Whether you are considering coming to Canada as an international student or you already have an admission and currently planning your move, there will be questions on your mind that need answers. You are probably curious about a lot of things and especially about life as international student in Canada. In this article, we will share some information on what you can expect as an international student in Canada
If you are still considering coming to Canada, the first step is to secure an admission into a Canadian school. We wrote an article on what you need to do to secure admission into Canadian schools as an international student. You can read it before you continue.
Get a Study Permit
Once you have your admission into a Canadian university, the next critical step is to apply for a study permit. In order to apply for a study permit, you need a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution. Also, you will need to show proof you have the funds to support yourself while in the country. You can show proof of funds with a Canadian bank account in your name, a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC), proof of a student loan, bank statements, a letter from a person giving you money, or proof of funding via a scholarship.
For details on how to apply for a study permit, read out previous article on how to apply for a Canadian study permit.
Funding Your Education
As part of the documents required for your study permit application is a proof that you have enough money to fund your education while in Canada. This can come from your personal savings, donations from family and friends or even scholarships. The good news is that despite being an international student, you are still eligible for scholarships and financial support in Canada.
As an international student attending a Canadian university, many programs will offer a funding package that includes scholarships and bursaries. So, contact your school’s financial aid office to see if they have any scholarships or bursaries available for international students.
How to find a place to stay
Most schools offer residence to international students in dormitories. However, if your school doesn’t have housing or you prefer to stay off-campus, you will need to find a place to stay. Whichever you prefer, you need to decide before you arrive in Canada as it can take some time for you to be able to get a suitable place if you are staying off-campus. You can start by asking your school’s international student office where apartments or rooms to rent are usually advertised in the city you’re moving to. Once you find a suitable place, before you sign a lease, read through the CMHC’s renter’s guide for information on the process of renting in Canada and what to look for in a lease agreement.
What about bank account?
Banking might be different in Canada than where you are coming from. Different banks in Canada offer accounts designed for international students and friendly branch staff who will help get your account set up. All you need to open an account is your study permit or temporary visa, a piece of government photo ID, and proof of school enrolment. To learn more about the options you have, you can read our article on what you need to know about Canadia banking system.
Can you access healthcare?
Some Canadian provinces cover the medical costs of international students through their provincial health insurance plans, while others require students to purchase private health insurance. Also, many schools offer their own mandatory private health insurance coverage for international students. So, check with your school to see what is available. Your school will help you navigate this process, but if you want to learn more about the healthcare care system in Canada, our article on how to register for the healthcare service in Canada can give you some information on what you need to know.
Can you work as an international student?
As an international students, you may be able to work on campus if your study permit says you can but you may only work after your program starts. You can work for anyone and this can be your school, a student organization, or a private contractor that provides on-campus services. Also, you can run your own business as long as it’s physically located on campus and you can work more than one job.
As an international student, you may be eligible to work as many hours as you wish on campus, but you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. You might also be eligible to work up to 20 hours a week off campus and may work in a co-op position. This is only if your program requires a co-op placement to graduate.
Also, as an international student, you can work full-time off campus during scheduled breaks, like during the summer, the winter holidays, or reading week. During those periods, you can work overtime or two part-time jobs that add up to more than an average work week. However, you have to be a full-time student before and after that break to be eligible to work full time.
Navigating culture shock?
Moving to a new country always comes with its own challenge. There are all sorts of cultural and social practices that you are likely not familiar with. Also, you might end up missing friends and family. So, you will need to give yourself time to adjust and make friends with other international students.
What options are available to you graduation?
If you are interested in staying in Canada to work after you graduate, there may be options you can consider. Graduates of certain designated learning institutions may apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). To be eligible, your program has to be more than eight months long. If your program is over eight months but less than two years, you are eligible for a work permit equivalent in length to your program. If your program is more than two years long, you are eligible for a work permit that’s valid for three years. Once you get a job and start working in Canada, you can apply for permanent residence and citizenship.
As you can see, there are a lot of things you need to learn about life as an international student in Canada. Moving to a new country to study can seem a bit overwhelming, but it’s easier than it looks. So, make a plan for what you need to do with all relevant deadlines for documents. This can help you ensure the application and move goes smoothly.
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