Studying in Canada can be the first step on the road to Canadian immigration.  If you’re thinking of studying in Canada, however, you will want to plan ahead.  It is important to consider eligibility requirements, whether you will need or want to work during your stay, accompanying family and their needs, and your ultimate immigration plan.

Eligibility

In order to apply for a study permit, you must:

  • have a letter of acceptance from a qualifying school in Canada;
  • have sufficient funds to pay for your living expenses;
  • some individuals will require a medical exam; and
  • prove that you are a genuine student.

Many applicants are rejected because of doubt over whether the individual is a genuine applicant.  That is, the visa officer is not satisfied that you will leave Canada after your authorized period of stay is over.

Working in Canada

Students can usually work on the university or college campus where you are studying without a work permit (ex: teaching assistant, researcher, campus bookstore clerk, restaurant attendant, and more).

If you are enrolled and studying in a qualifying school, you may also work off campus for up to 20 hours per week when the school is in session, and full time during scheduled breaks (summer, winter, etc).

For graduates of qualifying Canadian schools, you may be eligible for an open work permit, called a Post-Graduation Work Permit, for up to three years, depending on your program of study and duration of study.  This is a one-time Work Permit regardless of whether you graduate from more than one program in Canada, and there are also strict time limits for applying.

Coordinating Plans for your Family

If you are married, or have been living with a common-law partner for at least one year, your spouse/common-law partner may be eligible to apply for an open work permit or study permit based on your study permit.  After graduation, your spouse/common-law partner may also be eligible for an open work permit based upon your Post-Graduation Work Permit.

Similarly, other members of your family, such as your children, may also be entitled to a study permit based on your study permit.

Achieving Your Overall Immigration Plan

The right school and study permit can be the key to your long-term immigration plans.  Without applying to a qualified school, you may not be eligible for a work permit while studying; or a Work Permit for your spouse; or for a Post-Graduation work permit; or to later immigrate to Canada.

In December 2015, there were over 350,000 foreign students.  However, with far fewer spots allocated for permanent residents than temporary residents in the country, the competition is fierce.  For BC, it could be about 1 in 20 temporary residents that become permanent residents.

There are a number of permanent residence options for students.  These include:

  1. Canadian Experience Class: for those who with one year of paid full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience in a NOC Level “O”, “A” or “B” occupation, obtained within the 3 years prior to applying.
  2. Federal Skilled Workers: for those with one year of continuous paid full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience in a NOC Level “O”, “A” or “B” occupation, obtained within the 10 years prior to applying.
  3. Provincial Nominee Programs (“PNP”):  To qualify under the Express Entry BC PNP programs, the candidate must also be eligible under the Federal Skilled Workers, Federal Skilled Trades or Canadian Experience Class programs.
  • Ex: BC PNP has an Express Entry BC International Graduates stream: for graduates with (1) a recognized degree or diploma obtained in Canada within the last two years, and (2) an eligible BC job offer.
  • Ex: BC PNP has an Express Entry BC International Post-Graduates stream: for those with a Masters or PhD obtained in Canada within the last two years. The degree must be in select natural, applied or health sciences. Please see our Skilled Workers page or contact us for more details.
  • Ex: BC PNP has an Express Entry BC Skilled Workers stream: for those with relevant work experience in a NOC Level “O”, “A” or “B” occupation and an eligible BC job offer.