Canada Student Visa

Canada is also an attractive country for foriegn students. It is a highly developed country with an excellent teaching methodology and valuable academic programs. Every year an increasing number of students want to enroll in Canadian educational institutes. Young students also want to start their undergraduate or graduate programs there.

The article will go through the details of the student visa and study permits to help you meet all the requirement so you may increase your chances of visiting Canada for studies. 

What is a Canada Student Visa?

The Canada Student Visa is basically the same as the Canada Visitor Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTa). However, since this visa is for people that want to start their studies in Canada, one of the specific requirement is to obtain study permit. So, we can say that this document is a Visitor Visa plus a study permit or an eTA plus a study permit.

With this visa, you can study in a DLI (Designated Learning Institutions). However, in some cases, you can work while you are enrolled in school or work after you graduate. Other visas don’t work like that. In fact, student visa allows you to stay in Canada until your study program ends 

Even after getting approved, you could lose your study visa. To keep it valid, you must fulfill these conditions:

  • Always be enrolled in a DLI
  • You can work, but only if it’s to complete your study program
  • You must meet the requirements of the student visa
  • You must stop studying if, for any reason; you cease to meet the requirements of the student visa
  • Once your study permit expires, you must leave Canada

And keep in mind that your study permit won’t make you eligible for any government benefits such as health benefits. Nonetheless, it creates an easier path for you to be able to apply for Canadian citizenship if that is your goal.

What is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)?

The DLIs (Designated Learning Institution) are universities or schools which are approved by the provincial or territorial government to host foreign students.

Your Canada Study Visa can be approved if you enrolled in one of these institutions. Fortunately, all primary and secondary schools that are in Canada are by default DLIs. Now, when it comes to universities and other educational institutions, not all of them are certified DLIs. Do not apply to these institutions. Even if they accept you, you won’t be allowed to attend. This is why you must check whether a university or educational institution is registered or not. You would see a list of all institutions which are DLIs on the official Canadian website. 

If a DLI loses its status while you are attending the institution, you can continue studying there until your study permit expires. However, if it’s your permit which expires before you complete your degree, then you need to get an extension. 

Do I need a Study Permit?

Even if you can enter Canada through an eTA and you want to study in Canada, you must get a student visa and permit. However, in some cases, you might not need a study permit to study in Canada. These are unusual situations such as listed below:

  • When your study program is less than 6 months, you will only need a visitor visa or eTA, but not a study permit. Keep in mind that you need to complete the program in 6 months or less. If you can’t do it, then you will need a study permit.
  • Family or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada who is accredited by the Global Affairs Canada do not need a study permit.
  • Foreign Armed Forces members in Canada on official duties do not need a study permit, but their family members might need one.
  • Citizen of another country who has a Registered Indian Status in Canada do not need a study permit.
  • If you are a minor child in Canada, then you do not need a study permit if you are:
    • In kindergarten
    • A refugee or refugee claimant
    • If your parents are refugees or refugee claimants
    • Going to pre-school, primary or secondary school and you have a parent who is allowed to work or study in Canada.

For how long will the Canadian Student Visa remain valid?

Your Canadian Student Visa is typically valid for the length of your study program and 90 additional days after you complete the degree. During these 90 days, you can apply to extend your study visa. However, 3 months are given so that students can prepare to leave. If for some reason (for example, you are an excellent student), you complete the program before your study permit expiration date, you can’t use the rest of the time as you please. The 90 days start once you submit the documents, and then you must leave Canada.

If you do not complete your program within the time that your visa permits, then you will need to get an entenstion. Once you have completed your study program, you have to submit proof. A copy of your degree, diploma, or certificate will work in this case. You can also submit a notification of graduation from your schools such as a letter or email. The date when one of these documents was issued will be used as the date you completed your program.

Can I visit my home country during vacations?

It’s natural that as a foreign student, you want to travel to your home country during vacations. Since the Canadian school system offers many holidays in between the school years during the summer and winter, you can travel during those holidays. However, to re-enter Canada, you must provide proof of your being a student studying in Canada. This means that you must show a valid visa or eTA and your study permit.

Sometimes the study permit can be valid, but for some reason, the your eTA doesn’t. In such cases, the student is not allowed to enter Canada. Therefore, before you travel outside Canada, always verify your documents. Make sure that everything is in order and that your documents are valid and will be valid by the date you plan to return. If they are not, apply for extensions before you travel.

Can I change schools with a Student Visa?

As long as you are enrolled, if you meet the requirements of the visa, you can change schools at any time. To do so, you must notify the Canadian Government that you are changing schools. You must notify when:

  • You have finished primary school and want to start high school
  • You have finished high school and are starting post-secondary school
  • As a post-secondary student, you are changing schools. Post-secondary schools include:
    • Universities
    • Community colleges, CEGEP, institutes
    • Academies, training institutions, private universities, career colleges
    • English as a Second Language (ESL) / French as a Secondary Language (FSL) or other language training courses
  • You need to change any of the conditions that are stated in your study permit.

Keep in mind that changing your study permit means you need to get a new one. You will have to go through the application process again and get the study permit for the new school. Nonetheless, you don’t need to notify the Canadian Government when changing schools in these situations:

  • If you are changing schools in the same educational levels such as from one primary school to another
  • If you are replacing a study program but remaining in the same institution
  • If your study program is 6 months or less.

Can I work while I’m studying with a Student Visa?

There are several conditions that you must meet in order to work while you are on your student visa. These conditions are to prevent illegal workers who aren’t interested in obtaining a degree. So, as long as you keep studying, you are allowed to work in these following instances:

  • On-campus work: if they are enrolled in a full-time program
  • Off-campus work, you need a particular level of authorization in your study permit, and you can work less than 20 hours per week
  • Complete co-ops or internships if they are required from their program curriculum

Of course, these options also have additional requirements and conditions which vary depending on the individual student’s situation. The best you can do is check with the Government of Canada. 

Can I work after completing my studies?

Of course, this is something that Canadian government appreciates. In addition, if you have a student visa, it is easier to get a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). This permit allows you to work/stay in Canada up to the length of your previous study program. 

The PGWP has its own rules which include:

  • If your study program was between 8 months and 2 years, you could get a PGWP for the same length as your study program
  • If your study program was two or more years, you could get a PGWP that is valid for 3 years;
  • If you were enrolled and completed more than one study program, you could get the PGWP for up to 3 years.