Canada recently implemented a cap on the intake of international students and introduced specific conditions for immigrants. Consequently, prospective student visa applicants might contemplate alternative options such as visitor visas. However, this may not be advisable, and here’s why.

Numerous Indian students intend to travel to Canada on visitor or tourist visas initially instead of study visas, with the plan to subsequently apply for study visas upon arrival.

Some students facing challenges securing study visas for undergraduate programs due to Canada’s recent cap on international student numbers may be considering alternative routes. We’ll delve into these options and assess their advisability.

Students struggle with acquiring Canadian student visas due to various difficulties.

This year, educational consultants in Punjab have noted an increase in student applications for visitor visas, coinciding with Canada’s implementation of several requirements in January 2024.

For the next two years, there will be a limit on the number of international student permit applications accepted due to concerns about immigration levels straining local resources. In 2024, this cap is anticipated to lead to around 360,000 approved study permits, marking a 35% decrease compared to 2023.

Now, students seeking student visas must obtain mandatory attestation letters from the provinces/territories where their college or university is situated. The government allocates a set number of attestation letters to different provinces. Notably, this requirement does not extend to master’s courses.

Several students have experienced delays in obtaining approval for their student visas, attributed to delays in issuing attestation letters.

Moreover, the cap could exacerbate competition, favoring students with superior scores on English proficiency exams like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) for admission.

“A consultant from Jalandhar revealed concerns about certain agents misguiding students by suggesting that acquiring student visas for Canada is arduous and not currently being granted. Instead, they advocate for entering the country on visitor visas with intentions to convert them later. This misinformation appears to be spreading among consultants in various cities across Punjab.”

Is this legal?

Numerous consultants suggest that individuals arriving in Canada on visitor visas can subsequently pursue study permits. While visitor visa processing typically takes around three weeks from India, study permit applications entail a longer wait of 12 to 13 weeks for approval. Consequently, this route offers a faster means for students to reach Canada.

Rajdeep Singh, a student from Jalandhar, shared that his brother has finished his studies in Canada, with his Permanent Residency application currently in progress. He’s invited Rajdeep to visit on a visitor visa, with plans to assist him in transitioning to a study permit upon arrival.

What strategies can students employ to enhance their prospects of obtaining a Canadian visa?

Gurpreet Singh, a consultant based in Punjab who operates an IELTS center and study abroad consultancy, has noted an increase in students seeking assistance with visitor visa applications instead of study visas. They cite quicker processing times and higher success rates as reasons for this shift.

Is it advisable for student visa applicants to visit Canada on a visitor visa beforehand?

Certain consultants posit that given the legality of the process and its potential to expedite students’ entry into Canada, it might be worth considering.

On the flip side, some counsel against it, contending that students ought to directly pursue study visas, given the continued high success rate and the increasingly streamlined process. Notably, all provinces have begun issuing attestation letters in alignment with the new regulations, potentially leading to a reduction in processing times for student visas in the near future.

Sumit Jain, a consultant at Jain Overseas, an IELTS center and study abroad consultancy in Jalandhar, noted that students choosing visitor visas for Canada and subsequently applying for study permits must navigate a comparable application procedure as they would in India. This entails acquiring proof of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). As per the Canadian government’s immigration website, a DLI refers to an educational institution endorsed by a provincial or territorial government to accommodate international students.

Students must additionally showcase financial backing and register at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), possibly prolonging their visitor visa while awaiting the study permit decision. Typically, visitor visas permit stays of up to six months.

Jain emphasized that seeking a visitor visa entails a convoluted and expensive process. Additionally, the quota system will extend to international students applying from within Canada. Jain recommended pursuing a student visa instead.

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