How To Obtain A Student Visa In Canada


A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.

In Canada, provincial and territorial governments hold jurisdiction over education. Colleges are designated and regulated, and universities are authorized to grant degrees. International students must pursue their studies at Designated Learning Institutions  which are schools that have been approved by a provincial or territorial body to accept and host international students. A comprehensive list of Designated Learning Institutions can be found here.

Applying At A Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

Prospective students wishing to study in Canada must apply to a program at a Designated Learning Institution and be accepted in order to apply for their Canadian study permit. There is no standardized, Canada-wide, post-secondary admission test and applicants must verify that they meet the admission requirements of each school before submitting an application.

Language Requirements For International Students In Canada

One common admission requirement for most English-speaking schools when the applicant does not speak English as a first language is an English examination test. The most common language tests are the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language test (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Canadian English Language test (CAEL). 

English or French As A Second Language

Prior to completion of the program, students can apply to DLIs and change their Canadian study permit conditions or extend their student permit within Canada.  This means that students can begin their immigration process with ESL courses and then move into a different area of study. Prospective students can research the list of approved programs, their members, and the quality of each of these programs at Languages Canada.

It is suggested that applications are submitted up to six months before the intended start date to ensure that there is enough time for the study permit to be granted and the student can travel and settle in Canada before the program begins.

Preparing an Effective Student Visa Application

Applications for a study visa require careful attention and thorough understanding of the process, particularly in cases where the student is a mature student, has a change of course and field of study, and/ or had previous visa rejections.

Since study permits come with significant benefits, they attract a high-volume of applications. Many times, individuals filing the study permit application can overlook important details, causing a significant number of Canadian study permit rejections.

Typical reasons that applications are rejected:

  1. A poorly prepared study plan where the officer comes to the conclusion that the applicant is not a bona-fide student;
  2. Lack of financial resources to prove that the student cannot complete the program without relying on unauthorized work;
  3. The student will will not depart from Canada following their studies-not a bona fide student, which is the most common reason we see for refusals; and
  4. Misrepresentation.

It is important to retain the right representation from the start. Quite often, we assist students who either prepared the application themselves or relied on an agent to do so on their behalf. Some agents are registered and licensed immigration consultants, while others are simply unlicensed “ghost” consultants who proceed based on a template.

Applying Under the Student Direct Stream

Residents of China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, or Vietnam can be eligible for the Student Direct Stream, an expedited study permit processing program. Student Direct Stream applications are processed within 20 calendar days when submitted online, and all of the following eligibility requirements are met:

  1. Proof of a valid language test result within 2 years of application (IELTS of 6+ in each skill);
  2. Proof of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of at least $10,000 CAD from any bank insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CIDC);
  3. Proof of full payment for your first year of tuition;
  4. Letter of acceptance from the DLI;
  5. Recent educational transcripts;
  6. Proof of completion of upfront medical exams ;
  7. All other required forms and supporting documents requested. The complete list of documents can be located through this link.

The Student Direct Stream holds the same benefits as the traditional study permit stream, where family members of the principal applicant are also able to apply for their respective study, work, or visitor permits.

To us, quality is of the utmost importance- we pay attention to the details and facts unique to each situation, highlighting the strengths in which the applicant has to maximize the chances of approval. Our firm will prepare an application that addresses your particular circumstances. We offer both hourly and flat fee structures, as well as limited scope retainers and  full-service packages, depending on your needs.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.