Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers do immigration checks and issue study permits to new study visa holders at Canadian airports.
These CBSA officers have the right to approve/refuse your entry to Canada based on your answers as well as the documentary proofs that you provide.
In order to complete all required documentation, international students coming to Canada may experience longer wait periods at the Canadian airports or land border.
A border services officer (BSO) directs the incoming students to the appropriate location to submit their application for a study permit.
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Some Canadian airports now have a special processing area for arriving study visa holders.
It is always advisable that study visa holders thoroughly review and correct their study permit right away after receiving it.
Who is eligible to enter Canada as an International Student?
International Students need to first make sure that they meet the overall eligibility requirements to travel.
To enter Canada as a student, individuals need to:
- possess a valid study visa or a letter of introduction proving they were approved to study; and
- prove they are attending a designated learning institution (DLI).
As per CBSA, study visa holders are advised to travel as soon as possible after receiving their visa stamp to avoid the high volume of travellers in late August, early September, and early January.
Full List of Documents Required For New International Students
Do not book your ticket until you have these seven documents with you.
As per CBSA, if you do not have all of the listed 7 documents below, your immigration check at the Canadian airport might be delayed or you could be returned to your home country.
To enter Canada, new international students must have the following:
- acceptable travel documentation, such as a passport
- the letter of introduction from the port of entry that the visa office sent you when they approved your study permit, or a valid study permit if you have one.
- a copy of your school’s legitimate letter of acceptance
- a valid study visa foil stamped in the passport or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for visa exempt countries
- proof of sufficient funds to sustain your stay, such a GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate)
- No criminal or immigration-related convictions (unless a pardon or rehabilitation has been granted).
- Be in excellent health and have valid immigration medical exam results at the time of entry into Canada.
- If your medical exam expires prior to entering Canada, then you need a new medical exam even after getting your visa stamped.
CBSA tip: Keep these documents accessible in your handbag, and DO NOT put any of these documents in your checked luggage or bag.
When can new students come to Canada on a study visa?
There is no set timeframe for when a new international student with a study visa can travel to Canada.
Individuals who have a visa stamped on their passport and possess all the mandatory documents can come anytime they want to settle into the Canadian community.
However, they cannot work or study until their course starts.
I will arrive in Montreal and have only 1 hour and 15 minutes until my final flight to Vancouver. Should I be concerned about losing the second flight?
There are quite high chances that you may miss your next flight to Vancouver since it is peak season with a large number of international students coming in for the fall 2023 intake.
Either you can contact your airline to see if they offer any other flights, or you may be required to book another air ticket after getting your immigration check done at Montreal airport.
Can I do my immigration check at the final destination airport?
Any new immigrant or temporary visa holder needs to do the immigration check at the first Canadian port of entry (airport, land border, or waterway), irrespective of their final destination.
What should I do if a CBSA officer denies issuing a study permit at the airport?
It depends on the reason why an international student is denied a study permit at the airport.
If the reason is a lack of one of the documents needed to get a study permit at the airport, then you may request a CBSA officer to allow you to enter Canada as a visitor since you have a valid visa.
If the reason is something related to a serious offence such as inadmissibility or the use of a fake document, then a CBSA officer can send such individuals back to their home country.
Always remember that it is up to the discretion of the CBSA officer to make a decision, so be nice and cooperate to get the most out of their discretion.