Obtain a Student Visa for Canada
Canada Student Visa for International Students
International students planning to study in Canada must take special care in preparing their application for a study permit and temporary resident visa.
The following guidelines will help intending study permit applicants avoid common mistakes that often lead to unnecessary delays and refusals of visa applications by the Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.
What is the visa officer looking for when assessing an applicant?
The visa officer assesses all applicants to determine
- if the purpose of their studies is legitimate and makes sense in the context of previous studies and work experience;
- if they can afford to study in Canada
- if reasonable incentives exist to return to their home country
- if they are in good health
- if there are any security or criminality concerns
What is required to make the assessment?
The Visa Officer makes a decision based on the application forms, documents, information and in some cases a personal interview with the applicant. Many applications are delayed or refused because applicants fail to complete forms correctly, or fail to provide adequate documentation or information, or fail to understand the officer’s expectations.
Funds available for your stay in Canada -- must equal or be greater than tuition plus annual living expenses. So if your tuition is C$20,000 per annum and your living expenses $9,600 and travel expenses C$3000 -- Funds available for my stay in Canada will be equal to or greater than C$32,600/per annum.
Proper documentation is essential if the application is to be successful. Students must not only provide the documents, but the documents must substantiate the student's academic, professional and financial situation. Consult the List of Documents, also attached to this message. This list is not exhaustive.
Passports should be valid for at least three years from the date of the application for a study permit. All application forms should bear the same name and date of birth as in the passport. If there are any discrepancies - for example if the spelling of the name in the school diplomas is different from the passport, explain in a cover letter to accompany the application.
Provide birth certificates for yourself, and your spouse and any children if applicable. If a blood relative is sponsoring you, provide proof of your relationship to that person (for example if your maternal uncle is supporting you, his birth certificate and your mother's birth certificate - showing a mother or father or both in common).
Provide marriage and divorce certificates, if applicable.
Police certificates are required by some visa offices. It may be desirable to obtain a police certificate and provide a copy with the application, rather than wait for a last minute request from the visa officer.
Financial documents must show that you or your sponsor (parents, close relatives or others) can afford to support your studies and living expenses in Canada. It is not enough to show that the family has the exact amount for the student's expenses in Canada. The family's financial situation must also allow it to provide for its own needs.
Large one-time cash deposits in bank accounts just prior to the application are rarely accepted by the visa office. The family or sponsor must prove the source of its funds. Study loans or other types of bank loans are normally acceptable. Details and terms of the loan must be provided.
Business persons must provide proof of business. Others must provide: work references (indicating salary, responsibilities, length of employment -- the letter should be signed and bear the name and telephone no of the appropriate contact person); income tax assessments for last two years; itemized bank statements for last 12 months (explaining the source of any large one-time deposits -- ex proceeds from sale of a plot of land); fixed deposit statements or certificates; property deeds with market assessments; a net worth statement or Chartered Accountant statement summarizing the financial situation of each sponsor (include the CA's business or calling card); and any other document that might be relevant.
Letter or affidavit of support by the sponsor (or sponsors if more than one) explaining why he or she is supporting you, indicating relationship and any other pertinent details. If your sponsor is in business, the letter or affidavit should include details of the business.
Proof of a Bank Loan showing terms of loan (amount, interest rate, secured or unsecured, repayment terms, etc). This document must bear the name and telephone no of the loans officer (or attach the loans officer's business or calling card);
Proof of relationship to the sponsor - example if he is your maternal uncle then a copy of his birth certificate and your mother's certificate showing that they have the same mother or father.
If the sponsor is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, proof of citizenship or residence is required (copy of passport or Canadian residence card).
Secondary (or High School) and Post-Secondary diplomas or certificates and transcripts are required, as well as any other related diplomas or certificates. Students are also required to provide proof of English-language abilities.
Students who did not study in English will be required to provide official TOEFL or IELTS (www.ielts.org) language test results -- with emphasis on oral language skills and listening abilities (unless the student is going to Canada to learn English first).
If the student is working, provided detailed work references, including a letter of leave if applicable. Work references are also required for sponsors.
PROMISES OF ONGOING OR FUTURE EMPLOYMENT
A letter from a future employer offering a job position to the student on return from Canada should only be provided if the offer is sincere and with a well-established firm. Otherwise, letters of this kind do not appear credible and could throw into doubt an applicant's intentions.
The visa office may choose to verify the student's supporting documents. To help reduce verification delays, ensure all relevant documents bear correct contact information (names, titles, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, with business or calling cards if possible). This is particularly relevant for employers, financial institutions, and academic or other references.
The study plan explains your reasons for studying in Canada and how it will help you in the future. Be specific and to the point. Do not explain your life history. The Visa Officer is looking to see if there is a logical progression in your academic and professional pursuits to date with your plans to study in Canada. Explain how your academic studies and professional experience to date will be helped by studying in Canada. The study plan should be no more than one page in length. It should be factual. It should avoid long-winded passages about dreams of studying abroad and how love of country and family is the motive for learning. Instead, explain what can be obtained in the way of an education in Canada, that cannot be obtained in your country of residence. If necessary, find a journalist, editor or other professional with good English language skills to edit this document.
The Visa Officer may require an interview with you in person (or by telephone). Prepare as if you were going for a job interview. Prepare to explain your reasons for applying to study in Canada. The visa officer is interested in hearing about the student's practical objectives and how they will be achieved. If your answers do not correspond to the information on the application form or in the documents, credibility problems will result.
INTENTION TO LEAVE OR RESIDE IN CANADA
The Visa Officer will also be highly concerned to establish whether any incentive exists for the student to remain in Canada illegally. Some applicants believe the only way to live in Canada permanently is to go as a student or on a false passport and make an asylum or refugee claim. Canada's asylum process is long and unpredictable. It is not recommended as a method for immigration. Canada is in need of qualified immigrants and offers other more predictable and legitimate means of immigrating. If your objective is to remain in Canada permanently, visit our website for a free online simple assessment.
PRINCIPLE OF DUAL INTENT
It is perfectly legitimate for an applicant to apply for a study permit and temporary resident visa to study in Canada for a few years, and at the same time have the intention of applying to stay permanently. This is known as the principle of dual intent. As long as the visa officer is satisfied that the applicant intends to abide by Canada's immigration rules, there is no reason to refuse a temporary resident visa to such an applicant. Canada also officially encourages qualified foreign students to apply for immigration. Normally, applications for permanent residence must be made in the student's home country or country of residence. Your application for a study permit cannot be refused because you are interested in immigration. It can be refused if the visa officer believes you have an incentive or interest to stay in Canada illegally or make a spurious refugee claim.
If you have siblings or parents studying, working or otherwise living legally in Canada, the USA, the European Union, Australia or New Zealand, etc, provide a copy of their passport, resident visa and proof of employment or studies as evidence of their good standing. This will be helpful to your application.
WORK PERMITS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
International students may work on the college or university campus in which they are enrolled in Canada without authorization. Students enrolled in co-op programs normally apply for work permits through their college or university. Otherwise work off-campus is usually restricted. Some students may also apply for one-year work permits under the post-graduation student employment program after completing their studies. Students may not rely on work permits to finance their studies.
WORK PERMITS FOR ACCOMPANYING SPOUSES
The accompanying spouses of international students may apply for an open work permit prior to arriving in Canada or after arrival. However, it is important to bear in mind that a visa officer may negatively interpret the intentions of an international student who plans to travel to Canada with a spouse. Both the student and the spouse will have to satisfy the visa officer of their intentions not only to return to their country of residence after the studies are over, but also that the spouse's work permit would not be needed to finance the studies.
If an application is refused, the visa officer will normally provide written reasons for the refusal. The refusal letter is rarely helpful in understanding the facts or reasoning that led the officer to make a negative decision. In some cases, the refusal may not be justified. Sometimes, negative decisions are the result of the arbitrary exercise of an officer's authority. Often, students themselves fail to satisfy the visa officer of their intentions or fail to prepare the application properly. Applicants should write down as soon as possible after the interview, the details of the interview, including all questions and answers -- as this can serve as a record of the interview if an application is refused.
Students who have been refused once, may encounter problems with subsequent applications. It is always best to get it right the first time around. However, once an application has been refused, it may still be possible to obtain a second more favorable decision by applying again, by answering the concerns raised at the time of the last application. To establish what the officer's concerns were at the time of the refused application, students must apply for and obtain a copy of their electronic file through Canada's Access to Information Act (see below for procedures). This file, called The Global Case Management System ( GCMS ), usually contains sufficiently detailed notes explaining the officer's rationale for deciding negatively. This will then help the student respond to the visa officer's concerns in a second application. It is not normally possible to appeal a decision. One can try to appeal informally to the officer or to the officer's supervisor by appealing to their good sense. But if the application itself is badly prepared (lacking in information, missing satisfactory supporting documents, contradictions, etc), that is not the officer's fault. One can also hire a Canadian lawyer to challenge a negative decision in a Canadian court, but this can be very expensive.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION REQUESTS
Applications to obtain copies of electronic files (GCMS) and paper files under the Access to Information Act may only be made by Canadian entities in Canada. Foreign nationals are not entitled to direct access to their immigration files. Students must provide written authorization to a recognized consultant or lawyer. If your application has been refused, you may contact our firm for assistance if desired.
Many international students are required to undergo a medical examination, depending on the country of residence. Some visa offices allow applicants to do the medical examination before applying for the student visa. This makes eminent sense and saves considerable time and money for all concerned.
More often than not, however, medical instructions are provided to students after the application has been accepted by the visa officer. Follow the instructions and do the medical as soon as possible as it may take the Canadian authorities several weeks to process the results.
No one can guarantee the outcome of an application. One can guarantee that an application will be refused if certain basic requirements are not met. We have tried to address these requirements in these guidelines.
GENERAL ADVICE ON MISREPRESENTATION
Be careful not to have recourse to agents, consultants, lawyers and other intermediaries who make big promises. Never lie or submit false or misleading documents, and do what you must to ensure your documents are genuine. An applicant who is refused because of misrepresentation (lying or submitting false documents) is barred automatically from applying again for five years.
The application process is onerous. Immigration Canada puts a heavy burden on all international students to prove to the visa officer's satisfaction that their motives are genuine, that they will return home after their studies, and that they can afford to study in Canada. Students who take the time to prepare their applications stand a better chance of acceptance than those who do not. If, despite your best efforts, your application is refused or if you want professional assistance before you apply, please contact us for assistance.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. Immigration rules are constantly evolving and we do our best to keep you informed. MBC specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstances. Email your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org