How to apply for a Canadian Student Visa

Canada is a popular education destination for over 130,000 international students every year. However, has been a lot of confusion about applying for the Canadian student visa.

International students prefer Canadian universities for a variety of reasons. For starters, they have a high-quality education system, the universities offer many incredible opportunities, exposure to other cultures, and so much more! Canadian universities are renowned worldwide for their focus on research, international collaboration and scientific publications, three features that many international students want to take advantage of. But how to apply for a Canadian student visa?

Questions such as; “What documents would I need? What’s the process of the Canadian visa application? What are the Canadian visa fees? And how difficult is it to get it?” are some of the main questions all international students ask. In this blog, we’ve created a step-by-step guide for applying for the Canadian student visa and all you need to know about it.

But first: what is a Canadian student visa or a student permit?

The Canadian student permit is a document that’s issued to foreign nationals who want to study at designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada. Without this, you won’t be able to enter the country. The student permit is valid for the duration of your study program plus another 90 days. Post course completion, a  work permit request can be submitted if you wish to stay in Canada. Now let’s have a look at the Canadian student visa requirements and what it takes to apply. The process is actually quite straightforward!

Step 1: Get your university acceptance letter

Girl celebrating her acceptance into her dream university
Before you apply to a university, make sure it is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

The first step of the Canadian visa application process is to shortlist the top universities that suit your profile. Shortlist at least 3 different universities you’d be interested in attending. It’s always a good idea to have a backup option. In fact, here at iSchoolConnect, we help students like you with just that. Figuring out where to study overseas can be overwhelming, so we provide personalized university recommendations based on your profile. You can also consult our trained professionals to get the best options possible. Once you’ve applied to them you will need to acquire an acceptance letter from a university. This acceptance letter is a primary requirement for the visa process, after all.

Step 2: Start Your Application

A visa application form being filled
A student visa lets you study in Canada for 6 months. If you wish to study in Canada for a longer duration, you need a study permit

As soon as you get your acceptance letter from the university of your choice, you need to start your application for a Canadian student visa, or a “student permit”, as it’s locally known. Here’s what you need to do:

Go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website and apply for your Canadian student visa online before you make your journey to Canada. Applying online will save you courier fees and you won’t have to wait for the mail. The will be quicker this way, and you will receive updates on the status of your application directly. If you live in a country where internet access is limited, you can apply for your Canadian student visa on paper.

Here are the requirements:

  • The student permit application form must be filled in.
  • Original acceptance letter from the selected university.
  • A valid passport
  • Two recent passport-size photographs, with name and date of birth written at the hind side.
  • Proof of financial support. It should represent your tuition fee plus 833 CAD a month. This is for all provinces except Quebec which is 917 CAD a month.
  • A letter of explanation.
  • If you’re studying in Quebec, you’ll also need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec, English and French translations of the document, a statement from the translator and a certified copy of the original documents.
  • Proof that you paid the study permit fee, which is 150 CAD.

Step 3: Canadian Student Visa Conditions

Two family members meeting at the airport
Having family members abroad allows Canadian student visas to be renewed or extended without a lot of hassle

Visa regulations state that if you have a family member who’s working in Canada or is applying for a work permit, your student visa application will be processed in two weeks. If this is not the case for you, the process can take up to 90 days, but this also depends on the situation in your country. Canadian student visas can be renewed or extended to allow you to continue your studies or if you wish to change universities. Once you complete your studies and you receive a notification that states that you’ve completed the program, your student permit will expire in 90 days. You can use this time to explore the country or to apply for a work permit, which will allow you to either get a part-time or full-time job or be self-employed.

Step 4: Language Requirements

Boy giving his IELTS exam
It is advisable to have a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each category

If you live in an English-speaking country, you don’t have to worry about language requirements, but if you don’t, Canadian universities require you to prove that you’re proficient in the English language. The language tests they accept are IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge English: Advanced. If you go through the requirements for a Canadian student visa, you’ll notice that they don’t ask you for this proof, but you still need it to apply for university.

Step 5: Biometrics Appointment and Interview

Man conducting Canadian student visa interview
During the Canadian student visa interview, the consulate officers ask questions to verify the details/documents provided by the applicants

The process requires some nationalities to provide biometrics. Have your biometrics taken if your nationality is in this list. The fee is 85 CAD, which is an additional expense. If your country is exempt from this requirement, then you don’t need to do any of this. Depending on the requirement, the applicant might have to go in for an interview at a local Visa Application Center, for which a small fee will be charged.

You Don’t Need a Canadian Student Visa If:

 You’re related or are a staff member of a foreign representative in Canada, accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

  • You enroll in a study program that lasts less than 6 months.
  • You’re a member of the foreign Armed Forces.
  • You’re a citizen of another country, but you have an Indian Status registered in Canada. You will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly in, but that’s it.

Once you’ve followed these steps and acquired your Canadian student visa, all you have to do is pack your bags and get ready to fly! One must maintain a study abroad checklist to keep a track of all the things that have to be you. You could also check out some other expert blogs on topics such as Top universities for MBA in Canada, Part-time jobs for international students, How to apply for a student loan, and so much more!

iSchoolConnect not only helps you find the perfect program for you but also, helps you get into the best universities based on your scores and preferences. Have any questions about studying abroad? Contact us now!

Akanksha Vora

Bright, bold, and bubbly, Akanksha Vora is a writer at iSchoolConnect. She writes creative and curious blogs that help students with their life and studies abroad.

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