- by Sam Wood
Students Going to Canada: Get this at the top of your TO-DO LIST!
THE STORY: FIRST AND FOREMOST, the processing time for a Canadian study permit can vary tremendously! I had my flight booked for 25th August 2012, having only applied for my permit 2 weeks before. After I applied I noticed for the first time on the Canadian government website that study permits usually take 6 -10 weeks to process:squeaky.bum.time.
I had applied for my study permit 14 days before I was due to travel (and there was no way I was going to cancel my non-refundable £700 flights), meaning I needed those 6-10 weeks to be more like 6-10 days! Although I had filled out my permit immaculately, every detail 100% correct, every question answered perfectly, my aspiration to study in New Brunswick for the year was looking as bleak as a weekend summer escape to Hull (sorry Walnut!).
I had heard tales from the storytellers, mythmakers and legend-creators of old that some permits could take 3 months to process, some 3 hours. I was father time’s bitch. However, a miraculous event occurred (perhaps the most miraculous event since the outcome of the Michael Jackson court case in 2005) in which my study permit was authorised within 5 days! No words can describe how lucky I felt and how joyous I was. It felt like I had scored the winning penalty against Germany in the World Cup Final! CLOSE ONE! I am now starting my second term at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton having the time of my life! Anything and everything is possible on your year abroad and the opportunities are endless! Canadians are just the warmest of people, especially here in the Maritimes. But I know I speak on behalf of all the third year students studying in North America at the moment when I say that everyone (Canadian and American) is just so incredibly nice.
ADVICE: apply for your study permit as early as possible! Do it before you book flights and finalise your living arrangements! HOW? I applied for my study permit online using the Canadian government website (www.cic.gc.ca) and went through the necessary steps. The format has changed slightly this year for online applications, but the concept is the same.
First, you will be asked to register for “GC KEY” which creates you a preliminary account for applying for visas and study permits.
Second, you will enrol in “MyCIC” which is the formal start of your study permit. The steps to do this are easy and can be done quickly, but be sure to remember your username and password though!
Third, you will do the bulk of the permit in the same way as an online interview. A number of personal and security questions will be asked and you will be timed to answer them (like when you book tickets for an event online and it times you). Don’t worry though! You can save your details and come back to it another day, so the timing on your computer screen isn’t really an issue!
Fourth, you will complete your online study permit having double-checked your details and then submit it to the embassy in London. The cost in 2012 was $125 CAD (£80) so get your cards ready, and make sure you keep 2 copies of the receipt, just in case!
Fifth, you are at the mercy of father time, just like I was! Do yourself a favour and don’t do what I did. In fact, the perfect way to apply for a study permit is to do the opposite of everything I did really. Don’t let the study permit get away from your to-do list or put it off like I did. But at the same time, don’t worry about it so much that it gets you down. It really is an easy process! Once you fill it out and get it submitted, all you have to do is get unbelievably excited about all the fun you will have. So don’t let the dreaded study permit get in the way of one of the best years of your life!
Sam Wood is back at UoB studying ACS and History (JH)