FAQs

How long will it take to get a student visa?

According to the latest update on processing times, regular study permit applications made in Sri Lanka take seven weeks to process. The process will be faster for those who apply through the Student Direct Stream.

Bear in mind that March to June is the busiest time of the year, so it’s advisable to apply early in order to get a response within the right timeframe. Study permit applications received after August 15 for programs beginning in September will not normally be processed in time, and are likely be refused outright.

How much does it cost?

A study permit currently costs CA$150, which is roughly equivalent to 20,000 rupees plus processing charges.

Can I work while I study?

International students are permitted to work in Canada while they study – both on and off-campus, without needing a work permit, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

How do I gain some work experience?

Certain programs in Canada give students an opportunity to get some work experience. You might do an internship or a practicum (unpaid volunteer work), and co-op placements offer work experience which is relevant to your subject of study. These require you to possess both a Study Permit and a Work Permit.

Can I work after graduation?

International students graduating from Canadian universities are actively encouraged to take up employment in the country. The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program offers you a work permit for a period of time equal to the duration of your course, for a maximum of three years. For instance, if you complete a one-year course in Canada, you will be granted a one-year Post-Graduation Work Permit. With this type of work permit, you can work anywhere and switch jobs any time you like. You must apply within 90 days of graduating.

What about immigration opportunities?

The Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry) immigration program encourages international students graduating from Canadian universities to take up temporary residence, or even become permanent residents of the country. To become a permanent resident of Canada, you need to have worked at least for one year in Canada with a valid work permit. For this to be valid, your job must qualify as a Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A or B occupation under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system.

VISA Application Guide

How to begin your student visa application

To get your hands on the application forms and other useful information about student visa requirements, you should visit the official embassy or consulate website of your country of study. This website should have all the information regarding visa applications, forms, documentation and interviews. If you’re struggling to find the guidelines, contact the embassy or consulate by phone, email or in person.

If you have any other queries about the type of visa you need or any more general questions regarding the practical side of studying abroad, you can also ask for help from the university you plan to attend. Most universities will provide support for international students going through this process. In some countries you can even apply for your visa through the institution, meaning that much of the bureaucratic work is done by the university itself. To find out if this is the case, contact the international admissions department of the university, and ask whether they can help you at all with your application.

Filling in your application

To ensure you give yourself the best chances of success, make sure to fill in your student visa application as thoroughly as possible, taking into account all the specific student visa requirements for that country. If you make a mistake in your application, make sure you correct it as soon as possible. If you fail to supply a required document or make an error filling in the forms, this may lead to your application being delayed or even rejected.

Once you have sent your application, be ready to promptly answer any further questions the visa authorities may have (check your phone, emails and post regularly) and make sure you have some free time to attend an interview in the coming weeks.

Meeting with the embassy

Although procedures vary, a face-to-face interview held in your home country is common among many countries’ student visa requirements. This interview is intended to ensure you are serious enough about your study abroad program and to gauge whether you were completely honest in your application. For this arranged interview, you will need to provide a number of documents. These typically include the following;

Proof of funding for the entirety of your stay
This is required to prove to the authorities that you have enough money to cover tuition fees, rent and living costs, either by showing evidence of a student loan, scholarship, savings or a family member who is funding you. The amount required varies significantly depending on the country in which you plan to study abroad.

Proof of acceptance into your program
This will most likely be in the form of a letter and must come from a recognized university or higher education institute.

Valid passport
This is your way in and out of the country, so don’t lose it. Often it is required that your passport be valid for at least six months after the end of your studies abroad.

Other requirements

In some instances, you will also be asked to provide a clean bill of health from your doctor, English-proficiency test results, and proof of your intention to return home after completion of your studies (i.e. a return flight ticket).

Other factors to consider

Length of study

When applying for a student visa you should make sure to take into account how long your studies will last. Often if your course or program lasts less than six months, you will be eligible for a shorter-stay visa, while for very short study programs you may just need a regular tourist visa or no visa at all.

With this in mind, you should also think about whether you want to extend your visa to allow yourself some extra time to travel or work in the country after completing your study abroad program. If your visa expires before you leave the country, you may encounter some stern officials on your departure and maybe even a fine!

Additional Canadian student visa requirements

Some or all of the following additional Canadian student visa requirements may also apply:

  • Applicants from Europe, the Middle East or Africa may need to provide biometrics (photograph and fingerprints).
  • Some applicants may also need to get a medical exam and/or police check before submitting their application. You will not be able to get a study permit if you have a criminal record – you may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate as proof.
  • Unless you’re from the US or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you will need to prove you have a valid passport which allows you to return to your country of origin after your course is complete. Two passport-sized pictures are also required, with your name and date of birth written on the back.
  • Canadian student visa requirements also include proof of funds to support yourself. At present this is deemed to be CA$10,000 (~US$7,650) for every year of your stay (CA$11,000/~US$8,400 if you’re applying to study in Quebec) on top of your tuition fees. You will also need to make sure you have enough money to pay for transportation to return home.

To prove you have this money, you can provide any of the following documents: bank statements, evidence of a Canadian account in your name if the money’s been transferred, a bank draft in a convertible currency, proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees, a letter from a person or institution providing you with money.

Applying for a Canadian study permit

You can apply for a Canadian study permit either online or through a paper application, which can be obtained from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Paper applications typically take about twice as long, and it’s always recommended to check the processing times well in advance. To apply online, you’ll need a credit/debit card and the ability to create electronic copies of your supporting documents (i.e. using a scanner or camera). The visa office in your country will provide specific instructions about which documents you need to provide; this can vary depending on your location. If you need assistance, you can get help at your nearest visa application center (VAC).

The process of obtaining a Canadian student visa is as follows:

  1. You must first obtain a standardized letter of acceptance from a recognized higher education provider. Students studying in Quebec must also apply for a certificate of acceptance, known as a CAQ, from the government of Quebec. You must acquire this before you are permitted to apply for a study permit. You can get this online, by printing out a form, or by requesting a paper form from your university, which will also provide advice on this subject.
  2. The next stage is to get a Canadian student visa application package, either from the CIC website or by contacting your local visa office, or the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country. You may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit if you are from a designated country (find out if you need to get one here), but this will not complicate matters too much as it’ll be processed at the same time as your study permit application.
  3. In order to get your application package, you’ll need to answer a few questions about yourself on the CIC website. These questions will determine whether you are eligible to apply online for a Canadian student permit, and what documents you’ll need to provide.
  4. If you are found eligible, you will receive a personal checklist code, valid for 60 days, which you will need in order to submit your application online. Make sure to print out the page containing your code for future reference. The page will also include an application guide, an estimated tuition fees amount, a list of documents you will need to submit with your application, and guidelines for your next steps.
  5. When you are ready to apply, create a MyCIC account, where you will enter your personal checklist code. You will then receive your personal document checklist which allows you to upload and send your documents to CIC. You’ll need a printer or a scanner to do this.
  6. Once you have your documents and application form ready and have paid your fees, you can submit your completed application to CIC.
  7. Some applicants may have to attend an interview at their local visa office.
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