Study in Canada: An International Student’s Rough Guide to the Process


Okay, so get ready for a fairly lengthy post here. There is a lot of information that someone needs to know before moving to Canada, and since I work at a private college, I am asked questions about studying here in Canada on an almost-daily basis. I understand that the whole process of coming to study in Canada as an international student can sometimes be quite daunting, so I’m attempting to write a post today that will have pretty much all of the information you need to know in one nice package (i.e. my blog). 🙂

If you’re thinking of studying in Canada, there are a few things that you must do first before just getting on a plane and flying here. It would be nice if it were that simple, but it’s not.

You can't just get on a Boeing 767 and fly to Canada to study...there are some other things to take care of first!

The very first thing that you should do is go to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website and click on the “study” link to gain a better understanding of what is required of you. I will make a list of things here, taken from the website, just to make it a bit easier for you.

  1. Before you apply for a Study Permit, make sure that you have researched some of the post-secondary institutions within Canada, and choose one (or several) to which you would like to apply. You must gain an acceptance from a recognised college or university before applying for a Study Permit.
  2. In order to apply for a Study Permit, you must be eligible to study in Canada. What that means is that you must, as stated above, gain acceptance to a recognisable school, and you must also provide proof that you have enough money to pay for your: tuition; living expenses for yourself and any family members that may be coming with you; return flight home for yourself and any family members that are with you; you must not be a criminal of any kind, and may have to provide a police certificate; you must be in good health and, in some cases, willing to complete a medical examination; and you must provide proof that you will leave Canada once your studies are complete (i.e. plane ticket back to your home country, a job waiting for you in your home country, etc.)
  3. There are some exceptions in which a potential student does not need a Study Permit to study in Canada. For a list of these exceptions, please click here to access CIC’s website.
  4. If you find that you do require a Study Permit, you must plan ahead in regards to timing. Each application can take several days to be fully processed, so ensure that your acceptance letter from your chosen school allows for enough time before it expires, otherwise you may have to start the process over again. For a list of processing times, click here.
  5. Next, you must determine if you also require a Temporary Resident visa. For a list of countries that have this as a requirement, click here and for a list of Canadian Visa Offices in other countries, click here.
  6. Once you have all of that sorted, you must download the application and fill it out accordingly. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the application, consult the Instruction Guide.

So, once you have compiled all of the information about what kind of permit you require, if you need a Temporary Resident visa, and have downloaded the application, you must then complete some further steps. First, you must gather together all necessary documents, and they all must be originals. These documents are:

  • Proof of Identity (i.e. valid passport or travel document allowing for re-entry into the country, as well as 2 photos of yourself)
  • Proof of Acceptance to an educational institution (i.e. a letter from the school with the school’s name, confirmation of your acceptance, the duration of the academic programme, and the latest date that you may register)
  • Proof of Financial Support (i.e. evidence that you can support yourself as well as any other family members coming to Canada with you. Evidence consists of proof of a Canadian bank account, your bank statements from the last 4 months, proof of payment of tuition and residence fees, and proof of funding paid from within Canada for students with a scholarship)

You will definitely need one of these in order to receive a Study Permit...make sure yours is up to date!

Once you have gathered together all necessary information, it is time to fill out the application! To do so, you will need to type in your universal client identification number (UCI), and then answer personal questions about yourself, such as your name, birth date, where you were born, address, marital status, educational and employment background, etc. For a complete list of questions that must be answered on the application as well as their descriptions, please click here.

As soon as you have completed the application, you will be required to pay the application fees. To calculate how much that payment will be, as well as the consequences of not paying the sufficient amount, click here.

Finally, once you have completed all of the above steps, you may submit your application. You must check with your local Canadian visa office or Visa Application Centre regarding how you may submit your application (i.e. general mail, in person, by courier, etc.).

Upon submitting your application, CIC will ensure that all necessary documentation is attached as well as your application being complete. If your application is incomplete, CIC will return it to you, no file will be made, and no record will be kept until a complete application is sent in. So, make sure you follow the steps closely! For any further information regarding the processing of your application, please click here.

If you get your Study Permit, you will probably see this flag an awful lot....

So, didn’t I tell you this was going to be a long post? Hopefully it helped you gain a little bit of insight into the whole process, but please feel free to leave a comment should you have any questions at all! I am in no way an Immigration Consultant, but, as I said earlier, I work at a private college, and we receive applications from international students all the time. There is a lot of confusion about the whole process of applying for a Canadian Study Permit, so I thought a post on this subject may just help. Please let me know if I can help you any more!


5 Responses to “Study in Canada: An International Student’s Rough Guide to the Process”

  1. Hello,
    Just wanted to thank you for visiting and commenting on my Freshly Pressed post earlier this week.
    My in-laws are amazing folks!
    I appreciate your kind words!

  2. It has been a while since I’ve been to Canada. I need to finally get around to getting that passport anyway. Does Canada count as studying abroad when you’re from the state? 🙂

    • As soon as you cross that border, buddy-boy, you are studying abroad! lol. What’s crazy is that even if you’re from the States, you still have to go through all of the steps I talked about in order to study here…you’d think we’d cut Americans some slack, eh?

      You don’t have your passport yet?! Wow, you don’t know what you’re missing, Clay. Canada is pretty great; it’s like the minute you cross the border, you enter the Land of Awesomeness. 😉

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