After being accepted by an institution for a program of study in Canada, student should apply for a student authorization at the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission. For expedient processing, it is recommended that applications be filed at least three months prior to the commencement of classes. For nationals of some countries such as India, visas are also required. Visas are issued at the same time as the student authorization. In order to apply for a student authorization, the following documents are required:
- A valid passport
- An original letter of acceptance from a university.
- Evidence of adequate funds to cover tuition and living costs for the student, including return transportation.
If applicable, a letter from student’s sponsor
- A letter of reference from a dependable person in student’s community.
- In some cases, a medical examination by a doctor designated by the Canadian government may be needed. The immigration officer will provide information on this requirement.
- There is a processing charge of $125 (1999) for the student authorization. There is no fee for the visa when it is issued with a student authorization.
A personal interview with a visa officer may be required any documentation which might be useful as a demonstration of strong ties to country of origin may be of assistance at the interview.
Students may work on the campus of the publicly funded post-secondary institution at which they are enrolled on a full-time basis without an employment authorization.
Students may also apply for an employment authorization if: the employment is certified by the student’s educational institution as being an essential and integral part of student’s course of study, e.g. a cooperative program. If this is the case, students may apply for the employment authorization at the same time as the student authorization and there is no additional fee for the employment authorization in this case. This facility of employment authorization is also available to those who have completed a university program and wish to work for up to one year in employment related to their field of study.
Note: Spouses of full-time university students may apply for authorization to work anywhere, subject to medical requirements. In all cases it is necessary to obtain an employment authorization (work permit) from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) before taking any employment. If students work without an employment authorization, their student authorization will cease to be valid and they may be required to leave Canada. There is ONE exception. Students may work on the campus of the publicly funded post-secondary educational institution at which they are registered. Graduate or research work completed at facilities associated with the institution, such as hospitals, meet the definition of on-campus, and an employment authorization is NOT required, provided that the student authorization bears no term or condition which prohibits such employment.
Graduate student fees vary greatly depending on the program and province of study. Most provinces charge higher fees for international students (known as differential fees), and some offer a limited number of exemptions from the higher fees.
Students must meet the costs of study and living in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada requires proof that the student has sufficient money available. If the institution provides a cost of living estimate, the immigration officer will generally follow it. In the absence of a cost of living estimate, the immigration officer will require evidence of $10,000 to cover 12 months living expenses for a single student. An additional $4,000 will be required for a spouse and an additional $3,000 for each dependent, to cover 12 months living expenses. This amount includes food, accommodation, transportation, medical insurance, books, clothing and sundries. Tuition and other student fees are not included in this amount. These are minimum estimates.
Students from warmer climates must expect to spend a considerable amount of money in the first few months on winter wear such as coats, boots, sweaters and gloves. On the campus most students dress informally.
It is imperative that every student and dependent obtain medical and hospital insurance, as health care in Canada is expensive. Public medical and health insurance plans are administered independently by each province, and some private or supplementary plans are available. Some universities and colleges require compulsory health insurance coverage. It is not possible to arrange for coverage in advance, but it should be secured within the first week after arrival. Please note that even if provincial coverage is available free of charge to international students, the students must nevertheless register with the provincial health coverage authority to ensure coverage.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND FINANCIAL AID
Some financial assistance is provided by Canadian universities for international graduate students. Competition is keen, and application must be made along with the application for admission to graduate school. Some provincial governments reserve a portion of their graduate scholarships for international students. Inquiries about scholarships should be made one year before planned enrollment. In general, Canadian universities do not award scholarships to international students for undergraduate study.