Step 1: Secure Admission into a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
The first step is to secure an admission into an institution in Canada. Provinces and territories designate different schools to enrol international students. These schools are known as Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). You can find a list of post-secondary DLIs here.
Once you decide on a program and school of interest, you will need to submit your application and secure your admission. For more details on this process, read our article on how to get admission into a Canadian university as an international student.
Step 2: Review the Study Permit Eligibility requirements
In addition to an acceptance letter from a DLI, there are several other eligibility requirements you will need to meet to apply for a study permit. These include:
- Proof of funds. You will need to provide proof you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and living expenses (for you and any family members), as well as return expenses for yourself and any family members.
- No criminal record. You may be required to prove you have no criminal record. You may be required to get a police certificate.
- Good health. You may be required to get a medical exam to prove you are in good health.
- Proof you will leave after permit expires. Finally, you will have to prove to an officer you will leave after your study permit expires.
Step 3: Put Your Documents Together
To apply for a study permit, you will need to provide the following documents:
Proof of acceptance
This is a letter of acceptance from your school. You can provide the original acceptance letter or an electronic copy.
Proof of identity
You and any family member travelling to Canada will need to provide a valid passport or travel document and two recent passport-sized photos.
Proof of financial support
You can use the following documents to provide proof of funds:
- Student or education loan from a bank.
- Bank statements for the past four months.
- Bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars.
- Proof of paid tuition and housing fees.
- Letter from the person or school giving you money.
- Funding paid from within Canada, if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program.
Other important documents
You might also be required to provide:
- Letter of explanation. Explains why you want to study in Canada and that you understand your responsibilities as a student.
- Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ). If you want to study in Quebec for longer than six months you must include the CAQ document issued by the Gouvernement du Quebec. You can contact your DLI for details on how to apply for the CAQ.
- Other documents. Other requirements may apply based on your country or region. You can check with the visa office for further instructions.
Step 4: Apply for Study Permit
You can complete your application for a study permit online or using a paper copy. Depending on where you apply (outside Canada, inside Canada or at a port of entry), there are different instructions on how to proceed. Instructions are on the Government of Canada website here.
To complete the application process, fill out the online or paper application, provide all documentation and pay your fees. Fees include application processing costs and a biometric fee. Biometrics includes your fingerprints and a digital photograph. Other fees may apply for a police certificate or medical exam based on your specific application. You can read our previous post on how to apply for a study permit for more information on this process.
You will get your study permit upon approval of your application. Once you have your study permit, you are ready to migrate to Canada and settle as an international student.
Student Direct Stream (SDS)
Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for the Student Direct Stream (SDS). This program allows you to expedite the study permit process. The aim is to process SDS applications within 20 calendar days. To get faster processing, you must provide your biometrics as soon as possible and meet all other eligibility requirements. The SDS application is only available online. Visit the Government of Canada website to see if you are eligible for the SDS program.
Note: A study permit is not a visa. You may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) before you can travel to or enter Canada. If you require one of these documents, you will receive it with your study permit.
Step 5: Arrive in Canada and Settle Down
As with every immigration journey, you want to set up some of your basic necessities as soon as you arrive in Canada. This can make you feel comfortable before your school program starts.
Sort our your accommodation
When looking for accommodation, you can start by exploring your institution’s on-campus options. Living on-campus can be a convenient choice as accommodations are often furnished and close to campus. In addition, it makes it easier for you to meet other students. If you have a family member in Canada, you may consider staying with them especially if their accommodation is close to your institution.
Set up a mobile plan
Most mobile phone providers offer student plans and packages. You can usually choose between a pay-as-you-go (prepaid) plan or a monthly contract option. If you choose to secure a monthly contract, a credit check may be required. This can be more difficult for newcomers who have no Canadian credit history. The interesting thing is that most student bank accounts come with a credit card. And this can help you to secure your monthly contract plan.
Open a bank account
To ensure you are financially set up, you may want to open a bank account. Most of the banks in Canada have student accounts. So, choose the one that works for you.
Find a job
If you want to work part-time while you attend school, there are opportunities on and off campus. Working while studying can also be a great way to form business relationships with people and organizations that may want to employ you after graduation. You can visit the Government of Canada Job Bank to explore different employment opportunities.
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