How to Become a Student in Canada from Nigeria (Getting a Student Permit)

Canada’s universities are renowned for their standard facilities, quality infrastructure, high educational standards, and advanced curriculum, among other factors. Little wonder, numerous students from various countries including Nigeria aspire to further their education in Canada. Apart from its positive impact on your career path, studying in Canada also presents a promising opportunity for obtaining permanent residency. Although the process of getting a study visa and or permit for Canada may appear challenging, you would have no problems if you know the right steps to take. Fortunately, this article aims to provide you with guidance on how to become a student in Canada from Nigeria with a focus on how you can get a study permit.

What is a Canadian Study Permit?

A study permit is quite different from a student visa even though many people use both terms interchangeably. The Canadian student visa serves as a gateway for international students to begin their studies in the country. The study visa, coupled with a study permit, grants permission to pursue education in Canada. The study permit is an official document issued by immigration authorities, allowing individuals to study at designated learning institutions (DLIs). DLIs are government-approved schools or universities that accept international students. By obtaining a study permit, students also have the opportunity to work and earn income up to 20 hours per week, or full-time during a scheduled break during their studies or even after graduation. Please note that you cannot get a Canadian study permit without first getting a visa.

To retain your study permit as an international student, you must adhere to the following:

1. Enroll in a designated learning institution (DLI).

2. Continue your studies while being employed, if applicable.

3. Comply with the conditions specified in your study permit.

4. Cease your studies if you are unable to meet the permit’s conditions.

5. Leave the country once your study permit reaches its expiration date.

Canadian Study Permit Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a study visa application, the following criteria must be met:

1. Admission by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

You must obtain an acceptance letter from a DLI, which must include the institution’s official letterhead, details of the program and degree you intend to pursue, the tuition fees, as well as the date the program starts and ends.

2. Sufficient Financial Resources

You must prove that you have enough funds to cover your educational and living expenses in Canada.

3. Clear Criminal Record

You need to provide a police clearance certificate or court documents proving that you have no criminal record.

4. Good Health

 A valid medical report from a reputable hospital is required to certify your good health.

5. Intention to Leave Canada

It is important to prove that you have plans to return to Nigeria once your studies are completed.

6. Visa Application Center (VAC) Consent Form

You are required to fill out and sign the VAC Consent Form.

7. Proof of Immigration Status

You must submit copies of your current immigration status in Canada or any other country.

 Required Documents for a Canadian Student Visa/Permit

Upon receiving your acceptance letter, it is important to gather the necessary documents for your Canadian student visa application. These documents include:

1. Valid International Passport:

You will need a valid international passport that covers the duration of your intended stay in Canada. Ensure your passport remains valid for the entirety of your desired study period, such as until June 2026 if you plan to study for three years starting in June 2023.

2. Acceptance Letter:

An acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada is crucial for your application. If you are studying in Quebec for more than 6 months,  you may also require a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) or a confirmation letter from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI). Note that the CAQ is typically valid for a maximum of 49 months. You must include the original or electronic copy of your acceptance letter with your study permit application.

3. Proof of Financial Ability:

You must show your financial capacity to cover tuition and living expenses. According to Canadian immigration requirements, a minimum of CAD 10,000 per year is necessary. Additionally, you must provide proof of tuition payments, housing fees etc and show that you have sufficient funds for your return trip. If you plan to study in Quebec, you should have at least CAD 11,000 available for each year of study. You must include your bank statements for the past four months in your application and if your education would be sponsored then you must provide proof of sponsorship.

4. Passport Photographs:

For offline applications, you will need two passport-sized photos that meet specific requirements. If applying online, you must have a digital copy of the photo, which should not exceed 4MB in size. The photo should have a neutral facial expression, a plain background (except for religious head coverings), and be recent (no more than 6 months old).

5. Language Proficiency Exam Score:

Prepare your language proficiency test results to confirm that you have met the admission requirements of a Canadian university.

6. Statement of Purpose/ Letter of Explanation

While not mandatory, it is recommended to include an essay or letter with your application, explaining your purpose of visiting Canada and why you have chosen a specific university. This would help the authorities understand your goals and whether you understand your responsibilities as a student.

During the online application process, you may need to complete and print certain forms. Additionally, your interviewer may request additional documents during the interview, such as transcripts or certificates from your previous educational institutions. You may also need to demonstrate your intention to leave Canada upon completion of your studies and outline your plans for covering educational, living, and travel expenses.

Canadian Student Visa Application Guide

1. Begin your Application

To begin your application process, you have the option to apply online or in person. If you choose the online method, you will need a scanner or camera to convert your documents into electronic format for uploading, as well as a functional credit/debit card to pay the application fee. You would also need to create an account which you would use to submit your application and pay your fees.  If you opt for the local Visa Application Center (VAC), you will be required to undergo a finger scan. If you submitted an online application, you will also need to visit the VFS office to submit your passports and the payment receipt. The only difference between the two processes lies in the paperwork you need to provide to the VAC. Please note that you can only apply for your study permit in person if you have a disability that prevents you from applying online.

For physical applications, simply follow the instructions provided and obtain the application kit. The instruction manual contains important details regarding study permits and provides guidance on completing your application. Make sure to refer to the document checklist and carefully read the instruction manual.

2. Complete and include the VFS Consent Form

Ensure that you fill out the VFS Consent Form completely and attach it to your application. This form is necessary if you want VFS services to assist you with your visa application.

3. Make Payment

Remember that, apart from the VFS Global service fees, visa fees must be paid when applying through the VFS, whether in person or by mail. The processing fee is non-refundable, so exercise caution when making the payment. Additionally, if you are applying for temporary residence visas, work permits, or study permits on behalf of your children, dependents, spouse, or common-law partner, you will need to pay the relevant processing fees for each of them.

4. Submit your Application and Documents

Submit all the aforementioned documents along with your application at the nearest VFS office. Upon payment for the services, you will receive a receipt, which will contain a special ID number that can be used to check the status of your application online. If your application is approved, you will receive a notification in the form of a letter from the Canadian government, requesting your passport. Both the passport and the letter can be delivered in person or through VFS. You will also be provided with a letter of introduction and a temporary resident visa. Please, note that your biometrics would be taken at the visa application centre.

If your application is successful, a letter of introduction would be given to you at the port of entry or it may be mailed to you if you are already in Canada. Note that the letter given to you is not your permit and you’d need to bring this letter and show the officials when you get to Canada.

Canadian Student Visa Cost

To apply for the Canadian Student Visa, it is essential to pay all the required application fees for yourself, as well as any family members or dependents included in the application process. You have the option to apply for a study visa either online or offline. When applying online, it is mandatory to pay for the service before submitting your application. Conversely, if you choose to submit a paper application, it will not be processed unless the payment is made.

Payment for the Canadian Student Visa can be made online using a credit card or in person through a demand draft at the High Commission of Canada. Alternatively, you can pay in cash at the Visa Application Center (VAC). Here is a breakdown of the fees associated with the Canadian Student Visa:

  •  Study permit (including extension applications): CAD 150
  • Biometrics fee (per person): $85
  • Biometrics fee for families with two or more applicants: Maximum total fee for families applying together at the same time: $170

Please note that the visa fee does not cover VAC service charges. You will be required to pay any additional service fees applicable to your location. Upon payment, you will receive a receipt, which you should keep safe as it may be needed for future reference.

Canadian Student Visa Validity Period

Your study visa remains valid for the duration of your academic program, plus an additional 90 days. During these 90 days, you can make preparations to leave Canada or submit an application to extend the duration of your study visa. If you are unable to complete your program within the validity period of your study permit, you will need to apply for an extension.

However, it’s important to note that you will only receive an extra 90 days if you complete your studies before the study permit expires. Once these 90 days have passed, you must leave Canada.

To prove that you have completed your program, you must provide documentation from your educational institution. This can be in the form of a letter, email, or any other official document that confirms your graduation. Alternatively, you can submit a copy of your diploma, certificate, or degree as evidence of program completion.

Canadian Student Visa Processing Time

The processing time for your Canadian study visa is not predetermined and can vary based on various factors. However, the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) will commence processing your application promptly upon submission until its completion and it may take 7 weeks or more. Additionally, you have the option to monitor the status of your application by accessing your MyCIC account.

Working with a Canadian Student Visa

Working while on a student visa in Canada is subject to specific requirements that aim to prevent individuals from obtaining student status without genuinely studying. However, there are certain circumstances in which students are permitted to work:

  • On-campus work: Students enrolled in full-time programs are allowed to work on campus.
  •  Internships: Students can participate in internships as specified in their program’s curriculum.
  •  Off-campus work: If permitted by their study permit, students can work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week.

Conclusion

Studying in Canada is a dream for many Nigerian students. However, navigating the student visa/ permit application process can be challenging without proper guidance. This article aims to assist you by outlining the general requirements, necessary documents, processing time, and costs associated with obtaining a Canadian study permit. We hope that this information will make your journey to Canada smoother.

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