Canada Visa Application – Complete Guide

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INTRODUCTION

In this article we will provide a detailed guide on how you can apply for a Canadian study permit. It is a similar process with other visa types. We will describe what a Study Document is, who is exempted for acquiring it, document requirements and description of documents, application methods and procedure, and links to important document formats to download and fill. It should give much of what you need to know about applying for Canadian study permits or visa.

ABOUT THE STUDY PERMIT

That is what it’s called in Canada: Study Permit, not Student Visa. The study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government to let foreign nationals study at Universities in Canada. As an international student, chances are that you need a study permit to enter Canada. You must fulfill all requirements prior to application and before you travel to Canada.

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You will still need a visitor visa or travel document to enter Canada. But that is no problem because when the Canadian authorities approve your study permit, they send it along with a visitor visa or electronic travel document. You won’t need to apply separately. If you are a permanent resident of Canada, you need a Permanent Residents (PR) card. If it is expired or you lost it you can still apply for another before traveling to Canada.

EXEMPTIONS FOR STUDY PERMIT

Most international students are expected to have a study permit to enroll in any university in Canada. There are a few exceptions to this rule where you don’t need a study visa. We will describe below.

1. Study period of 6 months or less

You can study at any school in Canada without a study permit if:

  • your course or program lasts 6 months or less
  • your studies aren’t part of a longer program and
  • you’ll complete all your studies within the time we approved you to stay in Canada (usually 6 months after you enter)

If you’re taking prerequisite courses, you should get a study permit, even if the courses are less than 6 months long. If you don’t, you’ll have to apply for a study permit before you can start your full study program. Depending on processing times, you may not get it in time to start your studies.

2. Family or staff of foreign representatives

You may not need a study permit if you’re a family or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada that has been accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Your embassy can contact GAC to find out if you need one.

3. Members of foreign armed forces

If you’re a member of a foreign armed force on official duties in Canada, you don’t need a study permit. If your family members, including minor children, want to study in Canada, they may need one.

4. Registered Indians in Canada

You don’t need a study permit if you have Registered Indian status in Canada, even if you’re a citizen of another country.

5. Minor children in Canada

Minor children don’t need a study permit if:

  • they’re in kindergarten
  • they’re refugees or refugee claimants
  • their parents are refugees or refugee claimants or
  • they’re in pre-school, primary or secondary school, and they’re already in Canada with a parent who has a work or study permit

When minor children reach the age of majority (18 or 19 years old, depending on the province or territory), they must apply for a study permit if they want to keep studying. Learn more about minors studying in Canada.

Why get a study permit if you don’t need one?

There are 2 reasons you may want to get a study permit even if you don’t need one:

  1. You may be able to continue studying (as long as you meet the requirements)
  2. You may be able to work on-campus or off-campus

Examples of this are:

  • if you’re studying for less than 6 months, but are looking to study in a longer program or
  • if you’re the child of a parent who’s authorized to work or study in Canada, but you will soon turn 18 (and will no longer be a minor)

If you apply for a study permit even though you don’t need one, you should include a letter explaining why you want one with your application.

1. Continue studying

If you already have a study permit and your study situation changes (for example, you want to study for more than 6 months or apply to a longer study program) you can continue studying in Canada while your permit is valid. If you need to extend your permit, or it expires while we process your application for an extension, you’ll also be able to continue studying because you have implied status.

However, if you don’t have a study permit already, you would need to stop studying or wait until you get a study permit to start or continue your studies.

An example of this is if you’re taking prerequisite classes required for a longer study program. You may not need a study permit for your prerequisite classes, but you may need one for your full study program.

In this case, you should get a study permit even though you don’t need one right away. If you don’t, you may not be able to start your longer study program, depending on whether or not your study permit is processed in time.

2. Work on- or off-campus

If you have a study permit and you’re registered as a full-time student at a DLI, you may be able to work on-campus or off-campus. If so, your study permit will include a condition that says you’re allowed to work while studying.

If you don’t have a study permit, you can’t work while you’re studying in Canada. In this case, you need to apply for a work permit.

DESIGNATED LEARNING INSTITUTIONS

Not every school in Canada has the permission to host international students. Before you apply to any Canadian university, it is important to confirm that the institution has been granted the right to admit international students. Universities that can take international students are referred to as Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). Unlike tertiary institutions, all primary and secondary schools in Canada are designated learning institutions. So when you find a university of your choice, check with the right authorities for the status of that university.

International eligibility of a university is not the only advantage of a background check. Some universities make you eligible to work in Canada after graduation. Not all universities approved for international students make you eligible for post-graduate work permit program.

To check the status of your institution of choice, visit the Canadian government website responsible for listing such institutions. Note that primary and secondary schools are not listed here, they qualify by default. You must first know the province under which the university falls. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select a province from the combo box. A drop-down list appears when you choose a province with a list of Designated Learning institutions.

Look for the university on the list. You can also use the filter box to quickly find the institution by typing all or a part of its name. If you can’t find the university on the list, and you are sure that is the province under which it is located, it means that institution cannot admit foreign students.

Having found your institution, you should check if it offers PGWP (post graduate work permit) programs. The information is clearly displayed in front of that university. Also copy the Designated Learning Institution number because you will need it during the application for a study permit.

DOCUMENT REQUIREMENT

You need a number of documents to apply for a study permit. We list all documents below and proceed to describe each in greater detail.

  • proof of acceptance
  • proof of identity
  • proof of financial support

Depending on your case you may also need:

  • letter of explanation
  • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ)
  • Custodian declaration (minors only)
  • other documents

Proof of acceptance

Your school must send you an acceptance letter. Include the original letter with your study permit application. The letter must be issued by the Canadian institution (e.g. school district, University, etc.) on official letterhead, show the exact amount of tuition fees you are required to pay, the anticipated starting and finishing dates and the date by which you need to register. Once you have your acceptance letter, you can complete and submit an application for a study permit.

If you need to take some courses before you are accepted into your program (conditional acceptance), we will only issue your study permit for the length of those courses. Once you are accepted into the main program, you will need to apply to extend your stay as a student.

Proof of identity

You and each family member who comes with you to Canada must have:

  • a valid passport or travel document. It must allow you to return to the country that issued it. Citizens of the United States have some options on the identification documents they can carry.
  • two recent passport-size photos. The name and date of birth of the person should be written on the back of each photo.

Proof of financial support

You must prove that you can support yourself, and the family members who come with you, while you are in Canada.

You can prove your funds with:

  • proof of a Canadian bank account in your name, if you have transferred money to Canada
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution
  • proof of a student/education loan from a bank
  • your bank statements for the past four months
  • a bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars
  • proof you paid tuition and housing fees
  • a letter from the person or school giving you money or
  • proof of funding paid from within Canada, if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program.

What requirements must I meet to get a study permit?

In addition to providing an acceptance letter from a DLI, you must demonstrate to the officer that you:

  • meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, including leaving Canada at the end of your studies;
  • have satisfactory proof of financial support:
    • If the duration of your studies in Canada will be less than a year, proof of financial support for the duration of your studies in Canada.
    • If the duration of your studies in Canada will be more than a year, proof of financial support for the first year of your studies in Canada.
  • are law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity (you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate);
  • will not be a risk to the security of Canada;
  • are in good health (a medical examination may be requested);
  • will produce additional documents requested by the officer to establish your admissibility.

SOME CONDITIONS ON YOUR ABILITY TO KEEP AND USE A STUDY VISA

As a study permit holder, you must remain enrolled at a DLI and make reasonable and timely progress towards completing your program. Failing to do so may lead to your removal from Canada. For post-secondary study permit holders, the DLI will report your continued academic enrolment and status to us.

An officer may also impose, change, or cancel conditions on your study permit. These may include one or more of the following:

  • the type of studies or course you may take;
  • the educational institution you may attend;
  • the location of your studies;
  • the time and period of your studies;
  • the time and place at which you shall report for medical examination or observation;
  • the time and place at which you shall report to present evidence of compliance with applicable conditions;
  • the work conditions attached to your study permit;
  • the prohibition of engaging in employment;
  • the duration of your stay in Canada.

Do I need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

Citizens of certain countries or territories may require a TRV in order to travel to Canada, while others may require an eTA.

A TRV is an official document issued by an officer that is placed in your passport to show that you have met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident. An eTA is a paperless document that is electronically linked to your passport; it too, demonstrates that you have met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident.

If you need a TRV or an eTA, you do not have to complete a separate application or pay additional fees. It will be issued by the officer at the same time as the documents you need for your entry to Canada as a student.

Translation of documents

You may have to do some document translations to complete your registration whether online or offline. This can be done in your country by an authorized party. You must submit the following for any document that is not in English or French, unless otherwise stated on your document checklist:

  • the English or French translation; and
  • an affidavit from the person who completed the translation (see below for details); and
  • a certified copy of the original document.

Note this: Translations must not be done by the applicants themselves nor by an applicant’s parent, guardian, sibling, spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, grandparent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or first cousin.

Translators who are certified in Canada don’t need to supply an affidavit. A certified translator will provide both a certified translation and certified copies of the original documents.

An affidavit is a document on which the translator has sworn, in the presence of a person authorized to administer oaths in the country where the translator is living, that the contents of their translation are a true translation and representation of the contents of the original document.

The affidavit must be sworn in the presence of:

In Canada:

  • a notary public
  • a commissioner of oaths
  • a commissioner of taking affidavits

Authority to certify varies by province and territory. Consult your local provincial or territorial authorities.

Outside of Canada:

  • a notary public

Authority to administer oaths varies by country.Consult your local authorities.

CERTIFIED TRUE COPIES

To have a photocopy of a document certified, an authorized person must (as described below) compare the original document to the photocopy and must print the following on the photocopy:

  • “I certify that this is a true copy of the original document”,
  • the name of the original document,
  • the date of the certification,
  • their name,
  • their official position or title, and
  • their signature.

Who can certify copies?

Only authorized people

Note this: Certifying of copies must not be done by the applicants themselves nor by an applicant’s parent, guardian, sibling, spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, grandparent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or first cousin.

Persons authorized to certify copies include the following:

In Canada:

  • a notary public
  • a commissioner of oaths
  • a commissioner of taking affidavits

Authority to certify varies by province and territory. Check with your local provincial or territorial authorities to learn who has the authority to certify.

Outside Canada:

  • a notary public

Authority to certify international documents varies by country. Check with your local authorities to learn who has the authority to certify in your country.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

There are two ways to complete you application: Online or Paper application. The former is the most preferred choice for most. Applying online will eliminate the mail postage fee you will be required to pay with paper application. It also leads to a faster processing of your application because the time wasted to deliver your paper application is eliminated as the Canadian authorities will get your information instantly.

Online application also helps you respond quickly to any request of additional documents as sometimes is the case. You get updates on the status of your application directly in your online account.There are a host of other advantages for applying online. However, the ones listed here should be a good-enough indication that you are better off applying online. We will describe both processes in great detail and you pick which one to go with.

ONLINE APPLICATION PROCEDURE

To apply online, visit the application portal and click on “Register” towards the bottom of the page. Read the information on the succeeding page, as this will give you some guides on how to proceed.

There are 2 ways you can proceed from here.

  • Register with a GCKey: a simple way for anyone to access the online services by creating a new account with a username and password.
  • Register with a Sign-In Partner
    Use your online Canadian banking information to register for an account. You must have an online bank account with 1 of our Sign-In Partners.

Registering with GCKey

A GCKey lets you securely access the Government of Canada’s online services.It includes a username and password that you choose. You must also create security questions. These steps keep your data secure and let you recover your account.

Follow the steps below to register

  1. Click Register with a GCKey.
  2. Click Sign Up.
  3. Read the Terms and Conditions of Use and click I Accept.
  4. Create a username. Click Continue.
  5. Create a password. Click Continue.
  6. Create your security questions and responses. Click Continue.
  7. Click Continue to get to the Sign Up Complete page.
  8. Read the Terms and Conditions. Click I Accept.
  9. Enter your information and follow the steps to create your account.

Register with a Sign-In Partner

This is a secure way for you to sign in to your online account using information you already have.

Sign-In Partners are groups such as banks and credit unions that partner with SecureKey Technologies (a company that provides online identity services). If you’re a customer of a bank or credit union, you can use the same sign-in that you use to access their services to access Government of Canada services.

To register with a Sign-in Partner

  1. Click Register with a Partner Sign-In.
  2. Choose your financial institution.

If you don’t see your financial institution listed, you need to register with GCKey.

  1. Enter your banking sign-in information and click Continue.
  2. Read the Terms and Conditions of Use and click I Accept.
  3. Enter your information and follow the steps to create your account.

PAPER APPLICATION PROCEDURE

With this method, you will manually fill the form and submit to Visa Application Center close to you, probably in your country. To see the visit this link and search for a location by scrolling through the pages or using the “filter” option to execute a search using the name of your location.

You need to fill out and submit a number of forms as listed below. you may just click on any from on the list to go to the download page. However, you may be required to complete additional supporting documents upon request of a visa officer.

  1. Application For Study Permit Made Outside of Canada
  2. Family Information
  3. Document Checklist
  4. Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union, if applicable
  5. Custodianship Declaration – Custodian for Minors Studying in Canada, if applicable
  6. Use of a Representative, if applicable
  7. Authority to release personal information to a designated individual, if applicable

Please note: It is a serious offence to give false or misleading information on these forms. The information you provide on your application is subject to verification.

Be complete and accurate

Complete all sections. If a question or a section does not apply to you, write “Not Applicable” or “NA”, except for your name (last name and given names).

The application must be signed and dated.

If your application is incomplete it may be rejected and this will delay the processing of your application.

If you need more space for any section, print out an additional page containing the appropriate section, complete it and submit it with your application.

If you want to read more about paper application, visit this link

After filling your form, you need to pay application and biometric fees for you and any other person that will be going with you. You may be asked to pay in your local currency. Fees paid are cannot be refunded. Your application will be delayed or not processed if you paid the wrong amount less. You will be refunded any excess payments made so you need not contact them in case you paid higher.

How to pay the fees for your application

To pay your fees for your application you’ll need:

  • a valid email address;
  • access to a printer (you’ll need to print the receipt), and
  • a credit card or Canadian debit card.

Visit this link and follow the onscreen instruction to pay. You will select which service you are paying for from the combo box. When you have checked out using your ATM card, make sure to click on the button to print the IRCC official receipt with barcode. Print two copies.Attach a copy of this receipt to your completed application, and keep the other copy for your records. If you have problem paying your fees (which is unlikely) visit the Pay your fees page to learn about the methods of payment accepted by Canadian visa offices.

Note: do not exit without printing the receipt at the end of your payment process.

Submit the document checklist

Make sure you complete the Document Checklist (IMM 5483) and include it with your application forms and supporting documents.

Minimum funds needed to support yourself as a student (and family members who come with you):

Outside Quebec
Persons coming to Canada Amount of funds required per year (additional to the tuition) Amount of funds required per month (additional to the tuition)
You (the student) $10,000 $833
First family member $4,000 $333
Every additional accompanying family member $3,000 $255

Example:

If you and two family members want to come to a province outside Quebec for a year, you will need:

  • Tuition +$10,000 (for the student)
  • +$4,000 (for the first family member)
  • +$3,000 (for the second family member)
    Total: Tuition + $17,000
In Quebec
Persons coming to Canada Amount of funds required per year (additional to the tuition) Amount of funds required per month (additional to the tuition)
You (the student) $11,000 $917
First family member (18 years or older) $5,100 $425
First family member (under the age of 18) $3,800 $317
Every additional accompanying family member (18 years or older) $5,125 $427
Every additional accompanying family member (under the age of 18) $1,903 $159

Example

If you and two family members (over the age of 18) want to come to Quebec for a year, you will need

  • Tuition +$11,000 (for the student)
  • +$5,100  (for the first family member)
  • +$5,125 (for the second family member)
    Total: Tuition + $21,225

If your country uses foreign-exchange controls, prove that you will be allowed to export funds for all of your expenses.

STUDENT DIRECT STREAM

Depending on where you live, you may be able to get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS). SDS is processed in 20 days, but some may take longer. Only a handful of countries are given this option. There is no paper application for SDS.

Every country may have something unique about the application process for a Student Direct Stream. To know the specific application steps for your country, visit this page, scroll to the bottom and select your country for the combo box, then click “continue”. Information regarding your country will be displayed plus links to the documents requirement and a PDF link to visa instructions. Right at the bottom of this page is a “Create an account or sign in” button. Proceed by hitting the button. You will be taken to a page where you will create an IRCC secure account.

An IRCC account lets you start an application, submit and pay for your application, get messages related to your application, check the status of your application and update your information.

As of December 3, 2019, for all three methods of application, you are required to have your biometric captured in person. Visit a Visa Application Center in your country or close to you in order to have your biometric capture. You will receive a letter from the Canadian authorities asking you to go for biometric capture. This letter will be delivered via your email or online account. Do not go to any VAC until you get this letter requesting you to have a biometric capture and where you should do that. We have provided a link earlier to help you locate VACs in any country where they are available. It is important that you pay biometric fee during application to avoid delays as your application will not be processed without it. You don’t need to pay biometric fee for transit visa.

You need to bring this letter when you give your biometrics. You also need to bring your valid passport.

How fast you get the letter depends on how you apply and when you pay for your biometrics fees. Answer a few questions to find out.

If you apply online for a visitor visa, study or work permit

  • If you pay the biometrics fee when you submit your application
    • You’ll get the letter in your account message box within 24 hours of applying.
      • We’ll send you an email to let you know that you have a new message.
  • If you pay the biometrics fee after you submit your application
    • It can take several days before you get the letter.
      • We’ll send you an email to let you know that you have a new message.

Tips to get the best photos and fingerprints during your biometrics appointment

  • Keep your hands henna-free for your appointment.
  • Let temporary injuries, cuts, cracks on your fingers heal before giving your biometrics.
  • Avoid wearing light color clothing or head gear. Wear bright colors instead.
    • Head gear is allowed for religious purposes only. However, when you have your photo taken, your whole face must be clearly visible.

You can go to one of these official locations to give your biometrics:

  • visa application centers (VACs) worldwide
  • application support centers (ASCs) in the United States and its territories
  • as of December 3, 2019, at designated Service Canada offices (SCOs)

To locate a place close where to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics), visit this page and select a location from the list of centers in different countries. Not all VACs are displayed on one page. You need to click “next” to navigate through the pages. You can save time by using the “filter” search box at the top left of the list. Type the name of your country and hit “enter” on your keyboard. The page will refresh and display only VACs in that country. You must visit a VAC only by appointment.

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