International students who wish to study abroad often face difficulties in understanding the difference between a study permit and a student visa. While both documents are required to study abroad, they are different in terms of eligibility, duration, and restrictions. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the differences between a study permit and a student visa, and the process of obtaining each document.
What Is a Study Permit and What Is a Student Visa?
A study permit is a document that allows international students to study at a designated Canadian learning institution (DLI), while a student visa is a document that allows international students to enter Canada for the purpose of obtaining a study permit. In other words, a study permit is the authorization to study in Canada, while a student visa is the authorization to enter Canada.
Here are the similarities and differences between the two documents:
Similarities between Study Permits and Student Visas
- Both study permits and student visas are required to study in Canada as an international student.
- Both documents are issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
- Both documents have specific requirements and deadlines that must be met before they can be issued.
Differences between Study Permits and Student Visas
- A study permit is issued by IRCC, whereas a student visa is issued by the Canadian consulate or embassy in the student’s home country.
- A study permit allows the holder to study in Canada for a specific period, while a student visa is required to enter Canada for the purpose of obtaining a study permit.
- A student visa is usually valid for the duration of the study program, while a study permit can be valid for a shorter or longer period, depending on the individual circumstances of the student.
- A student visa may require additional documentation, such as a medical exam, depending on the student’s home country.
Applying for a Study Permit and a Student Visa: What to Expect
Applying for a study permit and a student visa involves several steps, including:
Step 1: Applying for Admission to a Canadian Learning Institution (DLI)
Before applying for a study permit or a student visa, international students must first apply for admission to a Canadian DLI. Once accepted, the school will issue a letter of acceptance, which is required when applying for a study permit or a student visa.
Step 2: Applying for a Study Permit
To apply for a study permit, international students must first ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements set by IRCC. Some examples of these requirements include:
- Acceptance to a DLI
- Evidence of financial support for tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation
- No criminal record
- Good health, often requiring a medical exam
International students must also prepare and submit the necessary documents, including the application form, the letter of acceptance, proof of financial support, and proof of identification, among others.
The processing time for a study permit can vary widely, depending on the student’s country of origin and the time of year the application is submitted. It is recommended that students submit their applications as soon as possible to avoid delays.
Step 3: Applying for a Student Visa
Once the study permit has been approved, international students can apply for a student visa. The process is similar to the study permit application, but with additional requirements such as a passport, biometric information, and a visa application fee.
It is important to note that a student visa may take longer to process than a study permit, as it involves additional steps such as submitting biometric information and attending an interview at the Canadian embassy or consulate in the student’s home country.
Tips for International Students Applying for a Study Program Abroad
Here are some tips to help international students prepare for their study permit and student visa applications:
- Start the application process as early as possible to allow for processing times and potential delays.
- Ensure that all required documentation is submitted accurately and on time.
- Familiarize yourself with the eligibility requirements for study permits and student visas.
- Have a plan in place for funding your education and living expenses.
- Research the school and the surrounding area to ensure that it is a good fit for your needs.
Conclusion: Which One to Choose?
In Canada, international students need both a study permit and a student visa to study abroad. While the process can seem complicated, understanding the differences between the two documents and following the proper steps can make it much easier. By applying early and ensuring that all requirements are met, international students can enjoy a successful and fulfilling study experience in Canada.
- A study permit is the authorization to study in Canada, while a student visa is the authorization to enter Canada for the purpose of obtaining a study permit.
- Both study permits and student visas are required to study in Canada as an international student and are issued by IRCC.
- The eligibility criteria, duration, and application process differ between study permits and student visas.
- The application process involves applying to a Canadian DLI, applying for a study permit and then applying for a student visa.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the processing time for a study permit or student visa application?
The processing time can vary depending on the student’s country of origin and the time of year the application is submitted. Generally speaking, it is recommended that students apply as early as possible to allow for processing times and potential delays.
2. Do I need to apply for a student visa if I have a study permit?
Yes, a student visa is required to enter Canada for the purpose of obtaining a study permit.
3. Is it possible to work in Canada while on a study permit or student visa?
Yes, international students who hold a valid study permit and are enrolled in an eligible program at a Canadian DLI may be eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks.
4. Can I stay in Canada after completing my studies?
After completing studies, international students may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit or a permanent residency under specific programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class or Provincial Nominee Program.