Canada, North America’s “Gentle Giant,” is the second largest country in the world and by far the largest on the continent. Its vast expanses are practically legendary for their untouched beauty, while its people are, as always, renowned for their unfailing politeness and unique blend of cultures. Nevertheless, it is not just this unparalleled mixture of scenery and sentiment that makes Canada one of the premier destinations for international students. That distinction instead goes to its rich, bilingual heritage and favorable immigration policies. As a result, according to the Canadian office of Citizenship and Immigration (otherwise known as the CIC), over 90,000 international students study in Canada every year – and still more visitors take advantage of the country’s rich heritage to learn English or French.

In fact, applying for a student visa in Canada is simpler and easier than you may think. For example, if you wish to pursue a course or program that lasts six months or less (such as a language immersion or certification course), you do not need a Canada Student Visa at all. In that case, depending on your country of origin and the length of the program in question, a visitor visa or temporary resident visa may suffice. It is worth noting, however, that once in Canada, students accepted under a visitor visa cannot transfer their visa status from Canada itself. Instead, in order to continue their studies under a formal student visa, they must apply through a Canadian visa office outside Canada. As a result, many student opt to pursue a formal student visa to guard against such contingencies.

This route is attractive because applying for a student visa in Canada is a relatively straightforward process. The application, in fact, is free and can be found online at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada. To meet the eligibility requirements outlined on the Canada Student Visa application, students must satisfy many of the same requirements laid out by other, similar nations like the US, the UK, and Australia. These include proof of acceptance, maintenance, and good health.

Acceptance: As a student visa applicant, you must prove that you are indeed travelling to Canada to pursue your studies and have been accepted by an accredited school or other educational institution in Canada.

Maintenance: Likewise, as a degree-seeking student you must prove that you have enough money to successfully complete your studies in Canada. To do so, you must provide proof that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition, living expenses, and return transportation.

Good Health: By law, those seeking a Canada student visa must be in good health and, if requested, be willing to complete a medical examination. This examination may be requested of students who originate from (or have lived six of the last twelve months in) countries on a list maintained by the CIC .

A couple of other provisions are worth noting. Although doubtless not a concern for many, it is worth noting that only applicants without a criminal record will be admitted (and candidates will have to provide a police certificate from their country of origin to certify that fact).

Of greater interest to the majority of would-be international students is the question of work eligibility after you have successfully applied for a student visa in Canada. Working in Canada with a student degree is difficult. Under Canadian law, full-time, degree-seeking students may only work at the institution where they study without a work permit, and even then some exceptions do apply. At the same time, off-campus employment is only an option for students studying with certain colleges and universities in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

All that having been said, Canada does allow international students the opportunity to apply for a work permit for up to one year of post-graduation employment in Canada. In so doing, they allow students the chance to continue their Canadian experience and contribute their unique skills to the Canadian panorama.

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