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ApplyInsights: Student Visa and Study Permit Trends in Canada – Brazil

This week on ApplyInsights, I’ll be sharing my observations on the South American country of Brazil. Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest country in the world by area, and with over 211 million people, it is the sixth-most-populous country in the world.

Brazil is also a growing market for Canadian institutions. As of 2019, it is the fifth-largest source of international students with approved study visas for Canada. Brazil is the number one source country for international students from within South America.

This ApplyInsights covers various student visa and study permit trends, so I want to quickly clarify the difference between them:

Student Visas vs. Study Permits

A student visa is a conditional authorization to enter a country. This means that even if a student has a student visa, the officer at the border has the authority to deny them entry into the country.

A study permit gives students the authority to stay in the country. It includes details about their purpose including why they are here, what course level they are studying, their duration of stay, and if there are any work restrictions.

Application Trends: Student Visas

In 2019, Canada received 8,233 visa applications from Brazilian students, a decrease of 5.9% over 2018. Of those 8,233 applications, 6,847 new student visas were approved, representing an 83.2% approval rate. Canada’s student visa approval for all countries has declined by 6.4%, yet data shows Brazilian students had a 0.01% higher chance of getting a visa compared to the year before, demonstrating a steady approval rate from year to year.

Brazil’s student visa approval rate is 23.1% higher than the average visa approval rate. This makes education a viable path to permanent residency, proving Brazil to be a target market with significant potential for the education sector.

I’ve included the image below to show the total number of applications and visa approvals for Brazilian students over the last four years.

Applications and visa approvals for Brazilian students over last four years

Student Visa Approval Rates by Educational Institution

In the images below, we explore the difference between the number of student visas approved in 2018 (left) and 2019.

Student visas approved in 2018 and 2019

As noted above, 6,847 Brazilian student visas were approvedin 2019. College programs had 3,143 approved visas, representing the highest number of approved visas at a 79.7% approval rate. Primary and secondary school education came in second, with 1,980 approved visas and a 90% approval rate. University programs had 852 approved visas with a 92.4% overall approval rate. Finally, ESL/FSL programs had 680 approved visas, with an overall approval rate of 76.2%.

Let’s break down each study level and student visa approval rates for key programs at each of them.

College

In 2019, the Brazilian student visa approval rate for college certificate programs was 79.6%. This means that of all Brazilian applicants to college certificate programs, 79.6% were approved for a student visa. This is a slight increase from 2018, which had a student visa approval rate for college certificate programs of 77.1%.

College applied degree programs had an 83.8% visa approval rate in 2019, an increase over the 78.8% rate in 2018. College diploma programs had a 79.7% visa approval rate in both 2018 and 2019.

ESL/FSL college programs had an 80.5% visa approval rate for Brazilian students, a slight increase over the 79.3% approval rate in 2018.

In the image below, we look at the total number of Brazilian student visa approvals in 2019 for each college study level, compared to 2018.

Brazilian student visa approvals in 2019 for each college study level, compared to 2018

For Brazilian students, college should be an attractive option, as college programs make up the most significant number of approved visas for the country. While visa approval rates for other institutions are seeing some minor decreases, approval rates for all college programs are on the rise.

University

In 2019 the student visa approval rate for doctorate programs was 98.7%. In 2018 the student visa approval rate for doctorate programs was 100%. Master’s programs had a 94% visa approval rate in 2019, an increase over the 2018 rate of 89.1%.

Other studies had a 91.8% visa approval rate in 2019, a decrease from 2018. In 2018, other studies had a 94.3% approval rate among Brazilian students to study a 2-year diploma, associate degree, or 1-year certificate.

University bachelor programs had an 87.9% visa approval rate for Brazilian students, a decrease over the 2018 approval rate of 91.7%.

ESL/FSL saw the most significant reduction in 2019 with a 65.4% visa approval rate, compared to 80% in 2018.

In the image below, we look at the total number of approved Brazilian student visas in 2019 for each university study level, compared to 2018.

Approved Brazilian student visas in 2019 for each university study level, compared to 2018

ESL/FSL-Specific Programs

ESL/FSL-specific programs have seen a 1.5% increase in visa approval rate, from 74.7% in 2018 to 76.2% in 2019, even though the total number of applications to ESL/FSL programs dropped from 1,164 in 2018 to 892 in 2019.

These programs differ from the college and university ESL/FSL programs included in the sections above in that they stand alone and are not a requirement tied to accreditation, such as a degree or diploma.

In the image below, we look at the number of Brazilian student visa approvals for ESL/FSL-specific programs in 2019 compared to 2018.

Brazilian student visa approvals for ESL/FSL-specific programs in 2019 compared to 2018

Brazil’s ESL/FSL program approval rates are dramatically higher than many other countries, proving that there is untapped potential in this undersaturated market. For example, Brazil’s visa approval rate for ESL/FSL-specific programs was 76.2% in 2019 compared to just 2.1% for India, Canada’s most significant source country for international students.

Primary and Secondary Schools

Primary schools remain a growing industry for Brazilian students. In 2019, primary schools had 823 approved student visas, a substantial increase over the 716 approved in 2018. Secondary schools saw a decrease in 2019, with 1,154 approved student visas compared to 1,528 in 2018.

Primary school programs had an 83.4% visa approval rate in 2019, a minor 0.3% drop from 2018. Secondary school programs stayed steady, with a 95.4% visa approval rate in both 2019 and 2018.

In the image below, we look at primary and secondary school visa approval rates for Brazil for 2019 compared with 2018.

Primary and secondary school visa approval rates for Brazil for 2019 compared with 2018

Brazilian Student Market Growth

In 2019, 6,847 Brazilian students received their Canadian student visa, which means that Brazilian students accounted for 2.6% of all international students in Canada. When we look at the percentage of Brazilian students in Canada in 2018—1.1%—you can see that Brazil’s student market is growing steadily, more than doubling.

Based on these insights and more, I see significant opportunities for colleges and ESL/FSL programs, in particular, to grow their international numbers by targeting this market.

Application Trends: Study Permits

New Study Permits Issued by Educational Institution Level

In 2019, college programs had the highest market share with 48.8%. Primary and secondary programs came in a distant second at 27.9%. University studies came in third at 13.4%, and ESL/FSL-specific programs in fourth at 6.8%. Finally, other studies had a 3.1% approval rate.

In the images below, we will explore the difference between study permit holders in 2018 (left) and 2019.

Study permit holders in 2019 and 2018.

College

In 2019, college diploma programs continued to climb for the Brazilian market, with 3,580 study permits issued compared to 3,285 in 2018. Each other college study level saw improvement as well, with certificate permits growing from 1,115 to 1,125, applied degrees growing from 95 to 100, CEGEP growing from 25 to 40, and ESL/FSL programs growing from 380 to 405.

College by study level

University

When we look at new study permits issued for universities, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs took the top spot for 2019 with 445, 430, and 400 issued respectively. Fewer permits were issued for other studies, with 150, and ESL/FSL, with 20. In the image below, we look at the total number of new study permits issued in 2019 for each university level, compared to 2018.

University by study level

Primary and Secondary Schools

Primary schools still prove to be a growing industry for Brazilian students. In 2019, primary schools had 1,410 study permits issued, a sizable increase over the 1,145 issued in 2018. Meanwhile, secondary schools saw a decrease in study permits, with 1,555 in 2019 compared to 1,855 in 2018.

Primary and secondary schools

Primary schools have a high number of permits issued for Brazilian students, and are a growing education sector for the country. These study permits have increased by a dramatic 23.2% from 2018 to 2019.

Other Studies

Other studies decreased in 2019, with 330 study permits issued compared to 535 in 2018.

Study permits issued by other studies

New Study Permits Issued By Province

The image below shows the number of new study permits issued per province in 2019 and the percentage of growth that each province saw compared to 2018.

Ontario accounted for 43.4% of new study permits issued in 2019, followed by British Colombia at 31.6% and Quebec at 11.2%, with the remaining provinces sharing 13.8% of the market.

New study permits issued by province

Why is the number of new study permits issued higher than the number of student visas issued? There are several reasons. For example, if a student changes schools, they require a new study permit. If a student who is currently in the country wants to extend their study permit, this also counts as a new student permit issued.

The Future of Brazilian Students

Brazil has proven itself to be a growing and viable source of international students for Canada. The Government of Canada’s recent updates to post-graduate work permit (PGWP) requirements create a significant opportunity for this market.

These updates enable international students to complete up to 50% of their coursework online from their home country and remain eligible for a PGWP. This is of significant benefit to students from Brazil, who are more likely to have jobs and families than students from other countries due to their older demographic.

As education is a common path to permanent residency, this may be the perfect opportunity for eligible colleges and ESL/FSL-specific schools to reach out to the expanding Brazilian market.

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Meti Basiri headshotMeti Basiri
Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) 

Meti is driven by the belief that education is a right, not a privilege. He leads the International Recruitment, Partner Relations, and Marketing teams at ApplyBoard, working to make education accessible to people around the world. Meti has been instrumental in building partnerships with 1,200+ educational institutions across North America and the United Kingdom. Working with over 3,500 international recruitment partners, ApplyBoard has assisted over 80,000 students in their study abroad journey. Follow Meti on LinkedIn for more access to ApplyInsights and key industry trends.