Canada has more than 500,000 international students currently enrolled in study programs across the country. Not only can people who choose to study in Canada benefit from a world-class education — students and graduates are also set on a path that may lead to incredible career opportunities and permanent settlement in Canada.
The study pathway to settlement in Canada can be summed up in three words:
Many international students are choosing to study in Canada over other potential destinations — such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France — because Canada offers certain advantages that may not be available elsewhere.
- International students in Canada can work for up to 20 hours per week during semester, and on a full-time basis during school breaks.
- The tuition fees and other study in Canada costs, even for international students, are usually lower than in other countries.
- The spouse or common-law partner of an international student may accompany the student in Canada. Not only that, spouses and partners may obtain an open work permit, allowing them to work any hours they wish and for any employer.
- International students in Canada can bring their children to Canada, and the kids can attend one of Canada’s public elementary or secondary schools without needing their own study permit.
- Canada’s largest cities are ranked among the best student cities by the QS World University Rankings, with Montreal ranked the best student city in the world and Vancouver and Toronto not far behind.
- Graduates can first study and then work in Canada for up to three years on an open post-graduation work permit (see below under ‘Earn’).
- Rather than closing the door on graduates who complete their studies in Canada or making things incredibly difficult, as some countries may do, Canada actively sets out to provide permanent residence pathways to students and graduates (see below under ‘Stay’).
- Canada’s liberal citizenship naturalization process allows international students to count time spent on a study permit towards citizenship residency days requirements.
Find a suitable study program and college/university to study abroad in Canada
There are hundreds of institutions to choose from for international students in Canada. You may already have some idea as to which areas of study are of interest to you, or a preference with regard to the type of institution and location.
- Universities Canada offers a strong database for beginning your search.
- Colleges and Institutes Canada also has a tool designed for finding study programs.
- Maclean’s magazine offers some great advice on choosing the right college or university for you.
- We also have this handy article on finding the right study program in Canada for you.
Make sure it’s a DLI
International students planning to study in Canada for a period longer than six months need a study permit. Study permit applicants need to know how they can study in Canada and an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI) is a crucial step in this process. A DLI is an institution approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. The DLI list is subject to change on an ongoing basis.
The next step is to get admitted to the chosen college or university. Prospective students should take note of application deadlines, potential language requirements or other entrance requirements to study in Canada, and to what extent, if any, the chosen study program includes distance learning. This may prove important in the study permit application, or at a later stage if applying for a post-graduation work permit.
Letter of acceptance
Having a letter of acceptance from a DLI is crucial. Without this document, a study permit may not be granted.
This document is issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) allowing you to study in Canada in your chosen study program.
First study, and then work in Canada
Canada’s economy is diverse and growing. As a graduate who chose to study Canada, you could be a part of it.
As mentioned above, international students can actually enter the Canadian workforce before graduating. This allows them to gain an income, build up valuable Canadian work experience, and create professional connections than can lead to opportunities at a later stage.
The big earning opportunity, however — in monetary and networking terms — comes with the post-graduation work permit.
A post-graduation work permit is an open work permit that allows graduates to work for employers anywhere in Canada for up to three years. It represents a unique opportunity to build a long-term life in Canada.