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How Can I Come to Canada to Study?

With world-class education opportunities throughout Canada from coast to coast, it is no surprise that thousands of international students come to Canada every year to study. Before a student can come to Canada to study however, there are a few steps that every foreign national must take.  With very few exceptions a Canadian study permit is required for all foreign nationals to legally study in Canada.

What is a Canadian Study Permit?

A Canadian study permit is a document allowing a foreign national to study at a school in Canada. The document allowing international students to study in Canada is called a study permit rather than a study visa. The term ‘visa’ refers to a document which allows you to enter Canada, while a ‘permit’ allows you to participate in certain activities, like working or studying. Canadian study permits will only be issued to foreign nationals who can prove they will be studying at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

What is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)?

A DLI (Designated Learning Institution) is an educational institution which has received approval from the Canadian government to admit foreign nationals into their programs of study. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are DLIs and can admit students from foreign countries. However, not all post-secondary educational institutions are DLIs, so you must consult the Canadian government’s list of DLIs prior to applying.

How Can I Apply for a Study Permit?

Before a foreign national can apply for a Canadian study permit, he or she must first secure an acceptance letter from a Canadian DLI. The acceptance letter will contain specific information that will be vital to the preparation and submission of the study permit application.  When applying for different programs, it is important to keep in mind that not all programs of study are eligible for post-graduate work permits (PGWP). If a foreign national intends to work in Canada after their studies have been completed, they need to ensure that their program is eligible for a PGWP prior to applying.

Once an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institute has been secured, the intended student can then prepare their study permit application. This application requires extensive documentation proving the student’s intentions in Canada and his or her ability to support themselves. Exact documentation that is required may vary from country to country.

Please note that if applying to attend a school in the province of Quebec, the foreign national must obtain a certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) before he or she can submit a study permit application.

What is the document checklist to apply for a Study Permit?

Generally, when submitting a study permit application, the foreign national will have to provide the following documentation, in addition to those documents that are country specific:

  1. Acceptance Letter: This will be issued by the educational institution that has accepted the foreign national into the offered program of study.

  2. Proof of Financial Support: You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and any accompanying family members during your first year in Canada. You must show proof that you can cover your tuition fees as well as your cost of living (accommodations, food, etc.).

  3. Identity documents: Birth certificate, marriage certificate and passport will be required.

How Long Will It Take?

Applicants have the option of either submitting their application using the online web-portal or by submitting a paper-based application to a designated visa application center. Processing times can vary greatly depending on the country in which you are applying from – anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Considering this, it is important to plan in advance to ensure you can arrive in Canada before your program of study commences.

How Do I Maintain My Status as a Student?

Once a study permit has been obtained and the student is in Canada, they will need to meet the following criteria in order to be sure that they are complying with their status as a student:

  • Maintain enrolment in a Designated Learning Institute
  • Make progress towards completing your program
  • Respect the conditions indicated on your permit
  • If you no longer meet the above requirements, stop studying immediately
  • Leave Canada when your permit expires, unless you have been able to obtain a new status

Note: Violating the terms of any permit authorizing a foreign national to be in Canada may jeopardize future applications for immigration to Canada.

Can I Work in Canada While I’m Studying?

International students are permitted to work on a part-time basis while studying full-time. However, they may work full-time during breaks or holidays. Once the student stops attending the full-time course of study or the study permit expires, they must stop working immediately. It is important to always respect the terms and conditions of the study permit accordingly.

Can My Family Come with Me?

Understanding that international students may not wish to spend the whole duration of their studies away from their family, spouses of international students can apply for an open work permit that will be valid for the same duration as their spouse’s study permit. Accompanying minor children do not require a study permit to attend pre-school, primary school, or secondary school, any children attending a post-secondary educational institution must apply for a study permit.

How Can I Stay in Canada After my Studies?

After successfully completing a program of study from an eligible program offered by a DLI, international students can apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit. This would allow the student to gain valuable Canadian work experience that can place them on a pathway to obtaining permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class program under the Express Entry system.

Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more about your options to live and study in Canada!

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