How to Apply for a Canada Student Visa and Study Permit

Apply for a Canada Student Visa and Study Permit: Everything You Need To Know

This guide explains everything you need to know about applying for a Canada student visa and study permit from abroad. The number of international students studying in Canada continues to increase annually.

The Canada study permit, however, validates the permission to study at top universities in Canada, despite the requirement for excellent academic scores. You will need a Canada study permit if you wish to enter Canada to take academic, professional, or vocational courses at universities, colleges, or any other educational establishment. A Canada study permit can be facilitated through VFS Global Services.

A Canada study permit is issued to a student before arrival in Canada. Your study permit is not a student visa. If your study permit application is approved, you will automatically be given a Canada student visa – either a Temporary Resident Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Both visas are provided by the Canadian High Commission and issued through Visa Application Centers (VACs).

Canada Student Visa (Temporary Resident Visa)

Documents you will require

The Visa Application Centre (VAC) website lists the required documents. A few essential documents to keep in mind when applying include:

  • The university’s official letter of acceptance
    An original copy of the institution’s letter of acceptance should be submitted. On the website, universities may provide information about the requirements of a Letter of Acceptance for your visa.
  • A form of identification
    Identity documentation that is acceptable would be made known to you. The VAC will have the list.
  • Proof of Funds
    An important part of the documentation includes proof of funds. Applicants would need to show evidence that they can support their tuition, living expenses for themselves and their family members accompanying them for their stay in Canada, and funds for return travel. Generally, you will require at least CAD 10,000 for every year of your stay in Canada, excluding tuition fees that must also be paid upfront.
  • With a bigger amount showing your proof of fund, you have a higher chance of getting a study permit approval. Different types of proof of funds can be used to apply for a study permit in Canada. The following are generally allowed: cash, guaranteed investment certificate (GIC), Fixed Assets (such as land or house), liquid assets (savings/current accounts, policy investments, fixed deposits, gold), sponsorship (including financial support from relatives and non-relatives living outside/inside of Canada). You may use any combination of these proof of funds to support your study permit application.
  • Two passport-sized photographs
    To apply offline, you will need two passport-sized photographs that meet the standards. An online application requires you to supply a digital copy of the photograph, which should not be larger than four megabytes. In addition, neutral facial expressions and plain backgrounds are standard requirements, as is no headgear (except for religious reasons). Please note:
    – A 35 mm x 45 mm image is required
    – A recent image (up to 6 months old) is required
  • Marks on the English Language Proficiency Exam
    You may apply for your visa without having your English Language Proficiency Test Score, but we strongly recommend that you do so before you begin your visa application. The English language proficiency score would have required to confirm your acceptance to the Canadian University. TOEFL, IELTS, WAEC and NECO, etc. are all acceptable.
  • Immigration Medical Examination (IME)
    International students are required to take an Immigration Medical Examination from an empanelled physician. A week before applying for a visa, students should schedule an appointment with a physician to undergo a medical examination. The doctor will have sufficient time to submit and validate the documents. It is always recommended to schedule an appointment in advance with the nearest facility/ practitioner listed on the list of empanelled doctors. During your visit, you will receive a complete medical examination and be referred for chest x-rays and laboratory tests. The results will be sent to CIC once your doctor completes your exam.
  • Statement of purpose
    When applying for a Canada study visa, you must submit an essay explaining why you are visiting Canada and why you have chosen the particular institution. We recommend that you submit this document in addition to the checklist, which would prompt you to do so as an optional step.

The Canada Student Visa Application Process

To apply for a Canada study visa, follow these steps.

  1.  Verify the processing times – Visa applications may take up to 4 weeks to be processed. To know the approximate processing time, you should visit the website of the Canadian consulate. Remember that the time shown is an estimate, not a guarantee.
  2.  Decide how you will apply. You can either:
    (a) Apply online
    A scanner or camera can be used to create electronic copies of your documents for uploading, and a valid credit card is required to pay online. The regional Visa Application Center (VAC) will require you to provide a biometric scan. If you are applying online, you will need to visit the VFS offices to hand over your passports and to provide proof of payment and confirmation of form submission. 
    (b) Apply in person
    Download and read the application kit instructions. There are instructions in the instruction guide on how to apply for a study permit and essential information about them. Make sure you read the guide carefully.
  1. Complete and attach the VFS Consent Form to your application. If you need help filing your visa, you will need this form.
  2. You must pay the processing fee and the VFS Global service charges for applications submitted via the VAC office, in person or by mail. This fee is nonrefundable under any circumstance.
  3.  You’ll have to pay their processing fees if you are applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit for your spouse/legal partner and/or children. 
  4. Visit your nearest VAC office to submit your application and supporting documents After you arrive, pay the service fees and hand in your application to receive a receipt. You can access your online application status by using your tracking number on this receipt.

If your application is approved, the Canadian government will request your passport. You will be given a Temporary Resident Visa and a Letter of Introduction required for the study permit.

Canada Study Permit

What is a Canada study permit?

A study permit entitles overseas students to pursue studies abroad. The Canadian government issues this permit upon receiving an offer letter from a university or college in Canada. The study permit is valid for only a limited period, according to the duration of the course.

It cannot be used to gain employment, migrate to Canada, or apply for citizenship. After completing the course, students can seek employment during their stay-back period.

A letter of acceptance from a designated learning institute (DLI) is required to apply for a Canada study permit. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website includes a list of DLIs. Short-duration courses of less than six months in Canada do not require a study permit. It is, however, advisable to check the list if you wish to get a study permit.

A code has been provided to the designated institutes required for applying for a permit. An application for a study permit can be made at the visa office of your city. Residents should check the VFS website for visa application centres (VACs) addresses in Lagos and Abuja, respectively.

What is the difference between a Canada study permit and a Canada student visa?

Think of a Canada student visa as an authorised document that allows overseas students to enter Canada, while a study permit allows overseas students to stay and study in Canada. Your study permit includes information about the reason you are in Canada, the course you will study, level of study, where you will study and whether you can work while in Canada. A Canada student visa is a conditional authorisation to enter Canada.

Checklist: Canada student visa and Canada study permit application

Apply for a Canada student visa and Canada study permit.

The following standard eligibility criteria must be met if you apply for a study permit on or after June 1, 2014:

  • Your financial ability must be proven to pay for your:
    • Course tuition
    • Living costs for you and any family members you bring to Canada
    • Return transportation to and from Canada for you and any family members you invite
  • You must be an upstanding citizen, have no criminal record, and present no security threat to Canada. A police certificate may be required. 
  • You must be of sound health and fully vaccinated under covid-19 guidelines.
  • The immigration officer must be satisfied that you will depart Canada at the end of your course.

Collecting the Canada study permit

An introduction letter will be provided to you if your application is approved. A letter of introduction does not equal a study permit despite its name. To study in Canada, you must bring the original letter. A Canadian Border Services Agency officer will interview you upon arrival. The following documents will be checked or verified:

  1. Letter of introduction from the VAC
  2. International passport or other travel documents
  3. Proof of funds 
  4. Letter of acceptance from the institution you will be attending
  5. Temporary Resident Visa

After the officer has verified your documents, you will receive your Study Permit. Getting a letter of introduction does not translate into receiving a permit. The officer, who has the final say, may decline a study permit application. In addition to adding a step, the new immigration rules have made it easier for you to come to Canada.

In addition, the revised study permit rules allow you to work while studying on-campus and off-campus without a work permit. Moreover, the revised rules state that those in Canada with a Study Permit must continue to pursue education.

You could be removed from the country if you do not continue your education. Your institute would have to report continuously to the CIC about how you are progressing with your course.

Upon completion of the course, the permit would automatically expire after 90 days. Upon finishing your studies early or switching to a shorter-term program, your study permit will expire 90 days after your study program ends.

Your course is considered complete when you receive your degree/ diploma from the institute or a written confirmation regarding the same.

Keeping your Study Permit updated and applying for a renewal before the current one expires would be wise if you anticipate the need to renew. For people who applied for a Study Permit before June 1, 2014, none of the above applies.

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