The number of international students studying in Canada is over 640,000, a figure that is constantly growing.
Many of these students are choosing Canada because of the major advantages that studying in Canada can bring.
Individuals who study in Canada receive a top-quality and internationally-respected education, preparing them for professional pursuits in Canada or abroad.
Yet, the cost of tuition and living fees in Canada are generally lower than in other developed countries.
In addition, Canada allows you to work in the country during and after your studies so you can support yourself financially and gain professional work experience.
Canada also offers over 100 immigration (PR) pathways to international students who complete their studies and wish to remain in Canada permanently.
This is a significant benefit which international students cannot find in most other countries.
International students are able to enter Canada if they had a valid study permit by March 18, 2020 or if their designated learning institution has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. In addition, the Canadian government continues to process new study permit applications. It has also made reforms to ensure that the Post-Graduation Work Permit eligibility of certain international students is not affected by COVID-19 disruptions. International students may be able to begin their program online at a designated learning institution without that affecting their eligibility for a PGWP after completing their Canadian study program. Please visit our coronavirus FAQ page for more updates.
The following are the steps you need to take if you wish to study in Canada and transition to permanent residence.
CanadaVisa and its trusted partners will learn more about you, and then provide you with academic program options to choose from.Help me find a study program >
Once you have determined which education program to apply to, we will help you prepare and submit your application to the Canadian designated learning institution (DLI) of your choice.
After completing your studies, CanadaVisa can help you remain in Canada to gain more professional work experience and pursue permanent residence.Help me find an education pathway to PR >
Canada has made it easier for international students to begin their Canadian immigration journey. Whether you wish to begin your program at a Canadian college or university, you will be able to study online in your home country and still access the same benefits of being in Canada.
The reason for this is that Canada is allowing new international students to start their Canadian educational programs online, and still be eligible to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit after they complete their program. This is a temporary policy that aims to provide more flexibility to international students due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a student must not complete more than 50% of their Canadian program online if they wish to remain eligible for the PGWP. In other words, a student can start their program online because they can not arrive to Canada in time due to coronavirus-related interruptions, however, they must eventually come to Canada to access the PGWP. Students won’t have time deducted from the length of their post-graduation work permit for studies they complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021.
The PGWP is important for international students that want to make their Canadian immigration applications more competitive. The combination of a Canadian education and Canadian work experience gained through the PGWP will enhance a student’s chances of obtaining Canadian permanent residence.
Hence, assuming that a student is currently enrolled in a qualifying two-year program at a Canadian college or university or other designated learning institution, they can get a full, three-year PGWP after completing their program as long as they complete 50 per cent of their program in Canada.
The benefits of beginning your Canadian immigration journey include:
There are over 1,500 universities, colleges, and other educational institutions that are authorized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to welcome international students. These educational institutions are called designated learning institutions (DLIs) and they exist to help international students learn in Canada and stay in the country after graduation. The list of DLIs that are authorized by IRCC is constantly growing. Please verify that the university, college, or other institution you wish to enroll in is authorized by IRCC by visiting the Canadian government’s official website.
Ontario and Quebec are Canada’s largest provinces by population, and hence, they host the most number of DLIs in the country (nearly 1,000 combined).
Given the large number of DLIs across Canada, you are very likely to find an educational program that meets your needs.
If you wish to pursue undergraduate (i.e., Bachelors) or post-graduate studies (i.e., Master’s or PhD), Canada has some 100 universities, including internationally-renowned schools such as:
Generally speaking, universities across Canada offer comparable levels of high-quality education. The reason for this is that Canada promotes equity within its education system, meaning that it strives to ensure all students get the best possible education possible, irrespective of which institution that they go to.
Canada also has some 150 community colleges which also offer good quality education. Whereas universities specialize in providing theoretical knowledge and career training in certain professions (e.g., medicine, engineering, law), community colleges offer more applied training to help students quickly integrate into the labour market. College programs are more practical, with the knowledge provided to students meant to help them find work within their area of study.
Just like universities, colleges across Canada tend to offer similar levels of education. International students should take comfort at studying at a Canadian college, since the credential that they gain will support their professional and immigration ambitions upon graduation.
If you want help finding the right program for you at a Canadian designated learning institution, whether it is a college, university, or other type of designated learning institution, please complete CanadaVisa’s Study Assessment Form so that we can assist you as soon as possible.
International students who complete post-secondary education in Canada have many opportunities to extend their stay and ultimately transition to permanent residence.
Your education in Canada may put you at an advantage when it comes to pursuing Canadian permanent residence. Many federal and provincial immigration programs value candidates with Canadian education and work experience.
After completing your education in Canada, you can gain Canadian work experience by obtaining a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which, depending on your Canadian academic program, may enable you to work in Canada for up to three years.
While holding a PGWP, you can then go ahead and pursue a number of federal and provincial permanent residence avenues, such as:
One of the most prominent ways of pursuing permanent residence is by submitting an Express Entry profile. Express Entry is the main way that Canada manages economic class immigration applications.
Express Entry candidates are assessed through the Comprehensive Ranking System. The Comprehensive Ranking System rewards candidates who are young, have Canadian education and work experience, and strong English and/or French proficiency. These are characteristics that many of Canada’s international students possess.
Through Express Entry, former international students may be well-placed to be eligible for the popular Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program, which enables tens of thousands of former international students and temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents each year.
Quebec is Canada’s second largest province and the city of Montreal is a very popular destination for international students. The province operates its own immigration system with programs that are different from those offered by the federal government and under the PNP. Quebec also encourages former international students to transition to permanent residence. One of the notable ways it seeks to do this is through the Quebec Experience Program.
In addition to the three programs it manages under Express Entry, the federal government operates additional economic class immigration programs. The programs offer special streams to international students and/or exemptions from Canadian work experience requirements. These include the Atlantic International Graduate Program (which operates under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot) and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
Reasons why international students choose Canada include:
Canada welcomes international students from nearly 200 different countries each year.
Popular source countries of Canada’s international students include India, China, South Korea, France, Vietnam, the U.S., Iran, Brazil, Nigeria, and Mexico.
Many countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia also send large numbers of international students to Canada each year.
Canadian cities tend to offer many of the same benefits including good quality of education, an openness to all types of different cultures, and safety and security.
Choosing a city to study in depends on your preferences. Factors for you to consider include:
You can learn more about the benefits of Canada’s various provinces and cities here.
If you have completed your studies and wish to remain in Canada to work, you may be eligible to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This temporary status will replace your study permit. There may be other temporary and permanent pathways you can also pursue to remain in Canada. For instance, after obtaining a PGWP and are interested in becoming a permanent resident, you may be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile and/or apply for other federal and provincial immigration programs.
Your options depend on your goals.
For instance, if you are interested in obtaining permanent residence within the province, you may be eligible to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
Yes. Tens of thousands of the over 300,000 people that become Canadian permanent residents each year are former international students.
There are several programs that can lead to permanent residence, including the three programs managed under Express Entry (Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program). There are many other options available through the likes of the Provincial Nominee Program, Quebec, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
Some of these programs require qualifying Canadian work experience. If you want to work in Canada after you finish your studies, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
The PGWP is an open work permit issued to foreign students who have graduated from a designated learning institution.
It allows you to gain work experience in Canada and can help you become eligible for a variety of federal and provincial immigration programs (which sometimes require that candidates have qualifying Canadian work experience to become eligible for a given program).
The PGWP is valid for a period equivalent to the program of study you completed in Canada. Its duration can range from a minimum of 8 months to a maximum of 3 years.
You may be able to work on campus or off campus, provided your study permit lists that condition. You can only begin working in Canada after you have begun your Canadian study program.
You may be allowed to work on your school’s campus if you:
If you need to work for a co-op or as an intern, you must apply for a co-op or intern work permit. You may be eligible if:
If you are taking English or French as a second language, general interest courses or courses to prepare for another program, you may not be eligible for a co-op work permit.
If you want to work off-campus, your study permit must say that you can work off campus. You must also:
If you are a part-time student, you may only work off campus:
Assuming your study permit states you can work in Canada, you are allowed to work off campus for 20 hours per week during the school year. You can also work full-time during scheduled breaks.
There are no restrictions to the number of hours you can work on campus.
Tuition fees in Canada are considered affordable compared to other popular destinations such as the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and European Union countries.
Many Canadian academic institutions offer programs with tuition fees that are under $15,000 CAD per year.
In addition to your tuition fees, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to financially support yourself and any family members.
Tuition and living expenses vary by each province and territory. Generally speaking, studying in a larger city in Canada costs more than smaller cities.
If you plan on studying outside Quebec, the following table illustrates the minimum funds you need to have access to in order to support yourself while studying in Canada (also known as "proof of financial suport"):
|Amount of funds required per year (excluding tuition fees)|
|First family member||CAD $4,000|
|Any additional family members||CAD $3,000|
If you plan on studying in Quebec, the following table illustrates the minimum funds that you need to have access to in order to support yourself financially while studying in the province:
|Amount of funds required per year (excluding tuition fees)|
|First family member (18 or older)||CAD $5,100|
|irst family member (under 18)||CAD $3,800|
|Any additional family member (18 or older)||CAD $5,125|
|Any additional family member (under 18)||CAD $1,903|
The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a program that expedites the processing of study permits for candidates who meet eligibility requirements. One of the eligibility requirements is you must be a legal resident of one of the following countries:
To be eligible for the SDS, you must:
Once you have been approved for a study permit, you must fulfil the following conditions established by the Canadian government:
Your study permit will become automatically invalid if you violate any of the conditions listed on your study permit.
Processing times depend on each visa office. CanadaVisa’s Immigration Processing Times Tool contains more information.
Certificates and Diplomas
Career oriented programs to help adults find work related to credential.
Similar to first two levels of study of a 4-year Bachelor’s degree.
Usually 4 years in length except can be as short as 3 years in provinces such as Quebec. Offered at universities and tend to be more theoretical in nature than college programs.
A specialized qualification after completing a Bachelor’s degree.
Can either include a research thesis or no thesis submission.
Usually involves a combination of course work at the beginning of the PhD, followed by the completion of a dissertation that is successfully defended before an academic panel.
No time limit
Specialized research program after completing a PhD.
Launched as a pilot in 2020 by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Nigeria Student Express aims to reduce the study permit processing times for eligible Nigerian students.
To be eligible for faster processing through the NSE, you must:
More international students are transitioning to become immigrants of Canada each year since many of Canada’s federal and provincial immigration programs reward international students with extra points and/or provide them with dedicated application streams. According to the most recent federal government statistics, over 50,000 international students became permanent residents in 2018.
The questions and concerns of parents vary by each country and region of the world, however you can share the following information with your parents: