Yes You ‘Can’!

The Comprehensive Guide To Study In Canada

If reading our blog post on studying in Australia did not help you enough, maybe it is time to look at another country that is doing really well on the international higher education arena — Canada.

Why is Canada a good option for studies abroad?

There is more to Canada than picturesque scenery and bears. Housing 200+ institutions, Canada boasts of effective programs in various fields including engineering, medical sciences and information technology; the emphasis in most institutions is on practical application of knowledge rather than mere theoretical knowledge. Degrees and diplomas offered by Canadian institutions are highly recognised all around the world and compete with their counterparts in the US, Australia and Europe.

The Symbolic Maple Leaf Flag of Canada

The higher education infrastructure in Canada is very supportive and welcoming of international students. The students are assisted on the academic front and have access to resources and services such as orientation sessions, support programs, academic advising, prayer rooms, student clubs, and assistance with medical concerns or housing issues. Safety is given special attention through the ‘Safe Walk’ programs that have been established in the country — the program makes public transportation accessible to people during late hours of the night. Another important aspect that is beneficial for international students is that they can work while they study and can take advantage of many internship opportunities available in Canada.

Let us now take a look at the eligibility criteria for pursuing tertiary studies in the maple leaf country.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERION

  • You have to be accepted by a learning institution in Canada and must obtain a study permit from the concerned university.

EXCEPTIONS REGARDING THE STUDY PERMIT

In these cases, you do not have to produce the study permit from the institution of your choice, which are as follows:

1. If you wish to study in a short-term course i.e. 6 months in duration or less. It is better to obtain the study permit if you are unsure of the duration of your program/course.

2.Foreign representatives to Canada — If you are a family member or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), you may not need a permit to study in Canada. You should contact the Canadian embassy to find out whether you need a study permit.

3. Members of foreign armed forces — If you are a member of a foreign armed force under the Visiting Forces Act, you do not need a permit to study in Canada. If your family members, including minor children, want to study in Canada, they must meet the requirements.

4. Foreign nationals who are Registered Indians in Canada — If you are a citizen of another country who has Registered Indian status in Canada, you do not need a permit to study in Canada.

Source: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/study-who.asp

  • You must provide evidence of funds that will ensure that the various expenses are covered for namely, the tuition fees, living expenses for yourself, your spouse and family members in addition to expenses procured in return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
  • You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
  • You must be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary.

For further information regarding the various aspects of the eligibility criterion, check the Canadian Department Of Immigration website.

When you arrive in Canada, you will be met by an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency. To make sure that you do not miss out on any of the required documents, I have included an important checklist of the various documents that will be required, as given below:

CHECKLIST OF DOCUMENTS THAT ARE REQUIRED

  • Your letter of introduction from the visa office.
  • Your passport or other valid travel documents.
  • The letter of acceptance from the school you will be attending.
  • Proof of funds documents.
  • Your temporary resident visa, if required (depending on the duration and type of program applied for in Canada).
  • Two recent passport photos are required.

Each country has its own set of specifications and requirements when it comes to the dimensions of the photographs and thus for your convenience, the current specifications while applying for a visa permit in Canada, are as follows:

The face must be square to the camera with a neutral expression, neither frowning nor smiling, with the mouth closed.

For more queries regarding the eligibility of your passport photographs, have a quick glance through the various requirements in this link.

Dimensions:

The frame size must be at least 35 mm x 45 mm (1 3/8″ x 1 3/4″).

Specifications while taking your passport sized photo

  • The photographs must be identical and taken within the last six months.
  • The photographs must be clear, well defined and taken against a plain white or light-coloured background.
  • If the photographs are digital, they must not be altered in any way.
  • You may wear non-tinted prescription glasses as long as your eyes are clearly visible. Make sure that the frame does not cover any part of your eyes. Sunglasses are not acceptable.
  • A hairpiece or other cosmetic accessory is acceptable if it does not disguise your normal appearance.
  • If you must wear a head covering for religious reasons, make sure your full facial features are not obscured.

Having gone through the various requirements, let us get into some of the details to know how you can better prepare for your studies in Canada.

Proof of Acceptance

If you plan to attend any college, university or other educational institution in Canada, the school must send you a letter of acceptance which you must include in the original letter with your study permit application.

Proof of Identity

The verification of this will require you to submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport (valid for at least one year, from the proposed date of entry into Canada) or travel document for you and each accompanying family member. The passport or travel document must allow you to return to the country that issued it. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Greenland do not need a passport, but do need proof of status and citizenship, such as a national identity card or an alien registration card.
  • Two recent passport-size photos of you and each accompanying family member. The name and date of birth of the person should be written on the back of each photo.

Proof of Financial Support/Funds

I have provided the points you may have to meet in order to show to the Government that you can support yourself and/or your family members whilst in the country. These are ways in which you can prove your financial stability:

  • Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name if money has been transferred to Canada.
  • Your bank statements for the past four months.
  • A bank draft in convertible currency.
  • Proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees.
  • A letter and income tax papers from the person or institution providing you with money.
  • Proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program. Applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient liquid assets to pay the tuition fees, living expenses and travelling cost without engaging in employment in Canada. Students must demonstrate that they have at least CAD 10,000 plus the cost of tuition for a twelve-month period, plus the cost of travelling to and from Canada.

Also, the Government has set various standards with which you’ll have to comply, which vary from city to city. For example, if you wish to pursue your studies from Quebec, you will have to account for means which will allow you to incur an expenditure of about CAD $9,600 for a 12-month period (or $800 CAD per month) which will encapsulate for your tuition fees and about $10,000 CAD for a 12- month period (or $833 CAD per month) for all provinces outside Quebec. Thus, make sure to check out the location of the university/college so that you can make the necessary arrangements in terms of formulating a budget.The documents which are required in order to prove to the government that you are self-sufficient have been already outlined above. Additional expenses are incurred if you wish to bring along a family member to Canada and hence I would recommend you to formulate a budget and then look into whether or not accounting for these extra expenses can be accommodated for in your budget or not. Also, make sure that you allocate 125$ CAD in your budget for the student visa application.

But where exactly do you have to submit your visa application? How long will it take to be processed? Let’s take a look at the Canadian Visa Application Centres (CVAC) and where are they located within our country so you know where to go.

CANADIAN VISA APPLICATION CENTRE (CVAC):

These have been established so as to provide administrative support to the applicants who wish to seek permits in the temporary resident categories, which are study permits, work permits and visitor visas. In India, a company called ‘VFS Global’ is authorised by the Immigration,Refugees and Citizenship Canada to operate various CVAC centres in major cities around the country like Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Ahmedabad thereby making a total of 10 centres within India.

Canada Visa Application Centres have been established to provide administrative support to its clients for the successful submission of applications for all temporary resident categories (visitor visas, study and work permits) and travel document applications to the offices of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada around the world.

With this information, I am sure that you feel more at ease with the entire process of applying for your student visa application to pursue your tertiary studies from Canada. All said and done, we still have to look into the expenses that you are likely to incur while residing in the country.

(Geo Aside: A little bit on the geography of Canada; due to the meeting of the two major ocean currents in the area that are namely, the Gulf Stream Current (Warm Current) and the Labrador Current (Cold Current), conducive conditions are created for the breeding of microscopic organisms called ‘plankton or phytoplankton’. Thus, the waters adjoining NewFoundlands thrive with the presence of these plankton which not only purify the water, but act as a delicacy for the whales. Cutting to the chase, while in Canada, make sure that you find yourself in these waters whale watching and experiencing this wonderful phenomena. )

Whale watching in NewFoundland

MONEY MATTERS

Money does matter

This aspect of education in foreign countries is the one that concerns most families and it is this that can make or break your dream to study abroad — affordability. That seems to add up right? Not enough money translates to no education in Canada; it doesn’t take much to understand that equation! And that is where we tend to lose the plot. There are other media via which you can get help like scholarships and fellowships offered by the government as well as universities themselves. All you need is to know where to look and we will emphasise on the umpteen options you have to fund your education.

Let us now venture into the most awaited question, ‘How much will the entire thing cost?’ To answer that, I have broken down the weekly/monthly expenses that you can expect.

BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES:

As an undergrad student, you should consider your tuition fees to be in the neighbourhood of 17,000$ CAD per annum. This is an average value and does not include the values of advanced programs in medicine and veterinary sciences. To inquire about the tuition fees of these particular courses/programs, I would advise you to contact your university for further details.

Postgraduation in Canada has its unique benefit in terms of the economic aspect of things. Average yearly tuition fees adds up to about 13,000$ CAD, which sees a large number of international students pursuing their tertiary studies from the country.

Moving on to the expenditure involved in other areas like transportation, food, housing and miscellaneous activities. If you are residing within the premises of the university campus, then commuting via bikes or walking to class are the most preferred options. However, many students, particularly those in larger cities, choose public transportation: buses, subways, commuter trains or ferries. Public transit fares typically cost 90–120$ CAD per month and if your horoscope says so, then you may find yourself getting a student discount from your transit provider!

Housing, a major factor in your stay in Canada will incur you the most expenses, if you reside in an apartment which is not on campus. Rent for an apartment in Canada can range from about $500 to $1,500 CAD per month depending on the neighborhood your apartment is located in. Additional monthly costs for utilities such as electricity, home phone, internet and cable television as well as personal expenses may add up to about $700-$1000 CAD per month, these expenses largely based on your discretion. Sharing of apartments is another mode via which you can dramatically reduce your housing expenses and is adopted by most international students residing in Canada.

A more detailed analysis has been provided below, and this again is based on a survey involving over a 1000 people, thereby providing a mean value of estimated expenses which are likely to be incurred in a city like Toronto.

Source: Expatisan

Entertainment Gross Total (Tentative)= $713 CAD (per month)

Food is a luxury when it comes to dining abroad and can more often than not tend to be a burden on your pocket, not to forget that increasing waistline! I have included an estimated expenditure when it comes to food items, your budget will largely vary depending on your frequency and discretion when it comes to eating outside.

Source: Expatisan

Expenses in Food (Tentative)= $82 CAD per month

Let’s get to the part where you can have large portions of your living expenses covered via scholarships.

(Yes! It is about time we got there!)

UNIVERSITY BASED SCHOLARSHIPS

These scholarships are funded by the university themselves and thus in order to apply for these scholarships, you will have to get in touch with the concerned institution itself.

Some of the institutions you can check out to understand scholarship schemes are:

Lookin’ at you kiddo

Still with me? Perfect! Let us now soldier on to discuss the government scholarships that may be available to you.

Government Scholarships:

The Government of Canada has allocated a certain section of its budget to make sure that the bright minds around the globe are not deprived of quality education. Hence, there are various centrally funded scholarships that enable international students to pursue hassle-free education from Canada.

The Skyline of Toronto

And well, there it is. After going through the laborious procedures like the visa requirements, the eligibility criterion, the expenditure and the scholarships that are on offer for you, it is time to wrap up.

Being a travel freak, I would love to point out what you could look forward to while you stay in Canada. Canada is a beautiful mixture of cities and pristine sceneries. The ‘Skywalk’ on the CN tower, Toronto is one of the most sought after attractions, coming second to only the ‘Maid of the Mist’ Tour alongside the picturesque Niagara Falls. Visiting the French city of Montreal, experiencing the adrenaline pumping Canadian Grand Prix and an adventure trek to the Canadian Rockies is the perfect mix and must on every traveler’s itinerary. Cities like Quebec, Ottawa and Nova Scotia will make you realise the differences each of them possess in terms of their culture; one displaying technological prowess, the other a picturesque bliss.

To sum up, Canada serves to be the perfect destination for you, excelling in quality of education and fostering multicultural contexts for learning.

Bon Adieu!

The Picturesque Canadian Rockies
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