Why some student visa hopefuls are attempting to go to Canada on visitor visas

Canada capped the number of international students it would take in earlier this year and announced certain conditions for immigrants. Should student visa hopefuls consider visitor visas? Not necessarily. Here is why.

Several educational consultants in Punjab have observed a rise in students applying for visitor visas this year, following Canada’s imposition of several requirements in January 2024. (Via Pixabay)
Many Indian students are planning to travel to Canada on visitor or tourist visas instead of study visas and eventually apply for study visas upon entry.
It likely stems from the difficulties some have faced of late in obtaining a study visa for undergraduate courses after Canada capped the number of international students earlier this year. What route are some students planning to take, and is it advisable? We explain.
Why students are finding it difficult to obtain Canadian student visas
Several educational consultants in Punjab have observed a rise in students applying for visitor visas this year, following Canada’s imposition of several requirements in January 2024.
earlier reported, the intake cap on international student permit applications will be enforced for two years amid high levels of immigration that have reportedly put a strain on local resources. For 2024, the cap is expected to result in approximately 3,60,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35 per cent from 2023.
Students hoping to get student visas now require mandatory attestation letters issued by the provinces/territories where their college or university is located. A fixed number of attestation letters are allocated to various provinces by the government. This requirement, however, does not apply to master’s courses.
Some students have reported delays in approval for their student visas, due to attestation letters not being issued in time.
Further, the cap may lead to further competition. Students with higher band scores in English proficiency tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the PTE (Pearson Test of English), are more likely to get accepted.
“Some agents in remote areas are misleading students. Claiming that getting student visas is quite difficult for Canada and student visas are not being issued now, they are advising them to enter the country on visitor visas and then convert them to study visas,” said a consultant based in Jalandhar. Similar misinformation on the difficulties of securing student visas is being spread by consultants in larger cities across Punjab.
Is this legal?
Several consultants say that individuals entering Canada on visitor visas can later apply for study permits. While the processing time for visitor visas from India is around three weeks, study permit applications take 12 to 13 weeks to get approved. Thus, it would allow a student to get to Canada more quickly.
My brother has completed his studies in Canada and his Permanent Residency case is under processing. He has asked me to join him on a visitor visa, intending to help me convert it to a study permit upon arrival,” said Rajdeep Singh, a student from Jalandhar.
Gurpreet Singh, a Punjab-based consultant running an IELTS centre and study abroad consultancy, said several students are approaching them to apply for visitor visas instead of study visas, citing faster processing times and better success rates in getting them approved.
Is going to Canada on a visitor visa advisable for student visa hopefuls?
Some consultants argue that since the process is legal and allows students to enter Canada sooner they could consider this route.
However, others advise against it, saying that students should apply for study visas directly as the success rate is still high, and the process is becoming more streamlined since all provinces have gradually started issuing attestation letters in line with the new rules. Therefore, the processing time for student visas may soon decrease.
Sumit Jain, a consultant at Jalandhar’s Jain Overseas, an IELTS centre and study abroad consultancy, said that students opting for visitor visas to Canada and then applying for study permits there must undergo a similar application process as they do in India. It involves obtaining proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI). According to the Canadian government’s immigration website, a DLI is an educational institute that a provincial or territorial government has approved to host international students.
Students must also then demonstrate financial support and enrol in a DLI, all while potentially extending the visitor visa as they await the outcome of the study permit application. Usually, most visitor visas allow for a stay of up to six months.
Jain added that applying for a visitor visa is a complex and costly route and the capping of numbers will also apply to those international students who are applying from within Canada. Applying for a student visa is advisable, he said.


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