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How to Get a Canadian Student Visa

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In order to study in Canada, you will need to obtain a Canadian study permit, which serves as a Canadian student visa for the duration of your stay. You do not need a Canadian study permit if your course or program lasts six months or less. Nonetheless, it may be a good idea to apply for a permit before you come to Canada anyway – otherwise if you decide you want to continue your studies in another program, you’ll need to leave Canada to apply for a study permit through a visa office.

Once you have a Canadian study permit, you can apply to renew it from within Canada if you decide to continue your studies. For full-time students registered at an accredited higher education institution, a study permit also allows you to work part-time on campus. You may also be able to work off-campuswork as a co-op or intern as part of your program, stay in Canada as a permanent resident or find work after you graduate.

Applying for a Canadian study permit

You can apply for a Canadian study permit either online or through a paper application, which can be obtained from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Paper applications typically take about twice as long, and it’s always recommended to check the processing times well in advance. To apply online, you’ll need a credit/debit card and the ability to create electronic copies of your supporting documents (i.e. using a scanner or camera). The visa office in your country will provide specific instructions about which documents you need to provide; this can vary depending on your location. If you need assistance, you can get help at your nearest visa application center (VAC).

The process for obtaining a Canadian student visa is as follows:

  1. You must first obtain a standardized letter of acceptance from a recognized higher education provider. Students studying in Quebec must also apply for a certificate of acceptance, known as a CAQ, from the government of Quebec. You must acquire this before you are permitted to apply for a study permit. You can get this online, by printing out a form, or by requesting a paper form from your university, which will also provide advice on this subject.
  1. The next stage is to get a Canadian student visa application package, either from the CIC website or by contacting your local visa office, or the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country. You may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit if you are from a designated country (find out if you need to get one here), but this will not complicate matters too much as it’ll be processed at the same time as your study permit application.
  2. In order to get your application package you’ll need to answer a few questions about yourself on the CIC website. These questions will determine whether you are eligible to apply online for a Canadian student permit, and what documents you’ll need to provide.
  3. If you are found eligible, you will receive a personal checklist code, valid for 60 days, which you will need in order to submit your application online. Make sure to print out the page containing your code for future reference. The page will also include an application guide, an estimated tuition fees amount, a list of documents you will need to submit with your application, and guidelines for your next steps.
  4. When you are ready to apply, create a MyCIC account, where you will enter your personal checklist code. You will then receive your personal document checklist which allows you to upload and send your documents to CIC. You’ll need a printer or a scanner to do this.
  5. Once you have your documents and application form ready and have paid your fees, you can submit your completed application to CIC.
  6. Some applicants may have to attend an interview at their local visa office.

Additional Canadian student visa requirements Canadian student visa

Some or all of the following additional Canadian student visa requirements may also apply:

  • Applicants from certain countries will need to provide biometrics (photograph and fingerprints).
  • Some applicants may also need to get a medical exam and/or police check before submitting their application. You will not be able to get a study permit if you have a criminal record – you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate as proof.
  • Unless you’re from the US or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you will need to prove you have a valid passport which allows you to return to your country of origin after your course is complete. Two passport-sized pictures are also required, with your name and date of birth written on the back.
  • Canadian student visa requirements also include proof of funds to support yourself. At present this is deemed to be C$10,000 (~US$7,070) for every year of your stay (C$11,000/~US$7,780 if you’re applying to study in Quebec) on top of your tuition fees. You will also need to make sure you have enough money to pay for transportation to return home.

To prove you have this money, you can provide any of the following documents: bank statements, evidence of a Canadian account in your name if the money’s been transferred, a bank draft in a convertible currency, proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees, a letter from a person or institution providing you with money, or proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are undertaking a Canadian-funded program.

  • Study and work permit holders from visa-exempt countries who received their permit on or before 31 July 2015 will have to get an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) as of 15 March 2016 to return to Canada. Applicants who get their study or work permit on or after 1 August 2015 will automatically be issued an eTA along with their permit.

Next steps after applying

If and when your Canadian student visa application is approved, you’ll receive a letter of introduction, while students from countries which require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and/or a temporary residence visa will be issued these if required. The eTA will be linked to your passport. It is important that you travel with the passport you used when you applied for your study permit. The eTA will be valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Present these along with your passport, proof of your finances and your letter of acceptance (and any other documents that you’ve been advised to take) to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Canada, who will then issue your Canadian study permit and allow you access into Canada.

Working while you study in Canada Working in Canada

If you’d like to get a part-time job to help support yourself while studying in Canada, you can now qualify to work on or off-campus for up to 20 hours during university semesters and full-time during breaks such as the winter or summer holidays, without the need for a work permit.

To qualify, you must:

  • Have a valid study permit
  • Be a full-time student
  • Be enrolled at a designated learning institution at post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at secondary level
  • Be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.

You will also need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

Your study permit will become invalid 90 days after you have completed your study program, so you’ll need to acquire a post-graduation work permit if you want to stay in Canada after your studies and seek work. This is valid for three years.

This article was originally published in January 2014. It was updated in January 2016.

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112 Comments

Thought-provoking writing , I was fascinated by the specifics . Does someone know where my business might be able to obtain a fillable LA Students Year Guidelines form to use ?

Hello Dear, My Name is Surafel Mehari from Ethiopia. And I Graduated BSC degree in Information Technology in 2013 from Wollo University in Ethiopian and know I have three years working experience as a system engineer in Ethiopian science & Technology Information center . I'm looking for a Full MSC scholarship to study Information technology or computer sciences in any country. I have Good grade in University. Please help Thanks.

Hello ma'am
I have 87% in ssc
80% in hsc
7.94cpi in engineering
7.5 bands in ielts
I want to study in canada which university should I apply

Hi Sabrina

Would appreciate if you answered my question ASAP.

I am a 31 year old guy with no formal education, mainly due to political problems in my country in the 80s and my refugee status. But I have 10-year work experience as a travel agent and sales executive. Nonetheless my most passionate dream has been enrolling in (perhaps a Canadian) university and getting a degree one day. I have now finally earned almost enough to materialize that dream. But I have a few problems I need your help in finding a solution for:

1. In order to enroll, the universities that I have looked up require 10th, 11th and 12th year high school degrees and score-cards. But since I already mentioned that I have no formal education, what I have in mind is to pass only 12th year high-school exams in my country of origin (math & science) in order to get the university enrollment. Is this possible, and if not what can I do to get accepted?
2. I have saved about CAD $40,000. According to my calculations, this will last two years (tuition and living costs). I am planning to work part-time during my studies and save for the third year while there (I am looking for a 3 year degree). Is this financial plan feasible?

Thanks and have a good one.

Hi dear we re are you from can you tell so I can help you

Haii Sabrina,
I am Akib Zaka, from india I got the admission letter from Delhouise University Canda, I also pay the fee of that program which is MS in Internetworking. I did my engineering with 70%,I have taken the IELTS exam in 2 times but unfortunatly I got only 5.5. Can I am eligible for student visa for Canada. & also tell me IELTS is required foe the embessy or an admission process. Kindly give me the favorable responce as soon as possible.

Thanx & Regards
Akib Zaka

How do I get a scholarship study in Canada

Hi Carlos, I've replied to your comment here.

Hi,my name is samuel. I have an admission offer from a university in canada. I want to know that in the course of processing my student visa,will the embassy ask me to pay my fees and present the receipt? Or i have to pay the fees before i start processing my application?

Hello, I am Himel. I wanna do under graduate on "Human resource & management" on any Canadian University with relatively low cost . Can anyone help me on this regard?

Hi,

I am receiving a funding of 24000 CDN/year for my post graduate studies. Please tell me if I can be granted study permit on this scholarship because I don't have enough funds in my bank account.

Mobeen, how did that go? Did you need to provide extra proof of funds?

Hi there. I have received a scholarship and an acceptance letter from a university and now need to apply for a study permit. However, I am working in the UK and need to apply as a South Africa. Is it possible to get the medical record and police clearance whilst in the UK? Thank you.

Hello
I have recently get letter of acceptance from a Canadian institute. Now I am preparing for study permit application. I have question whether to submit academic documents e.g Certificate , transcript etc, to the visa office along with the application form? In the CIC document checklist its not mention anything about that. Can you give me appropriate information please? Thanks

Hello, as far as I'm aware you do not need to provide an academic transcript or certificate to apply for your study permit. However, you will need your letter of acceptance. Hope this helps.

Hi,

I recently just got into Memorial University of Newfoundland and I have a few questions. My grandfather is giving me the money for tuition for the first year and I have someone helping me with room and board cost. If I get this transferred to a Canadian bank account, do I have to have four months bank statements because I plan on opening the account tomorrow?

Also, if I was to have a letter for a proof of funds, is it okay if my significant other who is from Newfoundland writes that letter and shows proof through bank statements? We are not married but are in a conjugal relationship.

I have Canadian Student visa and going for Fall Intake. before going to Canada I want to go to USA as a visitor. Can I get Visitor visa easily if I have Canadian student visa?

Hi Jay, you can read about the steps you'll need to take to gain a visitor visa for the US here.

I have admission at University of Saskatchewan Canada to study Post Degree Nursing which is 2 years program but I will have to do prerequisite course 15 credit units before applying for post Degree Nursing now I have been offered an admission for the prerequisite courses which is for one term in the department of Arts and Science but on my admission it reads 4 years program I called the school that it was a mistake on their part and they replied me no that after I my completion of my 5 prerequisites I can Change to my Post Degree Nursing now I am scared how can I explained this situation to CIC for my study permit and scared I am not science background but my present job as flight attendant we were trained to do apply first aid and ba y delivery onboard and other safety job. Please what is my chances of getting the study permit ?

hello, I'm from Ecuador, I was already accepted in a school in Vancouver. The program last more than 6 months. I would like to know if I need both a Study Permit and a TRV (Temporary Resident Visa), or is it enough to apply for the Study Permit to be able to travel and study. Thanks

Hi Jorge, you can find out if you need a temporary resident visa as well as a study permit on the Government of Canada's website. :)

Hello, can you please answer my two questions?
1. I have won the Connaught scholarship for studying at the PhD program (UToronto) - basically 35 000 per year. Should I upload any other financial documents in addition to that?
2. I am currently working. Is it necessary to provide a document proving that I am employed and that my employee will gladly accept me back after four years at PhD? I am afraid that it would be a very difficult task.
Thank you!

Did you need to provide extra proof of fund in addition to your funding?

Visa sestion asked for acadimic documents, but I did not find the place where I can upload the same....

Hello Sabrina, I'm an international student currently studying in Ottawa. My study permit and student visa are close to be expired ( first week of April) and from what I found regarding extending these two, I need to start my application at least 30 days before the expiry date. I already submitted my study permit application but I haven't started my student visa application yet. One of the documents needed for the visa application is my study permit, which the application is in progress. I was wondering if I'm able to start my application when my study permit is extended, which will exceed the 30 days prior deadline, or will this be an issue I need to resolve? Would I be able to stay in Canada without my study permit or visa until I receive them? Thanks.

Hi Amirreza, you can stay in Canada while a decision is reached about your study permit under an implied status. You can find out more on the Government of Canada's website. Hope this helps!

Sabrina, I plan on covering my tuition with a student loan and have a parent sponsor me. How do i go about providing this when it comes to my proof of funds? Does the money need to be in my account or can it come from their account?

This whole process is so confusing to me. I just want to make sure I submit the right documents the first time.

Hi Michael, to prove you have the financial requirements, you could provide a letter from the parent outlining that they will sponsor you, bank statements from your parent to prove they can afford to do so, and proof of your student loan. Alternatively, you could provide proof of a Canadian bank account in your name if the money has already been transferred to Canada. Hope this helps.

Hi, I'm 17 and from Germany. I have an acceptance from a High School in Vancouver and a host family and I will stay in Canada for 2 1/2 months (April-June), but I'm not sure if I need a study permit. Could you tell me if I need one? And if yes how long it takes to get a study permit? :)

Hi Angie, I don't think you'll need a study permit in this case, but you could contact the high school in Vancouver to double check this.

Hi, I am a Bangladeshi student. i completed graduation on Mathematics get 47.23% marks. I need a scholarship in Canadian university with out tuition fees & part work permit that i carry my leaving cost on study time. Is it possible?

Hello, you might be able to find a scholarship to cover your tuition fees, and you can work in Canada while you study, but it's not recommended to rely on part-time work to cover your living expenses - you'll also need to prove you have enough money to support yourself as part of the financial requirements for your student visa. Please take a look at our list of scholarships to study in Canada, and our complete guide to studying in Canada contains information on working while you study. Hope this helps!

Hello there! I'm from Pakistan and I want to join a highschool in Toronto, Canada. My aunt lives there. Will I get a student visa because I heard that I won't if I want to study highschool. Kindly help me out.

Hi Mazahir, if you're under 18, you're considered a minor in Canada - you can find out how to gain a study permit here. Hope this helps!

Hello, I am joe, I just got an acceptance letter from a Canadian university,I want to know if my financial status needs to be for the 2 years course I am applying for or if I prof one year financial status it's okay for my visa to be approved. And also to find out how much will be sufficient for me to have in my account and if I will still need a sponsored. Thank you,

Hi Joe, I believe you only need to prove you have financial support for the first 12 months to obtain your visa. How much you need depends on if you study in Quebec or not - you need CA $10,000 if you study outside Quebec, or CA $11,000 if you do, plus funds for tuition fees. 

Hi Sabrina,
I have $20000 in my account for three months. My mother-in law and her niece promise to support me but they can only provide a letter to support, T4, and two months copy of their paystubs. Is this enough proof to grant my student visa?

Hi Allan, I think this would be sufficient proof of finances. Good luck with your application! :)

Thanks Sabrina. I forgot to tell you i am already accepted to attend the class on september. I am just worried immigration might deny my visa application.

Hi,
I am an electrical engineer with 10 years of work experience in electrical design. I want to pursue master of engineering in power systems from Canada. Can u tell me if my 10 years of work experience will be a deterrent?

Hi Jayashree, I wouldn't have thought your work experience would be a problem at all. :)

Hey! I have a question regarding the student visa applications. I am currently already in Canada, under a 6-month visitor visa. No physical copy required, since I am staying shorter than the required time frame. I have already been accepted at a school in Canada, already have the necessary funding and proof of which, but I'm unsure of what exact form and things I need to do. Do I need to leave the country to get a student visa? Do I just apply online with a specific application, or just the standard Student Visa Application? If I do need to leave the country, will I have to remain outside until the student visa goes through? I would much prefer to stay in Canada, but I am capable of moving out if necessary.

Hi Patrick, on checking the Government of Canada's website, it seems that you need to apply for your study permit from your home country or another country where you are lawfully admitted. Alternatively, you could apply for it either via mail or in person at the Visa Application Centre in Los Angeles. You can find out more here. Hope this is helpful.

I want to know the documents i need to submit with my visa application for canada student visa, i got admission into one of the university in canada and my husband want to sponsor me.

Hi there, I've replied to your query here. :)

Hi, Im 29 years old Sri Lankan citizen , have done G.C.E in commerce subjects in 2005 I did not pursue any secondary education after that , I worked as an airport services agent for 2 years straight after high school and then worked as a beauty advisor in retail upto this date. I am presently in Australia. I now want to make a huge career change and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse , I want to study the 4 year bachelor of nursing program at brandon university. I did some research and found that lot of students got their study permit application rejected due to Proposed Study not being reasonable or not matching previous studies or employment etc. . My question is due to my high school studies being in commerce stream , work experience in retail , age being 29 , and proposed studies is in nursing , will any or all of these affect my study permit application to Canada?

Thank you for the info,
I would like to be enlightened about Canadian study permit. As an international graduate student, If I have two offers of admission (e.g University of Alberta and University of Guelph), and I secure a study permit for a DLI (e.g University of Alberta), can I use the same permit for University of Guelph without going to University of Alberta.

Hi Shakirudeen. Yes, the Government of Canada's website states that you can change institutions that are at the same level of study without needing to apply for another study permit, but you must notify Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) if you do so. 

Hi, I'm Martin from Argentina. Thank you for the information, was very clear!!
Does anyone know a full-time study program to learn french, where I can apply for a Student Visa? Maybe a University program...I don't want a degree in French language, but just to learn french, so I can get by. Thank you in advance for your help!

Hello, I am Khan from Bangladesh. I have received a research scholarship worth C$ 21,000/year to do PhD studies in a Canadian University. Now I am going to submit study permit application. I would like to know if I still need to submit things like bank statement, a bank draft and so on? or the award letter would suffice for the purpose? Also should I need to submit IELTS academic test result when the University admitted me upon meeting the language proficiency requirement? I shall be grateful if someone could help me with information in this respect.