This is a rough outline of the steps I took preparing for my journey to Canada for my studies. I'm outlining them below to give a sort of holistic view of the whole process for those who intend to do the same. Please do not base your entire plan on this single post; I highly recommend contacting a consulting agency. They provide all information for __free__!
All the advice in blocks like this is my personal opinion for the rest of this post.
If you are anywhere in Navi Mumbai, seek out Avani Patel [email protected] at IDP Vashi. She was instrumental in getting my admission and visa stuff done on time.
The first step is to give an IELTS (Computer-Academic) exam that assesses your English skills.
It consists of a reading + writing + speaking trio of tests.
It is required to get a score of at least 6 out of 9 overall.
All information regarding IELTS can be found on ielts.org and ielts.idp.com
Apply to colleges.
Checkout colleges and courses in Ontario on ontariocolleges.ca
Apply to at least 5 colleges, to have a chance of getting admitted to one.
Ideally, you should apply for a 2 years course, so you get a 3-year work permit for it. You can also apply for two 1 year courses for the same benefit. Note however that for a single 1-year course, only a 1-year work permit is allowed. And you can only get a work permit via study once.
Wait for Admission Approval
While you can't take out a loan without an admission letter, I recommend having some funds on hand as colleges usually ask for some amount (mine was 2,300$) to book a seat and let you pay the rest (a year's worth of fees) in the coming months.
Apply for GIC.
Most common options for opening GIC are Scotia and CIBC. I opened a CIBC because I had a referral from a friend. Can't really go wrong with either.
Get your VISA Photo & Statement of Purpose ready.
VISA photo is slightly different from the Passport photo. See details here Visa Photograph Specifications
The Statement of Purpose has some mandatory requirements (Doublecheck with your agent):
CDC Medical Checkup
They might say it takes only a couple of hours for a checkup, but if I were you I'd block out the whole day for it. There is a lot of crowd.
Basically to digitally store your fingerprints and irises. Can book your appointment here vfsglobal.ca
IMPORTANT: Biometrics must be done within 30 days of getting a BIL after submitting VISA forms (in the next step). Plan accordingly.
They might try to sell you a "VIP" treatment at the place. It's not that different than normal. Up to you though.
I am not attaching any link here because I highly recommend doing it with your agent. It's a tedious process and a lot can go wrong here.
Wait for Visa Approval
Once you get approved (your Passport Request comes in, send your passport out for stamping)
Buy a ticket.
Most wait for their visa to arrive before booking a ticket. Fair enough, but the problem with that is the prices skyrocket by then. If possible, try to book a "refundable" ticket well in advance. I paid around 60k Rupees for a single-layover ticket when I booked it 4 months earlier (Granted, I had my passport stamped by then), but a friend of mine booked only a month later for twice the amount. And another friend booked it 2 months before departure for over 1.5L. You get the picture.
College-specific documents (Visa Proof, Vaccination Proof, etc)
Hopefully, covid won't still be a thing when you're reading this.
Buy a SIM card
Majority of people buy their SIM after coming to Canada. I got mine while still in India. I did not need to pay anything upfront, simply filled out their forms and uploaded some docs. The SIM arrived home a week later. The advantage of this is that you get immediate internet/telephone access after you arrive in Canada. The last link in the point below is where I registered. I was helped with the process by the Customer Care Exec named Priyanka, her business number is <+1-647-309-5658>.
Some helpful links:
The SIM that I currently have, FIDO, also has referral bonuses where both those who refer and the one who is referred get one month free of cost irrespective of plans. This is my referral link: referme.to/pritesht-11
Get CAD cash or Forex Card
I brought around 500$ in cash with me, most of which I deposited back in the bank after opening my account. You can bring up to 10,000$ dollars cash, beyond which you need to submit a declaration at customs and what-have-yous.
Find a room
Try not to get pressured into a long-term lease, if you must move elsewhere after a few months for any reason. Also, ensure to have a video call to check the property first. There may be some token amount for booking, but do not pay it before verifying everything.
Get RTO Extract (For those who have a driving license)
Just submit a letter to an RTO where you got your license and they will give you a printout of your extract.
You can use this extract to expedite your Canadian driving license process.
Update ArriveCAN details (2 days before the flight)
Shopping and Packing
Undergo Immigration Check
Activate Bank Account
Activate SIM Card
Get a SIN Card
A SIN Card is like Social Security (or Aadhar) Card. If you get a job in Canada, your employer will ask for SIN to put your records and payments against. More about SIN here
While a majority of people coming here apply for SIN by visiting Service Canada in person, it is not known by many that we can get SIN by applying online too! I did mine online and got it within 2 weeks. There is no difference in either, except that in-person you get it same day but have to stand in a line for hours.
And that is all folks! I hope the outline above gives you some sense of where you stand and what next steps you need to take. Feel free to comment in the box below if you have some questions. Happy Journey!