One of the most common questions regarding studies in Canada is whether or not you can study in Canada after a study gap? We struggled a lot in finding the answer to this question and eventually found that although there was no rule which stops us to get the study permit, it is not so easy to get the study permit in Canada after a study gap. In this article, I have listed down some important tips if you have a study gap and want to Come to Canada for studies.
Research about the College or University
Colleges, Universities, and Trade Schools are examples of post-secondary schools in Canada. These institutes are also referred to as Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs). Each institution has its own set of guidelines for applying and determining what level of English or French is required to be admitted.
Many institutes don’t have strict criteria for admission like the requirement of GMAT scores or high IELTS score and some have really flexible admission criteria; almost everyone who applies gets admission. It is important for you to carefully research the institute based on your future goals.
Sometimes consultants knowingly or unknowingly refer students to institutes that are DLIs but they don’t offer a PGWP eligible program, in that case, students either don’t get the PGWP or they are forced to switch the institute. Some students are also lured by institutes with lower fees just to get admission.
You must inquire about the institutes whether or not they offer Post-graduation Work Permit eligible programs. Look for more information on the list of DLI institutes in Canada.
Program or Course selected
If you have a study gap and want to come to Canada for studies, you must select a program that will strengthen your visa application. Selecting a program is crucial because you need to prove to the visa officer that your reason for going back to school is extremely necessary for your future growth and that you are a bonafide student.
You must look at your educational background and work experience to zero down on the program/course you select. The program selected should seem like a natural progression from your current situation and not a random career move. For example, after studying engineering, you would not want to study culinary or tourism. Or after working in the tourism industry you want to study Cybersecurity etc. This will raise questions on you being a bonafide student and might result in your visa refusal unless, of course, you have a very strong explanation for the same.
In our case, we selected a Masters program in management to show a logical progression in career after 15+ years of experience in the IT industry.
Duration of the program
After you complete your studies in Canada from a DLI you are eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) equal to the duration of your studies up to 3 years. The post-graduation work permit is an open work permit that allows graduates to work full-time, part-time or be self-employed. This helps you to improve your overall CRS score for Express Entry and eventually get Permanent Residency (PR).
With CRS scores soaring higher, you must look for ways to improve scores as much as possible. Education and Workexpericen in Canada form a part of it. Masters in Canada have a higher score than a bachelor’s, and 3 years experience has a higher score than 1 year. Also, people targeting PR through the Candian Experience Class (CEC) stream must aim for at least 1-year experience in Canada. This means any program which is less than 1 year does not solve your purpose and you must keep some time as a buffer, just in case you are not able to get a proper job for sometime after graduation.
This leaves us with the option of a program that makes you eligible for at least 2 years of PGWP. Generally, an accelerated program offers up to three of PGWP. Look for more information on PGWP.
Public Vs. Private University/College
An important point to note is that with an increasing number of years in your study gap your options start getting limited. Most of the colleges prefer students with a study gap of 3-5 years, some up to 10 years but there are very few institutes that allow admission to a mature student with a study gap of over 10 years.
This happened to us when we are looking for admission. We attended an education fair in Delhi and out of 25+ colleges and Universities, only 4-5 offered admission to mature students with a study gap of over 10 years.
There have been some malpractices by private institutes in Canada which attract international students for the sake of money and eventually the students suffer. Therefore IRCC is very careful when they grant visas to the students studying in private colleges with shady reviews or performance in past.
If you want to increase your chances of getting a visa after a huge study gap, you must look for an institute in the following priority sequence 1) Public University 2) Private University 3) Private College which is in the list of top 20 colleges in Canada
Another maverick idea you may want to consider is to get admission to a remote Public University or College. This might help as not too many students would apply to the admission would be easy and as there will be fewer applications for this institute, the visa officer might consider your application unique and genuine. After all, Canada is focusing on habilitating more and more immigrants to remote locations/communities
Statement of Purpose
Although there is no age restriction for studying in Canada, the study gap still raises questions about your primary intentions to come to Canada. If not justified or explained properly there are chances of your visa getting rejected. In order to get your visa approved, it is extremely important to prove to the immigration officer that you are a bonafide student and your reason to study is legitimate.
This is where the Statement of Purpose (SOP) plays an important role. This document is in the form of a letter to the visa offices explaining your situation and the reason for your application. I call it your life story. This could be a 2-3 page (max.) document that entails some solid reasons to explain your situation and what you did during the study gap.