Study In Canada?

Hello, and welcome to LosFizz.com. For my return readers you might already know that I have relocated to Vancouver, BC for school. I have pushed off this post for quite some time now because I wanted to make sure that I actually obtained my study permit to study here in Canada and I wanted to get the full experience from start to finish. Now, the actual experience of going to school here is something that you'll have to read along the way, and keep up with my posts because I've only been here for a about three months now. So check back with me periodically if you're interested in getting details about how the school life is out here. 

- Sit tight because this will be a bit lengthy

FIRST THINGS FIRST: 

Reason: The first order of business is to have a reason to come to Canada. Take me for example. When I decided to look into transferring out of my College in New York, I already had Canada in mind. The reason being is that when I was 18 I had already applied and was accepted to a school in Montreal, QC. The school was Dawson College, in Downtown Montreal. It offered English studies, an extensive graphic design program that guaranteed me a Bachelors in Graphic Design in 3 years for a total of about $32,000 USD. It may seem like a lot, but at the time I was also comparing prices for schools in New York City & Atlanta and the average tuition for 3-4 years would have been between $53-80,000USD. 

Of course there are other options that are not as pricey. But when looking into these schools I wanted to make sure they fit a certain criteria and they were the ones that best fit my needs and wants. So fast forward a bit, When I entered my last semester at Suffolk County Community College, I had applied to a school in San Jose, California. The school was San Jose State University. I got in! but, I was disappointed shortly after, finding out that as a first year student, Students were obligated to live on campus and be part of the meal program. After all was said and done, my tuition was going to be roughly $40,000USD for the first year and about $32,000 for the second year. 

I quickly jumped online and applied to a couple of schools in Vancouver, BC and was accepted to two of them. The first was Farleigh Dickinson University and the second was Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I had to turn down FDU because it was a private school and did not offer any loans to U.S students (although it is an actual U.S University). Kwantlen was the runner up, and was the same price as FDU but it offered U.S Federal Loans, so it was more suitable for me. 

So, that being said, what would have cost me roughly $72,000 USD will now cost me roughly $23,000USD. Thats a huge savings! if you really think about the amount of money You can save from this over your lifetime, its money you can use to buy a home for investment. Money you can set aside for retirement or a nice car. 

So MY reason was the cost of tuition. However I always wanted to live on the west coast. So its actually two reasons. Since I've been here I've spoken to a few people, and money is not always the underlying factor that influences people to study in Canada. Some of the Responses I've gotten are: 

  • " I have family, friends or loved ones who live in a Canadian city "
  • " The quality of life is better "
  • " healthcare "
  • " The quality of education is better "

Not everyone is going to have the same reason, and even if someone has the same reason, it does not particularly mean you will have the same outcome. So keep that in mind. 

STEP TWO. TIMING IS EVERYTHING:

Once you have figured out that Canada is a great place for you to study and you have good enough reason to do so, And which city you'd like to move to, your next step is to research the school of your choice. I highly recommend looking into about 3-4 different schools and compare the following: 

  • Location
  • Cost Of Attendance (this includes tuition and fees)
  • Requirements for meal plans & or dorms 
  • Programs & how the classes offered are different from one another
  • Scholarships & Awards offered
  • When each semester begins
  • Deadlines to apply or register 
  • Minimum requirements to be admitted into your program of choice 

Great, so you have now compared different schools and you have narrowed it down. I highly recommend narrowing it down to about 2 different schools. Pick the ones that fit your needs best. Use the list above to closely match the school that meets your requirements and needs.  

Take for me for example (again)  

  • location: I wanted a school that was Easily accessible by train or bus and was not too far from Downtown Vancouver. 
  • Cost of attendance: I wanted to attend a school that would be at least half the price of what San Jose State would have cost me
  • Meal Plans/Dorms: Luckily for me dorms are not a requirement for first year students, because they do not exist at KPU. Nor do the meal plans. Generally you can expect a bit more in savings if you're seeking alternative living options in terms of rent and food. 
  • Programs: I compared the courses and programs offered at KPU Vs. FDU and SJSU. I wanted a program that was going to closely resemble or offer that of which was offered at SJSU... Luckily KPU did just that.
  • scholarships / Awards: Unfortunately for me I did not qualify for scholarships or awards, either because I am not a citizen, resident or I missed the deadline to apply. But considering that cost of attendance is only a fraction of what I would've paid in California, I was satisfied.   
  • Deadlines To Apply: The deadlines to apply fell right in place with the direction I wanted to go in. Once I had applied I already had a set date for my final transcript to be released on time for review of transfer credits, and everything worked out well. Because I did not want to waste time I was able to take the summer off and quickly get right back in for the fall semester after graduating with an associates in the spring. 
  • Requirements: I'll be honest. I'm not a straight A student, but I try my best. Luckily for me I was able to maintain nearly a 3.0 GPA which is just about sufficient enough to get you into some pretty good schools in North America. However because I did not have a strong foundation in math I lacked some classes that were required by some of the higher end institutions in Vancouver like, SFU, BCIT or UBC. But at the end of the day I was able to meet the requirements for KPU and get in with little or no complications. 

OKAY GREAT. YOU FOUND THE SCHOOL OF YOUR CHOICE AND YOUVE DONE THE RESEARCH... NOW WHAT?  

  • I'm glad you asked. The next important thing is timing. Be sure to speak with your counselor at your current school or the school you last attended so that they can guide you on what steps you need to take to ensure you have a smooth transfer. 
  • BE SURE TO DO IT WITH AT LEAST 6-12 MONTHS PRIOR TO APPLYING FOR THE SCHOOL OF YOUR CHOICE.  
  • Why?  
  • This will give you plenty of time to gather all the required documents you'll need to apply for the study permit. Which I will discuss in detail next.  
  • Note : not all counselors will have the answers you need or provide enough support for your transition. In some cases you may want to just contact the school you will be applying to directly and bypass the counselor or advisor at your current or previous school. Which I highly recommend doing regardless if you get good help or not. 

STEP THREE: GETTING THE RIGHT DOCUMENTS (STUDENT VISA / PERMIT)

LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE

The letter of acceptance is issued to you by the institution or school from which you applied. Prior to applying for the study permit/visa you'll need to have this. Along with the acceptance letter you'll receive an offer letter, in some cases this will also be needed when applying for the visa. 

Note: I could be wrong about this, however from my personal experience if you wish to obtain the study permit you'll of course need to have been admitted into a post secondary institution first. If you want to keep your options open however, and try another institution but could not get accepted because of credits or financial reasons, the best thing to do would be to get admitted into an institution first and attend at least one semester. Once you have entered Canada, in most cases your study permit/visa will grant you access to any post secondary institution in Canada. you can then transfer to your desired college or university. 

PROOF OF IDENTITY: 

A valid passport or travel document that guarantees re-entry to the country that issued it.  It is recommended that you renew your passport in your home country if it is expiring within one year of arriving in Canada. Having a valid drivers license as well would help as well. I highly recommend. When applying for the study permit/visa you will also need a recent passport photo. I advise to have at least 3 on hand just in case. 

MEDICAL EXAM:  

"Canada Immigration requires students from certain countries to pass a medical exam and criminal history check, if applicable. Refer to the Citizenship and Immigration website: Medical Exam http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/medical/index.asp " 

To obtain a medical exam you'll need to visit the link above, select your country, followed by the city or state from which you have legal residence. After that you'll need to schedule an appointment. i advise that you try to do this at least 6 weeks in advance to make sure that all the proper documents and medical records are completed in time. 

Heres my experience with obtaining the medical exam. I lived on Long Island, NY. Unfortunately for the State of New York, there are only 2 licensed doctors that you can see for this medical exam. One is located in New York City, and the other is in Albany. So, getting a doctor nearby wasn't necessarily convenient, although New York City was just a 45min train ride. 

The exam cost me about 215$ (cash only), and i had it scheduled about 2 months prior to applying for the visa/permit. In total there were about 4-5 exams which consisted of a physical, blood work, urine sample, x-ray, and simple medical history questionnaire. It lasted about 3-4 hours. I had printed the forms out in advance, and needed to provide my passport along with a recent passport size photo. 

Once the exam is done, you're given a confirmation paper and copies of some paperwork. There is a code that is given to you if you would like to go online and check the status of your results, after this is uploaded to a database, Immigration will have access to it.

PROOF OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT:  

One of the most important requirements when applying for a study permit/visa is making sure that you're financially stable to provide for yourself. In the province of British Columbia you need to show a minimum of $10,000 CAD per year. In fact all provinces in Canada require $10,000 CAD per year, except for Quebec. Quebec's minimum is $11,000 CAD. Thats about $7,500-8,500 USD. 

canadastudypermit

"and the family members who accompany you while you are in Canada. You can prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in Canada by showing some of the following:"

  • proof of a Canadian bank account in your name if money has been transferred to Canada

This one is not mandatory, but if you have one already it will help. However in most cases if you do not have a Canadian address or have not entered Canada yet, chances are you'll have a hard time opening up a Canadian account before you move. TD bank operates in both Canada and the U.S however even though i had TD bank in New York, they would not let me open a Canadian account until i had a Canadian address. 

  • proof of a student/education loan from a financial institution

If you need to apply for Sallie Mae, U.S Federal Loans, or other private loans you will need proof that you have taken out the loans or requested them. Often in times the School can provide a letter for you that will show proof of the loans. 

  • Your bank statements for the past four month

If you don't need to rely on loans and have the money in the bank you will need to provide bank statements for the past 6 months. In fact regardless of any loans you would still need to provide statements for the past 6 months showing that you have sufficient funds.

  • a bank draft in convertible currency

This one here had me worried. I for some reason could not get a bank draft from either Chase Bank or TD Bank. They claimed that they did not offer that product. However what they did give me was a notarized letter from the branch manager stating that i had X amount of dollars in my account and that it was legitimate. 

What is a bank draft? it is "a check drawn by a bank on its own funds in another bank". Basically from my understanding is that Immigration will take the funds that you claim to have and place a temporary hold to ensure the funds are legitimate and that you're not lying about the amount of money you have.

Convertible currency just means it needs to be in a currency that can be converted to CAD. For example they probably won't accept mangos or bitcoin or silver bullion. 

  • proof of payment of tuition and accommodation fees

This would be the same as above. If you paid your deposit to the school i would advise to show proof of that as well. You can also request to have the school write a letter for you explaining that you've paid your fees, tuition and/or have loans that will be disbursed. 

  • a letter from the person or institution providing you with money

As mentioned above, a letter from the school would be sufficient. However if you're receiving aid from your parents, or grandparents or a legal guardian, they would need to write a letter explaining that they are providing you with money and they should provide some proof of where that money is coming from as well. 

  • proof of funding paid from within Canada if you have a scholarship or are in a Canadian-funded educational program.

Im not 100% sure about this one because i did not receive any scholarships, however its not hard to tell that all you need is proof of the scholarships. If any. 

for more information visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/study-how-documents.asp#doc3 for detailed information about your proof of funds to apply for a study permit.

LETTER OF EXPLANATION: 

The letter of explanation should go into further detail about your financial situation. Not all of the documents listed are needed however try your best to obtain as many as you can as well as providing enough information as you can. For example, because I am covering my living expenses out of pocket, I mentioned in my letter of explanation that I owned a car and that a couple of weeks prior to moving I would sell it and put that money into an account for living expenses. I also provided information on my credit cards that I would have access to in case of any emergencies. 

Be sure to provide details about your previous education history and how that relates to the degree, program or courses you are looking to take. Give a brief explanation of what you hope to achieve by attending an institution in Canada. This will give the immigration officer a better chance to get to know who you are without meeting you. This will make the process easier and increases your chances of obtaining the study permit/visa. Be sure to be honest and truthful in this letter. 

CONCLUSION:

The application process is about 30 minutes to an hour. That is after you have all the documents you need. The best way to go about this is to do it online. Its the fastest way to get your study permit/visa. Its about $155 CAD. 

Processing times vary between states and countries. If you're in the states and plan to do it on paper, I advise that you do it 3-6 months in advance. Although the immigration Canada website states that it can take 5-11 weeks I advise again, to do it months in advance just in case there are any problems with your paper work. 

Personally I applied 5 weeks prior to my departure in hopes that I would receive the permit on time. Thank god I did. It only took 3 business days before I got the good news. That was super quick! However do not take my example as a grounds for applying too late in hopes that you'll get it in the same time frame as I did. Be cautious. 

GOOD LUCK!

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