Research, scientific publications, and international collaborations are three of the main aspects that Canada and its academic institutions focus on. Every year, over 130,000 international students choose to study at Canadian universities. In addition to a high-quality education system, Canada also provides numerous possibilities and a vibrant culture.
Figuring out how difficult is it to get the student visa for Canada will play a crucial role when you decide where you want to study. So, what do you have to do to get your student visa for Canada, and how difficult is it?
Language requirements for studying in Canada
Proof of English language skills is not included on the list of required documents for a Canadian student visa. But unless you come from an English-speaking country, Canadian universities will require you to submit proof of English language proficiency. Accepted language tests include:
- IELTS Academic
- TOEFL iBT
- PTE Academic
- C1 Advanced
Applying at a Canadian university and getting your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Canada, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a Canadian university, you’ll get an acceptance letter that will be required for the visa application.
Check if you need to apply for a student visa in Canada
You can use the official Canadian study permit tool to find out if you need a study visa or permit. You don’t need a study visa if one of the following situations applies to you:
- You are a family or staff member of a foreign representative in Canada, who is accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.
- You enrol in a study programme that lasts less than six months.
- You are a member of foreign armed forces from the Visiting Forces Act.
- You are a citizen of another country, but you have an Indian status registered in Canada.
Remember that the study permit/visa does not act as a regular visa, which allows you to enter or travel to Canada. For that, you will need a travel visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
Start your application for the Canadian student visa
As soon as you got the acceptance letter from the university, it is time to proceed to the next step: applying for a student visa, which is locally known as a study permit.
The first steps to obtaining your student visa:
- Apply online for your Canadian student visa, on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website before you arrive in Canada.
- Send the visa application documents by post if you have a limited internet connection or cannot submit the documents online.
- Provide an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (a university recognized by the Canadian government).
- Deliver proof of sufficient financial resources to support your studies in Canada (tuition fees and living expenses).
- Present proof confirming you have no criminal record.
- Submit clinical records that state you are in good health; submit complete medical examinations if required.
According to recent visa regulations, if you have a family member working or applying for a work permit in Canada, the application for your study permit will be processed in two weeks. You may renew or extend your study permit if:
- you wish to continue your studies
- your programme has an extension
- you change your university
The study permit expires 90 days after your studies are finished (after you receive a notification of the programme completion). You can still stay in Canada to travel and explore or you can apply for a work permit, which allows you to take a full time or part-time job, or even be self-employed.
Note: Check out if your home country is on the list of biometrics requests for the study permit application.
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Prepare all the required documents for the student visa in Canada:
- Filled-in student permit application form
- The original letter of acceptance from the university
- A valid passport/travel document, which also allows you to return to your home country. If you live in the USA, this is not necessary.
- Two recent passport-size photographs, with specifications of name and date of birth on the back
- Proof of financial support during your study programme. This means proving you have between 10,000 and 11,000 CAD per year for living in the country.
- A letter of intent
- If you plan to study in Quebec, you will also need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec, English and French translations of your document, a statement from the translator and a certified copy of the original documents
- Proof that you paid the study permit fee (150 CAD)
Biometrics appointment and interview
Depending on your nationality, you might have to show up at a Visa Application Centre in your country to have your biometrics taken. The biometrics fee is 85 CAD. This fee is in addition to the regular visa application fee (150 CAD). Some countries are exempt from this biometrics requirement, so their citizens won’t need to visit an application centre at all.
Depending on your individual situation, you might also be called for an interview. Local visa application centres will charge a small fee for using their services.
Waiting to receive the Canadian study permit
After applying for your Canadian study permit, the processing time may take up to 90 days, but it’s usually faster. This also depends on the situation in your home country.
You can use the Student Direct Stream to get the study permit faster. Fees start at 150 CAD and the processing time is usually around 20 calendar days. The Student Direct Stream is only available for students from the following countries:
- The Philippines
You can find more up-to-date information about the Canadian student visa on the official student visa page of the Canadian government.