How to Apply for a Canadian Student Visa

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Hadeel Hossam

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05 October, 2021

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5 mins read

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Travel Preparation

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So you’ve chosen Canada as your destination to study abroad, and what a great choice it is! Canada is one of the top student destinations for its excellent educational institutions. In case you’re still on the fence, check out these Eight Reasons You Should Study in Canada. Once you’ve sent out your applications for several Canadian universities and received an acceptance letter from at least one, the next step is to apply for a visa. We’re here to help you out and tell you all about how to apply for a Canadian student visa.

Canadian Has No Student Visa

Did you know that in Canada, there is technically no such thing as a Canadian student visa? Instead, you must issue what is called a study permit. However, issuing a study permit allows you to study in Canada, but it does not allow entry to the country! That’s right, this means you’ll need to issue both a study permit and a visa. The process starts with an application for a study permit and once It is approved, you’ll receive an electronic travel authorization (ETA) or a visitor visa. Here’s more on how to get a Canadian study permit:

Issuing A Canadian Study Permit

If you are coming to Canada to study, returning as an international student, or you’re a family member of an international student, you are eligible to apply for a study permit. You can apply for the study permit online whether you are in Canada or not. The permit costs $150 and as for the processing time, it varies according to country. The length of a study permit will fit the length of your study course plus an extra 90 days to either apply for an extension or prepare to leave the country. There are exceptions to this, however, and they are:

  • If the educational institution you applied to asks you to take certain courses or tests before starting your program, also known as prerequisite courses, the study permit will be valid for the length of the course plus an extra year. 

  • An extension to the permit must be made if you finish your studies after the date of its expiration. 

  • If you finish your course earlier than planned, your study permit will still expire after 90 days from the end of your course. That day is marked by your school sending you a transcript, diploma, or completion letter. 

Canada Student visa

Canadian Study Permit Requirements

You must match all the eligibility requirements by the Canadian government before applying for a study permit. They include being enrolled in a designated learning institution and there is now a post-COVID list of institutions with a COVID-19 readiness plan for students coming from outside of Canada. Another eligibility requirement is proof that you can afford tuition, living expenses, and a flight back to your home country. You should also be in good health, with a medical exam performed if required, and have no criminal records. 

Conditions That May Apply On Your Canadian Study Permit

Your permit might restrict certain things such as how long you can work while studying, and where to travel within Canada, the date you must leave the country, where you can study, and whether you are required to undergo a medical exam. 

What Documents Are Needed For A Canadian Study Permit?

Here are the documents you need to have before applying for a study permit:

1. Proof of acceptance from your educational institution. If you’re a family member of an international student, you will not need this document

2. Proof of identity (valid passport) 

3. Two recent passport-size photos 

4. Proof of financial support: This can be a Canadian bank account in your name, a Guaranteed Investment Certificate from a Canadian financial institution, proof of student loan, your bank statement from the last 4 months, or any proof of payment of tuition and housing from a scholarship or any kind of funding. 

5. Letter of explanation/intent (If Required)

6. A certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ): This requirement is only for students planning to study in Quebec for more than 6 months, submitted with English and French translations, a statement from the translator as well as a certified copy of the original documents.

Application to Study in Canada

The Application Process

Once you have your documents prepared and ready to go, apply online and submit all documents or you can send them by post. Afterwards, you will wait for an interview and biometrics appointments to be set for you, depending on your country of residence. Processing time usually takes 90 days yet it can be more in some cases. 

  • Applying at the port of entry

American citizens, lawful permanent residents of the U.S, residents of Greenland, and residents of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon can apply for a study permit at the Canadian border provided they have all documents ready. However, online applications are much more convenient and guaranteed.

Extending Your Study Permit

To apply for a study permit extension in Canada, you need to submit your application at least 30 days before it expires. The application can also be done online after scanning all the required documents and using a credit or debit card to pay the fees. Just make sure you read and understand all the guidelines before you apply.

Applying For A Study Permit As A Minor

In Canada, each area has its own age of majority that determines when a person becomes legally an adult and anyone below that age is considered a minor. In Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, the majority age is 18. As for British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and Yukon, it’s 19. Minors also need to apply for a study permit to be able to study in Canada unless they are accompanied by a parent who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Who Doesn’t Need A Study Permit?

Certain people are exempt from applying for a study permit and can study in the country without it. They include the family or staff members of foreign representatives in Canada who are accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as well as members of the foreign armed forces. There are also those with a registered Indian status in Canada who are also not required to issue a study permit. Finally, minor children in kindergarten, refugees or refugee claimants, or with refugee parents, or they are already in Canada and registered in a pre-school, primary or secondary school and they are with a parent in the country who has a work or study permit. Additionally, those who are planning to take French language and cultural integration courses in Quebec do not need a study permit but need to be either a temporary resident or asylum seeker in Canada to be eligible for it.

Now you know all about the difference between getting a Canadian study permit and a student visa, it’s quite different from applying for a UK student visa. Just make sure you understand the process clearly and prepare all the needed documents so that you don’t face any issues and have to re-apply. Don’t forget to also consider getting student medical insurance while you’re studying in Canada.


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