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 programme 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 programme, you’ll have to leave the country to apply for a study permit at a visa office.
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 centre near you (VAC).
Here’s what you need to do to get a Canadian student visa:
- You must first get a standard 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 contacting 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 are eligible, you will get a personal checklist code that is good for 60 days. You will need this code to apply 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, you will need to 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 completed application to CIC once you have your documents, application form, and fees.
Some people 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:
- Biometrics may be needed from applicants from Europe, the Middle East, or Africa (photograph and fingerprints).
- Before submitting their application, some people 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.
- Unless you are 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 draught in a convertible currency, proof of payment for tuition and housing fees, a letter from the person or organisation giving you the money, or proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are participating in a Canadian-funded programme.
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.