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Canada Study and Immigration Options

Explore your study and immigration options

Canada Study and Immigration Options

Explore your study and immigration options

Canada is home to some of the best education and immigration options in the world.

Last updated: 23 September 2020

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 80 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.

How to Study in Canada

The following are the steps you need to take if you wish to study in Canada and transition to permanent residence.

study in canada step 1
Select a program:

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 >
study in canada step 1
Apply to a Canadian designated learning institution:

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.

study in canada step 1
Apply for a study permit:

Upon obtaining a letter of acceptance, we can help you submit an application to the Government of Canada for a study permit. The study permit is a document that most people need so they can legally remain in Canada as a student.

study in canada step 1
Explore your immigration options:

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 >

Study Pathways to Permanent Residence (PR)

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:


Express Entry

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.


Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows provinces and territories across Canada to identify immigration candidates who meet their local economic needs. Many PNP streams reward candidates who are former international students or are specifically dedicated to international students.


Other Federal Programs

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

Reasons why international students choose Canada include:

  • High quality of education offered by Canadian schools
  • Canada offers international students with opportunities to work during and after their studies, and transition to permanent residence
  • Opportunities to study in English and/or French
  • Safety and security
  • Multicultural society
  • Canada welcomes immigrants and international students from nearly 200 different countries each year
  • Canada is affordable compared with other popular international student destinations. Consider also that the Canadian dollar is weaker than major currencies such as the USD, GBP, and EUR
There were 642,480 international students in Canada as of December 2019. Due to its popularity as a great destination to study, work, and immigrate, Canada has seen its international student population triple over the past decade.

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.

Step One: Choose an academic program.

Step Two: Apply to a Canadian designated learning institution and obtain a letter of acceptance.

Step Three: Apply for a study permit.

Yes. You may bring your spouse, common law partner, and dependent children.

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:

  • Which educational program you wish to pursue
  • Job opportunities in your preferred career within the Canadian city
  • Existing immigrant and international student communities within the Canadian city
  • Whether you prefer to be in an English and/or French speaking environment in Canada
  • Cultural activities
  • Whether you prefer to be in a larger city or a smaller one
  • Your budget

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).

Beyond that, you can apply for one of Quebec's immigration programs such as the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) or the Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (QSWP).

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.

To be eligible for the PGWP you must have held full-time student status at an eligible designated learning institution in Canada and you must have met all the requirements of your program of study that was at least eight months in duration.

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:

  • are a full-time post-secondary student,
  • have a valid study permit, and
  • have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

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:

  • work is required to complete your program,
  • you have a valid study permit,
  • you have a letter from your institution confirming that all students must work to get their degree,
  • your co-op or internship is 50% or less of your program.

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:

  • be a full-time student,
  • be enrolled in a post-secondary program,
  • be enrolled in a study program that is at least 6 months long, and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate,
  • have started studying,
  • have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

If you are a part-time student, you may only work off campus:

  • if you have met all the criteria listed above, and,
  • you’re only study part-time because:
    • you’re in your last semester and you don’t need to study full-time to complete your program
    • you were a full-time student in Canada up until your last semester

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.

Yes. You may apply for a merit-based scholarship, bursary or grant through your institution or through third-parties.

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)
YouCAD $10,000
First family memberCAD $4,000
Any additional family membersCAD $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)
YouCAD $11,000
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:

  • China
  • Philippines
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Senegal
  • Vietnam

To be eligible for the SDS, you must:

  • Be a legal resident of China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, or Vietnam
  • Have completed a valid language test in the last 2 years, with an IELTS score of 6.0 or higher, or a TEF score equivalent to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 7 or higher.
  • Have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of at least $10,000 insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). The GIC must meet specific criteria.
  • Prove full payment of your tuition fees for your first year of study.
  • Provide a letter of acceptance from the institution.
  • Provide your most recent secondary or post-secondary transcripts.
  • Get a medical exam before you apply if you are required to get one (You may be required to complete this step if you have lived or travelled to one of the designated countries before coming to Canada, or if your field of study requires it.
  • Get a police certificate before you apply if it is required in your case (your visa office instructions will tell you if you need to get a police certificate).
There is no age limit to study in Canada.
You do not need a language test to apply for a study permit, but you may be asked for one by the institution you are applying to. For more details, please review the policies of the academic institutions you are interested in applying to.

Once you have been approved for a study permit, you must fulfil the following conditions established by the Canadian government:

  • Remain enrolled at your designated learning institution
  • Work towards completing your program
  • Fulfil all conditions listed on your study permit
  • Stop studying if you no longer meet your study permit requirements
  • Leave Canada when your study permit expires (unless you have obtained another temporary permit or permanent residence)

Your study permit will become automatically invalid if you violate any of the conditions listed on your study permit.