Why some student visa hopefuls try to go to Canada on a visitor visa | News explained

Many Indian students plan to travel to Canada on a visitor or tourist visa instead of a study visa and ultimately apply for a study visa upon entry.

This likely stems from the difficulties some have experienced recently in obtaining undergraduate study visas after Canada restricted the number of international students earlier this year. What route do some students plan to take, and is it advisable? We explain.

Why students find it difficult to obtain Canadian student visas

Several education consultants in Punjab have observed an increase in the number of students applying for visitor visas this year, after Canada imposed several requirements in January 2024.

If The Indian Express previously reportedthe intake cap on international student permit applications will be maintained for two years due to high levels of immigration which have reportedly put pressure on local resources. By 2024, the cap is expected to result in approximately 3,60,000 approved study permits, a decline of 35 percent from 2023.

Students wishing to obtain a student visa now require mandatory attestation letters issued by the provinces/territories where their college or university is located. The government awards a fixed number of certificates of approval to the various provinces. However, this requirement does not apply to master’s courses.

Festive offer

Some students have reported delays in getting their student visas approved because attestation letters were not issued on time.

Moreover, the ceiling could lead to further competition. Students with higher band scores on English language tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the PTE (Pearson Test of English), have a greater chance of being accepted.

“Some officers in remote areas mislead students. They claim that obtaining student visas for Canada is quite difficult and student visas are not being issued now, but advise them to enter the country on visitor visas and then convert them into study visas,” said a consultant based in Jalandhar. Similar misinformation about the difficulties in obtaining student visas is being spread by counselors in bigger cities in Punjab.

Is this legal?

Several advisors say those who enter Canada on visitor visas can later apply for study permits. While the processing time for visitor visas from India is approximately three weeks, study permit applications take 12 to 13 weeks to be approved. So it would allow a student to come to Canada faster.

“My brother has completed his studies in Canada and his permanent residency case is pending. He has asked me to take a visitor visa with him, with the intention of helping me convert it into a study permit upon arrival,” said Rajdeep Singh, a student from Jalandhar.

Gurpreet Singh, a Punjab-based consultant who runs an IELTS center and studies abroad, said several students approach them to apply for visitor visas instead of study visas, citing faster processing times and better success rates in obtaining them.

Is it advisable to go to Canada on a visitor visa for hopeful student visas?

Some advisors argue that since the process is legal and students can enter Canada sooner, they might consider this route.

However, others advise against this, saying students should apply for study visas directly as the success rate is still high, and the process is becoming more streamlined as all provinces have gradually started issuing attestation letters in accordance with the new rules. Therefore, processing time for student visas may soon decrease.

Sumit Jain, a consultant at Jalandhar’s Jain Overseas, an IELTS center and study abroad consultancy, said students who opt for a visitor visa to Canada and then apply for a study permit there will have to undergo a similar application process as in India. This involves obtaining proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI). According to the Canadian government’s immigration website, a DLI is an educational institution approved by a provincial or territorial government to house international students.

Students will therefore be required to demonstrate financial support and enroll in a DLI, while potentially renewing the visitor visa pending the outcome of the study permit application. Normally, most visitor visas allow a stay of up to six months.

Jain added that applying for a visitor visa is a complex and costly route and the number limit will also apply to international students applying from Canada. Applying for a student visa is advisable, he said.