How to Get a Canadian Student VISA: Comprehensive Guide

Due to Canada’s increasing popularity as a study destination for international students, many students who wish to further their education want to do so in Canada. This development isn’t surprising, as Canada boasts some of the best universities in the world.

 Additionally, Canada is one of the countries with the most significant international student population globally, thus making it even more appealing to prospective students.

To study in Canada, students need to meet the eligibility criteria for a Canadian study permit. This article lists the requirements you need to meet to qualify for a Canadian student visa, the application procedure, and answers any additional questions you might have.  

Why Study in Canada?

In addition to being home to some of the best universities globally, Canadian universities also offer lower tuition and living fees compared to universities in other countries that are popular with international students. 

Also, The Canadian Provincial Healthcare System covers essential and preventive medical services, including emergency care. International students with valid study visas are eligible for a regional health care card to access these services if the need arises. 

However, in provinces where international students have no provincial health care plans, students have to make arrangements for private health insurance coverage.

International students also enjoy the opportunity to remain in Canada after graduation. Canada offers a post-graduation work permit program that allows students to stay and work in the country for the next three years after graduation if they have studied for more than two years.

Some other reasons why international students opt to study in Canada include:

  • The opportunity to work while studying: International students can work while studying if they have a work-study permit in Canada. The work permit allows International students to work for 20 hours a week during the academic year and full-time during breaks. 
  • High Standard of Living: Canada boasts a high standard of living and is currently rated 1st in the world in terms of quality of life. It boasts some of the lowest crime rates globally, making it one of the ideal destinations to live, study, and work in the world.  
  • Universities and Research Institutions: Canada has several world-class Universities and research institutes where students can partake in and benefit from potentially groundbreaking research in life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, technology, industry support, and corporate management. 

What is A Canadian Study Permit?

A study permit is a document given by the Canadian government that allows international students to study at designated learning institutions, that is, schools approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students in Canada. 

Most international students need a study permit to study in Canada.

A study permit is not to be confused with a Visa. 

Upon acceptance of your request for a study permit, you get a Visa with your study permit. 

A study permit usually lasts for the duration of your program, plus another 90 days. The extra 90 days give you time to prepare to leave Canada or apply to extend your stay in the country.

If you cannot finish your program before the expiration of your study permit, you need to apply for an extension, and failure to do so may mean you will have to stop studying and leave the country.


What is the Eligibility Criteria for Student VISA in Canada?

International students must prove the following to be considered eligible for a Canadian students visa:

  • A Designated Learning Institution has accepted them.
  • They have enough funds to pay for tuition and living expenses.
  • They have no criminal record.
  • They also need to provide evidence that they are in good health with a medical fitness report.

Additionally, prospective students must convince their interviewer that they would return to their home country upon completing their studies and not remain in Canada illegally.


Canadian Study Permit Requirements and Regulations for International Students.

Often, the requirements for international students who want to obtain Canadian students vary based on their country of origin. However, the general requirements include:

  • Valid passport/ means of identification
  • Proof of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution
  • Proof of funds
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • A statement of purpose
  • Recent passport size photographs

What are the Required English Exams for Students Applying to Canada?

To qualify for a Canadian study visa, International students must show proof of their English language proficiency by taking any of the following approved English language tests:

Regarding the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), there is some uncertainty about its acceptability as an approved test to get a Canadian student visa.  The exam’s official website lists the visas you can get with CELPIP test results, but a student visa is not listed among them.


What is the Process and Procedure for Study Permit Application in Canada?

The process for applying for a Canadian student visa include:

  • International students first have to get a standard letter of acceptance from a Designated Educational Institution. Students who need to study in Quebec must also apply for a certificate of acceptance, known as a CAQ, from the government of Quebec. Students must get the letters ]before they are permitted to apply for a study permit.
  • The next step is getting a Canadian student visa application package. Students can get this from the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website by contacting their local visa office or the Canadian embassy or consulate in their home country. Some students may also need to acquire a temporary residence permit if they are from a designated country. This process does not require extra waiting as the temporary residence permit is simultaneously processed with the study permit application.
  • For international students to get an application package, they need to answer a few questions about themselves on the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website. These questions determine whether they are qualified to apply online for a Canadian student visa and what documents they will provide.
  • If a student is eligible to receive a Canadian student visa, they will receive a checklist code valid for 60 days. Students need the code to submit their applications online. It is essential to print out the page containing the code for future reference. The page will also have an application guide, estimated tuition fees amount, a list of documents submitted with the application, and instructions for the next steps.
  • When the student begins the application process, they will create a MyCIC account and enter the personal checklist code received earlier. They will also receive a unique document checklist that enables them to upload and send documents to the CIC. Once the documents and application forms are ready and students have paid the necessary fees, they can submit them to the CIC.

Which Canadian University is right for you?

Deciding on what university to attend in Canada is not a decision that should be made lightly or out of sentiment. 

As an international student, the decision on which Canadian University to attend should be based on your course of study, how the university meets your individual needs, and the academic conditions of the university. 

Below is a list of top universities in Canada and some of the courses they are famous for offering. 

  • University of Toronto
  • McGill University
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Alberta
  • McMaster University
  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Western Ontario
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Calgary
  • Queens University at Kingston
  • Dalhousie University
  • Simon Fraser University
  • University of Victoria
  • York University
  • University of Toronto: is highly renowned for its surgery, space science, oncology, cell biology, arts and humanities, clinical medicine, law, economics, and business courses.
  • McGill University is most famous for its social sciences and Public health, oncology, psychiatry and psychology, accounting and finance, mechanical engineering, arts and humanities, and clinical medicine courses.
  • University of British Columbia is highly regarded globally for its courses in plant and animal science, social science and Public health, arts and humanities, neuroscience and behavior, materials science, engineering, and food science and technology courses. 
  • University of Alberta: is famous for its courses in creative arts, engineering, health sciences, humanities, and business courses.
  • McMaster University: has a world-famous medical school, other courses the university is famous for are chemistry,  arts, and humanities, law, computer science, infectious diseases, and materials science. 
  • University of Waterloo: is famous for its courses in economics and business, mathematics, optics, energy and fuels, and social sciences and Public health courses. 
  • University of Western Ontario: is a research-intensive university. It is renowned globally for its courses in gastroenterology and hematology, energy and fuels, economics and business,  clinical medicine, engineering, and ecology.
  • University of Ottawa: is famous globally for excellence in courses like Law, education, engineering, economics and business, and arts.
  • University of Calgaryis globally recognized for its courses in clinical medicine, computer science, surgery, immunology, arts and humanities, economics and business, chemistry, and cardiac and cardiovascular systems.
  • Queens University at Kingstonis regarded as one of the best globally. It is also famous for its courses in oncology, geoscience, chemistry, computer science, accounting and finance, social science and Public health, and physics. 
  • Dalhousie University: One of the oldest universities in Canada, Dalhousie University is highly regarded for its courses in law, engineering, geoscience, neuroscience and behavior, materials science, and psychology. 
  • Simon Fraser University: is a public research-intensive university famous for its plant and animal science courses, molecular biology and genetics, arts and humanities, social sciences and public health, and physics. 
  • University of Victoriais globally recognized for its courses in accounting and finance, law, arts and humanities, psychiatry/psychology, electrical and electronic engineering, and biology and biochemistry. 
  • York University is one of Canada’s leading universities globally recognized for its courses in law, space science, arts and humanities, clinical medicine, physics, economics and business, and computer science. 

Canadian University Scholarships for International Students 

Quality education doesn’t come cheap, and this can be challenging for some people. So many potential scholars miss out on this opportunity due to financial constraints. With that knowledge, the Canadian government and other Non-profit organizations award special financial scholarships.

There are criteria to meet to make sure the deserving students get the financial aid. We’ve curated a shortlist of top universities in Canada that offer scholarships. It includes the requirements and the cost you’ll gain. Goodluck.

Undergraduate Scholarship Programs Canada

1. University of Toronto 

  • Lester B. Pearson International Scholarships: For international students with exceptional academic achievement and creativity. About 37 students receive this prestigious award yearly. Eligible students must be recognized leaders in their institutions. Only the University of Toronto can nominate candidates.

2. York University 

  • Global Leader of Tomorrow Scholarship: Two outstanding candidates merit this award every year. The student must have a Student’s Permit, study at York University, and have an academic streak of “A” average grades. High schools nominate one candidate who uploads a recommendation letter.  

Cost: CAD 80,000 total at CAD 20,000 each for four years.

  • International Entrance Scholarships of Distinction: For international Students in full-time undergraduate programs. The qualifying courses are – Arts, Media, Performance and Design, Environmental Studies, Education, Glendon, Health, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, Science, and Business.

Cost: CAD 140,000 total, at CAD 35,000 each for four years.

3. University of British Columbia

The school’s team does an auto-selection from students’ applications. There are four UBC scholarships for International Students.

  • Donald A. Wehrung International Student Award: For outstanding international undergraduates from war-torn areas. Candidates must prove academic excellence despite challenging environments. Also, they wouldn’t be able to attend university without significant financial aid.
  • International Impact Award: It’s for exceptional students committed to social justice issues, climate change, equity and inclusion, societal health and wellness, and freedom of expression.
  • Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow Award: Eligible students have exceptional leadership skills, participate in students’ affairs and community service.
  • Vantage One Excellence Award: UBC Vantage College awards this scholarship to applicants who don’t; meet the English requirement for direct admission.

Cost: Although the range differs, these scholarships can pay full tuition and living expenses.

4. University of Carleton 

Cost: CAD 4,000 to CAD 16,000 for four years.  

  • Carleton Prestige Scholarships: The university offers this scholarship to exceptional undergraduates with at least a 90% entrance score. It’s a full-program award.

Cost: CAD 20,000-CAD 30,000 for four years.

5. University of Calgary

  • Calgary International Entrance Scholarship: Eligible international undergraduate students should boast Academic excellence with 2.60 or more GPA in 24 units. The university awards this scholarship to two deserving candidates. You can renew it annually till your program ends.

Cost: CAD 60,000 for four years. CAD 15,000 each.

6. University of Winnipeg

  • President’s scholarship for World leaders: This award gives new undergraduates with 80% average entrance scores. You must have proof of Leadership skills in Academic and non-academic fields. You may be one of the 53 lucky recipients if you submit a complete admission application by the deadline.

Cost: CAD 5,000

7. Humber College 

  • International Entrance Scholarship: The college awards scholarships for full-term and part-time courses. It’s strictly for new students with a minimum of 80% on their admission score. International students can renew it yearly.

Cost: CAD 1500 to CAD 4000

Graduate Scholarship Programs Canada

8. Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

 The Canadian government offers this award to international students in science and research postgraduate programs. Candidates should specialize in Health, Natural sciences, Engineering, Social sciences, and Humanities. Once this scholarship expires, you can’t renew it.

Cost: Taxable CAD 70,000/year for two years.

10. Organization of American States (OAS) Academic Scholarship Program:

This opens to all graduate students from OAS member states, including selected Latin American countries and the Caribbean Islands.

11. Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program:

This award goes to international doctoral students in Canadian universities. Candidates must achieve Academic Excellence, Research Potential, show Leadership skills. Cost – CAD 50,000/year for three years of the doctoral degree.

12. IDRC Doctoral Research Award

 The International Doctoral Research Center sponsors this scholarship.  


What is the Cost of Studying in Canada?

Disclaimer: Prices are subject to change based on the exchange rate, specific location, and economic conditions.

1. Tuition

The cost of studying in Canada varies based on multiple factors – course, home country, environment, and degree level. You should know that International Students always pay more than indigenes. Science courses cost more than Humanities because of the practical aspects.

While Science courses are about CAD 30,000, Art programs are an average of CAD 20,000. Postgraduate students pay less than undergrads, between CAD 7,056 to CAD 22,485. Executive MBA programs are the most expensive at about CAD 56,000 and plus.

2. Accommodation

International students can live on or off-campus, which would influence the rent. There are three main types of accommodation – Homestay, University campus, and Private living.

Homestay – living within the university environment – is often the cheapest option at CAD 400 to 800 a month. You’d spend the most money renting a private residence CAD 400-1,500 per month. 

These prices vary based on the university city, with Vancouver the most expensive and Quebec the cheapest. Most universities give an estimate in the International Students section of their website.

3. Other Expenses

Your cost of living in Canada can vary based on how you plan to move around. You can check with your school to see if the cost of a transit pass for a bus or train is included in your tuition fees. Many Canadian cities with public transit also offer special student rates.

Taxis are also a common means of transportation. If you don’t have a long distance to cover, getting a bicycle is an excellent way to economize, get some workout in, and a great way to get around since many Canadian cities and towns have bike paths and bike lanes.

If you opt to stay on campus, you can register for a meal plan, which allows you to get your meals in the university cafeteria. And if you stay off-campus, you’ll have to cook and get groceries yourself.  If you decide to give yourself a treat and eat out, you’ll spend an average of CAD 12 to 40 per head eating out. 

Student Visa application costs an average of CAD 150. Every Canadian student must have Health insurance. It’s part of your Student Permit package. You can calculate your possible cost based on your unique conditions.

There are several discounts in Canada available to international students in several places, in stores, restaurants, public transit, airlines, trains, and other places. To access these student discounts, you need a valid student identification card. Getting the International Student Identification Card for additional benefits is also highly recommended. 


Can I Study in Quebec Canada?

Quebec is the French-speaking Province/State of Canada. International students favor this city for its low-cost living expenses. Studying in Quebec offers a unique experience of the divergent cultures.

Yes, Quebec has some of the best Universities in Canada open to International students from McGill to Laval. There are a few requirements for candidates to meet.

International applicants must choose a fitting study program at the institution in Quebec. Admission requirements depend on individual universities. Upon acceptance, you must apply for an Acceptance Certificate for studies lasting longer than six months.

International students need a study permit from the Canadian government. You’ll need your temporary resident visa, medical testing (conditional), and biometric data , i.e. fingerprint and photograph for that application. Finally, you must have health and hospitalization insurance coverage.


Work Authorization for International Students in Canada

There are several work options for international students with a valid study permit in Canada. To work on campus, you don’t need a work permit. However, you need a license through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada program for work outside the school premises.

You’re eligible for a Work permit if your course requires work experience through co-op or internship. Fresh graduates from a Canadian school qualify for a Postgraduate Work Permit. Your program must’ve lasted for at least eight months.

In July 2021, Canada launched a new Open Work Permit which included international students. It’s a pathway to permanent residency. International students’ accompanying spouses may get a Study or Open Work Permit for jobs that don’t require offers and Labor Market Opinion.

International students must be legally working Canadian residents upon application. If your work permit is almost expired, you can extend it as an undergraduate. The Canadian government has temporary extension measures for postgraduate students.

Your pathway application must be successful in qualifying for an extension or new permit. Your permit should be valid for at least four months as a temporary resident, and you must meet the English language requirement.

You can only apply online from Canada. For more information, see Government of Canada’s Official Website.


How to Avoid Common Problems and Pitfalls When Applying for Canadian Student VISA?

Adapting to a new environment is not always easy for most people. We’ve studied the challenges International students face and found solutions. That’ll help you prepare better for what’s to come.

  • Fraudulent Agencies: Before you start your immigration journey, vet your agency for certification. Ask questions from people who’ve gone before you.
  • Financial capacity: Your bank account statement should sustain your tuition and feeding for a year at least. Canadian universities have different fee structures per season. You may experience a snag in your fee transfer because of your banking network—research on your intended school for the best way to pay your tuition.
  • Study Program: Your choice of study must align with your future career goals and previous academic pursuits. Sudden changes arouse suspicion that can lead to delay or outright rejection. Include a detailed personal statement and other relevant documents explaining your change of direction. You must meet all requirements, including English proficiency and Canadian Academic Qualifications (CAQ)
  • Intention to stay: Never suggest you want to stay after your studies. Convince the Visa official you’ll work in your native country after your studies.
  • Weather Patterns: Moving from a warm country to long and cold winters is a hassle for International students. Ensure you dress appropriately for the season – always layer in winter. Also, know the difference between the regions to choose a place with an agreeable climate.
  • Social Life: English and French are the two common languages in Canada. Socializing would be tricky if you’re not fluent in any of them.
  • Student Loans: Although Student Loans aren’t available to international students, you can get scholarships. There are criteria to meet for eligibility, so ensure you’re informed. If you’re lucky to get a scholarship, do your best to keep it till you end your program. In this case, following the rules isn’t a bad idea.

In conclusion, it would be best if you learned to budget to survive in Canada. The exchange rate has a wide gap, so you can’t afford to spend as you would in your home country. Buy Students Travel Pass, and use the government transport facilities. Home Cooked meals are cheaper than eating out.

Apply for scholarships and maintain stellar grades so you don’t get disqualified. On-campus accommodation and Homestay are cheaper than private living.


Additional FAQs About Canadian Student Visas

How Much Funds Do I Need for a Canadian Student Visa?

To be considered eligible for a Canadian student visa, you also need to show enough funds to support yourself during your stay in the country. Currently, this is about CAD 10,000, approximately USD 7,650 for every year of your stay. If you’re studying in Quebec, you need CAD 11,000, around USD 8,400 in addition to your tuition fees. You will also need to ensure you have enough money to pay for transportation to return home.

Does Canada Give Student Visas Easily?

With Canada being one of the top destinations for international students, the visa application process has become stricter. Therefore, prospective students should scrutinize the eligibility requirements and ensure they meet these requirements before beginning the application process. The more requirements you meet, the easier your chances of getting a student visa.

What are the Requirements for a Student Visa in Canada?

As discussed earlier, some of the requirements international students need to meet to be eligible for a Canadian student visa are:
– Proof of enrollment in a Designated Educational Institution.
– Proof of funds
– Proof that the student has no criminal record, among others.

How Long is a Student Visa in Canada Valid for?

As stated above, the Canadian student visa is usually valid for the duration of your study program in the country. You’ll get a 90 days extension period. The purpose of the extra 90 days is to let you either prepare to leave Canada or apply for an extension.


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