How to Apply for a Canadian Study Visa

how to apply for a canadian study visa

Between family life, my spouse’s profession, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom/wife for the past five years. Sure, I’ve occupied myself substantially during that time, but for all intents and purposes, my husband and I agreed that while he was in residency and our child was an infant, I would be her primary caregiver and support our family through this period in his career. When opportunities came up, if they didn’t allow me to carry out my functions at home, they were rejected.

So for five years, my family’s needs came second to nothing else. That’s how we (you and I) met on this blog in 2016, growing through that journey.

Now, Boobles has completed his residency and our little is in school. It’s my turn to really focus on my career while hubby holds down the fort. I’ve decided the first step in doing that is to dive back into the academic pool as I mentioned in the post Back to School, for Both of Us. So, why not make it useful and interesting?

A New Season

My school is in Canada. It’s time to take on some new adventures and build my career like a boss! Since there was so much I learned about the best practices on how to apply for a Canadian study visa and improve your chances of success, I want to share. (Di good tingz dem). Now, no one can promise you approval, but, you can put together an application that will give you your very best shot without paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a consultant.

Disclaimer: I am not an immigration consultant and this post is meant only to share what I have learned through my own experience. It is not meant to be taken as legal advice.

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First things first, though, (I know the disclaimer is there, I want to re-iterate) I’m not an immigration lawyer or representative. This is just a recount of my experience and what I have learned by going through the process. Immigration, whether temporary or permanent is a pretty personal choice and each person’s circumstance may mean a different approach is necessary.

Research Research, Research!

Studying in another country is a big undertaking, you will need and should do a LOT OF RESEARCH! Most of this information is topical, some garnered through networking. A lot of it is built on foundation information, which you may not have if you have no prior knowledge of the process. Research, research, research. Even if you opt to use a consultant, research and do some more diligent research on them (the consultant).

The Benefits of Studying in Canada

Since this is why you’re here, let’s get into some things you need to know if you want to know how to apply for a Canadian study visa yourself. Studying at a Canadian institution is an awesome experience which can lead to a number of opportunities and benefits, such as experiencing cultural diversity akin to none, a world-class education, the opportunity to work in Canada when you complete your studies (You’ll need a work permit) and/or later be qualified to move there permanently.

You can research all the benefits of doing so before making the decision to study and endure from the start that your ducks are in a row.

apply for a study visa jamaica 2 canada

How to Apply for a Canadian Study Visa in 2022

To study in Canada or at a Canadian institution for more than six (6) months, if you are not a citizen or a permanent resident, you need to obtain a study visa. To obtain that visa, you must meet some minimum requirements to apply.

So now, the big question, how do you do it? Here’s how.

The Minimum Requirements for a Canadian Study Visa

These are the minimum requirements that you will need to be eligible to apply:

  • Acceptance for a program lasting a minimum of 6 months with a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • One Year’s Tuition
  • CAD$10,000 + Additional Funds for each member of your family travelling with you to Canada while you study.

We’re going to talk about these some more, but for now, log these mentally (or write them down) as your starting requirements. Whatever you can show that exceeds these baselines, are better for you. However, I am stressing that just because you are able to meet the minimum requirements for consideration, that doesn’t mean your entire application will stand up to scrutiny.

And it does need to. Stand up to the visa officer’s scrutiny, I mean.

Unspoken Requirements

There are also some unspoken rules that you need to demonstrate to help your application succeed. Although Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) asks for the minimal requirements for a study visa application, they want to see much more than that.

On a less stated and formal note, you also need to make a case to convince the visa officer (through your application since there is no in-person interview) that;

  • Your proposed course of study is reasonable given your previous studies, work experience or intended career plans.
  • Studying is Canada is a reasonable expense based on your capacity to pay for these expenses.
  • You will need to make a case as to why you wish to study in Canada specifically, as opposed to somewhere else, such as in your home country, where studies would undoubtedly be more affordable.
  • Finally, a study visa offers a temporary status, even if you plan to move on to a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) or anything else. You are being assessed on the study visa option right then. As such, you will need to make a case for and/or demonstrate ties to your home country that convince the officer on your case that you intend to leave Canada at the end of your studies.

You explain and demonstrate these things (and that you meet the minimum requirements, plus those required for your unique situation) with:

  • A letter of explanation, also known as a statement of purpose
  • Proof of Funds
  • Supporting documents
How to Apply for a Canadian Study Visa

Before You Apply for a Canadian Study Visa

1. Decide on a program to study and apply to a DLI

When you are deciding to study, you will need to decide on a program that is a good fit for you. This will depend heavily on where you are in your academic and career journey. From a career standpoint, your program should make sense. It should show how it would increase your earning potential from the current level or qualify you in a specialty that is related.

For example, if you have an undergraduate degree in accounting and five years of experience in accounting, studying a two-year diploma in accounting can be seen as counterproductive as it adds no value to add to your career. A master’s program may be a better fit.

This is not to say that you couldn’t do that and be approved. You could, but you would need to explain into oblivion and hope the officer reading your file buys into your explanation given the facts and supporting documents. However, it is a risk that rarely pays off from what I’ve learned.

You want to decide on the right program straight off the bat because most schools require a deposit shortly after acceptance of the offer to “reserve your seat’.

What is a DLI?

A designated learning institution is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are designated learning institutions.


This is especially important because if your school is not a DLI, you will not qualify for a study visa.

What to Consider: When searching for schools with programs available that you want to study, consider the location of the school.

  • Does that province have higher tuition fees? Can you afford it?
  • Is it a province you can afford to stay in comfortably with your expenses (cost of living)?
  • Can you cover all the costs?

A PGWP is a work permit you can apply for when you complete your studies. You can only get it ONCE and its length is dependent on how long you study for. If your goal is to permanently settle in Canada, would the amount of time and PGWP give you the requirements you need later? If you do intend to apply (if you qualify) or at least keep the option open for a PGWP after completing your studies, you want to ask;

  • How long is the program? Is it longer than 8 months?
  • Does the program at the school I’m interested in qualify for PGWP?
  • How many years would I want the PGWP for?

You should also consider your start date carefully. When you apply for your visa, it may take several months to be processed. In the event that your application is refused and you want to re-apply after addressing the reason for refusal (they tell you why), longer start dates offer the chance to do that without needing to defer to another term (or year) and needing new documents from your DLI. that. It may also help you prepare yourself more soundly for the move.

2. Prepare Proof of Funds

Studying in Canada as an International Student is expensive. That reality is inescapable. Proof of Financial capability/support is required to show the government that you can afford to support yourself through school in Canada. There are benchmark figures, but that’s all they are. The starting point. The more you can show that you can comfortably pay for your study, the more strength it adds to your application.

As an International Student in Canada, you are allowed to work for no more than 20 hours on a regular student visa and permit off-campus and unlimited hours on-campus. In most cases though, part-time work is not enough to cover all the living expenses you will incur and there are only so many jobs on campus to go around.

So what’s the solution? The government wants to know that you can afford the expense, without violating the terms of your visa by working for more hours than you are authorized. You do this by presenting bank statements, statements of accounts, investments, income, job letters, etc.

Tuition Requirements for Canadian Study Visa

IRCC asks that you show one year’s tuition from your program. If your program is one year, you’ll have covered this requirement by having that one year’s program tuition. However consider materials like books, health insurance, laptops, etc.

However, by virtue of recent (2021) experience, if your program is longer, for example, two years, they are looking for proof that you can pay for two years’ tuition and living expenses, even though this is not explicitly stated. You will need to show that you either have access to the money or provide proof of ongoing income/support for your expenses throughout your studies.

Living Expenses

Although the minimum requirement (as at the time of this post is CAD$10,000, showing exactly that amount is not recommended. Additionally, the cost of living in your intended city matters. This is especially true if you will be living in a more expensive city. Ten thousand dollars works out to be about $800 per month. In cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary this simply will not cover everything you need. Rent alone will obliterate that.

As such, it’s recommended that your research your city, put together a realistic budget and base your proof of living expenses on that instead.

There is a table with the most relevantly dated information on the government’s website.

What to Consider: You can fund your studies with a loan from a financial institution. You may also use a sponsor for studies and stay. However, the visa officer will consider factors like whether you can support yourself and anyone you bring with you and whether the sponsor can reasonably afford to help you and support their own lives (through the presentation of their assets, financial statements and personal obligations) and why they would help you (you would address this. in your LOE).

You cannot borrow the money you need to study from a person. If the documentation suggests anything of the kind or contradicts what you are claiming, you will be denied and/or find yourself in hot water for misrepresentation. Additionally, new bank accounts, lump-sum deposits in bank accounts unexplained, low-income sponsors, sponsors with no connection, etc are seen as red flags.

You will also find that proof of access to the money you claim to have in your application will follow you up until you land in Canada, where you will you may be asked to present it in order to secure a study permit at the border/immigration.

3. Write Letter of Explanation (LOE)/ Statement (SOP)

When you submit your application for a Canadian Study Visa, you will not have an in-person interview. Therefore, you make your case by writing a letter that explains to the reader, who you are on a personal level, why you want to study in Canada. State what your study plan is, how you will afford the venture, how you will support yourself financially during the venture. Explain how your proposed studies would benefit you and your career, and maybe even your community back home and the country.

It’s your opportunity to explain gaps in employment, studies, qualifications, a change in career, intended or previous, etc.

You may use the LOE to also present a tabled budget reflecting your funds. If you have a family spouse and/or children, you may choose to take them with you (your spouse may qualify for an open work permit and your children can go to school while you study) or if they are not going with you explain that, too. Since these decisions would be planned as a family, explaining the financial plan for the study period is also important.

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Speak about your ties; family, assets, businesses, community involvement and roles, jobs, etc.

What to Consider: Remember to reiterate that you recognize that your status would be temporary. That you understand the responsibilities that come with that status. That you intend to leave when your status requires you to. The more you can demonstrate that you have a realistic study plan, the more likely your chances of success are. Research best practices for your unique situation and address them.

4. Gather Documents To Apply for the Visa

This post is long and meant to tell you how to apply for a Canadian study visa. But if you do decide to apply, you will need to find the application requirement for your specific country. Keep in mind you need to back up your claims work experience (with job letters, proof of degrees, diplomas, certificates, etc.), own a passport and meet those requirements as well.

If you are in Jamaica, you will also need to obtain current and past employment letters, a Police Record.

Your chances for a faster processing time improve with a complete application.

Your application could be near perfect and refused and have gaping flaws and approved.

In Conclusion

Research and preparation are key. You can do your own application for a study visa in Canada or any other country if you are diligent and plan appropriately and ahead. I hope that you were able to find enough information in the post to jumpstart your research. However, in the end, nothing is guaranteed. Your application could be near perfect and refused and have gaping flaws and approved. You just never know, do know though, that anyone promising you a guaranteed success, is lying through their teeth. Some people apply and are refused, and try again and are successful when they addressed the reason for refusal adequately.

Nonetheless, immigration rules are always changing.

If you liked this post and found it helpful, comment and let me know if you would want more tips for application posts useful as well.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to apply for a Canadian study visa or any other study visa, or if you studied abroad, how was the experience? What value did the experience add to your life?

Let me know in the comments!

Xo, Shandean.

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Shandean Reid

I'm Shandean, a heavily caffeinated and effectual storyteller at heart. This blog is my transparent narration of life as a millennial family, lifestyle and mom blogger in the Canadian Prairies, tackling life as a PR professional, physician's wife, author, and content creator. I recently returned to work after five years as SAHM, switching roles with her husband, who is now the stay-at-home parent. Stick around if I'm your kind of person! I’m on YouTube!




  • Adrea Ann

    Very informative Shan! So proud of you🤗

  • Shelly DS

    Wow Shandean this is very informative indeed! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learnt. I’m considering this as an option actually!

  • Thanks for sharing what you’ve learnt. Its amazing information.

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