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Canada Student Visa: Important Info, Requirements

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Canada Student Visa: Important Info, Requirements
Written by Jennifer Aranda.
Updated December 6, 2016 | Canada

There are many reasons for you to study in Canada.

  • First off, the  education system is excellent and Canadian colleges and universities offer a wide range of programs for a variety of technical and professional disciplines. Degrees obtained in Canadian colleges and universities are recognized as being the equivalent in quality to degrees obtained from the United States and the United Kingdom.  And why would you  pass up the opportunity of being able to study in a peaceful and politically stable country if you have the financial resources to do so?
  • Second, if you have no plans of immediately returning to your country of residence, you might qualify to remain in Canada after completing your program and work. You may also be eligible to work part-time during regular school breaks and full-time during regular term breaks.  Caution though.  You must remember that if you are admitted to Canada on a student visa, it is your responsibility to continue attending classes to maintain your legal status. Discontinuing your studies is a violation of your visa conditions and might result in severe repercussions for you.

CLICK HERE to check out IVC's international partner colleges and universities

Are You Eligible to Study in Canada?

If you are applying at the post-secondary level (after high school), you must first choose a province or territory then find a Designated Learning Institute (DLI). View the DLI List per province/territory:

Red River College

Once you have chosen a program of study and been accepted by a DLI, you then apply for a student visa at the Canadian visa office closest to you. 

  • You will be asked to prepare documents that would be needed for a successful visa application such as proof of acceptance, proof of identity among others.
  • You must be in good health when you apply for the Canada student visa and be willing to complete a medical examination.
  • And even though Canada offers an opportunity to remain once you've received your certificate, diploma or degree, you must satisfy an immigration officer that you will return to your country of residence at the end of your studies.

Understanding the conditions of your student visa/permit

Check your visa once you receive it, understand and comply with the conditions listed.  The conditions will let you know:

  • The educational level you are permitted to study;
  • A warning that:
    • You must remain enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution
    • You must continue studying and your main objective for doing so is the completion of your program
  • A notice if you are allowed to work in Canada
  • If you must comply with additional requests for a medical examination, observation or treatment
  • Whether your travel within Canada is restricted;
  • When you must leave Canada.

Sometimes people change their minds or plans are altered mid-stream. Therefore, if you are enrolled in a post-secondary course and want to change your program of study or institution where you are studying, you only have to notify Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) of what you intend to do.

Complying with the conditions of your student permit is important.  If you do not, you may voluntarily leave Canada or be subject to removal proceedings if you break any of the conditions of your stay.

If your visa is valid for a single entry to Canada, you may not travel outside Canada during your studies on your current student permit.  You will have to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (a Visitor Visa) to do so.

Maintenance Funds You Should Prepare

The following table lets your know the minimum amounts you should prepare that represent your living expenses:

Number of persons

All provinces except Quebec


Single student

Tuition plus $10,000 for a 12-month period (or $833 per month)

Tuition plus $11,000 for a 12-month period (or $917 per month)

+ one family member

$4,000 for a 12-month period (or $333 per month)

$5,100 more for a person 18 years of age or older for a 12-month period (or $425 per month)

$3,800 more for a person under 18 years of age for a 12-month period (or $317 per month)

+ each additional family member

$3,000 for a 12-month period per dependent child of any age (or $255 per month)

$5,125 more for a person 18 years of age or older for a 12-month period (or $427 per month)

$1,903 more for a person under 18 years of age for a 12-month period (or $159 per month)

Work While You are Studying and the Postgraduate Work Permit

One of the major changes to the Canada international student program was implemented on June 1, 2014.  Effective that date, international students no longer needed to apply for an off-campus work permit.

Your student visa/permit now allows you to work provided you meet the following conditions to qualify:

  • Your study permit/student visa is valid;
  • You are a full-time student
  • You are enrolled at a DLI at the post-secondary level. 
    • If you are studying in Quebec, you must, at the least, be enrolled in a vocational program at the secondary level
    • You will not be eligible to work while studying if you are enrolled in any of the following programs:
      • English or French as a second language (ESL or FSL) or;
      • General interest or preparatory courses.
  • You must be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program of at least six months duration and at the conclusion of your studies, you will be acquiring a degree, diploma or certificate.

In addition to the foregoing, you must adhere to the following work schedule :

  • Up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions and;
  • Full-time during scheduled academic breaks e.g. winter, summer, spring breaks.

IMPORTANT!  Your study permit will become invalid 90 days after you have completed your study program. If you therefore switch to a shorter-term program or finish your studies early, your study permit will expire 90 days after your study program has been completed. Your program is considered complete when you receive written notification of program completion (for example, a transcript or an official letter) from your institution or once you obtain your degree, diploma or certificate.

To obtain a Post-graduate Work Permit after you complete your program, you must meet some requirements including the following:

  • You must have continuously studied full time in Canada;
  • Your completed program of study should last at least eight months;
  • You must have graduated from any of the following:
    • A public post-secondary institution, such as a college, trade/technical school, university or CEGEP (in Quebec) OR;
    • A private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions OR;
    • If you studied in Québec, a private secondary or post-secondary institution (in Quebec) offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP), OR;
    • A Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees but only if you are enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree as authorized by the province and not in all programs of study offered by the private institution.

The official length of your study program is important as IRCC may use this to determine the length of your Post-graduate Work Permit for example; If your length of study is nine months, your work permit may be issued for nine months.  If your study program is two years or more, your work permit may be valid for three years.

Do you need additional details to ensure a successful application? Or to discuss in detail, your options for permanent residency in Canada  and other countries?  All these and more are discussed during one of our Legal Briefings. 

Applying for the Student Permit

You must collate several documents in addition to several IRCC Forms including:

  • Proof of fee payment;
  • Application packet which includes some forms. Use only those that are pertinent to our application.
    • Instruction Guide
    • Documentation Checklist (May 2014)
    • Visa Office Instruction - Study (September 2015)
    • Application for a Study Permit Made Outside Canada (April 2015)
    • Family Information (September 2010)
    • Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union
    • Custodian Declaration
    • Visa application photograph specifications
    • Use of a Representative
  • Proof of acceptance in the form of the original letter of acceptance that conforms to standards.  If you are studying in any school or college or university based in Québec, you will need MIDI's letter of approal to your application for a "Certificat d'acceptation du Québec" (or CAQ);
  • Proof of identity:
    • Valid passport or travel document for you and each accompanying family member;
    • Phtoso that conform to the photographic specifications in your application packet.
  • Photocopy off the information page of your passport or valid travel document;
  • Proof of financial support;
  • Letter of explanation;
  • Additional documents may be required by the responsible visa office.   

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Minor children

Each province and territory decides the age when a person reaches the age of majority or is considered an adult.  Anyone younger than the set age limit is consider a minor child.

Province/Territory Age of Majority
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan 18
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Yukon 19

If you intend to bring your minor child with you, his study permit will be valid for the same length of yours or, if his passport will be expiring before your study permit, then the validity of his passport.  There is no need for a study permit for your minor child if he is going to be attending kindergarten.  However, when your child reaches the age of majority as defined in the above, he must apply for a study permit if he wants to continue studying in Canada.

George Brown College

Applying for Permanent Residence

Studying in Canada as an international student, your stay is considered temporary by the Canadian government and you will be expected to return to your country of residency after you graduate from your program.  There are however, several economic immigration programs (if you can't be sponsored by an eligible family member) that you may want to explore.

Are you interested in applying as a permanent resident after graduation?  Check if you qualify first!  Click on any of the following links to other parts of our website:

>>>  Federal Skilled Worker Program

>>>  Federal Skilled Trades Program

>>>  Canadian Experience Class

>>>  Provincial Nominee Programs

Almost all of these economic migration programs use the Express Entry system.  You must meet eligibility requirements for the programs and at the same time, be ranked using the Comprehensive Ranking System.

About the Author

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.

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