How to Apply for a Student Visa in Canada?
There are many ways to get to Canada. There’s the express entry, the different provincial nominee programs, or an LMIA sponsored by an employer.
We chose the student visa pathway because
- Our lack of Canadian work/study experience and age were a disadvantage
- We felt it was a win-win situation. If we get to continue our journey into permanent residency, great. If not, we still come out with a Canadian degree, which is very attractive especially to commonwealth countries. Here’s what we had to prepare for this journey.
Proof of Acceptance
This is the first step because this will come from your school. So, you need to either apply directly to your school of choice, or find an agency that has partner schools.
The latter will expedite this part simply because they are more familiar with the requirements and processes. Personally, we decided to go with this route (more on this below) because we felt that, with our age, this was our one and only shot.
Proof of Financial Support
In Pinoy slang, Show Money!
This was one of the more expensive pathways so we really had to get our finances in check. As soon as we talked about trying this (even before the final decision), we decided to pull our money from long-term investments and place them into a savings account.
We were not really sure if this was necessary, but that’s what we read and felt that it was better to be safe than sorry. You might want to check the IRCC website for the computation.
Proof of Identity
Obviously, you (and each family member joining you) will need a valid passport.
Pro-Tip: If possible, renew your passport because the expiration date will be the maximum time they will grant for your visa. Also, we don’t think much has changed since we applied so you might want to schedule this ASAP via the DFA’s Passport Appointment System because schedule is fully booked months in advance.
Letter of Explanation
As the name suggest, the LOE explains why you want to study in Canada and that you understand your responsibilities as a student. This will help the visa officer reviewing your documents to get to know you and your goals.
We were told that you should highlight your ties to the Philippines (or wherever your home country is) and reasons why you would want to return. This wasn’t too difficult for us, because like we said earlier (and in Ryan’s post) we always thought about the possibility of going back anyway, so that’s simply what we highlighted in the letter.
This was also the same thing we did in the Letter of Intent.
This is very similar to the LOE but is for those accompanying the primary applicant, i.e. the student visa applicant. This letter is typically the basis used by the visa officer to grant the companion an open-work permit, so it’s also important to highlight your work experiences that can make you an asset in Canada.
This one dependents on your country of origin. If you are from the Philippines, check out this link for the forms you need to fill out. Otherwise, use this instead.
Other Other Documents
These are other supporting documents that we prepared even before we sent out our application. It’s best to have these ready in case the visa officer requests for them.
Proof of Work Experience
The first documents you probably want to start requesting are your employment certificates. The processing times for these varies from one day to a month, as some companies just have bad processes or bad data management practices. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to have some contacts who can help expedite the process for you.
Proof of Education
Start gathering all your pertinent diplomas and transcript of records. One of the good things that came out of this pandemic was that schools improved processes and made it easier to request for these documents. However, it can still take a while to process them so the earlier you get to them, the better.
Education Credential Assessment
This is another document that’s usually requested for students and when requesting for permanent residency. We decided to get ours from the World Edudcation Services (WES).
The process was pretty seamless although the shipping can take time. What’s worst is the wait time to get it shipped. Those mailing services have BAD processes!
You might want to check with your school though, because some actually have partnerships and they can share information online, taking away the hassle of mailing it..
English Proficiency Test
For this one, we decided to take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). You might want to take some practice exams just to be familiar with the format.
Btw, you might want to check with your school because you might not even need this as some schools (like my soon-to-be alma mater Centennial Collage) no longer require this if you are from the Philippines. One of the few advantages we have!
Agency or DIY?
As we mentioned, we decided to get help from an agency, iCanada, and they were super helpful. However, it is certainly not difficult to DIY this. If that is your preference, you can start from this here.
We hope this and our future articles will be helpful.
Good luck and see you here soon! 😉