How to Get a Short-Term Language Learner Visa for Canada

Right in time for the Autumn season, you might consider going to Canada to join an English language preparation programme and get ready for getting admitted to an international university. If you need to prepare for an English exam like Cambridge, TOEFL or IELTS, English language schools in Canada are a safe bet. You are bound to receive professional language training.

Before you venture to The Great White North, you will need to get a short-term student visa for English learners.

So, if you follow these steps carefully, you can easily receive a visa to stay in Canada during the course of your study.

Canada has several language schools to offer in many of her mighty provinces.

Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) - The Government of Canada's immigration and visa authority - has its own Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) list of authorised schools and universities that you must be accepted to before you can qualify for a study permit/visa.

Deciding to study in Canada is only the beginning. You will want to specify a region and, perhaps, even narrow your search to an actual city. If you’ve decided on a city/province to train your English skills, it will be easier for you to search for a designated language centre in that region.

Check out English pathway courses in Canada

Do I need a visa?

Depending on the country you are coming from, you might need to apply for either a visa or for eTA, which is a study permit that has the same features as a visa.

Check the Government of Canada official website to see if you need a visa.

What type of visa should I apply for?

If you come from a country that requires a visa and enrol in an English preparation course that lasts up to six months, you will have to apply for the visitor visa.

Find out more about the visitor visa.

Finding an Accredited/Authorised Canadian Language School

A standard requirement for the short-term Canadian visa for language learning is for you to enrol at an accredited Canadian language school.

The IRCC provides a link to the Languages Canada site, where you can thoroughly search for the right school. From this site, you must select a region, programme type, and programme language from the dropdown lists on the Language Canada homepage.

After you’ve selected a course, enrolled, and paid the course fee, you should receive an official acceptance or offer letter from the language school.

You will need this letter to apply for your visa.

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How do I apply for the short-term Canadian visa?

Through the IRCC site, they offer two different ways for you to apply for your visa:

  1. apply online using the website’s online form
  2. fill out a paper application by downloading the form from the site

Steps for applying online

  • Fill out a brief questionnaire about what your status is and what your study plans are. This is a short survey that will then allow the system to better tell you what kind of permit/visa you will need to apply for and how.
  • Save and print the results page. You will be using it later in your application. The results page should provide you with a personal reference code that you will have to write in your online application. The code officially proves that you took the questionnaire and that the visa you are looking for is the correct one.
  • Create an account to sign in through the IRCC site. You can sign up for a GCKey which will allow you access through various online services on the site.
  • With your GCKey, you can sign into the site and fill out your application.
  • You will also create a MyCIC account. Through this profile, you will be able to view your application and check on its status. Here is where you also receive your official acceptance letter from the IRCC.

Steps for applying on paper

  • Apply at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your home country. If your home country has a VAC, you are encouraged to use it, as the authorities at these centres can help make sure that your application is complete and delivered to the correct visa office.
  • If there isn’t a nearby VAC, you can also download the Application for Study Permit Made Outside of Canada (IMM 1294).
  • Make photocopies of your required documents, but, make sure to have those photocopies authorised by a notary in your country.
  • If any of the accompanying documents are in a language other than French or English, you are required to get an authorised translation.
  • If you have to submit your form through a mail courier, you can find the address through the Government of Canada site.
What do I need to apply for the short-term visa?

Scan and save the following items/documents:

  • The letter of acceptance from the language school in which you have enrolled.
  • A valid passport or travel document. Scan every stamped page of your passport, in addition to the page with the passport holder’s information.
  • Visa application fee (150 CAD)
  • Proof of financial support (around 333 CAD/month)
  • If any of the accompanying documents are in a language other than French or English, you are required to get an authorised translation.

Check the site to see the minimum required amount of funding.

There is additional information to know about applying, depending on your situation. If you are going to travel and move to Canada with a family member or spouse, you will need to provide additional documentation for them as well.

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If you are going to Quebec

Anyone who wishes to study in the province of Quebec needs to get a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ) which is given out by the Ministère de l'Immigration, Diversité et Inclusion(MIDI). The language school in Quebec should supply you with the details for moving and staying in Quebec. You do not have to get the CAQ before applying for a visa. Simply copying and scanning the letter of acceptance from MIDI will work fine. Check out the MIDI website for additional information.

Compare English pathway courses in Canada

Biometrics and Fees

Depending on your country of origin, you will also have to supply biometrics—a digital photo and fingerprints. You can check whether your nationality requires you to give your biometrics with your application.

The standard fee for having your biometrics taken for Canadian visa is 85 CAD. Certain nationalities have lower fees, so make sure you check your individual visa requirements.

You can check whether your nationality requires you to give your biometrics with your application.

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After you have submitted the visa application

Once you have submitted the application, IRCC will review your application and make sure everything is complete and accurate, and decide whether you are allowed to stay in Canada.

Additional things the IRCC may require:

  • An interview
  • Medical Exam
  • Background screening

The authorities will contact you to alert you whether you have to give any of these additional items.

If you applied online, the IRCC will contact you through your MyCIC account.

If you applied on paper, IRCC wil contact you through whichever number or address you gave with your application.

If your application is approved, you will receive:

  • An acceptance letter from the IRCC. This is not the actual study permit, but you will need to bring this letter with you to show to the immigration/customs officials when you arrive in Canada
  • An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), if you are from a country whose citizens require it. Your letter of acceptance should tell you if you need one. The eTA will be tied to your passport, so make sure that you go to Canada with the same passport that you used in your application.
  • Your study permit/visa.

Applications are denied under a few circumstances:

  • You didn’t prove that you have enough money to support your time in Canada
  • You didn’t pass the medical exam (if it was required).
  • The visa officer suspects that are not actually going to study in Canada, or that you are not actually only staying for the duration of your language course.

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