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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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Once you have your documents and application form ready and have paid your fees, you can submit your completed application to CIC.

  7. Some applicants may have to attend an interview at their local visa office.

Additional Canadian student visa requirements 

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

  • Applicants from Europe, the Middle East or Africa may 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 CA$10,000 (~US$7,650) for every year of your stay (CA$11,000/~US$8,400 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.

Applying through the Student Direct Stream

Canada recently introduced the Student Direct Stream, which students from China, India, the Philippines or Vietnam can apply for in order to get their study permit faster. The requirements are similar to the regular study permit, although there are stricter language requirements – you need to have an IELTS score of at least 6, or a 7 in the Niveaux the Compétence Linguistique Canadiens for French, or have graduated from a Canadian-curriculum high school. If you don’t meet the requirements for the Student Direct Stream but do meet them for the regular study permit, your application will be reviewed for the regular study permit option and you won’t get faster processing.

Next steps after applying

If and when your Canadian student visa application is approved, you’ll receive a Port of Entry (POE) 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 

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. For advice on finding a job after university, please download our guide

This article was originally published in January 2014. It was last updated in July 2018.

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155 Comments

Hi Georgina. Here are the rankings by subject for Business and Management, narrowed down by country to see the results in Canada. 

I want to study in computer science engineering. I am from Bangladesh. I want to do my graduation in Canada on computer science. Can you please tell me how can I apply for these? And which universities are best for these in Canada?

Hello! Please take a look at our world rankings by subject for computer science, narrowed down by country to see the results in Canada. You might also like to read our blog post on 7 steps to choosing a university abroad. When you have decided which universities you'd like to apply for, you will need to apply directly to each one, as there is no centralized application system in Canada. For more information please see our general guide to studying in Canada.

Hi
I'm from Pakistan & Acca qualified (A UK based professional accountancy body) all papers are passed. I don't have bachelors degree. Now i want to study CPA or CIA Canada. I want to know can i get admission ? Can i get study visa of Canada to study CPA there? What will be the process?
Or what course do you suggest

Hi, I plan to study in Canada for the winter session. I will like to know if I need to present proof of employment for all years since my last study perion.
I finished high school in 2010 and I have been self employed until 2013 where I worked with an organisation. Can I show just my recent employment letter? Otherwise, how can I show proof of self employment?

Hello , i am Mr Vijay a parent . i am from Mauritius .My daughter wants to study in Canada .Actually she is going to sit for her Higher School certificate this year .She wants to study Account and financing next year . I've gone to the net to have contact with the universities but not knowing the right addresses was unable to be in contact . will you please help me to find or to have contacts with them so as i can proceed with my search for the admission .

Hello, you can find information on the contact details of universities via their websites - these can be found through a google search or through their individual pages on this website. Please have a look at this page, which lists Canadian universities and their rankings.

Ok so i leave in 2 days and my visa is approved and closed according to the website but i never got my letter that i supposedly show with my passport, the visa itself or an email indicating that my application was done. I had to log on to the site and it just says online that i was approved and my application is closed because I was approved. What do I do? Im from the US, so should I just bring the paperwork that i submitted online and apply in the airport in Toronto? Im freaking out since I have to be in Toronto very soon for a college course, so any help is appreciated. Thank you!

Hello there,
My brother is an international student in UK. He has just finished his Masters. He wants to apply for a master’s course to Canada. As Canada offers international student stay permit after their masters degree. We are little bit confused that does he need any English language requirement.

Regards
hasan

Hello! Your brother may need to provide proof of proficiency in English, if this is not his native language, and he hasn't previously studied in English. For more details, take a look at our guide to studying in Canada

Hi there,
I attended a university in Canada (for a 4 year BA program) as a permanent resident for one year, and had to leave for the summer. My residence has expired and I wonder if I will need a study permit if I only wish to come to Canada for one more semester. If I apply for a study permit for 3 years (just in case I want to stay for the whole degree) will I be allowed to leave after one semester and not continue studying? Or will that be considered a breach of the conditions of the study permit?
Many thanks :)
Milly

Hi Milly. This sounds a bit tricky, since it seems you're not entirely decided on what you intend to do, and of course it's best to have a permit that matches your length and purpose of stay. However, I shouldn't think there would be a problem with you leaving before your permit expired.  To be on the safe side, I'd recommend asking the university's international office for some guidance.

Thanks so much, Laura!

Hi.. This is Farid . I am a B.Tech Graduate ( 2010 passout ) . I want to go for Master in Engieering/ PGDM in Canada . Now I have a 5 years of gap in my Engineering studies as I am doing job since then . Can that be a big challenge in getting the Visa for Canada . If yes... then how do I solve the issue? If someone can let me know really!!!

Hi, myself Ravinder Kumar. I want to aaply in masters degree in mechanical engineering. How can I apply for this course in Canada through a scholarship and what's the procedure to get a student visa.

Hi Ravinder. Take a look at our guide to studying abroad in Canada, and our list of scholarships to study in Canada - hope these are helpful :)

Hi
I've received an admission offer & accepted it for master's program starting from Sept, 2015 at some Canadian university. Now I'm to apply for study permit. I've got all required documents, but have a little query regarding financial support document. My real uncle (mother's brother) will be supporting me financially for my expenses such as education fees, daily expenses for survival in Canada. What documents do me & my uncle need to arrange for financial support document ?
I'm looking forward for your kind response.

Thanks

Hi there, this information is available on the CIC website here and it states that you can provide 'some' of the evidence listed. I'd advice providing a letter from your Uncle outlining his intention to support you and copies of your uncle's bank statements for the last 4 months.

The amount of money a single student needs proof of (outside of Quebec) is the full cost of tuition + CAD$10,000 for a 12-month period (or $833 per month)

I hope this helps!

Laura :)

what do you mean by Cad $10000 for 12 month period????
is this means you have to have the bank balance for 12 moths or just 10000 in your account????

Hi Abdul. Please take a look at the penultimate paragraph in the article above - this explains: "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."

Hope this helps!

Hello I am Danielle, from the Philippines, and i would like to apply for a scholarship in America or Canada for a medicine related course. I am currently attending a university here at my country and im about to start my sophomore year, however i still want to study abroad, and i would like to find a scholarship that will help me to do so and at the same time help me fulfill the requirements i have to do for example applying for a student visa.

Thanks for replying

Hi Danielle, take a look at our scholarship FAQ for help looking for funding or see our medical scholarship, US scholarship and Canadian scholarship articles. You might also want to see our ranking of the world's top universities for medicine which can point you in the direction of leading schools who are often more liberal with funding! In many cases, you might have to be admitted into the school before applying for their scholarship but you can always drop your place if you don't find funding in time. (once you've recieved acceptance into a university, then you will also be able to apply for your visa). See our How To Study Abroad FAQ for more general info. Good luck! Laura

Hi, I am applying for a Masters in Newfoundland starting in September. I would like to know if it would be quicker for me to apply for the visa in person at the Canadian Embassy (High Commission) in London than the apply online.

Thanks

Hi Gemma, there shouldn't be much difference in processing times but if you apply in person, it's likely that someone will look through your application before you submit it to ensure you have all the required documentation and everything is filled out correctly. If you apply online and have made a mistake however, this may hold up the process and may even lead to your application getting rejected. Hope this helps! LT

Hi, do you know if you need a study permit for the CIP (Chartered Insurance Professional) courses? I've already graduated from a Canadian university, and now have a work permit, so I'm not sure how to proceed further. You need a letter of acceptance to apply for a study permit, but since the Insurance Institute of Canada doesn't really ask for prereqs, they don't give those letters. Each course is 4 months, 10 in total to complete the full CIP. Thanks so much!

Hi Alison, it sounds as if a work permit will cover you for the CIP, but to make certain, I'd recommend that you contact your local Canadian embassy/consulate to get official information on what you need. L

Hi, my name is Charles. I want to find out if a prospective international student is allowed to apply for a visa with his/her spouse and if yes, what are the requirements such student has to meet. I would also appreciate if i am given any link or webpage where i can get more information in this regard. Thank you

Hi Charles. The Canadian government provides guidelines on this, available online here.

Hi, My name is Elliot. I got admitted to University of Alberta to study Humanity Computing. Upon receiving the acceptance letter, the University sent an email saying details about funding will be released in midsummer. Although my parents are ready to fund me and have even handed me their bank statement dating 4 months back, i am quite confused on whether i will be given the student visa when i apply, since the only financial proof document i can produce at the moment is the financial statement for my parent. It will help to clear a lot of doubts in my head to know whether paying the school fees before applying for the student visa is a major determining factor. I will also be glad to obtain information about things that cause international students to be refused their visa. All suggestions are welcomed so, in a pristine manner, please advise.

Hi Elliot, congrats on getting admitted! Although all universities differ, most schools don't collect fees until the first day of term, meaning your main priorities will be to secure your visa and your funding before this date. Visa requirements differ depending on where you are from originally, so make sure to use the official website for up-to-date information for your home country. 'Proof of funding' will likely be needed and sometimes visa issuers will ask for a recent bank statement (your parents may have to print off a more recent statement for this) and/or letter of sponsorship from your parents.

The most important thing about applying for a visa is to check all the information and documentation you provide is accurate and that you don't miss anything out. You could also contact the international office at the University of Alberta to give you clearer, more exact information.

Good luck! Laura

Hi, I am a first year medicine student promoted to second year in a private university in Saudi Arabia ( 'am Egyptian - American diploma grad) and I wanna move to continue studying in Canada (along with my family). Is there a way to do so? and What good University can I go to? (any suggestions)

Hi Menah, study abroad in Canada is a very popular choice for international students, although the visa process is slightly more arduous when families are involved. It is possible however, as long as you follow the right channels. For more official information on studying in Canada see this site.

For the names of top universities in Canada for medicine, see our latest subject ranking.

Good luck, 

Laura

Hi.

I am a Chartered Accountant and B.Com (Scored 49%, Completed in May 2012). I want to pursue masters in Finance from US or Canada. But the problem is, every college has a criteria of having 76% or higher in graduation.

Please help me. Is there any way out if I score more in GMAT/GRE? Is my Chartered Accountant Certificate helps in obtaining admission in colleges?

Hi Mihir, there are thousands of universities in the US and Canada, not just the leading institutions featured high up in QS rankings. The fact that you're a chartered accountant will be a great advantage, as will good GMAT/GRE scores, but it's also likely that a school won't admit you unless you are fairly close to the entry requirements. The top universities for accounting & finance can be found with our subject rankings, and if you search further down (outside the top 100) it's likely that entry requirements will be lower. If this is unsuccessful you might consider lesser-known universities or community colleges (which are also often cheaper!) Good luck, L

HI, I am MBA with 64, BE Mechanical 63 and HSC 59. I have around 5 Years of experience and looking to study master in Mechanical Field, Seeing my profile is it possible to get the Good University in canada.

Hi there, as an engineering graduate with an MBA I'm certain there will be a reputed university willing to accept you! The only thing to do however is to check the entry requirements for all leading universities in Canada in your field (via their websites or by contacting them directly). This might be fairly time-consuming but should be worthwhile!

To find the names of leading schools in Canada, see our latest subject rankings, where we have a global ranking of top universities for mechanical engineering and many other subjects. You can filter the region/country to get just canadian results but bear in mind, the higher up the rankings you go, the higher the entry requirements are likely to be.

Good luck!

Laura

I received my Certification Equivalency from the Ontario Teacher's College and am certified to teach in Canada; however, I need to take 2 additional basic qualification courses. I live in the United States and would like to take these courses online before moving to Canada. The registration forms for the courses all ask for a "date of entry" to Canada. I do not have a date of entry because I am living in the Untied States. Is this asking for when I will be entering Canada in the future?
Please help.

Thank you,

Hi Brian. I would assume that to be the case, but if in any doubt it's always worth checking directly with the course provider just to make sure.

I also interest in study Canada. I already finished B.B.S (Pass) programme. I admitted undergraduate programme. My IELTS score is 4.5. Which college I admission to.

Hello, I'm Haitian and i'm 17 years old. Your site is very interesting and I learned a lot about universities , but I feel overwhelmed and kind of lost. I would like to have a scholarship in Canada and if it's possible, in the US. I am at Lycee Alexandre Dumas in Haiti which is a French school so there are things that you've talked about that i've never heard before and it's really confusing. I think my grades are high enough ( 16/20 which is the equivalent of A) , i also play volley ball at my school, and I am trilingual (spanish, french, English if i dont count creole) Please help me find a scholarship in a good university. Thank you :)

Hi Taisha. Glad to hear you've found some useful information! We have a list of scholarships to study in the US here, and Canada here. You may also find our overall guides to studying abroad in the US and Canada useful. Best of luck!

Hello, I got admitted in University of Manitoba with 4000$ in scholarship (annual fees being 9000$). I am also waiting for the results from two other funding sources that I have applied to in the UoM. In spite of that, for securing the issuance of visa, I can show my bank statement in excess of fees + $10000 as a proof of finance. On top of that, my uncle who lives in United States is ready to find me in case I get short any where, and agreed to provide me a letter of financial support.

My question is, is there any other proof required with the letter, I mean is there any standard proof to be attached with the letter, like bank statement for last 4 months or something like that to submit with the application? There has got to be some identifications and other stuff to be provided with that.

Hi Taha, official information on 'proof of financial support' when applying for your Canadian visa can be found here. Read it through carefully and if you're still unsure, you can contact either the Canadian officials or the UoM admissions department for support. Thanks, Laura

RASHIDAT USMAN
Please i want to study Diploma in nursing in canadan, kindly assist with Good university.
Thank you

Hi Rashidat. We have a breakdown of the top universities in Canada by province here, which may be interesting for you.

hi ...i wan to study masters in biotechnology n also want to pursue mba in equivalent field can u help me???n also provide info abt university providin scholarship

I want completed LLB please help me scholarship to study in Canada.

Hi Idris. We have a list of scholarships to study in Canada here: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/scholarship-advice/scholarships-study-canada
Hope this helps!

Hi.. This is Beestriti . I am a B.E Graduate ( 2013 passout ) . I want to go for MBA / PGDM in Canada . Now I have a 3 year gap in my Engineering studies . Can that be a big challenge in getting the Visa for Canada . If yes... then how do I solve the issue? If someone can let me know really!!! will be highly obliged........

Hii this is indu stuying mbbs and I wanna continue my higher studies at canada so I wana know abt scholarship