Citizenship and Immigration Canada welcomes foreign students and recognizes the importance of their contribution to our academic, business and cultural communities."
"But" is what should follow this sentence from the CIC fact sheet No. 8 concerning studying in Canada.
Ever since the immigration act was changed in July 2002, Canada has decided to check on foreign students in greater detail, making the loopholes for foreign students and temporary foreign workers smaller.
Every international student has to provide transcripts from their home university and a letter of acceptance from the Canadian university at port-of-entry. If they don't, they won't be admitted. Additionally, everybody has to prove that they can pay for their courses, living expenses and transportation to and from Canada. Some are even required to undergo a cic medical examination.
In the past it didn't matter where in Canada a student was, as long as a proper student visa was issued. Now, if a student is only admitted to colleges, he or she can't go to universities, and if a student is admitted to one university, switching is no longer an option. The only lucky ones are those whose visa says "any university, college or institution in Canada."
Extending a student or work permit isn't as easy anymore either. If the student or working visa expires and for some reason the holder doesn't realize that until two years later, CIC will send the ex-permit holder home. A minimum of six months have to lie between leaving the country and re-applying for a student or working permit if a person missed the deadline. Not very pleasant if you already signed up for courses. Before the immigration act changed, cic simply gave those students or workers an extension.
Over are the times of happy illegality in maple leaf land. If a person is within the 90 day range when realizing that their documents have expired, he or she is not allowed to work or study but has the chance to renew their documents from within Canada. When it comes down to it, only those who keep track of their permit's expiry date and who renew them before they expire are eligible to keep on working, studying and breathing.
Things are supposedly more transparent now, but it leads to great confusion as to when a student is allowed to work on campus (you have to be a full-time student), when he is allowed to take courses (having the correct student visa) and how he can extend his stay (you must re-apply before your papers expire).