An Expat Student Guide to Canadian Visas

Canada welcomes around 130,000 international students into its universities every year. The country is championed for it’s high-quality educational offering and some of the most popular schools include University of Toronto, Athabasca University, University of British Colombia and Simon Fraser University.

Do You Need a Canadian Student Visa?

You do not need to apply for a study permit if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You want to study a programme that is less than six months
  • You are a family or staff member of a foreign representative in Canada, who is accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
  • You are a member of the armed forces from the Visiting Forces Act
  • You are a foreign citizen but have an Indian status registered in Canada

You will only need an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) to fly to Canada.

Before You Apply for a Canadian Student Visa

There is no point applying for a study permit if you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to study. You will not be granted a student visa unless you have been accepted into a Canadian university and have an acceptance letter. You will be required to provide your acceptance letter during the visa application process.

How to Apply for Your Study Permit

If you have been accepted to onto your course at a Canadian university, congratulations! As soon as you receive the acceptance letter you can start the student visa application process. In Canada you may hear them referred to as study permits or student permits.

You can apply for your Canadian student visa online, via the Citizenship and Immigration website before you arrive in the country. If you live in a country that has disjointed internet access you can apply for your visa via a paper form. The cost for a study permit is $150.

You will need to provide your acceptance letter from your university and provide proof that you have sufficient money to live off whilst you live in Canada.

You will not be accepted if you have a criminal record. You will also be required to submit clinical records that state you are in good health.

If you have a family member working or applying for a work permit in Canada you can expect your study permit application to be processed in around two weeks.

You have the choice to extend your student visa if you enrol onto another programme or your course has an extension.

Your student visa will expire 90 days after your studies have finished and you have received a letter stating the course is completed.

What Documents Will You Need for Application?

  • Completed online or paper application form
  • Letter of acceptance from your university
  • A valid passport (unless you are from the USA)
  • Two passport photos with your name and birth date on the back
  • Proof of financial support
  • A cover letter
  • Proof that you paid the $150 study permit fee
  • If you will be studying in Quebec, you will require the following:
    • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec
    • An English and French copy of your application
    • A statement from the translator who completed the copies
    • A certified copy of the original documents

Furthermore, unless you are from an English-speaking country, Canadian universities themselves will require proof of English language proficiencies. Accepted tests are:

  • Cambridge English: Advances

Biometrics Appointment

If you live in any of the following countries you will need to give biometrics at a Visa Application Centre in your country. The fee is $85 on top of the regular student permit cost. You may also be required to attend an interview.

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Study elsewhere? Check out our other student visa guides below:

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