Canada is the second largest country in the world. Because of its climate, nearly 90% of the country lacks permanent settlements. Most of Canada’s 31 million people live in highly urbanized centers in the south, within 300 kilometers of the border with the United States. Three oceans border the country – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic. Due to its size, there are many different geographical areas and regions. These are divided into the following: the Atlantic region, Central Canada, the Prairie Provinces, the West Coast and the North. The country has 10 provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, New Found land and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and 3 territories Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon each with its own capital. The capital of Canada is Ottawa.
Canada is a democracy with a parliamentary Government. The Prime Minister is the leader of the political party with the largest number of elected Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Federal elections usually take place every four years. Government consists of three parts: Federal, Provincial and Municipal. The Federal Government is responsible for things that affect all of Canada such as national defense. Provincial Governments are responsible for education, health care, etc. and shares some issues with the Federal Government. Municipal Governments are in charge of the police force, the fire department and environmental issues.
The Justice System
As a citizen or a landed immigrant, you have equal access to the justice system. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every resident fundamental freedoms, legal rights and equality under the law.
There are of course many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the permanently frozen ice caps from north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant vegetation of British Columbia’s. Daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35° C and higher, while lows of -25° C aren’t uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.
Canada is culturally diverse, largely as a result of immigration. The country has two major linguistic groups and two official languages – English and French. More than 80% of the residents of the province of Quebec speak French as their first language, and there are concentrations of French-speaking Canadians in New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba. About 3% of the population are of Aboriginal ancestry. A national policy of multiculturalism encourages the development of educational programs that reflect the country’s cultural diversity
English, the mother tongue of 16.1 million Canadians, and French, the language of 6.6 millions, are Canada’s two official languages. However, many Canadians have mother tongue other than English or French, including Italian, Chinese, Punjabi, Hindi, German, Portuguese, Polish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Greek or other languages.
Canada is a major industrialized, trading nation, a member of the G7 and G8. It recognizes that its future prosperity depends on a highly educated work force. In the five years between 2000 and 2005, an estimated 44% of all new jobs in the country will require more than 16 years of education and training.
The educational system varies from province to province and includes six to eight years of elementary school, four or five years at the university undergraduate level. The 1991 census revealed that among Canadians aged 15 and over, 56.9 percent had attended secondary school, 31.7 percent had gone to a trade school or other type of post-secondary institution, and 1.9 million – 11.4 percent of the population – had a university degree.
The Canadian education system encompasses both publicly funded and private schools, from kindergarten through to university. Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution, which means there are significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces. However, standards across the country are uniformly high. In general, Canadian children attend kindergarten for one or two years at the age of four or five on a voluntary basis. All children begin Grade One at about six years of age. The school year normally runs from September through the following June but in some instances, January intake dates are possible. Secondary schools go up to Grades 11, 12 or 13, depending on the province. From there, students may attend university or college.
All universities and colleges in Canada do not rely on a single standardized test to evaluate their applications, each school has a separate set of entrance requirements. These can vary widely, but generally first degree or diploma programs ask for proof of completion of a number of high school credits or equivalents. This final phrase, “or equivalents” is the area where most international students must fit in. You will be required to show proof that your previous education covers the same scope that high schools in that particular province, which usually means good reading and writing skills, some mathematics, some study of science and perhaps even creative arts, depending on which program you would like to apply to.
In Canada, universities or colleges operate in either French and/or English. Thus, each school has a language proficiency requirement for all students whose first language is not one of these. Standardized language tests are usually the way schools determine your level of fluency or proof of English facility. Test scores are sent to the school along with your application and will be considered in conjunction with your academic record. The TOEFL is the most common one. Most schools ask for a minimum score of 550 on the written TOEFL. Some may ask for higher. Other accepted tests are the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Cambridge Proficiency Exam. A number of Canadian schools have their own tests which they administer and at times, even if you have been accepted based on standardized test scores, the school will require you to be tested once again in their own facility once you enroll.
International Students, Tuition Fees, General Arts and Science programs (In Canadian Dollars)
|Newfoundland||$6,660||$1,896 – $3,549
|Prince Edward Island||$5,031 – $6,731|| $3,878 – $5,578
|Nova Scotia||$5,456 – $9,180||$3,160 – $10,270
|New Brunswick||$4,580 – $8,080|| $4,920 – $5,630
|Quebec||£$8,265 – $9,180|| $7,450 – $15,000
|Ontario||$6,500 – $12,202|| $7,450 – $15,000
|Manitoba||$4,696 – $5,017||$4,212 – $6,890
|Saskatchewan||$5,625 – $8,127||$2,813 – $5,625
|Alberta||$4,845 – $6,880||$4,684 – $15,000
|British Columbia||$3,784 – $13,830||$2,100 – $17,000
|School-Provided Homestays||$ 400 – $800 per month|
|Off Campus Housing||$250 – $ 750 per month|
|School-Provided Residence/Dormitory||$250 – $ 750 per month|
Students must meet the costs of study and living in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada requires proof that the student has sufficient money available. If the institution provides a cost of living estimate, the immigration officer will generally follow it. In the absence of a cost of living estimate, the immigration officer will require evidence of $10,000 to cover 12 months living expenses for a single student. An additional $4,000 will be required for a spouse and an additional $3,000 for each dependent, to cover 12 months living expenses. This amount includes food, accommodation, transportation, medical insurance, books, clothing and sundries. These are minimum estimates. Tuition and other student fees are not included in this amount.
The amounts required for Québec (2008) are slightly different: $9,600 for a single student, $12,960 for two people (student plus one dependent), $16,000 for three people (student plus two dependents), and an additional $2,240 for each additional dependent. A $500 installation amount is also required.
Acceptance at a Canadian school, university or college does not automatically secure accommodation in residence. At universities and colleges, on-campus housing is often available; arrangements for on-campus housing must be made separately through the Director of Residences. Such accommodation is limited, and reservations must be made early, usually by the May preceding September enrolment. Off-campus housing in rented rooms, housekeeping flats or apartments cannot be reserved in advance. It may be necessary to secure temporary accommodation upon arrival until permanent housing is arranged. Information on housing is available from the housing office or the International Student Adviser at most institutions
Secondary students are usually responsible for finding their own housing.
Sometimes the international student office will arrange homestay (room and board with a family), or assist in finding apartments for students. Ask about housing services at the time of application.
Students from warmer climates must expect to spend a considerable amount of money in the first few months on winter wear such as coats, boots, sweaters and gloves. On campus, most students dress informally.
It is imperative that every student and dependent obtain medical and hospital insurance, as health care in Canada is expensive. Public medical and health insurance plans are administered independently by each province, and some private or supplementary plans are available. Some universities and colleges require students to purchase health insurance coverage through them. It is not possible to arrange for coverage in advance, but it should be secured within the first week after arrival. Please note that even if provincial coverage is available free of charge to international students, the students must nevertheless register with the provincial health coverage authority to ensure coverage.
Approximate Cost of Living in Canada
Here are some typical costs for living in Canada:
Bus Fare One Way (local) : $2.00
Local Telephone Call : $0.25
Average Restaurant Meal : $10.00 – 25.00 per person
Movie : $8.50
Letter within Canada : $0.47
International Postage (letter) : $0.94.
Who Should Apply?
Students will have a greater chance of getting financial aid if they
• Show evidence of a high level of academic achievement
• Achieve high Standardized Examination scores (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL etc.)
• Demonstrate financial need but have private funding to cover some of the cost. Financial need is not crucial for some awards.
• Enroll in a field or have teaching experience in a subject offered at the undergraduate level (to increase opportunities for a teaching assistantship)
• Specialize in a field or have a research interest which parallels that of the department and faculty or private funding source (which increases opportunities for research assistantships and grants)
• Have outstanding letter of recommendation and an impressive statement of purpose.
Send a sample of professional writing, published or otherwise.
Many graduate departments at universities offer teaching assistantships or research assistantships to their graduate students (students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree particularly in engineering). Assistantships usually involve a tuition award and some sort of salary in return for teaching or research duties. Every school has a limited number of openings for assistantships based on the amount of funding allocated. As a result, such scholarships are merit-based, meaning they are competitive, based on your academic performance to date. Individual departments at the university generally control funds. It always helps to write directly to the department to inquire about available funding. Students who are research oriented or have published papers in a particular field should contact professors interested in that field. By contacting professors in advance and building a relationship, you can greatly enhance your chance of getting aid.
Unfortunately, there are many deserving students who do not get aid along with the admission. If you are one of them and plan on joining anyway, we strongly recommend you arrive a few days prior to the registration time. This will give you an opportunity to personally talk with the professors and sell your skills. Professors usually have funding available for various projects and you may be able to find something that matches your skill set. We also strongly recommend that you don’t restrict yourself to your particular department. There are several opportunities in other departments particularly for students with strong computer skills. You have to be aggressive and persistent in your approach. Although there is no guarantee that you will get financial aid, it is well worth the try.
Working while you Study
Employment opportunities for international students are limited. You should not plan on earning substantial money from a part-time job to help pay for your studies.
On campus : Though international students are allowed to work on the campus of any publicly-funded, degree granting institution, these jobs are often difficult to obtain and do not provide sufficient funds to sustain education costs.
Practical Training : In addition, there may be opportunities for practical training which entail a period of authorized employment, designed to allow foreign students to have professional work experience related to their field of study. For further details, contact the foreign student adviser at the university, after you are enrolled.
Each institute has its own policy for housing and may offer a range of options for single and married students. Most common types of accommodations are:
School-Provided Homestays: A homestay usually consists of a Canadian family hosting a student in their home while the student attends classes in Canada. This includes meals as well as a private, furnished room. (Cost: CDN $ 400 – $ 800 per month)
School-Provided Residence/Dormitory: Many schools have accommodation conveniently located on or near their campuses. There is usually an option of either shared or private room and dormitories.
Off Campus Housing: Usually many students share or rent apartments to save costs. Listings of available apartments or homes are published weekly in local newspapers. Rents vary greatly according to the location and time of year. (Cost: CDN $ 250 – $ 700 per month)
This is another very important criteria for financial planning. Most Canadian Institutes require that all students including international students be covered by an insurance policy that will protect them against medical, hospital bills if they get sick or are injured while studying at the college, as health care is very expensive. Some provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan cover international students under their provincial health care plans. Students studying in other provinces must arrange for private medical coverage through private insurance companies, which approximately costs about CDN $ 35 per month.
All overseas students are required to obtain a Student Authorization and Visa before going to Canada for studies. Students must also meet the requirements of the Canadian Immigration Act and Regulations. Under normal circumsatnces, allow at least two months for your visa to be processed.
Visa and Student Authorization Procedure
Submit the completed application kit to the immigration section of the Canadian High commission. Please note that all the documents submitted, must be either original or photocopies notarized and witnessed by a notary public or a magistrate or the Canadian Immigration Officer, and be accompanied by a duplicate copy.
• Completed Student Application form.
• Completed Supplementary Questionnaire for students and postdoctoral researchers.
• Official letter of acceptance from Canadian university, college or Technical Institute.
• Certificate of Acceptance from the province of Quebec (Only if you plan to study in province of Quebec)
• TOEFL/IELTS scores if applicable
• Passport, valid for at least one year from the planned date of entry to Canada, plus valid passports of any accompanying dependants.
• Bank Draft for the applicable visa processing fees
Proof of Funds
Every applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources available to them to pay tuition fees, maintain him/herself and dependants who go to Canada, and to pay return transportation costs without engaging in employment in Canada. For example, students without accompanying dependants must demonstrate that they have at least $10,000 Cdn plus the cost of tuition for a twelve-month period, plus the cost of transportation to and fro from Canada. Canadian $10,000 is the base amount considered adequate to cover all costs, other than tuition, for one person for a twelve-month period. Some educational institutions require that more funds be available; if the local cost of living is higher than average, more money may also be required.
After the Completed application forms along with the documents are submitted. An interview with a Canadian Visa Officer may be required. If this is the case, you will be advised in writing of the time and place for the interview. The Canadian high commission will issue medical instructions. Students and accompanying dependants must pass a medical examination. If the student and accompanying dependants are found to be in good health and there are no other concerns with the application, the Visa and Student Authorization will be issued.
Will I need to attend an interview?
After reviewing your application, a visa officer will decide if an interview is necessary. If so, the officer will contact you directly to set up a time and place for an appointment.
What happens when I arrive in Canada?
When you arrive in Canada, you must inform officials at the port of entry that you are an international student picking up your student authorization. At that point, you will show the letter issued by the Canadian visa office in your country of origin to an immigration officer, who will issue your student authorization. Please note that authorizations are not issued by customs officers. The immigration officer at the port of entry will determine whether you may enter Canada and how long you may stay. You must either leave Canada on or before the date set by the immigration officer or have your status extended by an immigration office in Canada.
May I change schools?
You may change institutions and/or program of study to others at the same level. Applications for changing schools can be obtained from the nearest Canada Immigration Centre. However, if the terms and conditions on your student authorization state that you are required to attend a specific school, then if you wish to change schools, you must apply for a new student authorization and provide the appropriate documentation. This may be done while you are in Canada.
May I work during my stay in Canada?
You may work on the campus of any publicly-funded, degree-granting institution that you are attending. If you are a full-time student at a post-secondary institution, you may also require an employment authorization for the following circumstances: if the intended employment is an essential and integral part of your course of study (this does not apply to accounting students, medical interns or medical residents); if the intended employment is related to an approved research or training program; or if you have successfully completed a community college or university program in Canada and wish to work for a maximum of one year in employment related to your course of study.
May I leave Canada and return?
Yes. However, should your student authorization expire while you are out of Canada, you may not be allowed to return to study. If you initially required a visitor visa in addition to a student authorization, you will be able to return to Canada providing your visa, passport and student authorization are valid.
How do I obtain an extension of my student authorization?
If you wish to extend your student authorization, you can do so within Canada. Contact the nearest Canada Immigration Center at least two months before the expiry of your authorizations, and ask for an application to be mailed to you. All applications for student authorizations from within Canada must be mailed to and processed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s central processing center in Vegreville, Alberta
How do I obtain a study permit (sometimes called a “student visa”)?
Once you’ve been accepted by an institution for a program of study in Canada, you should apply for a study permit at the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission. The application process should begin at least three months prior to the commencement of classes. Students from some countries might also require visitor visas, which are issued at the same time as the study permit.
Minimum documents required to apply for a study permit include: a valid passport; an original letter of acceptance from the institution; as well as evidence of adequate funds to cover tuition and living costs for you and any dependents, including return transportation. Interviews are sometimes required for clarification of information you have provided in your application. In some cases, a medical examination or an interview may also be needed. Once you submit a complete application it can take between four to six weeks to receive your permit. We recommend you apply at least three months in advance. Make sure all required documents are included.
What can I do to speed up medical processing?
Set up your appointments as far in advance as possible. You could provide the examining physician with a pre-paid courier envelope for submission to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Some students will not require a medical. It depends on your places of residence over the year immediately prior to your application.
Can I visit my own doctor for my medical?
No, Citizenship and Immigration Canada only accepts medical exam results from a Designated Medical Practitioners.
What can I do if my study permit has been refused?
There is no appeal process, but you can apply again at a later time.
Will I require health insurance while I am in Canada?
International students are required to carry health insurance coverage. Each province administers its own public medical and health insurance plans, though some private and supplementary plans are also available. However, even if in instances where provincial coverage is available to international students at no cost, they must register with the health insurance authority in the province to ensure they are in fact covered. Your university/college should be able to advise you on this matter. Most major educational institutions have their own insurance plan for international students and will help you register and pay fees on arrival.
Is there usually somewhere or someone I can turn to with any problems, issues or concerns I might have during the academic year?
Most post-secondary institutions have an international student adviser assigned to assist international students and give them advice on housing, health insurance, financial issues and immigration concerns. Other services might include organizing orientation and special events, exchange opportunities and regular information sessions. Some institutions offer peer programs that match an international student with a Canadian student to help a newcomer with settling in on campus. Host family programs are also often available in which a Canadian family helps an international student integrate into Canadian life
Are international students eligible for scholarships? What financial assistance is available to international students?
Yes international students are eligible for some scholarships. The majority of scholarships available are for master’s or doctoral students. See the Awards section.
Do I need to prepay my tuition fees before arrival?
No, unless your institution requires it. In fact, many institutions are not able to accept your fees until you arrive and register. However, you must show CIC officials that the funds are available and can be transferred to Canada. In exceptional circumstances, where there are local currency restrictions, which may hamper the timely transfer of funds, visa officers might request that proof of an off-shore account in the student’s name or full payment of the tuition fees in advance.
Do I have to renew my study permit every year? How do I renew it?
In general, students will receive a study permit for the full period of their studies, e.g. three or four years. However, an immigration officer has the authority to issue a permit for a one-year period only. To renew your permit, you must submit an application to the Case Processing Centre in Alberta, Canada PRIOR TO the expiry of your authorization. Forms are available at CIC Centres across Canada (and on the web.)
How do I change from a visitor’s visa to a study permit while in Canada?
To change your status from that of visitor to student, you need to submit an application for a study permit at a visa office abroad. You may have to leave Canada if you are called for an interview to determine your eligibility. This process can take four to six weeks. List of the visa offices abroad.
I am studying in Canada. If I want to change from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s Program do I need a new study permit? If I want to change to a different university, do I need a new permit?
You do not need to apply for a new permit if you are moving from one university to another university regardless of change in level – unless your permit specifies the name of your institution. If you are changing from a college to a university or vice-versa, you will require a new study permit. If you are studying in Quebec you will need a new CAQ if you change levels or institutions.
How do I get my foreign credentials assessed?
The web site of the Canadian Information Center for International Credentials, http://www.cicic.ca/, provides useful information and referrals for international students wishing to have their credentials assessed.
Even though I’m eligible to apply for a study permit at the port of entry (as a US citizen or from Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon), is it still advisable to apply in advance?
It’s advisable to apply in advance. US students should apply through their closest Canadian consular office. Students from Greenland should apply through the Canadian High Commission in London, UK and students from Saint Pierre and Miquelon should apply through the Canadian Embassy or Consular offices in France.
Canadian Education Center (CEC)
The CEC India is one of 19 offices around the world of the Canadian Education Centre Network (CECN). The role of the CECN is to promote Canada as an education destination to students considering an international education experience.
The CEC India Resource Centre offers:
• Prospectuses, calendars, and brochures from over 200 Canadian universities, university/colleges, community colleges and technical institutes
• Application Forms
• Information on Canada
• Internet/CD ROM/video viewing facilities
• Degree, diploma, university transfer and tailor-made programmes
• Admission requirements and procedures
• Campus life in Canada
• Student authorization (visa) procedures and package preparation
Canadian Education Centre
86, Paschimi Marg,
Tel : (011) 2614-6648/52
Fax : (011) 2614-6078
Monday to Friday, 10 AM – 1 PM and 2 PM – 4 PM
Monday to Thursday, 10 AM – 1 PM
Canadian Education Site(http://www.studyincanada.com)
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (http://www.aucc.ca/en/index.html)
Guide for International Students (http://cicnet.ci.gc.ca/english/visit/study_e.html)
Canadian Bureau for International Education (http://www.cbie.ca/)
British Columbia Centre for International Education (http://www.bccie.bc.ca/)
Canada Student Loans Program (Applies to Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents) (http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/student_loans/common/index.shtml)
Canadian High Commission
Canadian High Commission – New Delhi
7/8 Shantipath, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi 110 021
Tel: (91-11) 5178-2000
Fax: (91-11) 5178-2020
Canadian Consulate General – Chandigarh
SCO #33-34-35, Sector 17-A
Chandigarh 160 017
Tel: (91-172) 505-0300
Fax: (91-172) 505-0320
Canadian Consulate – Chennai
Chamber 2, Business Centre
The Residency Towers
Sir Thyagaraya Road
Chennai (Tamil Nadu) 600 017
Tel: (91-44) 2815 1445
Fax: (91-44) 2815 7029
Canadian Consulate General – Mumbai
4th Floor, 41/42 Maker Chamber VI
Jamnalal Bajaj Marg, Nariman Point
Mumbai 400 021
Tel: (91-022) 2287-6027-30
Fax: (91-022) 2287-5514