APPLYING FOR CANADIAN STUDY PERMIT- PART 1
There is a common myth that a Canadian student visa is hard to get especially for postgraduate students. I am not sure if I disagree or agree with it. Canada has strict measures in place for those who enter the country regardless of nationality and the type of visa you are applying for. I have heard a handful of stories of the Canadian embassy refused visas. In my opinion, the majority of visa refusal comes from a lack of providing adequate information to support your application. Before reading any further, check out my previous blog post on securing admission in Canada.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE APPLICATION PROCESS
As soon as I got the official admission letter, I consulted with the Ile iwe team and the agency. I was given a lengthy checklist and one of the first things I did was get a Police report and affidavits. The affidavits must be done at the high court or any ministry of justice in Nigeria. If you live in Lagos, Lagos Island CID police headquarters is where you must get the police certificate.
One thing I did differently was I went in for my medicals without the embassy requesting me to do it. In my opinion, you are better off doing this before submitting your application and including the slip as part of your supporting documents. However, it is advisable to wait on the embassy to give you the go-ahead to do the medicals to save money. The medical examination involves an HIV test, urine, x-ray and full body examination. Questions regarding how to protect yourself from HIV will be asked. The medical centre will only contact you if it is discovered that you are HIV+.
An unwritten requirement of the Visa Facilitation Service(VFS) centre is you have to book an appointment in advance to submit your application (the application can be done online) to the embassy. Canada is a new destination for Nigerians, you will have to go there at least 2 weeks prior to submitting your application to get the earliest possible date. No appointment, no submission.
I went in to book a date and got a date scheduled for 3 weeks after. This is one of the many reasons why you must apply to get your admission well in advance. The VFS centre advised that if I could not wait for 3 weeks, I could go to Abuja to apply and I would be able to submit my application the same day. The agency advised I did not need to travel to Abuja as she assured me it will be out in time.
I used the 3 weeks to get all my supporting documents ready. I do not think 3 weeks is enough to gather all these documents. Some of my immediate family members had expired passports and they had to renew them based on the requirements. The passport did not come out in time for when I needed it. However, your family members do not need to renew expired passports, it’s the stamps and visas on the passports that are important. The agency was insisting I take additional requirements like my parents’ qualification certificate and a reference letter from the bank asides from the bank statement (ridiculous right?!) but I chose to only stick to what was asked.
My appointment was scheduled for 8:00 am and best believe you have to leave your house in time to beat Lagos morning traffic to the Island. Trust Nigerians to be there way before time with a long queue. The Submission took over 2 hours as your appointment time does not matter. There is no interview so no need to panic. The collection centre takes only cash, so hold enough cash for the application fee, photocopy and miscellaneous.
On the CIGC website, as at when I was submitting my application it stated 6-8 weeks but now it takes 16 weeks if you are applying from Nigeria. This information changes from time so you must check for when you are ready to apply. However, from my own little research, I do not think a lot of people have heard back from the embassy in that time frame. The majority fall in the category of over 8 weeks. It takes the embassy for some applications over 5 months.
The embassy got back to me in 3 weeks via email with a decision regarding my application. The decision of the embassy was in the attachment to the mail, I opened it and I saw my study permit was approved?