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How to Apply For a Student Visa in Canada

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Do you want to complete your high school or post-secondary education in Canada? Over half a million people from around the world are accepted and issued international student visas to study in Canada each year.

The process of immigration can feel overwhelming, but Green Light Canada’s immigration consultants are available to help you with completing and submitting your study permit application, paying the fee, and navigating any roadblocks you may face.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about student Visas in Canada so you can clearly understand how to have the best chance at successfully obtaining a Canadian study permit.

This article will cover the following topics:

  • Do I need a study permit to study in Canada?
  • How do I get a student Visa for Canada?
  • How do I start an application for a study permit in Canada?
  • How much does a Canadian study permit cost?
  • Application Through the Student Direct Stream
  • Working While Studying in Canada
  • How long does it take to get a Canadian study permit?

Do I need a study permit to study in Canada?

Regardless of whether your nationality requires you to have a visitor visa to visit Canada, you will need a visa to study at a Canadian high school, college, or university.

There are a few exceptions where you may not be required to have a study permit. Here are some scenarios:

  • If you’re visiting the country and enrol in a course or program of study less than six months long.
  • If you’re taking a short self-improvement class or learning about a general interest.
  • Children or family members of the private staff of accredited foreign representatives.
  • If you are simply auditing a class (not getting any credit or grade for it).

There are other situations where applicants may be exempt from Canadian student visa requirements. We can help you determine whether you need a visa, or you can learn more here.

In most cases, if you plan to arrive in Canada for the purposes of enrolling in a full-time program of study, you will require a study permit.

How do I get a student visa for Canada?

The application to study in Canada is not complicated, but there are a number of steps you need to follow in order to increase your chances of success. It’s estimated that around 30% of applications are refused, so it’s important to prepare and submit your application carefully.

Here are the basic steps you must follow:

  1. Apply and receive a letter of acceptance at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI). You can find a complete list of Canadian DLIs here.
  2. Secure acceptable proof of identity. This is generally a valid passport or another travel document. You will also need two passport-sized photos. Learn more here.
  3. As soon as you receive acceptance at your DLI, pay for your first year of school in full, or be able to provide sufficient evidence of financial support. This will require you to have money to cover a full year’s worth of tuition and housing as well as living expenses.
  4. To improve your chances of acceptance, you can write a letter of explanation. This will help a visa officer understand your desire to study in Canada, and that you understand your responsibilities as a student.
  5. Complete your application. The study permit application can be completed online on the Canadian Government immigration website, or you can complete the application form on paper and mail the application in. The online application is recommended and can generally be processed faster than a paper application.
  6. Be sure your application is complete. When you begin your application process online, the IRCC will generate a specific list of requirements for you based on the answers you provide. Make sure you answer honestly and completely or your application may be delayed or refused. Depending on where you live, you may be required to provide:
    1. Biometrics
    2. A medical exam
    3. A police clearance
    4. English or French proficiency testing
    5. You may need additional documents if you plan to study in Quebec.
  7. Attend any interviews you may be requested to attend from within your home country.
  8. Keep an eye on your email as well as your application portal for status updates and correspondence from the IRCC. You will be notified of your acceptance or refusal on your application portal.

What happens if I’m approved?

If your visa is approved, your visa will be issued to you at your port of entry. If you’re already in Canada, your visa will be mailed to you at the address you specified in your application.

What happens if I’m refused?

If Immigration Canada (IRCC) refuses your application, you will be notified and given the reasons why the officer who refused you felt you were not a suitable candidate. A refusal does not disqualify you from applying again. You may be able to strengthen your application and apply in the future.

The most common reasons for refusal are:

  • You didn’t provide adequate proof you could financially support yourself in Canada
  • The officer wasn’t convinced you would leave Canada at the end of your stay
  • You weren’t able to provide an acceptable certificate of health

How do I start an application for a study permit in Canada?

How to Apply For a Student Visa in Canada

  • You will need to visit the IRCC website to either download a paper application or to apply online.
  • You will be asked to create an account on the Government of Canada website. From there, you will enter your personal details and begin your application.
  • The application will begin by asking you to provide information that will determine if you are eligible to apply, whether or not you need a visa, and what documents you will need to provide. Your application may be completed in multiple sittings. You may find you need to walk away from the application to gather documents or other information. You will be able to save your application and come back at a later date to complete it.
  • Before you can submit online, you will need to pay your application fees.
  • If you plan to apply on paper, you will need to gather all of your documents including the application form and mail it to your designated IRCC office.

How much does a Canadian study permit cost?

Your study permit application fee is $150 CAD. This will be payable at the time you submit your application. You will need a valid credit card or debit card to make the transaction when you apply online. Additional fees you may incur:

  • Biometrics – Typically $85 for the first applicant
  • Passport Fees – This varies by country. Please see your country’s passport application service for details.
  • Police Clearance – This varies by country. Please contact your local authorities for more information.
  • Passport Photos – In most cases, passport photos cost $5 to $25 CAD or your country’s equivalent.

You will also need to prove financial support and proof of the ability to pay for your tuition and housing expenses.

What is the Student Direct Stream?

Canada’s Student Direct Stream (SDS) was established in 2018 to expedite and simplify the pathway to studying in Canada for certain applicants. The program was created in response to the rapid growth and expansion of the number of student visa applications.

You may be eligible to apply if you meet certain criteria. The most basic qualification is that you must have legal residency in one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

Please note that being a citizen of one of the qualifying countries does not give you access to the SDS. You must legally reside in one of these countries.

You must also have a valid acceptance at a DLI within Canada.

International students must apply for this expedited stream online. This is a list of documents you will need to apply:

  • A copy of your acceptance letter from your DLI.
  • A copy of your medical exam (if required).
  • A police clearance (if required).
  • Proof you have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000 CAN.
  • Proof you have paid your first year’s tuition in full.
  • A copy of the high school or university transcript you used to apply to your DLI.
  • Proof that you have completed a language test successfully with:

To learn more about what supporting documents you may need to apply, visit the IRCC website.

Working While Studying in Canada

How to Apply For a Student Visa in Canada

It’s possible you can work in Canada while you are studying. Your visa must include the condition that you can work while in the country studying. It will also designate whether you can work on or off campus. In most cases, you’ll be eligible to work while you’re studying.

However, you cannot work during the period of time that is outside your study period. You may work during your DLIs study calendar, as well as designated holidays within the study period.

Should your program require an internship or co-op placement, you will need to apply for a separate visa.

How long does it take to get a Canadian study permit?

In most cases, a Canadian study permit takes 9 – 11 weeks to process after you have submitted your application. Your application will not begin processing until you have submitted all necessary documents.

If you are eligible for the Student Direct Stream, you can receive an approval within 20 days of submission.

Help Applying for Canadian Study Permit

If you need help applying for your Canadian study permit or if you want to know your chances of getting approval, Green Light Canada’s friendly, expert consultants can help! We can evaluate your chances, give you a plan for strengthening your application, and make sure your paperwork is complete so there are no delays in processing.

The best chance of success is by working alongside certified immigration consultants. Contact Green Light Canada today and take the first step toward getting your dream education in Canada.

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