Canadian boarding schools, much like our American counterparts work very hard to promote our institutions in foreign countries all around the world. International students look to Canadian schools for a variety of reasons including a high quality education, an opportunity to be immersed in a English or even French environment, or simply for the cultural experience.
For schools, international students add to the diverse patchwork of the student body and are able to share the culture and experiences of their home country. Unlike domestic students, the process to study in Canada for international students is much more complex as these students much abide by the proper immigration laws. To be simple, the proper study permit is required. The process to obtain this can be straightforward; however it can also be frustrating if the proper steps are not taken.
Many schools will assist with this process once a student is accepted. This is important as there are documents that are required frojm the school. The first step would be to determine where the closest Canadian VISA office is (note: a Consulate or Embassy, does not necessarily mean there is a Visa office). Each Visa office has a website with explicit directions on how to apply in that particular country, and this may vary by country. For example, in Beijing, students are able to have their medical examination done prior to submitting their application, thus greatly decreasing processing time. Where as in Bangkok, the medical instructions are given to you after your application has been approved. These variances can mean the difference of weeks or even months in terms of processing times. When preparing your child to study abroad, you want the process to be as seamless as possible and as such, allowing for the proper processing times, can greatly decrease stress. Immigration Canada provides a breakdown of processing times by visa office, which can be found here.
These processing times are based on 100% complete applications, which again makes it that much more important. When you download the application and the application guide you will see a list of important required documents; however dependent upon your country of origin (or if you are planning on studying in the province of Quebec) additional materials may be required. For students and their parents from certain countries (listed here), a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is required for travel to Canada. For students looking to study in the province of Quebec, a certificat d’acceptation (CAQ) or Acceptance Certificate is required for the Study permit application. This additional certificate does have a processing time as well, that you need to be aware of.
A complete application is the most important piece of obtaining a study permit as most processing delays are not a result of the office administration, but rather from incomplete applications. All applicants need to be diligent in ensuring an application is complete, that the proper travel documents are obtained, as well that you allow time for proper processing times, interviews and medical examinations.
The initial process that it takes to obtain a study permit can be straightforward if applicants are attentive to detail and diligent in following the instructions from your country/region specific Visa Office. Once obtained, many schools will assist students in renewing their permits in Canada, prior to the end of the school year. Studying in Canada is an exceptional experience for international students (including Americans) to thrive in our high quality education system and be immersed in our rich culture. As Admissions Staff, we do work hard to make sure that all our students are able to experience this as soon as possible, beginning with the study permit.