Before You Leave
Applying for a Study Permit
Contact the Canadian college or university where you plan to attend to clarify what documentation is required to study in Canada. A study permit is required for programs of 6 months or more. Also ensure that you obtain a temporary resident visa. We strongly urge students to apply at least 2-3 months in advance of the desired departure date for Canada.
At the Port-of-Entry in Canada:
- Present your passport with your Canadian visa, any immigration document issued by an Embassy of Canada and your letter of acceptance from a Canadian educational institution.
- An officer will examine your documentation and determine if you can be admitted to Canada.
If you will be attending an educational institution for 6 months or more in the Province of Québec, you must obtain a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).
Applying for a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ)
You must submit an application to the regional office in Québec that is responsible for the territory where your intended educational institution is situated.
Québec Immigration Services requires the following documentation:
- a completed CAQ application form--available from your Québec educational institution;
- a photocopy of your Letter of Acceptance--keep the original for Canadian Immigration;
- CAD$100 processing fee payable in Canadian funds or the equivalent in U.S. dollars. (Only bank drafts and money orders are accepted, payable to the “Ministre des Finances du Québec”. They must be purchased at a bank that deals with a financial institution in Canada.)
If you are under the age of 18 at the time studies commence, you must have a guardian living in the Province of Québec. In such cases, the following documentation must be submitted with your CAQ application:
- A custodianship declaration, certified by a notary or lawyer, by your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) authorizing you to stay and study in Québec, and delegating parental responsibilities to a resident of Québec for the length of your stay in Québec or until you turn 18 years old.
- A custodianship declaration, certified by a notary or a lawyer in Québec, by the Québec resident confirming that he/she accepts legal guardianship.
Upon receipt by Québec Immigration, your application will be processed, and confirmation of your approved CAQ will be sent to you by mail and to the Embassy of Canada in your region.
For more information, please visit the Québec Immigration Services website.
Traveling to Canada
Before making important travel arrangements with your travel agent or online:
- Confirm your travel dates. You may want to purchase a flexible ticket that allows you to change your return flight.
- Purchase travel insurance. Your student medical insurance may only cover you during your study period and not while traveling before and after your studies.
- Confirm your airport arrival time. For international flights, check-in at least 2 hours prior to yours scheduled departure time.
- Obtain a current passport that is valid at least 6 months after your return date.
- Find out where you will stay when you arrive in Canada and how will you get there from the airport.
- Ensure you have local currency for transit destinations. Some countries require you to pay airline taxes in transit, which have not already been included in your ticket cost. You may also find local currency useful to purchase a snack or magazine along the way.
- Ensure you have Canadian currency--cash or traveller’s cheques.
- Find out your airline’s baggage limitations. Check how much baggage you are allowed to take with you and be mindful of weight restrictions.
- Never agree to carry somebody else’s bags or pack somebody else’s items in your baggage. It may contain something that is illegal which you will be accountable for.
- Find out which items are restricted or prohibited for travel to Canada. There are restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, food, animals plant products, drugs and prescription drugs that are not approved in Canada. People found in contravention of regulations face stiff penalties. At some stage in your flight you will be given an incoming passenger card to fill in where you will need to declare what you have brought with you to Canada.
- When packing your carry-on baggage, remember to prepare for any flight delays by packing basic toiletries and a change of clothes.
- Clearly tag all of your baggage, noting your name and the complete address of your destination in Canada. Also, pack a card inside your luggage with your Canadian contact details.
- When checking in for your flights, ask whether your baggage will be checked through to your final destination in Canada, or whether you must claim and transfer your baggage at any stage during your travel itinerary. Also check if you can be pre-issued with boarding passes for all of your connecting flights or whether you will need to check-in at each airport en route.
- Remember to keep all important documents, medications and high value items such as cameras, jewellery, laptops, phones, credit cards and cash with you – do not pack these items in your checked baggage.
Make photocopies of important documents and pack these away in your baggage and leave copies at home with someone you trust, including:
- Airline tickets
- Travel insurance certificate
- Letter of Acceptance from your Canadian institution
- Key addresses and phone numbers
- A bank statement showing proof of funds
- Letter of Introduction from Canadian immigration (if relevant)
- Prescriptions or a letter from your doctor for any medication you are carrying
- Medical and immunization records, which may be useful if you need medical care while abroad
- Traveller’s cheques
- Academic history and university transcripts, which may be needed to obtain credit transfers, as evidence of pre-requisites for exchange students, or to obtain work
Recognizing and Handling Culture Shock
It is one thing to travel to a country as a tourist, but it is another to actually live there and immerse yourself in a new culture. As you adjust to your new surroundings you will experience a variety of emotions, ranging from excitement to frustration. This is completely normal and to be expected.
Culture shock: The anxiety you experience as you integrate yourself into a new society. Often characterized by physical and emotional discomfort, culture shock occurs as a result of the absence of familiar signs and symbols of social interaction.
5 Stages of Cultural Adaptation
Although the length and intensity of each stage varies from person to person, everyone experiences culture shock at some point in their international experience.
- The “Honeymoon” Stage:
- You feel optimistic, fascinated, excited and adventurous.
- You are detached from the unfamiliar because you are still in your identity from home.
- The “Hostility” Stage:
- You feel hostile, inadequate, disappointed and alienated.
- As the novelty wears off, you experience withdrawal, loneliness and depression.
- Your new identity begins to emerge and the differences between your home and host culture are more noticeable.
- You feel a sense of failure and try to avoid the cultural differences.
- The “Adjustment” Stage:
- You feel self-assured, independent and in control.
- Although you have a tendency to stereotype and make generalizations about the host culture, you can also have a laugh at the differences and you no longer let them get you down.
- The “Interdependence” Stage:
- You feel comfortable and accepted.
- Differences no longer dominate your identity and you trust your new environment and those around you.
- You understand the meaning of actions in your surrounding cultural context.
- Your ultimate goal is to achieve a bicultural or multicultural identity.
- It is important to note that very few people actually achieve the “interdependence” stage and you should not consider yourself a failure if you do not develop a bicultural or multicultural identity. The journey is what’s important.
- The “Re-Entry” Stage:
- Upon returning to your home country you will experience re-entry shock, also known as reverse culture shock.
- You are excited about your experiences and frustrated when no one understands.
- You will realize that you have changed.
- You will glamorize your time abroad.
Tips for Managing Culture Shock
- Learn about Canadian culture prior to leaving home.
- Pack mementos from home that will comfort you when you’re missing family and friends.
- Ask questions when you are unsure of something.
- Get involved and participate in group events.
- Be open to new experiences and ideas.
- Talk to other international students about their experiences in Canada.
- Use the professional support services available to you at your institution.
- Try to relax and not take everything too seriously or worry unnecessarily.
More information about culture shock, please visit:
Working in Canada
Provided you hold a study permit, you can work on the campus of any publicly funded, degree-granting institution that you are attending without a separate work permit. Your employer can be the educational institution, the faculty, a student organization, a private business or a private contractor providing services to the campus. You can also work as a graduate, research or teaching assistant at an off campus site that has a formal affiliation with the institution – such as teaching hospitals, clinics or research institutes.
Some full-time students with study permits may also be eligible to apply for an off-campus work permit that allows them to work for any employer. They can work for up to 20 hours per week during the term, and full-time during holidays.
The following students are ineligible for off-campus work:
- Part-time students
- Visiting or exchange students
- Students who come to Canada under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan or under the Government of Canada Awards Program
- Students enrolled in English as a Second Language or French as a Second Language programs
- Students receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
- Students who have previously held an off-campus work permit and failed to maintain their eligibility or comply with the conditions of their work or study permit
- Full-time secondary (high) school students
For more information on working in Canada, please visit Studying in Canada: Work permits for students.
Under certain conditions, you may be permitted to work in Canada. For information on visa regulations related to working in Canada, please visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Before deciding to seek employment during your studies, you should carefully consider the following:
- It is unrealistic to expect to finance your studies in Canada through a part-time job. Have savings or other sources of financing in case of difficulties.
- Be aware that you may not be able to find suitable employment or that your studies and other campus and/or social activities may not leave you much time for a job.
- If you do decide to look for a job, think carefully about how much time you can realistically commit to it and which jobs match your skills and experience.
- You should take some time to learn about the Canadian labour market, government legislation and your rights at work.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
You will require a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada or to receive government benefits. You can pick up a SIN application form at the airport as soon as you arrive or at any Canada Post outlet or Service Canada office.
For more information, please visit the Service Canada website.
Workers Rights and Benefits
Federal and provincial laws protect workers and employers by setting minimum wage levels, health and safety standards, and hours of work. There are also laws to protect workers from discrimination, including protection from unfair treatment by employers based on race, religion, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability.
Workers in Canada must be paid at least the minimum wage as stated by the provincial government.
Your employer will legally deduct money from your pay cheque for income tax, the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and, where applicable, taxable benefits and union dues.
For more information, please visit:
- You should not work for any employer without signing a contract. Without this proof of employment, your rights may be severely reduced if anything goes wrong.
- Always ask for pay stubs and keep them together in a safe place.
- Check your pay stub to ensure that your employer is deducting the necessary taxes from your pay. Not deducting taxes is illegal.
- Do not accept any ‘under the table’ jobs where you are paid in cash and are not registered as an official employee. These types of jobs are illegal and can result in stiff penalties.
- Familiarize yourself with the basics of Canadian labour legislation so that you are aware of your rights and what you are entitled to, by law.
- Ensure that you are paid at least the minimum wage.
You can find out about employment opportunities in your area by consulting your institution's career centre, your local municipal government, newspapers, and online job banks.
The following websites also provide job listings:
Tourism in Canada
Here is an overview of the regions and just some of the many sightseeing highlights in Canada.
Home to Toronto and Ottawa, Canada’s capital, Ontario is the most populous province in Canada. It offers something for everyone, from vibrant and multicultural cities to vineyards and museums.
- Major Cities: Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston.
- Major Attractions: Niagara Falls, CN Tower, Parliament Hill, The National Gallery, the Rideau Canal skateway, Algonquin National Park, Toronto International Film Festival, the Ontario Science Centre, the Niagara wine region, holiday homes in the Muskokas, and the Big Nickel at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury.
Canada’s French-speaking province has a rich heritage and was the first area in the country to be settled. Experience the European flair of historic Québec City, attend one of Montréal’s many festivals or try one of Montréal’s many restaurants.
- Major Cities: Montréal and Québec City.
- Major Attractions: Montréal Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs, Old Port of Montreal, Montréal Botanical Garden, Old Québec City, Québec Winter Carnival, Château Frontenac, Québec-Canada Ice Hotel, Mont Tremblant, sugar shacks, Laurentian Mountains, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
British Columbia (BC)
This province is world-renowned for its breath-taking, unspoiled natural scenery of mountains, oceans, and rainforests. A sport-lovers’ paradise, BC has an activity for every season, from mountain biking to sailing to skiing.
- Major Cities: Vancouver and Victoria.
- Major Attractions: Whistler ski resort, scenic Okanagan Valley.
A must-see province for nature-lovers, Alberta is home to the Rocky Mountains, Banff and Jasper. It is also known for its legendary western roots, pioneering spirit and as the home of the world-famous Calgary Stampede.
- Major Cities: Calgary and Edmonton.
- Major Attractions: Rocky Mountains, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the Calgary Stampede, and the West Edmonton Mall.
Prairies--Manitoba (MB) and Saskatchewan (SK)
A land of wide open spaces and welcoming people, the prairies is a must-see destination. During the summer, these provinces are home to fantastic fishing and canoeing. The northern-most parts of this region are also famous for their polar bears.
- Major Cities: Winnipeg, Regina, and Saskatoon.
- Major Attractions: Fishing in one of 10,000 lakes, Wanuskewin Heritage Park for Plains Indian history, see the polar bears in Churchill, Wascana Centre, Big Muddy Badlands – a part of Butch Cassidy’s “Outlaw Trail,” Inuit art at Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Maritimes – Prince Edward Island (PE), Nova Scotia (NS), Newfoundland (NL) and Labrador, and New Brunswick (NB)
Home of legendary hospitality and spirit, the Maritime provinces boast quaint fishing villages and eco-adventures galore. Make sure that you sample some of the fantastic seafood and legendary lobster dinners!
- Major Cities: Fredericton, Saint-John, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, and Charlottetown.
- Major Attractions: The Bay of Fundy, Gros Morne National Park, Anne of Green Gables’ farmhouse, Cabot Trail, Peggy’s Cove, Fortress Louisbourg, and the Halifax Citadel.
North – Northwest Territories (NWT), Nunavut (NU), Yukon (YK)
Experience the true North; breathtakingly beautiful, cold, snowy and everything you have heard about Canadian winters. See moose, polar bears, grizzly bears and caribou and take a ride in a dogsled, build an igloo and explore the vast tundra.
- Major Cities: Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit.
- Major Attractions: Eco-tourism adventures, Mackenzie Mountain, Baffin Island, dog sledding and snowmobiling, Dawson City’s gold rush heritage, Chilkoot Trail, and the Northern Lights.
For more information about Education in Canada, please contact us. Imagine studying in Canada!