Canada welcomes foreign students from around the world, and each year, more than 130,000 students arrive to study in the country. Most students coming to Canada must get study permits through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Students planning to study in programs lasting six months or less do not need study permits. Completing a postsecondary program in Canada may allow you to apply for permanent residence and, eventually, citizenship as an immigrant with documented Canadian educational experience.
Apply to a Canadian school. You must be accepted by a Canadian school and have an official letter of acceptance from that school before you can apply to move to Canada as a student. Letters of acceptance from public high schools, community colleges and universities are acceptable for the CIC. Some private institutions, such as career colleges or language schools, may not meet government requirements as legitimate educational institutions.
Apply immediately for a CIC study permit, once you have received your letter of acceptance, by submitting a study permit application to your regional CIC office (see Resources). You can find applications on the CIC website. Attach your letter of acceptance to your study permit application, and include information on your criminal history, proof that you will be able to support yourself financially while in Canada, two passport-sized photos of yourself and copies of your passport or travel document.
Come to Canada to study. When you arrive in Canada, you must present your passport or travel document, letter of acceptance and proof that you can support yourself financially. Once you enter Canada, you can study for the length of your program as outlined in your letter of acceptance.
Apply for Canadian permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class after you have graduated from a Canadian college or university. You can apply while still in Canada. In addition to your educational experience, you must show evidence of work experience in Canada. You can find a permanent residence application package on the CIC website.
- You can find advice on choosing a government-recognized school on the CIC website (see Resources).
- As of 2010, the fee for a study permit is CA$125 (about US$126).
- Students from certain countries also need to apply for a temporary resident visa before entering Canada. You can find a list of these countries in the Resources.
Richard Long is an English teacher in Toronto, Canada and has been writing for over five years. He has had work published in "Geist" and "Speak2Me" magazines and is currently completing a certificate in technical communication from George Brown College.