Studying in America and Canada

A visa is simply a legal document issued by a country, of which you are neither a citizen nor a legal permanent resident, allowing you to enter and stay in the country for a specified period of time for a specific purpose. Examples of types of visa include: student visa, work visa, tourist visa, business visa, immigrant (or permanent residency) visa, and so on. All visas are issued for temporary stay, except for the immigrant (or legal permanent) visa.

The visa requirements and the requirements and process for obtaining various visas vary for a country, and across countries. For example, the requirements for a tourist visa for an Indian citizen to visit America or Canada are different from the requirements for an international student visa for an Indian citizen wishing to pursue education in America or Canada. The requirements for visa also vary by your country of citizenship and the country you wish to visit. For example, while an Indian citizen requires a tourist visa to visit America temporarily, a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident does not require a tourist visa to visit America temporarily; the Canadian and American citizens and permanent residents can visit the other country freely, without any tourist visa.

Do the varying visa requirements by the country of citizenship sound unfair? Perhaps! One must keep in mind, however, that the visa requirements between any two countries typically reflect bilateral arrangements. For example, while an Indian citizen requires a tourist visa to visit America temporarily, so does an American citizen to visit India temporarily. Just as Indian citizens may be annoyed that Indians are required to obtain a tourist visa to visit America, many American citizens - particularly the non-resident Indians (NRIs) - are annoyed by the hassle of obtaining an Indian visa to visit India (the native land for the NRIs).

Rules are the rules, and you are expected to abide by them. Visa requirements are unique between any two countries - the country of citizenship and the other country of temporary residence. Do not assume that the requirements for different countries are the same for any visa type. The international student visa is no different. Even the constraints on the international student visa, such as what you are authorized to do, vary across countries. This is true for the international student visa for America and Canada.

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