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study in canada the ultimate guide for international students

Study in Canada: The Ultimate Guide for International Students

Are you considering pursuing your higher education abroad? Look no further than Canada! With its world-class universities, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes, Canada has become an increasingly popular destination for international students. In this ultimate guide, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about studying in Canada. From the application process to finding accommodation and exploring the country, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive right in and embark on this exciting educational journey!

Canada is known for its excellent education system and welcoming environment for international students. Whether you are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Canadian universities offer a wide range of programs to choose from. Studying in Canada not only provides you with a top-notch education but also opens doors to countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. Let’s explore the key aspects of studying in Canada in more detail.

Table of Contents

Why Choose Canada for Your Education?

Canada has consistently ranked among the top countries in the world for the quality of its education system. Here are some compelling reasons why international students choose Canada:

  1. Academic Excellence: Canadian universities are renowned for their high academic standards and rigorous programs. The emphasis on research and innovation ensures that students receive a top-quality education.
  2. Diversity and Inclusivity: Canada is a multicultural country that celebrates diversity. As an international student, you will have the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds, which enriches your learning experience.
  3. Affordability: Compared to other popular study destinations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the cost of studying in Canada is relatively affordable. Additionally, there are numerous scholarships and funding options available for international students.
  4. Post-Study Work Opportunities: Canada offers excellent post-study work opportunities, allowing international students to gain valuable work experience after graduation. The country also has a favorable immigration policy for international students who wish to stay and work in Canada.

Is it easy to immigrate to Canada as an international student?

Yes. Every year, more and more foreign students enroll in Canadian universities. In the previous academic year, Canada accepted almost 400,000 foreign students. The bulk of those students were from Brazil, China, India, France,  Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, the United States, Iran, and Nigeria. Upon completion of their courses, many foreign students are permitted to remain in Canada under the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Though the decision to approve a Canadian study permit is always up to the visa officer’s judgement, international students have a high chance to move to Canada for their studies when all the requirements are met.

 The Canadian government places a high premium on diversity among overseas students. To make sure there is diversity,  Building on Success, a new International Education Strategy (IES), was introduced in 2019. Over the next five years, the government has allocated $147.9 million in funding for this purpose.

How to Apply for Canadian Universities

Applying to Canadian universities can seem like a daunting process, but with proper planning and guidance, it can be relatively straightforward. Here are the key steps involved in the application process:

  1. Choose the Right Program and Institution: Start by researching different universities and programs that align with your interests and academic goals. Consider factors such as program reputation (accreditation and ranking), faculty expertise, and location, career prospect, scholarship and financial aid, program structure and tuition fees, and admission requirements. Before applying for any college or university, make sure it is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) because international students can only be admitted to Designated Learning Institutions.
  2. Check Admission Requirements: Each university has its own admission requirements, so make sure to carefully review them. These requirements typically include academic transcripts, a statement of purpose,  English language proficiency test scores (such as IELTS or TOEFL), letters of recommendation, and a resume (for some). Ensure that these documents are properly certified and translated, if required.
  3. Submit Your Application: Complete the online application form provided by your chosen university and submit it along with the required documents. Pay attention to the application deadlines to avoid any delays. Application fees for universities range from $100 to $250, an applicant must apply to the colleges wisely so no big expesnes are incurred. 
  4. Acceptance Decision: A student must receive a letter of acceptance from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution in order to proceed with the Study Permit process.  After submitting your application, patiently wait for the university’s admission decision. This can take several weeks or months, so it’s important to plan accordingly. The details in the letter of acceptance will be used when applying for a Canadian Study Visa so a student must provide correct and legal information. 
  5. Secure Funding: Once you receive an offer of admission, you can further explore scholarship and funding options to support your studies in Canada, as some scholarships can be applied for only when you have been admitted to a college. The Canadian government, external organizations, and many Canadian universities offer scholarships specifically for international students as well.
  6. Apply for Canada Study Permit:  A Study Permit is the final document a student needs to have in order to study in Canada. A student must have a passport, letter of acceptance from a DLI, proof of financial support and other supporting documents depending on country of residence and citizenship. If you applied for a college in the province of Quebec, along with your letter of acceptance you will be provided a “Certificat d’acceptation du Québec” (CAQ), make sure to include this document as part of your study permit application.  The study permit can be applied for online and submitted online or by email. To apply an applicant must create an account on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, where the documents can be submitted as well. If the applicant wishes to submit the documents offline (paper-based application), the mail must be sent to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) assigned to your country
  7. Come to Canada Once Your Study Permit is Approved!  You will not receive your Canadian study visa until you reached a Canadian Port of Entry (POE).  The Canadian government will provide you with a Port of Entry Introduction Letter if your permit is approved. When you arrive in Canada, you must provide this letter to an immigration official in order to obtain a study permit. Once all the documents are verified, you will receive your study permit document from the immigration official which shows the date of your stay in Canada, and you must comply with the details indicated in this document for your suitable and safe stay in Canada as an international student. When received you can focus on your studies here in Canada.  

How Long Does it Take to Get a Canadian Study Permit?

The processing time for a Canada Student permit varies, it can be between 6-11 weeks. Generally, it depends on the application type submitted and your country of residence. The processing period begins the day IRCC receives your application and ends the day a decision is made. 

Factors such as the volume of applications received by the IRCC,  how easily they can verify your information, how long you take to respond to any concerns or requests and other like, applying close to the beginning of Canada’s academic year, impact the processing time of a study visa. Learn more about the Canadian Study Permit processing times here.

What is the Processing Time of Study Visa when applying from Outside Canada?

The processing time for a study permit outside Canada is 6 weeks. This does not include the time you need to send your biometrics and the time it takes to send an application between Visa Application Center (VAC) and  Canada Visa Office. 

What is the Processing Time of Study Visa when applying from Inside Canada?

The processing time for a study permit inside Canada is 6 weeks. This does not include the time you need to send your biometrics.

Finding Accommodation in Canada

Finding proper accommodation is a crucial part of studying in Canada. A good place of rest and relaxation can help the body get ready for studies. When considering a housing option, apart from the price it’s advised to consider the distance from your house to the college, to transportation stops (bus and train) and to stores like Walmart.  Here are a few popular choices for international students in Canada:

  1. On-Campus Housing: Many Canadian universities offer on-campus housing facilities for their students. Living on campus provides convenience and opportunities to connect with other students. Please communicate with your college or institution before coming to Canada to find out about the housing options. 
  2. Off-Campus Housing: Renting an apartment or a room off-campus is another popular choice. Some colleges have partnerships with off-campus housing companies or houses, so it’s advised to reach out to the college housing department for any details.  
  3. Homestays: Homestays involve living with a Canadian family, providing an immersive cultural experience. If you feel you will miss your family or need to train your English speaking skills then a homestay would suit you. Various agencies facilitate homestay arrangements for international students; The Canada Homestay Agency, International Homestay Agency,  Surrey Homestay Agency, C&M Homestay Agency, MLI Homestay  StudyRoomStay and Homestay Plus are some among many.
  4. Shared Accommodation: Sharing an apartment or house with other students can be a cost-effective option. It allows you to split expenses and build a supportive network.

Here are some useful websites and platforms for finding available rentals and rooms such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Zumper,, and Kijiji. 

Can I Change Schools or Programs While on a Study Permit?

As an International student, you can transfer to another college or another program. To accomplish the transfer, you must ensure that you are acting legally and following your study permit’s restrictions.

The following are the steps for changing your program or college:

  • Sign in to your IRCC account.
  • Find the section called Designated Learning Institution Student transfer.
  • Click transfer from DLI number.
  • Enter your study permit application number in the search field and then click Search for my application.
  • It’s crucial to have your original study permit application on hand because you could be asked to enter additional information from it.
  • Enter the information about your new institution or program, including the new DLI number, your new student ID number, and your start date. Have your new college or program Letter of Acceptance on hand. 
  • Click submit transfer
  • Review all the information you have submitted. If everything appears to be in order, click “confirm transfer” to finish the procedure.
  • A notification will be sent to your email, informing you that you have successfully notified the government of your change in plans request is complete. 

Exploring Canada: Beyond the Classroom

Canada is a beautiful country with many attractive and vibrant cities and places to visit. Even as a student, taking time to visit these attractive places will be worthwhile for your stay in Canada. Each province and territory has its own unique attractions and experiences to offer but here are some must-visit destinations:

  1. Banff National Park: Located in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park offers breathtaking landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities for outdoor adventures.
  2. Toronto: Canada’s largest city, Toronto, is a multicultural hub with iconic landmarks like the CN Tower, diverse neighborhoods, and a vibrant arts and food scene.
  3. Vancouver: Situated on the West Coast, Vancouver is known for its stunning scenery, mild climate, and proximity to outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.
  4. Montreal: As the cultural capital of Canada, Montreal boasts a rich history, European charm, and a thriving arts and music scene.

If you are considering other attractive options, here is an article on the Best places to visit during your stay in Canada. 

Can international students work while studying in Canada?

Yes, foreign students are eligible to work while studying in Canada. However, there are certain restrictions and guidelines to be aware of. Most international students can work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks such as summer vacation.

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