When applying for a study permit, it is important to understand the following question: what is the purpose of a temporary permission to study in Canada? Is it:
- A way to gain employment and eventually permanent residency in Canada? Or
- A way to upgrade your skills, and return to your home country once your studies have been completed?
The answer to this question has to do with the concept of dual intent, which means you may apply for both a study permit and apply for permanent residency. Before you apply for a study permit, however, you should be aware that the credibility of your proposed studies in Canada is what immigration officials will assess. You must be seen by immigration authorities as a credible student to Canada. This means that study permits are principally given with the objective of allowing foreign students to study in Canada, on the grounds that they will then return home at the end of their study.
What are the basic requirements for the issue of a study permit?
Under the current immigration law, Canadian immigration authorities list the main criteria that an immigration official judges your application for a study permit by. The officer reviewing your case wants to ensure that you, the foreign national:
- Will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for your stay
- Meet the requirements of the regulations
- Have taken a medical exam if you have lived in an area with infectious diseases or if you are carrying an infectious disease
- Have been accepted to undertake a program of study at a designated learning institution
The problem is that these basic requirements are often not enough to ensure that a foreign student is granted a study permit. What is also key in allowing Canadian immigration officials to assess the intent of your application, is a detailed study plan. A study plan should justify why your proposed plan of studies in Canada fulfills the following:
- It is a reasonable plan of study given your age, your work experience, and of course your previous studies abroad.
- It explains in detail how your planned studies will help your job prospects abroad, given your work experience to that point. That means your planned studies in Canada should be related to the work you do and the job experiences and skills you have accumulated over the years of your career.
- The degree you are pursuing will offer you improved job possibilities back home in your home country.
- It is a reasonable justification of the expenses you will be incurring as a foreign student in Canada. That is, you are willing to pay the high tuition costs because you can afford them now and because of the potential higher earnings that your new degree will afford you in your home country. Not because you are “buying” a permanent residency with your Canadian studies.
How does the IRCC Assess Dual Intent?
As explained above, dual intent is when a foreign national who has applied for permanent residence in Canada also applies for a temporary stay as a visitor, worker, or student. Dual intent is not a disqualifying factor to apply for a temporary visa, despite the fact that you have also applied for permanent residency.
However, you will still have to convince immigration officials that you will comply with the conditions of your study permit. And remember that your study permit is temporary in nature. That means leaving Canada when your study permit is up, even if you intend to return and apply for permanent residency in the future.
To determine your intent, officials look at factors like:
- Length of time you will be spending in Canada
- Whether you have family remaining in your home country which motivates the applicant to return home when the study permit has expired.
- Your means of financial support
- Whether you have a job waiting for you in your home country
- What ties you have to Canada – like family or other links – that would motivate you to remain in Canada after your study permit has expired
When a study permit is refused, it is often due to the following reasons:
- You have a history of breaking the conditions of admission during previous stays in Canada
- Insufficient proof of funds to support yourself while in Canada
- Medical inadmissibility which is usually when you have an infectious disease or when you have a medical condition that would require expensive treatment while in Canada
- You do not satisfy the immigration official that you will leave Canada at the end of your temporary stay as a student
The problem is generally when immigration officials decide that you have only a single intent – to remain in Canada as a permanent resident. In other words, they decide you are only using your studies in Canada as a way to gain permanent residency and not to upgrade your skills. In this case, they will refuse your application for a study permit because they deem that it is merely a way to get a prop in Canada. Some examples of single intent are:
- If you have passed the “normal” school age, have a stable career already but have no compelling reason to undertake additional education
- If you are holding a high position such as a manager who would not advance as a result of your studies in Canada
- If your proposed course of study in Canada includes subject matter and a general curriculum that you have already studied in your home country
If any of these conditions, (or similar ones), apply to you then it may very well be that immigration officials will decide you have a single intent and not a dual intent and that you will not leave Canada when your study permit expires. They will then likely refuse your application for a study permit. The moral of the story is you should only apply to study in Canada if you truly feel that your studies in Canada will provide you with skills and opportunities that will help your career. This is what you have to convince immigration officials of.
So by all means apply for both permanent residence and a study permit. But you should also create and submit along with your application for a study permit, a detailed study plan that shows why your work situation and personal situation fits with your plan to study in Canada. This will help to convince immigration officials that you are a serious student who will comply with the conditions of your study permit.