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Study in Canada: Visas

Canada welcome students from around the world, who bring cultural enrichment to the educational scene in Canada. More than 101, 000 foreign students were enrolled in Canadian institutions in 1998, not including students taking English or French as second language courses.

You must meet certain immigration requirements to obtain a student authorization to study in Canada. You must:
  •   present an acceptance letter from the educational institution they wish to attend;
  •   provide evidence of financial support to pay for tuition and living costs;
  •   satisfy a visa officer that you will return home at the end of their studies;
  •   pass a medical examination if required;

It is sometimes more difficult to get a student visa than an immigration visa, as you have to get a letter from a college and university, have enough money to support you, and more critical is that you have to convince the officer you have no intention to stay in Canada after your graduation.


If you want to study in Canada you must meet some important immigration requirements and you may require a visitor visa. If you do require a visitor visa, the visa officer will issue it at the same time as the documentation necessary for your entry to Canada as a student. Before you apply for a student authorization, you must be accepted as a student by an approved educational institution. The institution will decide if you meet its academic and language requirements.

What is a student authorization

A student authorization is a form issued by an immigration officer. It allows you, after your admittance, to remain in Canada to take an academic, professional or vocational training course at an approved university, college or other institution.

Who needs a student authorization

If you are not a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a dependant of a diplomat accredited to Canada, you must obtain a student authorization.

Are there any courses for which a student authorization is not required
A student authorization is not required if the course is:

- an English or French language course that lasts a maximum of three months;
- not academic, professional or vocational; for example;
- self-improvement, general interest courses such as arts and crafts;
- courses included in tour packages as a secondary activity for tourists; and
- day care or nursery school programs which are not a compulsory part of the elementary school system.

Where do I apply
You apply to the nearest Canadian visa office. You must obtain permission to study in Canada before leaving for Canada. However, the following persons may apply from within Canada: dependants of athletes, media representatives, members of the Clergy, or military personnel on assignment in Canada; dependants of officials of foreign governments working in Canada with a federal or provincial agency under an exchange agreement; dependants of a person who has a valid student or employment authorization; and a person who is a holder of a Minister's permit and his or her dependants.

In addition, the following persons may apply at a Canadian port of entry: citizens and permanent residents of the United States, St. Pierre and Miquelon, or Greenland.

Do I pay a fee
Yes, a processing fee is charged. See the enclosed information on processing fees to determine its amount, mode of payment and list of exemptions.

What are the basic requirements for student authorization
You must satisfy the visa officer that you meet the requirements of the Canadian Immigration Act and Regulations and that you will be in Canada for a temporary stay.
You must also: satisfy a visa officer that you will be able to return to your country or be admitted to another country after your studies; have been unconditionally accepted by an approved educational institution; proof that you have enough money during your stay in Canada to pay for:
- tuition fees;
- living expenses for yourself and accompanying dependants; and
- return transportation for yourself and accompanying dependants; be law abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate); not be a risk to the security of Canada; produce any additional documents requested by the visa officer to establish your admissibility; complete a medical examination, if required; and pay the fee.

The Application Process

This section explains how an application is made, how long it will usually take and how it will be processed by the visa office.

When should I apply

The time required to process an application to study in Canada may vary at different visa offices. You should apply as early as possible, and allow at least six months to plan and prepare for your move.

Note: Canadian universities suggest you apply for admission at least one year in advance of your planned arrival.

How do I apply for a student authorization
Complete the application form, and include the fee and the documents listed below.

To complete your application you will need to know the cost of your education including tuition fees and books, medical insurance, return transportation costs and living costs for yourself and any dependants while in Canada. Living costs vary in each province.

What documents are required
You are required to provide the following documents for yourself and any accompanying dependants:

1. Proof of acceptance for attendance at a university, college or technical institution, a letter from the educational institution to show:

- the name of the institution;
- confirmation of your acceptance and/or registration as a student;
- the course of study;
- the duration of the academic program; and
- the latest date you may register. for attendance at a primary or secondary school, a letter from the school board having jurisdiction for the school you are attending (or for private schools, a letter from the school itself), indicating:
- the name of the school;
- the level of study; and
- the duration of the course.

For attendance at an educational institution in Quebec, you will also require a "Certificat d'acceptation du Quec" (Quebec Certificate of Acceptance, or CAQ) issued by the Ministe des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration (MRCI)

2. Proof of identity a valid passport or travel document or identity document that guarantees re-entry to the country that issued it (citizens and permanent residents of the United States, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Greenland do not require a passport but do require proof of status such as a national identity card or an alien registration card); and two recent passport size photos for each family member (the name and date of birth of the person should be written on the back of each photo).

3. Proof of financial support evidence that you can support yourself and accompanying dependants while you study in Canada. Such evidence may include:
- proof of a Canadian bank account in your name if money has been transferred to Canada;
- your bank statements for the past four months;
- a bank draft in convertible currency;
- proof of payment of tuition and residence fees;
- for those with a scholarship or those with a Canadian funded educational program:
proof of funding paid from within Canada; if foreign exchange control measures exist in your country, you must provide proof that you will be permitted by the exchange control authorities of your country to export funds for all of your expenses; and if additional documents are required, a visa officer will inform you.

Note: Children under 16 years of age who are travelling alone must have information (name, address, phone number) about the person or school who will be responsible for them. If the child is the subject of a custody order, proof of custody and the other parent's consent must also be provided. Minors travelling without their parents require a letter of permission from the non-accompanying parent(s).

Will I need to attend an interview
After reviewing your application, a visa officer will decide if an interview is necessary. If so, the visa officer will inform you of the time and place.

Will I or my accompanying dependants need a medical examination
In some cases you will require a medical examination. A visa officer will decide on this and send instructions if a medical is required. It may add over three months to the processing of your application.

What happens if I make a mistake on my application
Your application may be delayed or returned to you unprocessed.



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