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How do I obtain a study permit (sometimes called a “student visa”)?
Once you’ve been accepted by an institution for a program of study in Canada, you should apply for a study permit at the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission.

The application process should begin at least three months prior to the commencement of classes. Students from some countries might also require visitor visas, which are issued at the same time as the study permit.

Minimum documents required to apply for a study permit include: a valid passport; an original letter of acceptance from the institution; as well as evidence of adequate funds to cover tuition and living costs for you and any dependents, including return transportation. Interviews are sometimes required for clarification of information you have provided in your application. In some cases, a medical examination or an interview may also be needed.

Once you submit a complete application it can take between four to six weeks to receive your permit. We recommend you apply at least three months in advance. Make sure all required documents are included.

What can I do to speed up medical processing?
Set up your appointments as far in advance as possible. You could provide the examining physician with a pre-paid courier envelope for submission to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Some students will not require a medical. It depends on your places of residence over the year immediately prior to your application.

Can I visit my own doctor for my medical?
No, Citizenship and Immigration Canada only accepts medical exam results from a Designated Medical Practitioners.

What can I do if my study permit has been refused?
There is no appeal process, but you can apply again at a later time.

Will I require health insurance while I am in Canada?
International students are required by law to carry health insurance coverage. Though it is not possible to obtain an insurance policy from outside Canada, a plan should be secured within the first week of a student’s arrival.

Each province administers its own public medical and health insurance plans, though some private and supplementary plans are also available. However, even if in instances where provincial coverage is available to international students at no cost, they must register with the health insurance authority in the province to ensure they are in fact covered. Your university/college should be able to advise you on this matter. Most major educational institutions have their own insurance plan for international students and will help you register and pay fees on arrival.

Is there usually somewhere or someone I can turn to with any problems, issues or concerns I might have during the academic year?
Most post-secondary institutions have an international student adviser assigned to assist international students and give them advice on housing, health insurance, financial issues and immigration concerns. Other services might include organizing orientation and special events, exchange opportunities and regular information sessions. Some institutions offer peer programs that match an international student with a Canadian student to help a newcomer with settling in on campus. Host family programs are also often available in which a Canadian family helps an international student integrate into Canadian life.

Are international students eligible for scholarships? What financial assistance is available to international students?
Yes international students are eligible for some scholarships. The majority of scholarships available are for master’s or doctoral students. See the Awards section.

Do I need to prepay my tuition fees before arrival?
No, unless your institution requires it. In fact, many institutions are not able to accept your fees until you arrive and register. However, you must show CIC officials that the funds are available and can be transferred to Canada. In exceptional circumstances, where there are local currency restrictions, which may hamper the timely transfer of funds, visa officers might request that proof of an off-shore account in the student’s name or full payment of the tuition fees in advance.

Do I have to renew my study permit every year? How do I renew it?
In general, students will receive a study permit for the full period of their studies, e.g. three or four years. However, an immigration officer has the authority to issue a permit for a one-year period only. To renew your permit, you must submit an application to the Case Processing Centre in Alberta, Canada PRIOR TO the expiry of your authorization. Forms are available at CIC Centres across Canada.

How do I change from a visitor’s visa to a study permit while in Canada?
To change your status from that of visitor to student, you need to submit an application for a study permit at a visa office abroad. You may have to leave Canada if you are called for an interview to determine your eligibility. This process can take four to six weeks. List of the visa offices abroad.

I am studying in Canada. If I want to change from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s Program do I need a new study permit? If I want to change to a different university, do I need a new permit?
You do not need to apply for a new permit if you are moving from one university to another university regardless of change in level – unless your permit specifies the name of your institution. If you are changing from a college to a university or vice-versa, you will require a new study permit. If you are studying in Quebec you will need a new CAQ if you change levels or institutions.

How do I get my foreign credentials assessed?
The web site of the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, www.cicic.ca, provides useful information and referrals for international students wishing to have their credentials assessed.

Even though I’m eligible to apply for a study permit at the port of entry (as a US citizen or from Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon), is it still advisable to apply in advance?
It’s advisable to apply in advance. US students should apply through their closest Canadian consular office. Students from Greenland should apply through the Canadian High Commission in London, UK and students from Saint Pierre and Miquelon should apply through the Canadian Embassy or Consular offices in France.