If you’re planning to pursue international studies or are thinking about furthering your education abroad, studying in Canada is one of the most viable options.
This is especially appealing if you’re considering the thought of becoming a permanent resident of Canada. The country has a very generous program aimed at accommodating international students.
In fact, it opened the Canadian Experience Class Immigration program to make it easier for international students to apply for permanent residency once they finish their studies.
So what are the steps and processes involved to become an international student in Canada?
Getting into a Canadian University
The first step is to find a school and a course, and then to apply for the program. In case your chosen university or school is in Quebec, you also need to get in touch with the Ministère de l’Immigration et des communautés culturelles (MICC) to request for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Quebec Certificate of Acceptance of CAQ). This is required from all aspiring students of universities in Quebec. You can ask the university you’re attending for a list of other requirements.
A study permit can take a long time to process, so you need to prepare for this in advance. There are several documents that you’ll need when applying for a permit:
∎ Proof of acceptance to the program you enrolled in (letter from the university)
∎ Documents proving your identity (passport, etc.)
∎ Documents proving that you can support yourself during your stay in the country (bank documents, etc.)
∎ Temporary resident visa – IF you reside in a country that is not visa-exempt in Canada. You can find a list of visa-exempt countries to find if your country is included. If it isn’t, you need to secure a visa.
Once you have all the documents needed, submit them together with the application form (you can download the form here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/student.asp) to the Canadian visa office in your locality. You may be called for an interview with the visa officer, so you must be prepared for this.
Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a confirmation letter, which you must carry during your travel – you need to show this to the immigration officer at the port of your entry. The officer will issue the study permit and place it in your passport.
Supporting Yourself By Working While Studying
Canada allows its international students to work during their stay as students in the country, provided they fall under the following criteria:
∎ If you’re taking a full-time degree, you can work on campus (no need for a work permit). You can consult the international student advisor in your university for details such as the number of hours you’re allowed to work, available work for you, etc.
∎ If you no longer have funds to support yourself financially (you need to show proof here).
∎ If working is a requirement of the program you’re enrolled in (internship, etc.).
∎ If you’re a student of a university in the provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick, and some areas in Quebec, you may be allowed to work off campus. Consult with your school’s international student advisor.
∎ If you’re planning to stay in Canada for up to 2 years after finishing your studies to have some work experience, you can get a work permit (but you need to submit your application within 90 days after graduation).
Study in Canada FAQs
Can I study in Canada even without a study permit?
Yes, if you fall under any of the following categories:
∎ If the course you’re taking covers only a maximum of 6 months (or within the time by which you’re authorized to stay in the country)
∎ If the course you’re taking is included in a tour package (taken as a tourism activity)
∎ If the program you’re enrolling in is non-academic, non-professional, or non-vocational in nature
∎ If you’re enrolling (a child or a sibling) in nursery, pre-school, or kindergarten
Is medical examination needed during my application?
That’s possible, although some are not required. You can consult the authorities processing your permit for that.
How should I pay for my studies in Canada?
Some of the options for you are as follow:
∎ Obtaining a student line of credit from a bank
∎ Applying for a government student loan (you may qualify for a Canadian or Quebec student loan if you’re a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident)
∎ Finding a part-time work on and off campus. Just consult your university’s international student advisor for possible opportunities.
Where can I stay while studying in Canada?
There are several options available for you. You can stay in a dormitory or a student apartment on campus together with other students. There are beds assigned per student, although bathrooms and other areas are shared. Meals are available at the cafeteria. You can also rent an apartment outside of campus.
For more affordable options, you can share a house or apartment with other students. Another option is to live with a volunteer. If your school has a program in which volunteers take in international students and provide them with meals and a bed, this may be the most affordable option for you.
How do I meet people?
The easiest way to connect and make friends is to join organizations on campus. You’re likely to find an international students group in your university. You can also join interest groups (sports, books, etc.) to meet new friends in your school.
Can my spouse or common law partner come with me to Canada?
That’s possible, but there are regulations that cover setups like this. You can check the requirements online.
What can I do if my first language is not English or French?
You can take language courses in your university; chances are there are offered courses to help you. You can also do a partner study with someone who might want to learn your first language and know French or English – you can teach each other.
Can I leave Canada during my study and still return?
Yes, as long as you have the proper documents with you: your study permit, passport, and temporary resident visa (if required).
(More info about studying in Canada: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/index.asp)