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Of the 404,165 Canadian study permits activated in 2019, almost 140,000 belonged to students from India.

The latest cohort of Indian students in Canada is the largest annual intake to date and brings the total number of Indian students to have activated a study permit in Canada since 2015 to 410,000. So, what’s attracting so many of India’s brightest and best to Canada, and how could you join this group in the next year or two? Let’s find out.

Why Indian students are opting for Canada

Entering 2020, over 34 percent of Canada’s total international student population of 642,480 was Indian (219,855). In fact, the total number of Indian students in Canada has quadrupled in the past five years alone. If the current trends continue, we can expect that this total will increase further as more Indians identify Canada as the perfect place to get a great higher education and launch a successful career.

Of course, every student’s experience is different. This is as true for Indian students as it is for those based here in Canada. That said, there are a number of indicators that provide insight into the popularity of Canada among this growing demographic. For instance, some Indian students may be enticed to Canada by the allure of Frosh Week, while others might want to graduate from a Canadian university to follow in the footsteps of William Shatner or Margaret Atwood. However, the main opportunities and attractions that Canada offers Indian students can be categorised under five main headings:

Quality education: First and foremost, it should not be forgotten that the primary reason why there are so many Indian students in Canada in recent years is because of the quality of the education on offer. Canadian colleges and universities turn out incredibly talented graduates. These well-funded, internationally-renowned institutions attract top professors and offer courses tailored to a changing economy. So, if you want to finish your course even smarter than you are right now and be fully prepared for working in life in Canada or elsewhere, then you should consider a Canadian university or college.

Earn while you learn: As an Indian student in Canada, you can earn as you learn. This allows  you to pay your way through university or college all while obtaining crucial work experience. This is not the case in other countries, and that’s one reason why so many students are choosing to study in Canada from India.

Lower tuition fees: While the cost of study in Canada for international students, including Indians, is  more than the fees paid by their Canadian classmates, this total is still competitive compared with other countries, particularly the United States, Australia, and the UK. It should be noted that the fees that international students, including Indian newcomers, can expect to pay will depend, to some degree, on the university or college they choose to attend. So, don’t sleep on cost when it comes to studying in Canada.

Visit here for more information on choosing the Canadian university, college or other educational institution that best meets your needs.

Pathway to permanent residence: Recent research from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) shows that some 60 percent of international students in Canada have reported that they are interested in becoming permanent residents after their studies. Canada’s Express Entry immigration system offers bonus points to people with Canadian study and work experience, with further emphasis on your language skills and your age.

Tolerant and multicultural country: You don’t have to be an aspiring history or international relations student to know that Canada’s progressive and tolerant immigration policies are at odds with some of its global counterparts in 2020. So much so that in 2018, 79 percent of international students in Canada surveyed by CBIE cited the country’s open and tolerant society as a reason for making it their study destination of choice that year.

Obtaining a Canadian student visa from India: What are your options?

There are many reasons why Indian students fare so well in the university system in Canada. First of all, India has an expanding middle-class population where educational attainment is highly-valued. In addition, many students wishing to study in Canada from India have strong English proficiency. These factors, combined with the openness of the Canadian study system, have created quite a dynamic combination for both parties, resulting in an uptick in the number of eligible Indian students applying for various programs offered by Canadian educational institutions. Here are some of your options.

Canadian study permit: A Canadian study permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) to someone who wants to come to Canada to study, or continue ongoing studies in Canada.

In order to be eligible for a study permit in Canada, Indian students can expect to satisfy the following criteria:

  • obtain a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI);
  • prove enough funds to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation. This means ensuring that you, as the student, have $10,000 CAD per year in addition to tuition fees (slightly more if your intended program is in Quebec). Students who plan on bringing a family member will need to show an additional $4,000 CAD per year, plus $3,000 CAD for every additional family member. You can find further details on the various ways to prove minimum funds here;
  • satisfy Canadian immigration authorities that they will leave Canada at the end of the period authorized by the study permit; and
  • be admissible to Canada (police background checks and/or a medical may be requested).

It is important to note that there may be additional requirements for students wishing to study in Canada from India, depending on the applicant’s individual circumstances.

Student Direct Stream: Under the Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada), Indian students can have their study permit applications fast-tracked, provided that they meet a series of qualifying criteria. This expedited study permit option is also open to students who are legally resident in Senegal, Morocco, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

In essence, the SDS Canada allows Indian students, as well as those from the other participating countries, who demonstrate upfront that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada to benefit from faster processing times.The service standard for Canada’s Student Direct Stream processing is 20 calendar days.

To qualify for the Student Direct Stream, applicants need to meet additional requirements, in particular language levels that are stricter than regular study permit requirements. In addition, a core component for acceptance through the Student Direct Stream is submitting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) showing you have an investment account with a balance of CAD $10,000 or higher.

To be deemed eligible for a Canadian Student Direct Stream, you must include the following documents with your application:

If you want further information on finding the best bank to obtain a GIC, consult our helpful guide.

A note on Quebec: Much like the immigration system more broadly in Canada, Quebec, Canada’s French-speaking province, has its own eligibility requirements when it comes to the process of applying for a study permit to one of the province’s universities, colleges or other educational institutions.

In almost all cases, individuals who wish to study in Quebec also need to apply for and obtain a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (certificat d’acceptation du Québec, or CAQ) before they may begin studying in Quebec. This includes the aforementioned Student Direct Stream. In general, the process of applying for a study permit for Quebec entails additional fees and processing times compared to the regular Canadian student visa processing times.

The CAQ is generally valid for the duration of the study program, up to a maximum of 49 months, and when it comes to minimum fund requirements, there are a number of key differences compared with the rest of Canada. For example, in Quebec you, as the student, will be required to have $11,000 CAD per year in addition to tuition fees as opposed to $10,000 in the rest of Canada. In addition, if you plan on bringing a family member with you while you’re studying in Quebec then they you will need to show $5,100 CAD per year for the first family member over 18, and $3,800 for the first family member under 18.

If you would like information on obtaining a study permit for Canada or Quebec from India, need additional details on bringing a family member, or have queries about health care entitlements while studying in Canada then please visit our dedicated page.

Where are Indian students settling in Canada?

Ontario is home to the highest number of international students in Canada. In 2019, it hosted some 48 percent of the country’s international student population — nearly 307,000 people. British Columbia is in second place, with 23 percent of Canada’s international students —about 145,000 people. Quebec takes third position, with 14 percent of all international students in Canada — 87,000 people.

In 2018, 65 percent of Indian students in Canada settled in Ontario — primarily, but not exclusively, in Toronto. Mirroring the international student numbers more broadly in Canada, British Columbia was the next most popular destination for Indian students, where 23 percent of the total Indian student cohort resided.

Applying to study in Canada from India: Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to the actual process of applying for a study permit to Canada from India, there are a number of dos and don’t that you need to consider closely. Here are our top tips:

Do your research and make sure that you are applying to a college or university that you will be happy to attend for the next three or four years.

Don’t forget to properly research what the course, or courses, you’ve applied for actually entail. How many hours per week will you be in labs? Will you have time to work a part-time job too?

Do take the time to contact the educational institutions you are hoping to attend individually. In many cases, the application process will differ according to the college or university you hope to apply to. A one-size-fits-all approach will not cut it.

Don’t sleep on your language assessment. As an international student, you will need to show proficiency in English (or French, depending on the institution). Generally, this means you need to supply results of a recognized language test such as the TOEFL or IELTS – required results and recognized testing bodies will vary by institution. Make sure to book your exam in time.

Don’t waste time when collecting important supporting documents. Most universities and colleges will require a copy of your high school transcript. You may need to also provide an educational credential assessment to show that your transcript is equivalent to the level of a Canadian high school diploma, and if your transcript is not in English or French you should expect to be asked for an official translation. This all takes time, so don’t mess around!

Do go the extra mile and get your hands on additional supporting documents as you may need them. Further documents such as letters of recommendation, portfolios, personal essays, and other supporting documents may also be requested, depending on the program or institution. As always, it’s best to consult your intended institution directly for the full requirements.

Don’t assume that all application processes for each college or university you hope to apply for are the same. Depending on where you want to apply, you may need to go through a centralized online application system such as Apply Alberta or Education Planner BC. Other provinces may not have a centralized application system, so you’ll need to apply directly through the university or college’s website.

Don’t forget that whatever the application deadline is at your intended institution, you need to include enough time to ensure that your study permit application can be processed in time for the start of the semester. It’s important to keep in mind that August and December have been the two busiest months for Indian student arrivals to Canada.

Do show patience! After you’ve submitted, you’ll have to wait for a decision from the universities or colleges you applied to. Many application systems allow you to check the status of your application online, and it’s recommended that you rely on this. However frustrating the wait may seem, be patient – you should get a response, whether or not you are accepted.

Don’t forget to be proud of yourself if you’re successful. After all, applying to study in Canada from India is a serious undertaking. Once you are accepted, you’ll receive a Letter of Acceptance from the Canadian university or college of your choice, with which you can apply for a Canadian study permit.

If you’d like more information on any aspect of studying in Canada, then be sure to visit our dedicated study section. And, if you moved, or are about to move, to Canada from India as a student and want to share any insights about your destination, even if it’s not listed above – get in touch! We’d love to share the  information or advice you may have for your fellow Indian citizens. Contact [email protected].

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