In order to study in Canada, you will need to obtain a Canadian study permit, which serves as a Canadian student visa for the duration of your stay. You do not need a Canadian study permit if your course or program lasts six months or less. Nonetheless, it may be a good idea to apply for a permit before you come to Canada anyway – otherwise if you decide you want to continue your studies in another program, you’ll need to leave Canada to apply for a study permit through a visa office.
Applying for a Canadian study permit
You can apply for a Canadian study permit either online or through a paper application, which can be obtained from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Paper applications typically take about twice as long, and it’s always recommended to check the processing times well in advance. To apply online, you’ll need a credit/debit card and the ability to create electronic copies of your supporting documents (i.e. using a scanner or camera). The visa office in your country will provide specific instructions about which documents you need to provide; this can vary depending on your location. If you need assistance, you can get help at your nearest visa application center (VAC).
The process for obtaining a Canadian student visa is as follows:
- You must first obtain a standardized letter of acceptance from a recognized higher education provider. Students studying in Quebec must also apply for a certificate of acceptance, known as a CAQ, from the government of Quebec. You must acquire this before you are permitted to apply for a study permit. You can get this online, by printing out a form, or by requesting a paper form from your university, which will also provide advice on this subject.
- The next stage is to get a Canadian student visa application package, either from the CIC website or by contacting your local visa office, or the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country. You may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit if you are from a designated country (find out if you need to get one here), but this will not complicate matters too much as it’ll be processed at the same time as your study permit application.
- In order to get your application package you’ll need to answer a few questions about yourself on the CIC website. These questions will determine whether you are eligible to apply online for a Canadian student permit, and what documents you’ll need to provide.
- If you are found eligible, you will receive a personal checklist code, valid for 60 days, which you will need in order to submit your application online. Make sure to print out the page containing your code for future reference. The page will also include an application guide, an estimated tuition fees amount, a list of documents you will need to submit with your application, and guidelines for your next steps.
- When you are ready to apply, create a MyCIC account, where you will enter your personal checklist code. You will then receive your personal document checklist which allows you to upload and send your documents to CIC. You’ll need a printer or a scanner to do this.
- Once you have your documents and application form ready and have paid your fees, you can submit your completed application to CIC.
- Some applicants may have to attend an interview at their local visa office.