If you are in Canada and holding a visitor’s visa, you may be surprised to learn that you may be able to change it to a student’s visa from within Canada, which is a new benefit from the government. For a foreign visitor, there are a lot of advantages to exchanging a visitor visa and enjoying the many more educational opportunities that open up with a student permit (student visa), although you can study English in Canada without a student’s visa.
You Can Take an English Course With a Visitor’s Visa
Many people come to Canada with visitors’ visas as tourists, students, or temporary workers. If you wish to study English while you are here, you can to do that for six months without a student visa. To apply for a visitor’s visa:
- You must be in good health and may need a doctor’s examination if you are from a country where there are a number of health issues and risks.
- You must be a law abiding citizen with no criminal record and be prepared to obey Canadian laws.
- You need a valid passport and other identification and have it handy to present to the immigration officer upon arrival in Canada. (If you are from the USA or other visa-exempt countries, you don’t need a passport unless you are travelling by air.)
- From some countries, you will also need a temporary resident visa (TRV).
- You are required to have health insurance to pay any medical costs incurred while visiting Canada.
It is Now Easier to Upgrade a Visitor’s Visa to a Student’s Visa
As of June 1, 2014, if you are already legally in Canada, you may not have to leave the country to apply for a student visa, providing you fall within one of several categories. To see if you can apply from within Canada, consult the government Help Centre, which outlines how you can extend your stay in Canada as a student if you belong to one of the groups listed. If not, you have to apply from the country from which you were lawfully admitted.
Print an application for a study permit in Canada and, if you need to apply for temporary resident visa (TRV) as required from some countries, you can use this same application.
There is a processing fee for a study permit, which is about $150 and one for the TRV, which is about $100. Fees vary depending on where you apply. These are the documents you will need:
- Your passport
- A letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution or DLI, an institution designated to host international students
- Medical clearance if immigration requests it
- Your own health insurance
- Proof that you have money for your stay in the country such as a letter from a bank in your country, a written pledge of support from a parent, documentation showing that you have a scholarship, etc.
- Proof that you have enough money for such items as tuition, room and board, personal needs, transportation, your ticket home, etc.
- The amount of money needed varies with the number of people accompanying you who will remain in your household. A single student will need tuition fees plus $10,000 for a 12-month period (i.e., about $833 per month) for expenses.
A Student’s Visa Offers More Than a Visitor’s Visa
A student visa allows you a number of privileges:
- With a study permit (and a social insurance number or SIN), you can work part-time on campus at the college or institute where you are registered as a full-time student (20 hours or more a week of instruction).
- A study permit allows you to work off campus for 20 hours during the academic term and full time during holidays and scheduled breaks (e.g., spring break).
- If you finish the study program in which you are enrolled, you can extend your student visa to enable you to take further studies, such as a university degree.
Foreign visitors within select categories have been able to change their visas from a visitor’s visa to a student’s visa from within Canada since June 2014, which is a welcome change. Visitors on short-term visas who discovered they wanted more than a three-month or a six-month English course are very happy that they no longer have to leave the country to apply for a student visa, and re-enter to continue their studies.
Check the government Help Centre to see if you can apply for a student visa from within Canada. It is much less expensive and much more convenient for everyone.
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