IMG_3644

Wow, it’s been around 5 months since I’ve arrived in the sweet land of Maple Syrup! I’ve always wanted to make more “helpful” blog posts but never got around to, despite it being one of my yearly resolutions (2013 fail). But today I’m about to change that 😀 So hopefully this post will help someone out there who was in the same predicament as me just a year ago. I know it all seems daunting, and tempting to just hire a travel or immigration agency to do the dirty work for you…

BUT listen to me before you give that PHP 40k away, you can do it yourself quite EASILY for a fraction of the cost!

Of course, please take into account I applied in 2013 so the laws may have changed depending on when you’re reading this (please comment below for any broken links and I’ll try to get to it). Best to read through the CIC website about Study Permits first and then come back here. They update their information and website quite regularly.

Ready? Here’s a Step-by-Step process:

1. Depending on your circumstance, determine your eligibility for a Canadian Study Permit.

2. You must apply and be accepted into a school before you can file your study visa/permit. So do your research and exhaust Google as much as you can to find the best school for you. You should also go to IDP Philippines for counselling (I recommend Sir Rhod in Cebu) and sign-up for their mailing list, so you can receive news about international education events where you can meet representatives from the schools personally.

If you wish to study in Australia instead, then you’re in luck. IDP offers FREE services for people to study in Australia. If you really want to use an agency or study in other countries, I highly recommend IDP because they’re internationally recognized.

3. Take the IELTS test and get as high a mark as you can. You don’t have to pay for an IELTS workshop. There are lots of free practice tests floating around the internet. You can easily score at least a 6 or 7 if you can speak conversational English. To take the test, submit an application to your nearest IDP office or book online. The fee as of this writing is Php 8,900 although I think I paid a little less half a year ago…

For Cebu, the IDP office is at the ground floor of Keppel Bldg, Cebu Business Park. Click here for IELTS requirements.

4. Depending on your school, you may have the option to apply online. I strongly recommend you should, unless you have someone in Canada willing to help you with enrolment. For the online process, you can email the school’s International Student Services department if you don’t know where to start. Otherwise, for each program you will see something like an “Apply Now” button. Then it will be a matter of registering yourself a Student Account, uploading your scanned documents (you might have to mail original copies) and regularly logging in to check for updates.

5. I think it took around half a year for me to get accepted into my school. Don’t expect them to reply fast, and I don’t know about you but getting school requirements from Philippine universities wasn’t a piece of cake. Personally, I think you should prepare at least a year for this whole study abroad plan.

Once I was accepted, I received my provisional acceptance letter in the mail which I would need to show when I apply for a study permit. You can now start applying online.

Tip: Don’t settle for the minimum requirements. In addition to your documents, try to get (1) Recommendation Letter for Further Studies from a teacher who likes you, and compose (1) Letter of Intent which explains at most in 2 pages why you’re studying abroad. You should keep in mind that these help prove that you’re a genuine student. In other words, you should prove that there’s no chance of you illegally staying beyond your visa date.

6. Depending on how often CIC updates their website, the way you access the site will change. As of now, you can start applying for your student visa here. Go through their wizard and answer the questions as honestly as you can. Your requirements will be determined by the answers you choose. If you’re in doubt, go with the safest answer. Afterwards, you’ll probably be given something like a Key which will serve as your login details. All requirements to be submitted and respondence from CIC will come through your account. Sometimes they don’t email you directly so check regularly.

Tip: If you get lost, always remember the homepage is at http://cic.gc.ca.

7. Collect and scan all needed requirements like financial documents (bank statements, investment portfolio, corporation documents, credit cards, land titles, etc. whatever applies to you or your supporter), affidavits, digitally completed IMM forms, Canadian visa sized photos, and other supplements depending on how you answered the wizard. The fee is $125 (as of July 2013) payable by credit card. This includes both Study Permit and Temporary Resident Visa, multiple entry. Be sure to follow the specifications for the digital scans.

8. Within the month, you’ll receive a PDF document for your Medical Exam via MyCIC. Call and schedule an appointment for any of the locally appointed doctors by CIC for your area. Bring the printed medical form, photocopy and original passport, and 6pcs of passport-sized photos. It will be a general exam, blood test and X-Ray. The fee I paid was around Php 4,100.

9. After a month, CIC will ask you for your passport. I sent mine over by calling the VIA Call Center to have it picked up. I paid Php 300 for pick-up and delivery. There is a charge per minute when you dial the Call Center. Make sure to prepare your passport number and Application number found on the Letter Request for Passport document from CIC. Follow their instructions on how to seal and label your passport so that it doesn’t get lost.

10. Another month after, I received my POE letter and passport with the study visa!

11. After securing your study visa, you can now take care of other matters like your housing and first term tuition fees. I used BDO to do wire transfer, paid $10 for any amount plus the swap fee. I then bought my plane ticket and emailed a bank in Canada to schedule an appointment to open an account. I highly recommend getting an account with a credit union, like Coast Capital Savings. If you’re unfamiliar about credit unions, research about them first. Otherwise you can go with any of the major banks like TD, RBC, BMO, CIBC, etc.

12. One month after, I paid the deposit for my dorm (first month’s rent+ damage deposit+activity fee for 4 months) and the following month, I packed my bags and flew~

Keep in mind that your case / experience may differ, because the system doesn’t always stay the same. Although I can assure you that it was very convenient and easy to file for the study permit. I did it by myself so you can too! The money you saved can instead be used for your plane ticket/pocket money/investment. Wish you the best~!

IMG_3646

Getting the courage to journey out on my own was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I grew so much as a person, and I’ve learned and seen things that made me develop a richer perspective about life.

UDPATE – Aug 27, 2015:

Two years went by like a blink of an eye. I graduated last June with flying colors. Yipee, thank you Lord!

Since then this post has gotten a lot of comments and questions, and despite my tardiness in blogging I still take time to answer them depending on my availability. HOWEVER, please diligently read through the thread below for, especially, common burning questions that I may have already answered. To make things a bit easier, I’ll round up some of them:

  1. How much show money do I need? – Read: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/study-how-documents.asp#doc3
  2. Can I work part-time while I study? – As of this writing, you can work part-time up to 20 hours per week and full-time during school breaks.
  3. Did you have an interview? – No. Just make sure you provide a “Letter of Intent” and justify that you have no intention of illegally staying in Canada after your permit expires. Talk about your future plans. :)
  4. Can you recommend an agency? I’d rather pay for convenience than do it myself.  – IDP Education. They’re the least expensive reputable agency I know. You can register for the IELTS with them too. Schedule an appointment by calling them up, it’s free.
  5. Do I have to pay tuition right away? – When you enrol into your program, please email admissions / international  student center how much payment is required and when it is due. I think it depends on the school. Find their emails on the school’s official website.

Again, everything you need to know is already on their website – http://cic.gc.ca/  Just invest some time reading it through and taking everything in~ Breathe. Pray. Have faith. Do your best. God bless!