There is no disputing that the best way to learn a language or understand a culture is full immersion. Canada has become the destination of choice for thousands around the world trying to do just that – improve their English and/or gain insight into North American culture. However, it is a little more involved than simply booking flight tickets. There are a number of steps you need to follow before you arrive to ensure you are eligible to study and work in Canada.
Step 1 – Choose the Right School
You must select a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). Immigration and Citizenship Canada (CIC) provides a list of schools that have been approved by a provincial government to host international students. Students can choose their DLIs based on price, reputation, available courses, acceptance rates, location, language requirements, the opportunity to work during your studies, and the possibility of applying for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) afterward.
The PGWP enables students to work in Canada after graduation and apply the knowledge & skills they’ve just acquired. There are a number of eligibility requirements that must be met but this is an opportunity worth pursuing.
Step 2 – Take a Language Proficiency Test and Apply to Universities
Once you have chosen the DLI that meets your education needs, contact the institution directly (via email, contact form or phone) or through a student exchange agency and apply for the course/program you desire.
To complete your application, you will be required to provide previous certificates and diplomas, language proficiency test results, resume, cover letter, interviews, personal documents such as ID and passport, proof of funds or financial support, health insurance etc. depending on the institution.
Step 3 – Receive your Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
Once accepted, the DLI provides an LOA. This is an official document required to apply for a Study Permit in Canada as outlined on the CIC website.
Step 4 – Apply for a Study and Work Permit
If the college or university you are attending allows you to work as well as study, apply for both a study and work permits. Remember, not all Designated Learning Institutes offer international students the opportunity to work. In general, to be eligible you can:
- Be enrolled in a co-op program, that allows you to work part-time while studying and full time during the co-op period.
- Work off campus as an international student if you are enrolled post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program and you are in a program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate and that is at least 6 months long.
The visa application is extensive and highly detailed. You must provide the numerous documents including the Letter of Acceptance, your passport, employment information (in your country), letter of intention, financial statements, assets etc. Check the CIC website for all requirements.
Once approved, you will receive your permits in your country and can finally book your flight and pack your suitcases.
Step 5 – If you are common-law or married
If you are married and your partner wants to join you in Canada, there are a couple of options they can pursue if they want to work here while you study.
1) They can apply for a visa called an Open Work Permit which allows them to work full time provided spouse is enrolled in a DLI. However, not all institutions allow your partner to get an Open Work Permit so do your research. The application process is quite similar to the visa applications already discussed with financial evidence being particularly important.
2) IEC Work Holiday Visa – Under this International Experience Canada program, your spouse may be able to apply for a work holiday visa. Canada has agreements with over 30 countries and foreign territories to make it easier for 18-35 year olds to work and travel in Canada gaining invaluable international work and life experience!
Just keep in mind, this all takes time. It likely takes about 3 months to organize all of this but, to be on the safe side, start the process 6 months before you want to come to Canada!
Looking for a place to stay? If you’re extra organized, make sure you take a look at accommodation in advance to find your perfect home. Liv Rent has hundreds of apartments for rent near schools in Vancouver, which you can view and apply for online.