Student Visas in Canada
Getting a student visa to obtain a post-secondary degree in Canada can serve as an effective first step towards Canadian permanent residency. We work with international students throughout the immigration process, and have particular expertise assisting with overcoming visa rejections, judicial reviews, and most importantly mapping out paths to permanent residency.
Student Immigration Services
Getting a student visa, obtaining a study permit visa and studying at a designated learning institution in Canada can serve as an effective first step towards Canadian permanent residency. Our immigration lawyers work with international students to help them get their Canadian study permits and guide them towards permanent resident status.
International students who enter Canada on a student visa can be accompanied by their spouse or common law partner, who are eligible to obtain a dependent study permit or an open work permit that is valid for the duration of the main applicant’s studies. International students may also be accompanied by minor children, who are also able to apply for a study permit and attend school.
International students can work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while in school, and on a full-time basis during school breaks. After successfully completing their program of studies, students can apply for a post-graduation work permit, which lets them legally work in Canada for three years. Spouses and common-law partners are also eligible for temporary work permits during this time.
Studying in Canada offers enhanced pathways towards Canadian permanent residence as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which governs point allocation under the Express Entry scoring system, favours applicants who are under 30 years old with a Canadian degree and work experience.
International students may pursue permanent residency through programs such as:
Need a study permit? Need to extend your study permit? Confused about the paperwork required to apply for a Canadian student visa? Not sure if you’re eligible to apply to study in Canada? Want to make sure you understand the process before you submit your application?
Book a consultation with us so that we can guide you through the process and set you up for success.
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 Institution can be found here.
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.
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). As discussed below, some students choose to start their education in Canada via language courses, beginning their post-secondary programs after completing language courses.
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.
Interested in starting your path to permanent residence by studying English or French as a second language in Canada? Prospective students can research the list of approved programs, their members, and the quality of each of these programs at Languages Canada.
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.
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:
- A poorly prepared study plan where the officer comes to the conclusion that the applicant is not a bona-fide student;
- Lack of financial resources to prove that the student cannot complete the program without relying on unauthorized work;
- 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
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.
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.
The requirements and application for each country differ, and officers are given considerable discretion during the evaluation process when determining whether an applicant is qualified for a study permit. However, there are 3 key factors IRCC considers when processing an application:
- Genuine intent: Is the applicant coming to Canada a legitimate student?
- Ability to pay: Does the applicant have the ability to pay tuition fees for the program, as well as support themselves (and family members) during their study period?
- Compliance with the terms of the visa: After finishing their studies, will the applicant leave Canada? Dual-intent is allowed, but the officer will also evaluate ties to the student’s home country.
A thorough student visa application typically contains a letter of explanation or a declaration from the applicant that addresses the above information. It also contains supporting letters or declarations including parents to support, financial documents, letter of acceptance, forms, photos, medical proof, and anything else that will support the application required.
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:
- Proof of a valid language test result within 2 years of application (IELTS of 6+ in each skill);
- Proof of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of at least $10,000 CAD from any bank insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CIDC);
- Proof of full payment for your first year of tuition;
- Letter of acceptance from the DLI;
- Recent educational transcripts;
- Proof of completion of upfront medical exams ;
- 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.
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International students who complete their studies are eligible for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) which allows them to stay and work up to three years in Canada.
This permit allows students who have graduated from an eligible Canadian DLI to obtain an open work permit to gain Canadian work experience. The advantage of a PGWP is it allows the student to stay and work without requiring a valid job offer and- applicants can work for any Canadian employer in any industry. The work permit can later be used to secure a job offer, and if necessary, obtain an Labour Market Impact Assessment with your employer, strengthening their position towards permanent residency.
In order to be eligible, international students must have these requirements.
The student’s spouse or common-law partner qualifies for an open work permit which is valid for the same duration as the PGWP. A post-graduate work permit cannot be renewed. In some cases we have helped students transition to visitor status prior to the expiration of the work permit while they awaited the receipt of an invitation to apply for permanent residence.
Studying in Canada is a great pathway towards Permanent Residence through Express Entry. In brief, applicants are allocated points for several aspects such as education and experience. Post-secondary education in Canada is granted an additional 30 CRS points, whereas Canadian experience is granted a maximum of 70 points, varying according to the years working within an eligible occupation. The PGWP is a useful vehicle to gain the additional CRS points required to meet the cut-off score of the draw at the time.
At Abramovich & Tchern, we start the process by carefully considering each student’s path towards permanent residence, on a case by case basis. We utilize information available at the time of application. In certain cases, a student will simply not have enough express entry points without an LMIA – ultimately requiring them to find a Canadian employer to ensure they gain permanent status.
After your application is approved, we will stay in touch and provide guidance as needed. We’ve often worked with employers that are willing to support a students LMIA or provincial application to help work towards Permanent Residency (while the student is enrolled in a post-grad program).
When working with students, we often provide guidance on a as-needed basis, saving money in legal fees, and time required. After a student gains permanent residency, we have provided guidance with respect to super-visa and parental sponsorship applications.