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Canadian Student Visas Explained

Canada is a great place to study abroad. It has some of the best universities and institutions and often offers the choice to learn in English or French. But studying in Canada requires a visa, which can sometimes become a confusing process.

This article guides you through the Canadian student visa. Before you can apply for a student visa or study permit though, you must have been accepted by an institution for a recognized course in Canada. If you haven’t chosen a course or university yet, you can find out more about studying abroad in Canada.

Applying for a Canadian Student Visa

The majority of international students need a permit to study in Canada. To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been accepted onto a course in Canada
  • You must be able to prove you have enough money to pay:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses
    • return transport
  • You must not have a criminal record
  • You must pass a medical examination (if required)
  • You must leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay

There are occasions when you don’t need a student visa, such as if you were to study a short-term course. It is still worthwhile applying for a permit before arriving in Canada though, because that way if you wish to extend your stay, you would be able to more easily.

Once you’ve completed your application, it is processed by the Canadian visa office. Processing times vary, and the visa office may decide that an interview is necessary. If this is the case, the Canadian visa office will contact you with details of the time and place.

If your application is approved, you’ll be sent a letter of introduction, which you’ll require when entering Canada, so make sure you keep it in a safe place. You may also get a temporary resident visa (TRV), if you are from a designated country. If you’re unsuccessful with your application, you will receive a letter from the visa office explaining why your application was refused. An application could be refused for several reasons, you can contact the visa office if you have any questions.

Documents you need when you arrive

When you arrive in Canada, you’ll be met by somebody from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). They will need to see your documents, so make sure you have them ready and they are not packed deep inside your suitcase. This will help you to go through immigration quicker. You’ll need the following documents:

  • a valid passport
  • a letter of introduction from the visa office (this includes your permit reference number which the CBSA officer needs to issue your Canadian study permit)
  • a letter of acceptance from the school where you will be studying
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself whilst studying
  • any documents the visa office recommended when you applied
  • a temporary resident visa (if required)

Make sure you carry these items when travelling and don’t place them in suitcases as you might be refused entry if any of your documents are missing. Providing there are no problems, the CBSA officer will provide you with a study permit which you should check to make sure your personal information is accurate and that it expires after your course finishes.

Learn more about getting a student visa on our dedicated advice pages and subscribe to our blog to keep up to date with the latest news.

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