Note: Arrive is not an immigration consultancy and therefore does not provide support with immigration or student permits. We created this post to support our users who have inquired about immigration-based questions. All information provided here has been sourced from the Government of Canada website. For in-depth info on the type of visa you may qualify for or assistance with regards to the process for obtaining work or student permits, please have a look at the Government of Canada website. 

As an international destination for study, Canada provides the opportunity to gain a world-class education in a multi-cultural setting, making it a rewarding decision. Thanks to Canada’s welcoming immigration policies, many students also see this as the first step in becoming permanent residents, and eventually Canadian!

The Preparation

Post-secondary schools in Canada are universities, colleges, private career colleges, or vocational and technical schools, each with its own set of application rules and selection criteria. 

  • Timelines: The application process for a post-secondary program starts at least a year in advance so be sure to research on the colleges/universities and the application process. 
  • Student Direct Stream: Students from China, India, Pakistan, Philippines, or Vietnam may qualify for faster processing (within 20 days) of their student permits through the Student Direct Stream
  • Next steps: If the school admits you as a student, they will issue an acceptance letter. This letter is essential to apply for a student permit.
  • Cost of living and studying: Tuition fees are a major cost component of overseas education. Here’s a quick overview of education costs in various Canadian provinces; don’t forget to budget for books, housing, food, clothing, travel, and transportation. Note that the Government of Canada doesn’t provide health insurance for foreign students, adding an extra expense for private insurance. 

Working in Canada as an international student

It is very common for international students to seek part-time jobs to meet living expenses and also gain Canadian experience. Here are some ways through which students seek employment:

  • On-campus / off-campus: A student enrolling for a degree, diploma, or certificate course that’s at least six months long can start working once the study program begins provided the study permit specifies that you are allowed to work on-campus or off-campus. 
  • Internship or co-op: Students can apply for internships or co-op positions off-campus if the course includes work experience as part of the curriculum.

Tip: If you’re enrolled in a full-time course, it helps to look at your course schedule and timings as there may not be any room for taking up a part-time job while studying. 

Finding employment post-graduation

International graduates are eligible to apply for a work permit after graduating. There are different types of work permits and the first step is to identify which one may be right for you:

  1. Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP): For a study program that’s between 8 months to less than two years, you may be eligible for a PGWP that’s equivalent to the duration of your program. For a program that’s over two years, you may qualify for a three-year work permit. Study programs that are less than 8 months or those that graduate from a private career college don’t qualify for a PGWP. 
  2. Open work permit: Allows you to work for any employer in Canada except those restricted.
  3. Employer work permits: Allows you to work according to certain terms, conditions, and restrictions. 

Learn more about work permits here

Student permit as a stepping stone to permanent residence (PR)

Students who have successfully graduated, and earned Canadian experience while working on a work permit, often proceed with applying for PR. The Come to Canada tool is a good way to check eligibility and research next steps to plan your journey to Canada.

Moving overseas to a culturally diverse country like Canada for studies is an excellent opportunity to enhance your skills, experience, and knowledge. Timely research and preparation can help you smoothly transition into the international student life!

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Green and Spiegel Immigration Law Firm
Government of Canada website


This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.