The idea of undertaking a study program with a new race and in a completely new environment is highly appealing to young students everywhere. And the need to study in a place that brims with nice opportunities has made a lot of youths/ students want to study in Canada. With millions international students and increasing exchange programs all over the world, student visas are now more in demand than ever. But, anyone who plans on becoming an international student must know about the processes to apply for a student visa.
Canada ranks as the world’s number one most accepting country for migrants. A recent study has also shown that Canadians are more welcoming to newcomers than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic.
In stark contrast to what some see as hostile U.S. policy towards foreigners, Canada aims to embrace international students.
The data also confirms Canada’s welcoming attitude toward international students. A recent report from Statistics Canada revealed six in ten international students who were employed after their studies became landed immigrants within 10 years of receiving their study permit.
These figures make it clear that international students are increasingly choosing Canada over the United States, which could be due to the policies the Canadian government has adopted to attract international students.
What Is a Student Visa?
A student visa is a document that allows you to pursue a study program in a foreign country. Student visas are usually issued for short-term purposes, and you must have already been accepted to a university or educational institution to qualify for the visa.
A student visa lasts for the duration of your educational program. So, if you will be studying for two years in a foreign country, your visa will be issued for the same amount of time. Most study visas are issued anywhere between two to four years.
It takes several months to finish processing your student visa application. Some countries may finish faster than others, depending on how complete your application is and how many people have applied for student visas.
Family members can also apply for visas to accompany an international student to Canada. The spouse or partner may receive an open work permit, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer, and dependent children may receive a study permit to study at Canadian elementary and secondary schools.
We recommend students to start applying for schools and study permits early, as it may take up to 6 months to get a school acceptance letter and up to 4 months for the Canadian government to approve your visa. Most international students also arrive weeks early to adjust to a brand new environment.
There are certain rules students must adhere to so that the student visa does not get cancelled. So until you are ready to obey these rules, do not bother applying for it. The Student Visa Guidelines;
• You can only work limited hours (usually 20 hours per week) in campus jobs.
• You have to attend all your classes (unless there is an emergency).
• If you have a scholarship, you have to maintain a specific GPA.
• You cannot stay after your visa expires.
• You cannot apply for permanent residence under a student visa.
There are many other rules, depending on the province where you intend to school.
Processes involved to get a student visa;
• Apply for a study program. Before applying for a student visa, you must have applied for and gotten admission into an institution or college in Canada.
• Make an appointment at the embassy or consulate. Once you’ve been accepted to a study program, you have to find a local embassy or consulate in your country and make an appointment for your visa interview.
• Gather your documents. To submit your application, you must prepare the required documents. Make sure you make photocopies of any required documents. Also, check with the visa office to see which documents may require translation so you can get them ready.
• Submit the visa payment. You have to pay the visa application fee in time. Some visa offices may ask you to do that before you attend your visa appointment, while others may ask you to do it on the same day. It is better to pay on time preferably before the visa appointment. Remember, there are a lot of students who want to study internationally and are applying for the visa so try to always have an edge.
• Attend your student visa interview. Make sure not to miss the date or time because it might be challenging to reschedule before your resumption.
Student Visa Requirements;
• Passport (with six-month validity). Your passport must be valid for at least six months when you apply for your visa. You cannot use a travek document that is about to expire.
• Student visa application form. You need to fill out the student visa application form with your details— you can get the form at the Canadian embassy.
• You are expected to submit passport pictures taken recently.
• Proof of admission. Submit your admission letter or enrollment records to show that you have been accepted to a study program in your destination country because you cannot apply without getting admission.
• Evidence of financial means. You must prove that you can financially support yourself during your study program. If your family supports you, provide financial statements from your family members. If you have a scholarship, you need to attach proof that you are a financial aid recipient.
• Civil documents. You must submit your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if you are married), and your CV.
• International student health insurance. You should purchase a health insurance plan that covers the entire period of your studies.
• If you attended a university prior to applying for your foreign study program, you must submit your university records for the student visa application.
Student visa extension in Canada
If you want to apply to extend your study permit, you should apply at least 30 days before your current permit expires.
Common Reasons for Student Visa Denial
• You have no proof of financial support.
• You have a criminal record.
• Your passport is about to expire.
• As you are applying for a Student Visa, you need to have adequate academic credits or scores as mentioned by your educational institution and the Canadian government to get the visa approval.
• In order to apply for a valid study permit, you need to prove that you received a letter of acceptance from a registered Canadian educational institution. Apart from this, the candidate should also meet all the requirements for the program you applied.
• IELTS or TOEFL Score: Whether you are going under the SDS program, PNP, or SPP program, you need the minimum IELTS or TOEFL Score to prove language proficiency. The candidate needs to secure a minimum IELTS or TOEFL Score as set under these programs for securing a student visa. Students should also know the SPP and non-SPP visa requirements to study in Canada.
• No permanent stay: The study permit is a temporary visa, and it has an expiry date. The visa officer must be convinced that you will come back to your home country after completing your studies. If the visa officer is not satisfied and finds you a potential immigrant, then your Student Visa can be rejected. It does not mean that students cannot extend their visas.
• Selecting a course or program that does not align with your previous studies can be a reason. If your selected study program does not match your past educational background or work experience then you can be questioned on this. In this case, you should be able to explain why you are changing your field of study.
• Inadequate documents and incomplete application. You can check out the list of documents required to get a Canadian Student Visa here. Make sure to carry all the important documents at the time of the visa interview, and also carry the documents sequence-wise and clearly, so, the officer can go through them easily.
• Study permit is valid for a particular time period. The applicants need to showcase that they will come back to their home country after completing their studies. However, this does not mean that one cannot extend their study visa or get a PR. It is important to show that the student will not stay in Canada once his/her study permit expires.
• Increase in number of applicants for a student visa to Canada. If the number of applications to Canada increases, it leads to an increase in the Canada student visa rejection rate. This issue is beyond the control of a student. Hence, it is advised that a student must focus on the factors that he/she can control.
Denied a student visa? Do not worry, you can always apply again. Before you submit another application, make sure you identify the reasons for your first denial and address them. However, you should also keep in mind that you might miss the deadline to enter the country for your study program if your student visa is rejected so it is better to provide the necessary documents and do what it is to be done to avoid the visa rejection. The processing time is usually 8 weeks.
Check if you need a student visa!
There are agreements between Canada and some countries, exempting students from obtaining the permit so not everyone needs a student visa. If you’re unsure whether you will need a study permit for your stay in Canada, you can always find out at the Canadian embassy.
In short, you don’t need a Canadian study permit if:
• Your study programme lasts six months or less;
• You are a family or staff member of a foreign representative accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC);
• You are a member of a foreign armed force on official duties in Canada;
• You are a temporary resident and asylum seeker taking French language and culture courses in Quebec.
If none of the exceptions above applies to you, you can move forward and start applying for your study permit.
If your application is approved, your student visa will be valid for the duration of your studies, plus 90 days. You can use this extra time to prepare for your departure from Canada or apply for a visa extension if you wish to stay.
Do not forget to provide your biometrics and pass a medical exam
If you are applying from outside of Canada and have never given your biometrics before, you will be required to collect your fingerprints and photo at an official Visa Application Centre. You will need to pay a fee and set an appointment at an official biometric collection site. In specific cases, you may be exempt from this requirement. Residents from some countries will also need to provide a medical exam done by an approved panel physician to complete their application.
Prove of your English proficiency
You are not required to provide proof of your English skills while applying for a study permit through the regular stream. However, Canadian universities will require you to prove your proficiency in English. If you have previously obtained a degree from an English-speaking country, you may be exempt from this condition.
If you come from a non-English-speaking country, you must submit a certificate from an accepted language proficiency test. Each university and program requires different minimum scores depending on the test, so check your program page before deciding which test to take.
The most commonly accepted tests are:
• IELTS Academic;
• TOEFL iBT;
• PTE Academic;
• Cambridge C1 Advanced;
APPROVED STUDENT VISA
If your application is approved, the visa office serving your country of residence/citizenship will issue you a Letter of Introduction. Please read through your Letter of Introduction/Port of Entry letter (POE) closely and carefully. Further instructions related to requirements for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), Entry Visa, or ETA(Estimated Time of Arrival) will be included in this letter. Please note that it is imperative that you take any next steps outlined in your Letter of Introduction (POE) in a timely manner. Do not book your travel arrangements to Canada until you’ve received your Letter of Introduction.
CO-OP OR INTERNSHIP WORK PERMIT
You may also apply for a co-op permit when you apply for your study with your initial study permit. You may upload your POA document as your “School Letter” to the IRCC portal.
Many youths move to Canada to study and thereafter decide to settle down after getting job opportunities. Canada has an established route to permanent residence for international students with 750,000 expected to study in Canada in 2023, making it the largest category of temporary residents. They can come in on a study permit, qualify for a post graduation work permit which can give them the experience needed to qualify for immigration via express entry. However this is very competitive as only a fraction of the 750,000 students will become permanent residents.