Canadian study permit from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website, where you can also get a paper application. Most paper applications take about twice as long as online ones, so it’s important to check the processing times well in advance. To apply online, you’ll need a credit or debit card and the ability to turn your supporting documents into electronic copies (i.e. using a scanner or camera). The visa office in your country will tell you exactly what documents you need to bring. This can be different depending on where you live. If you need help, you can get it at the visa application center near you (VAC).
Here’s what you need to do to get a Canadian student visa:
- You must first get an official letter of acceptance from a well-known college or university. Students who want to study in Quebec must also ask the government of Quebec for a CAQ, which stands for “certificate of acceptance.” Before you can apply for a study permit, you must first get this. You can get this information online, by printing out a form, or by asking your university for a paper form. Your university can also give you advice about this.
- The next step is to get an application package for a Canadian student visa. You can do this by going to the CIC website, calling your local visa office, or going to the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country. You may also need a temporary residence permit if you are from a certain country. You can find out if you need one here. This won’t make things too hard, though, because your application for a study permit will be processed at the same time.
- You’ll need to answer a few questions about yourself on the CIC website in order to get your application package. With the answers to these questions, you’ll find out if you can apply online for a Canadian student permit and what documents you’ll need.
- If you’re eligible, you’ll get a personal checklist code that’s good for 60 days and that you’ll need to submit your application online. Make sure to print out the page with your code so you can look at it later. The page will also have a guide for how to fill out an application, an estimate of how much tuition will cost, a list of the documents you need to send with your application, and instructions for what to do next.
- When you are ready to apply, make a MyCIC account and enter your personal checklist code. Then, you’ll get your personal document checklist, which lets you send your documents to CIC by uploading them. To do this, you’ll need a printer or a scanner.
- You can send your application to CIC once you have your documents, application form, and fees ready and have paid your fees.
- Some applicants may have to go to their local visa office for an interview.
Additional Canadian student visa requirements
Some or all of the following may also be needed to get a Canadian student visa:
- Applicants from Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may need to give biometrics (photograph and fingerprints).
- Before sending in their application, some applicants may also need to get a medical exam and/or a police check. If you have been in trouble with the law, you won’t be able to get a study permit. You may be asked to show a Police Clearance Certificate as proof.
- If you are not from the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you will need to show that you have a valid passport that lets you go back to your home country when your course is over. You also need two photos the size of a passport, with your name and date of birth written on the back of each.
- One of the requirements for a Canadian student visa is proof that you have enough money to live on. At the moment, this is considered to be an extra CA$10,000 (about US$7,650) for every year you stay, or CA$11,000 (about US$8,400) if you want to study in Quebec. You will also need to make sure you have enough money to get home.
To prove you have this money, you can show any of the following: bank statements, proof of a Canadian account in your name if the money was transferred there, a bank draft in a convertible currency, proof of payment for tuition and housing fees, a letter from the person or organization giving you the money, or proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are participating in a Canadian-funded program.
Using the Student Direct Stream to apply
Canada just made the Student Direct Stream available to students from China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam so that they can get their study permit faster. The requirements are the same as for a regular study permit, but there are stricter language requirements. You must have at least a 6 on the IELTS or a 7 on the Niveaux the Compétence Linguistique Canadiens for French, or you must have graduated from a high school with a Canadian curriculum. If you don’t meet the requirements for the Student Direct Stream but do meet them for the regular study permit, your application will be looked at for the regular study permit option, and you won’t get faster processing.
What to do next after you apply
If your application for a Canadian student visa is approved, you’ll get a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. If you’re from a country that needs an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and/or a temporary residence visa, you’ll get those, too. Your passport will be linked to the eTA. It’s important to travel with the same passport you used to get your study permit. The eTA will be good for five years or until the expiration date on your passport, whichever comes first.
Show these to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Canada along with your passport, proof of your finances, letter of acceptance, and any other documents you were told to bring. They will then give you your Canadian study permit and let you into Canada.
Canada lets you work while you study.
If you want to get a part-time job to help pay for your studies in Canada, you can now qualify to work on or off campus for up to 20 hours during university semesters and full-time during breaks like the winter or summer holidays without a work permit.
To qualify, you must:
- Have a valid study permit
- Be a full-time student
- Be enrolled in a recognized post-secondary learning institution or, in Quebec, a secondary vocational program.
- Be enrolled in a program that lasts at least six months and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate. This could be an academic, vocational, or professional program.
You’ll also need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada if you want to work in Canada or get government services and benefits.
Your study permit will stop being valid 90 days after you finish your program. If you want to stay in Canada after you finish your studies and look for work, you’ll need a post-graduation work permit. It works for three years.